Sufi Dancing in Pittsburgh?

What is Sufi Dancing or Sufi Whirling?

According to Wikipedia, Sufi Whirling “is a form of physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It is a customary dance performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes (also called semazens) aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kemal. This is sought through abandoning one’s nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.”

Mohamed El Sayed of Egypt
Mohamed El Sayed of Egypt | Stylized Sufi Spinning

And if you need a little bit more, check out this short informational video! 

Why do I ask what Sufi Dancing is?

In August, we are fortunate to be hosting Mohamed El Sayed of Egypt for his first tour through the United States. Mohamed is an up and coming, one might say, already arrived,  dancer and drummer currently living in Europe. He will be leading us through a SUFI Dancing Workshop on Saturday, August 4th at the Pittsburgh Dance Center.

After watching a few of his youtube clips, I can only say that I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS WORKSHOP!!!

Mohamed El Sayed, Sufi Dance

If you feel the same ways as I do, sign up now or join us at the Gala Show! Questions? Email me!

Want even more information?

A little more about the origins of Rumi Dervish!

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Dancing in SPACE

Last night, I performed at SPACE Art Gallery in downtown Pittsburgh for a fundraiser for Cosmopolitan Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

I was fortunate to be accompanied by my dance partner Kate and her ever vibrant daughter Olympia.

I also have to thank Kate for her candid snapshots throughout the evening. Including the familiar, bellydancer gets ready in the bathroom moment. Sorry to those unsuspecting guests!

There was an installation at the Gallery that included film (with sound) in two separate rooms and these imaginative dancing 3D paper dolls.

I was hired for a short set, something upbeat and fun for the crowd! I chose to do two songs, a lively entrance with zills (honestly, I think I surprised the woman behind me in this picture!)

followed by a snappy veil number….

At some point, while spinning with the veil, I realized that my shadow was interacting with the film projected behind me…needless to say, I started dancing with my shadow!

The film, only seen in snippets was intriguing. Perhaps I will visit the gallery again during this exhibit!

I truly enjoyed performing last night! The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a wonderful organization that I wholeheartedly support and lovely people were very complimentary. Many thanks to all!

The end of the night saw Olympia, Kate, and I trying to replicate the letters outside of SPACE’s gallery.

The letter A and the Letter C

I want to share this here as well. This is a very informative and excellent example to developing a performance contract/ agreement with your client. Thank you, Mahin!

In the Ears.... Out the Hips!

Belly dance contractLast week I got an email from a local dancer asking about performance contracts and what to include in one. I’ll admit I was uncomfortable with contracts when I first started to do private gigs. Some part of me felt it was a gesture of distrust toward my client, but twelve years and a several hundred parties later, I wouldn’t do a private gig without one.  I’ve come to realize that it’s just a document of clarity and commitment that makes sure we are in agreement on the details, and most people aren’t put off by them. I call mine a “Performance Agreement”; I think it accurately describes its purpose and sounds less intimidating to the sensitive client.

Before I venture on a word further, I will say that I am not a legal professional and my contract has not been written by a legal professional. It also has never…

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Recap: A March weekend with Lisa Zahiya!

I know this is a month or two late, but I definitely wanted to recap our amazing weekend with Lisa Zahiya of Asheville on her return trip to Pittsburgh!

Lisa was in town to teach 3 incredible workshops that were not only fun and entertaining, but challenging and rewarding. Lisa’s first workshop, Hips of Fire: Technique, redefined hip work as I know it. I always find it fascinating to see how teachers break down movements into bite size pieces for students. Good communication is a gift, and in this area, Lisa is a gifted teacher.

In her second workshop, Hips of Fire: Choreography, Lisa introduced us to a choreography to a Nancy Ajram tune, El Dounya Helwa. The song is sickeningly sweet yet undeniably catchy. The movements and the combinations fit the tune perfectly. We did our best to emote saccharine! All joking aside, the choreography was fun to learn and practice.

Lisa’s final workshop, Pop, Lock, & Undulate helped us to learn how to fuse elements from a different style of dance into bellydance and what a fusion piece really entails. In this instance, we worked with bringing traditional hip hop movements into our bellydance repertoire. The waving exercise towards the end was absolutely mesmerizing!

As a host for the weekend, I was honored to have the line-up of talented dancers who not only participated in the workshops but then performed their hearts out at the Saturday night gala show. We had our local favorites, Mehira, Unsuk, Nawal, Berna, Kari, Hakan, and our very own ISHTAR! From out of town, I was honored to have Athena Nile, Khalisay, Aya of Virginia, and Lisa Zahiya herself performing!