Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rakstar 2010

This past weekend, I attended Virginia's 10th anniversary celebration - Rakstar 2010. The 4-day event took place in Miami Beach, FL and dancers from all over, including dance friends Faaridah and Hadil of Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance, flew into South Florida to take part in this memorable event. Several workshops were offered, taught by masters of our craft: Asmahan, Yousry Sharif, Amir Thaleb, Jillina and Virginia herself. In addition, the weekend was full of fabulous shows (with guest performer Karim Nagi) and a competition so there was a little something for everyone!

I participated in two workshops and was a guest of the Friday night theater show, so aptly titled "ONE". There was such a wonderful, eclectic mixture of art within the production. To sum up, one's eye was dazzled with sand, instruments I've never seen/heard before, chairs, modern dance and even aerial silks! Beautiful performances were executed by Virginia, Wa Nour al Ayun and Fuzion Dance Artists. There was a mixture of Oriental, folklore as well as world dance fusion numbers. I particularly loved Act 2, which included Indian, Spanish, Asian, African and Brazilian fusion. I loves the Samba. Yes, I said "loves".

One of the highlights for me was Karim Nagi. This was my first time seeing him live and it was just absolute, unequivocal FUN. I officially love him. His performance, his expressions and little nuances... his ability to engage a crowd and generate this dynamic energy are all admirable qualities. Good, Pure, Fun. Asmahan performed two numbers as well and it was impossible for me to take my eyes off of her. She entered the stage "Asmahan style" - love her entrances - and put on a fabulous show. I've only ever seen her dance on YouTube, which, damn! If you haven't seen her, YouTube her... so, watching her move in person was wonderful!

Regrettably, photography was prohibited so I don't have photos to share but I gather that professional photos will be available for viewing at some point.

On to the workshops...

My first workshop was an Oriental number taught by one of Egypt's star dancers, Asmahan. The room was packed with eager students who wished to study with her. The choreography was stunning. STUNNING. Asmahan has such a commanding presence and one just can't help but to stare. I learned a lot from her workshop and can't wait to add some spice to my own creations.
My next workshop was with Jillina. What can I say about Jillina? She is amazing. I wish tiny, real-life pocket-sized Jillinas were available for purchase in stores so that I could carry her around with me where ever I went. Her personality is ridiculous (a good ridiculous). I had the time of my life in her workshop - and not just because it was a drum solo (anyone who knows me knows drum solos are my "ish") but because people just want to be around Jillina. She has such a pleasant and inviting, silly, girl next door personality... add in her kick-ass choreography and dance ability and you've got a belly dance girl crush. I loved every moment of her workshop.

BIG thanks to Virginia for hosting such a fabulous weekend of dance and to everyone who assisted in putting the event together. I was very happy to be exposed to the work of belly dance powerhouses in living color. Workshops make us better dancers and I can't wait for the next.

Happy 10 years, Virginia!

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