Overview from IBCC
Overview of the event.
It was a great privilege to be an invited guest artist at the International Bellydance Conference in Canada IBCC 2010. They chose me as a representative of pioneering Bellydance in America. This honor meant a lot to me. I have influenced and inspired so many of the top dancers in the world today, and though this may not be known to many dancers who are new to the art, it makes me very proud.
Hats off to Yasmina!
The conference was conceived by Yasmina Ramsey, owner of Arabesque Studios in Toronto. This was her third year of hosting this major event. She was inspired by the International Bellydance Conference that was held at OCC College in California in 1997. The California Conference unfortunately did not continue as an annual event. Yasmina decided to pick up the ball and run with it. She does an amazing job on such a huge project. She is a great organizer and business woman and has a big heart. The next one will be in 2012 and she is already taking reservations!
A conference is more than a typical weekend bellydance festival. There is vending, four 100 minute long classes each day, the performances are mostly at night instead of all day non stop. By having lectures, films and power point presentations the conference has an added academic element. Dancers get to meet each other and be recognized for their contributions to their art. A conference offers the opportunity to speak and exchange ideas by holding panel discussions with professional dancers, musicians, business owners, scholars and the audience of dancers and the similar ilk. These panels were stimulating and thought provoking. They were real, live, in-the-moment, and personal interactions. It was rich and refreshing. We have gotten used to our dose of mind walks in bellydance through magazines, blogs, articles and internet group chatter where we cannot see each others faces and dynamics of expressions. On the internet we can ramble on paragraph after paragraph with out the benefit of others input.The conference has inspired lots of writing across the nation no doubt, but to actually be there is most important! I hope we have more of these kinds of events.
The conference began with a gala opening show on Wednesday Night. All day Thursday through Sunday there were workshops, panel discussions, presentations, and films. There was never more than 2 scheduled events over lapping and of course individual personal necessities like shopping, food, conversations, and rest. The classes were really big. Over 150 dancers in most workshops. The room was big too with a slanted floor and a elevated stage for the teacher, so it worked out well. Another 40 to 50 dancers would be at the presentations up stairs. There was a small lunchroom, and studios available for private lessons and magazine interviews.
The vending was open during the day only. This gave venders opportunity to rest and enjoy shows every evening. The performances were all over the map with styles, groups, troupes and soloists from all over the world. All the performers submit their dances and are juried before hand. This is important! This prevented the show from becoming boring. It clipped along at an exciting pace. It did not exhaust the audience as so many festivals tend to do. Each nights show was about 90 minutes, with a short intermission. The second half of the show was devoted to the Arabesque Ensemble. It was held at the Ryerson Theater and open to the general public.
The unfortunate thing at this conference was that the Icelandic volcano prevented the major international stars, Mamoud Reda and the Gawazi dancer Khairiyya Mazin from Luxor Egypt from attending. There was no one at fault, just Mother Nature doing her thing. Cassandra from Minneapolis was called in at the last minute to take their place. A fabulous choice. She was a delight. This years conferences head liners included: Sema Yildez from Turkey, Jillina of the Bellydance Superstars, Hadia of BC, Sera Solstice of NY, Amel Tafsout of Algeria, Delilah of WA/HI USA , Zikrayat of NY, Yasmina and the Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra of Toronto.
Then there were many other performers, presenters and panelists featured in the printed program from all over the world. I will name just a few. Many from Canada; Serina Kerbes Alberta, Rosanna Mc Quire, Rula Said, Mayada, Laura Selenzi, all from Ontario, Monique Ryan Nova Scotia, Maki Natori and Lynette Harper from British Columbia, Brigid Kelly from New Zealand, Caitland Mc Donald from the UK, Dahad of Nevada, Andrea Deagon North Carolina, Candace Brodelon Texas, Tamalyn Dahlal Washington, Shira Iowa, Tasmin from Argentina, Sahar Skinner from NY, Edony Quils from Wa D.C., Meiver de la Cruz from Massachusetts, Michelle Marinho from Brazil, . There were large troupes like the Habeeba Hobeika Egyptian Dance Ensemble from Ontario Canada who performed Mamoud Redas choreography, The Righteous Rogues all male dance group were a highlight, The Sultanettes, Shades of Araby, Mirage, all from Ontario, Ranya Renee and Company from NY. Raqs Sahara from Wa D.C. There were duos like Sofie and Chanti from Quebec, and mother and daughter Iona and Hafia from Ontario.
Musicians George Sewa, Sami Abu Shumays, and Suleiman Warwar and of course drummer Erik Brown played for my class. Lynette Harris from Gilded Serpent E magazine was intent on the presentations and panels.
So many wonderful conversations and new friendships were made. It was one of the best events I have ever been to and I will definitely be back in 2012.