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Dawn’s Hafla In Pinner

28 Nov

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:

Planet Egypt Showcase…

14 Mar

Planet Egypt

@ Darbucka

This month I am attending Planet Egypt and am really looking forward to seeing the venue, sampling the food and most importantly, watching the performances.

Planet Egypt is at Darbucka lounge bar & restaurant on the last Thursday of every month. It is a showcase of belly dance performers & musicians organised by Anne White, a teacher and performer based in Bishopsgate, London.

This month’s showcase on the 31st March 2011 will include:


Outi has performed to excited audiences all over Egypt along with her orchestra and folkloric dancers. Her show consists of a variety of numbers, including cabaret, Alexandrian dance, saeedi, baladi and classic songs from such beloved artists as Oum Kulthoum.

Katie Holland

“Katie Holland has been dancing from the age of three, and has studied Ballet, Tap, Modern, African, Samba, Bollywood, Sacred Nepalese, Tribal Fusion, Egyptian Bellydance, Yoga, Martial Arts and currently Bharatanatyam.  Katie is Regarded as one of the best foreign performers in India and is in high demand as a performer, teacher and choreographer for all kinds of events.  She has performed with Hossam and Serena Ramzy and their Egyptian Ensemble at Planet Egypt, The Bloomsbury Theatre and Bath Middle Eastern Festival, The Arab League at Raqs Brittania and countless 5 and 7* hotels in India to name a few.”


“Iona started modern dancing at the age of nine and first became interested in  Oriental dance after she had her second child. Iona’s dancing experience includes a pop music video, selected London restaurants, burlesque and caberet events as well as weddings and hafla’s.”

The Minyawi Project


“The seeds of The Minyawi Project (T.M.P.) were sown around 2006 whilst on tour playing for the inimitable Natacha Atlas. After a sell out concert in Belgium, Aly el Minyawi and Dr. Eser Ebcin decide to stage an impromptu concert in the lobby of the hotel in which they were staying. After receiving rapturous plaudits from the late night revellers they retired to their rooms. On waking up and meeting in the breakfast room, the decision was made to start work immediately…”


For more information see:!/group.php?gid=63934754756

Belly Dance Styles

2 Feb

Belly Dance Styles

World Influence

Photos courtesy of Sharon Cooper Photography

There are many traditional styles of belly dance whether it is Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese or Persian etc.

Some of the more classic styles might incorporate folkloric, gypsy and cabaret traits in both technique and costume, however, the fundamental movements of belly dance are all very similar.

Many new dancers are taking an increased interest in modern styles, which are often referred to as ‘Fusion’, where the dancer incorporates gothic or tribal techniques and a costume to match.

This has been popular in America and now in the UK. But most of the time, the type of music will determine the style of belly dance, as the instruments often signal the movement.



You will find that some belly dancers first started out in salsa, ballet or even gymnastics where they use their skills to create fascinating combinations in belly dance. This again, is belly dance fusion.

Following a heightened interest in the art form and the influence the dance has worldwide, the styles of belly dance are ever-increasing variations combining many movements from other dance forms.


However, the fundamental skills in belly dance, involving upper and lower isolations, fluidity of movements and the focus on the hips are the main reasons this dance continues to be popular from generation to generation – Regardless of where you are in the world.

Destination – Tunisia

11 Jun


Currency: Tunisian Dinar (TND)

Local Time: Tunisia time is GMT

Language: The official language is Arabic

Population: 10.2 million

Flying Time: UK to Tunisia – 3 hours 15 mins

From Tunisia’s list of attractions you would expect a country many times its size. It offers superb beaches, spectacular desert scenery and a wealth of historical sites dating back nearly 3,000 years to when the ancient city of Carthage dominated the entire western Mediterranean.
The combination of Islamic culture and European approach makes Tunisia a very popular North African holiday destination. With a climate that rarely dips under 20 degrees, it’s a real hot spot all year round. One moment you could be relaxing on the warm golden sands of a Mediterranean beach, the next you could be camel trekking in the Sahara.


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