"Please, please do this again! So many of us are hungry for this type of event that digs so much deeper into the dance and the cultural responsibility that comes along with it."
"A fantastic weekend and so unlike every other belly dance festival!"
"It was above and beyond what I could have imagined. It was so great to connect to so many like-minded people, to be inspired to learn so much. It was the perfect combination of artistic and academic, spiritual and conscientious, fun and meaningful.."
"Wonderful complex event - very fulfilling and well balanced between performance, education and inspiration."
The Bellydance Blossom Festival is an all-immersive experience where international dance artists and scholars engage with each other in creative collaborations and meaningful discourse.
Internationally known Master Teachers are invited to teach, perform and participate in discussions where possible. All registrants are highly encouraged to participate as a dance artist, choreographer or speaker in one or more of the various categories; Collaborative Works, Explorative Works, Blossom Talks, and Panel Discussions.
All participants are encouraged to take part in all discussions. Collaborative and Explorative artists will explain their creative process while working across international borders and across genres and styles.
Follow on Twitter @BellyBlossFest
Dina Talaat Sayed Muhammad is an Egyptian belly dancer and actress. She was named as the "Last Egyptian Dancer" by the American magazine Newsweek. She has a master's degree in Philosophy.
She was born in Rome, Italy in 1964. Her father was the news correspondent for the Middle East News Agency in Rome. Her sister Rita is a retired singer. Dina started her career in the early 1970s, dancing with the Reda Dance Troupe. She became a solo dancer in the 1980s and soon became well known. In the 1990s she became known for her dancing at hotels like the Cairo Sheraton where she shocked Egyptian society by eschewing the traditional bellydance costume. In addition to public performances at hotels and resorts, Dina also dances for private functions. In 2005, she travelled to Brazil to teach belly dance workshops and has since tours much of the world.
In 2011, she released an autobiography entitled Huriati Fi Al Raqs (My Freedom in Dancing).
Mohamed Saleh has traveled the world with the Reda Troupe since 1995 but started his career in Egypt's Childrens Troupe performing all over Egypt. He has worked in the Opera House in many styles of dance including Modern and Contemporary. Mohamed has worked with Mahmoud Reda, Hassan Affifi, Walid Awni and Dr. Magdi Ezz. As a creative choreographer, his work is presented on national TV and at many festivals. He is now a soloist in the Reda Troupe, a featured teacher in Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival and sought after in China, Japan, Korea, Ukraine and Italy. He has won many awards and recently is a graduate of the Academy of Arts.
George Sawa was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He has over 50 years experience in Arabic music performance, history, theory and has performed and lectured extensively worldwide. George has been the musical director for several productions of Arabesque Dance Company, and taught Arabic music for hundreds of dancers worldwide. His CD, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, was nominated for a JUNO Award in World Music in 2009. His, Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers, has won international acclaim and is an invaluable companion to bellydancers all over the world. A companion set of two DVDs was produced with Lulu.
235 Queens Quay West
Studio Theatre & Lakeside Terrace, York Quay, Harbourfront Centre,
Downtown Toronto, Canada
Reservations will be made by individual attendees directly with the hotel by either through this offer or calling 1-800-268-8304 or direct line 416-363-3321 and request “Bellydance Blossom Festival” or group code “646800” for phone reservations.
Celebrating their tenth anniversary as a collective, Halifax-based Sisters of Dance continue to challenge themselves and each other in creating honest and beautiful Egyptian belly dance. They are collaborating with Elisabeth, an Atlanta-based belly dancer performer and choreographer, to bring Khalil Gibran’s poem, “Song of the Flower” to life in this opulant Egyptian choreography with veil.
Self-affirmation is a struggle. How do we, as women, learn to embrace every part of ourselves? Do we welcome femininity? By putting on a skirt, it is powerful to embody the impact of that choice.
Helwa Dancers, choreography by Karen Staples.
Rahel Claman (Vancouver, BC) has asked Yasmina Ramzy (Toronto, ON) to create a piece for her that will push her into new ways of expression. Rahel directs Ya Helwa Dancers in Vancouver and conducts a very busy teaching and performing schedule. Yasmina Ramzy directs Arabesque Canada and has performed and taught in 65 cities globally for 37 years including the Middle East.
Sarah Jawida (Quebec City) has been randomly paired with Sarah Mayne (Grand Rapids, Michigan) who will create a piece for her that will evoke startling depths of emotion. Sarah Jawida is actively involved in Quebec City producing events, exploring collaborations, performing and hosting workshops. Sarah Mayne directs BellyDance Grand Rapids and founded Allspice & Delkash Dance Co.
Inspired by the lilting Reda Muwashshahat style this fusion of ballet and Egyptian dance synthesizes adagio movement of ballet with the expressiveness of Egyptian dance set to the classic song Min Gher Leh by Abdel Wahab. Amara is a spirited professional dance artist from New York City. Saqqara is a multifaceted performer from Binghamton, NY. Amara choreographed by Saqqara.
This collaboration pays homage to Soheir Zaki with an original routine inspired by Soheir’s joyous, elegant performance. Amirah is an award-winning dancer who has performed to international audiences in the United States. Azura has performed in Egypt, the United States, and Canada. They share a common love of Golden Age dance.
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
This piece is about the personal, and the divine, and finding them in each other.
Delkash Dancers (Grand Rapids, MI) have asked Yasmina Ramzy (Toronto, ON) to create a piece for them that will help them grow as artists. Delkash Dancers is directed by Sarah Mayne of Grand Rapids Bellydance. Yasmina Ramzy directs Arabesque Canada and has performed and taught in 65 cities globally for 37 years including the Middle East.
Earthshakers has always had mission to dispell myths and limitations. In this piece the company will express the powerful internal anger and shame at the root of why Earthshaker's work is necessary and speaks to so many. Earthshakers is under the umbrella of Arabesque Canada and directed by Yasmina Ramzy.
Hala and Maysa (Banff, AB) have asked Yasmina Ramzy (Toronto, ON) to create a duet piece for them that is not entertainment based. Maysa & Hala teach and perform in Banff out of Joy Dance Studio. Yasmina Ramzy directs Arabesque Canada and has performed and taught in 65 cities globally for 37 years including the Middle East.
A new ensemble of Raqs Sharqi dancers from Halifax, NS, Ruth, Cheryl and Krista, have joined Ioana to explore a modern belly dance piece. This collaboration is truly fostered by the Bellydance Blossom Festival as it will push the dancers out of their comfort zones but stick to the emotive roots of belly dance.
Sisters of Dance is exploring the idea of taking up space, by exploring grand, full movement that engages the whole body. This will help with expression and emotion from head to toe. Partnered with that, after some success with a narrative in recent creations, using the whole body, can we tell a whole story that resonates with our audience? This music and style will be modern Egyptian but will seek to go beyond the moves.
Claudya and Andrea will explore the concept of subtle changes in musical and dance movement interpretation through the ages, contrasting classical with modern. Khalida has been performing professionally since 2012. Andrea has been performing professionally and teaching since 2006. They are both from Montreal (QC), and both won numerous awards.
This collaboration is born from a mutual love for a soulful Ottoman song “Katibim”. Asli is an award-winning dancer, with a passion for belly dance and Turkish Rom. Dr. George Sawa has over 50 years experience in Arabic music performance, history, and theory, and he has performed and lectured extensively worldwide.
An exploration of relationships in the context of a contemporary emotional setting. Jawaahir is dedicated to presenting Middle Eastern dance as a living art form at its highest artistic level. Cassandra’s background in Modern and Jazz, drove her to explore original, theatrically-inspired choreography blending the traditional and contemporary.
We all have a Story, a Journey and a Mission. Our Story is the joy in each other’s company and our love for one another. Our Journey is the exploration of our limits and going beyond them and our Mission is to let you feel and share our experiences.
Music: Distant Fire, from Experiments in Bellydance by Rebecca Wolf-Nail
Inside even the manliest man is the soul of a woman.
The Sisters of Salome was founded in 2007 by Sarah Skinner. The Sisters of Salome are a constellation of movement artists. Their new piece came out of a desire to dance at a house party. Utilizing a small footprint and nontraditional music to infuse joy into the entire room.
Music by: Caravan, Lambert, Hendricks, Ross
Gretchen is a performer and teacher from Washington, DC, who has been studying belly dance for over eight years. In this piece, finger cymbals take center stage as she accompanies her movement with only the sounds of this traditional instrument, reflecting through dance the music created in the moment.
In this new work, Laura will explore the "destruction" phase of the life cycle. Burning away overgrowth, making way for new life through intensity and wrath. Formerly a lead dancer in Arabesque Dance Co; Laura Selenzi now co-owns Serpentine Studios in Halifax, NS.
Exploring stage dynamics, emotional expression through body movement. From the slightest of movement, a tilt of the head or soft hand gesture, to grand statements of feelings of joy, or sadness, all of these can express to an audience without speaking a single word. To grow as an artist through Dynamic Stage presence will be not only be challenging yet rewarding. Choreographer Requested from Rahel Claman (Vancouver, BC). Rahel directs Ya Helwa Dancers in Vancouver and conducts a very busy teaching and erforming schedule.
Disposable world. Disposable dance. New things. New styles. New costumes. Where will it end? This dance is about reviving memories and creating something from what has already been done in an innovative way. Recycling rather than disposing. Embracing what has been done though not repeating. I will craft a costume from recycled items, use music that people may have forgotten or discounted, and movements that I have learned over the span of four decades without separating them into specific styles.
This piece explores the transmutation and release of emotions and energy through the movements of “Bellydance.” The artist will also be exploring pathways of movement and relationship between stillness and movement. The artist will be channeling a traumatic past experience for release.
Working with a melaya to prepare this routine has pushed Azura’s boundaries and increased her understanding of regional dance. Her performance reflects the flirty, contemporary vibe of this song by the Al-Ahram Orchestra. Azura appreciates this opportunity, and thanks Yasmina Ramzy for hosting this innovative, collaborative event.
Whirling is spiritual, not doubt about it for me. It sooths, challenges and grounds me. Even just listening to the music affects my very being. I am exploring movements and whirling as an art form separate from devotion, will it still lift my soul?
Third in a series of fantasy-based solos for the Bellydance Blossom Festival, this work explores hope and self-delusion. The song, a muwashah, states, "Come on, it is time for tarab." Nisreen dances and teaches in New York City.
Vian Stetch approached Yasmina Ramzy to create a piece for her that would push her to new levels of feeling and expression to the music, the art and to herself. Yasmina has been Vian's mentor for many years and she has greatly appreciated and enjoyed having this learning opportunity.
Vian is co owner of Arabella Middle Eastern Dance Academy in Thunder Bay Ontario.
Yasmina Ramzy directs Arabesque Canada and has performed and taught in 65 cities globally for 37 years including the Middle East.
What if we approached the dance as if it originated in the home, among friends, dressed for a party, rather than as a performance in night clubs and movies. How would the costumes be different? How would we be perceived by the general public? How would we dance and what would we wear? Can we make art from this?
Tamalyn Dallal has been dancing since 1976. Now, residing in New Orleans, she teaches internationally. She has written three books and made three documentary films. Her dance"Recycled", is about repurposing and reusing music, traditional movements, and creating new costuming from used clothing. Innovation without throwing away the past.
This Talk explores how Cairo’s professional raqs sharqi scene has been engaged with the tumultuous gender, economic, and political transformations Egypt has been experiencing since the January 25th 2011 revolution up until today. It also discusses the unique insights raqs sharqi has to offer to such complex politics.
Christine Shiraz Sahin is a Ph.D. Candidate in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her dissertation, Core Connections: A Contemporary Cairo Dance Ethnography, explores the myriad ways raqs sharqi is engaged with the gender, political, and economic dynamics Egypt has been experiencing since the January 25th, 2011 Revolution. She is also a professional performer and teacher of raqs sharqi based in Delaware, USA.
This talk is presentation of cumulative research and exploration into the healing aspects of Bellydance and the idea of Bellydance being used as a therapeutic tool in Dance movement therapy for certain populations. This presentation is a completed and published Masters of Science thesis from the speaker who is a registered Dance Movement Therapist in the the USA.
Amara has her credentialing as a R-DMT and Masters of Science in Creative Arts Therapy / Dance Movement Therapy.
Questions to Dina Talaat prepared by participants of festival about art, politics and feminine power
Asia is one of the largest markets for Oriental dance today. Why is Asia an important market? How has it developed so quickly? What is it like to teach in Asia?
The myriad ways raqs sharqi embodies revolutionary capacities, whether individually or in regards to larger political movements such as Egypt's Jan. 25th 2011 revolution.
Exploring the ways belly dance changes form and meanings as it crosses borders, bodies, and spaces. Can be micro level of studio vs other venues such as weddings and festival sites, or larger such as belly dance within transnational flows.
Be a part of 32+ hours of ground breaking creative adventures over 3 days
REGISTER (Non-refundable but transfers are allowed)
May 5th Performance included in full registration
No registration for individual workshops, regular performances, talks, or discussions. However, day passes may be available end of March.
15% off for group members living in Toronto area who are able to sleep in their own bed for the festival - use code HOMEGROUP when checking out online. Note with registration which group you are with and from what city.
30% off for group traveling from far and needing to stay in a hotel, B and B, or billetting for the duration of the festival - use code TRAVELGROUP when checking out online. When registering online, please note with registration which group you are with and from what city.
Must be registered by March 1, 2018 in order to participate as an artist or a speaker