Dawn Harvey’s Christmas Hafla
“Amazing music, great performances and what a wonderful audience”
Last year, our teacher gave us the opportunity to perform a bollywood-infused belly dance at a hafla organised by her good friend and fellow belly dance teacher, Dawn Harvey. It was a fantastic show with an encouraging audience and performances that blew you away.
This year, we were informed Dawn was once again in search of some performers for the ‘Christmas Hafla’. I couldn’t help myself, I just had to get involved. As soon as I registered my interest, I began fishing around for some interesting music. A girl I worked with quite a few years ago, Stephanie Faysal (now a very well known TV presenter in Lebanon), made me a CD of Arabic music. Some of the songs were just so cheerful and upbeat that I thought one of them would make a great piece.
Eventually, I decided to use a track by Ahmed El Sherif, a Tunisian artist who was a contestant in the TV show ‘Star Academy Arab World’ and also a former love interest of the wonderful Stephanie. I immediately emailed her to find out what the lyrics of the song ‘Sahran Maak El Leila’ means in order to create a choreography.
I wanted to base the dance on a duet or small group and introduce a party-like atmosphere with the audience. The performance at this hafla meant so much, as the standard of dancing was so high last year and I knew there would be a whole host of greats this year!
A very good friend of mine started belly dance classes earlier in the year and originally, she was going to perform with me. However, I don’t think she felt confident enough to continue and left the class. Although we are still great friends, I think dancing is something you either have a passion for or you don’t. Anyway, I was left with half a choreography written with us in mind and only myself to perform. Another member of the class soon stepped in and agreed to perform with me! I was thrilled, not only was there an added three years dancing experience, it meant we could get down to the finer details as soon as it was time to get rehearsing.
The music had an element of Spanish, so Layla and I tried to incorporate some of this into our dancing. After lots of concentration and many pieces of paper, I found myself singing along in Arabic and letting the music take the lead! Layla and I worked together to try and make it as interesting and fun as we could during rehearsals.
We performed my first ever choreography in Pinner on the 26th November and I can not express how exhilarating it felt to hear the audience clapping and cheering during (and after) the performance. Yes they were a great audience anyway, but some of the comments afterwards gave us such a boost and we couldn’t stop smiling. It wasn’t in any shape or form technically difficult or fancy, and most certainly wasn’t ‘up there’ with the rest but we think we did a good job because we really enjoyed ourselves!
We performed in the first half and managed to enjoy the rest of the show. As expected, it was phenominal with star guest; Anne White, a beautiful dancer and the organiser of Planet Egypt in London. I can’t wait to see the DVD and photographs, maybe I will get permission to put some on here to share with you (fingers crossed). Sadly, Dawn it will be the last annual event in Pinner next year but one thing is for certain, it won’t go without a bang! Luckily for all her current and future students, she will still be teaching!
A bit of bad quality filming of some of the unique performances, my camera is not great with bright stage lighting: