Ozel Turkbas

Ozel Turkbas, arguably the most famous Turkish bellydancer of old is a personal favorite of mine. My own dance style tends towards the arabic stylings of the dance, but I have always appreciated her fluidity, grace, and contributions to the art. Not only was she a dancer, but she was an accomplished singer and author. You can read more about her here…

But in the meantime, enjoy one of my favorite clips of her dancing when she was still quite young! I promise you this tune is wickedly catchy!

Shimmy through the weekend!

I am looking forward to this weekend! Starting Saturday morning off with class at the Pittsburgh Dance Center at 10am. We are still working through our choreography which we hope to premiere in January and again in February at our first Hafla of 2013. We have been working hard and it really is coming together!

Sunday afternoon we have our workshop series continuing at 12:30-2 pm. We will feature the first hour with zills and veils followed by adjustments using the Alexander Technique. After class, it is time to get our things together for the Shimmy Holiday Party and Swap Meet! This time, our holiday party/ hafla is for dancers and students only. I think this will give us all a level of comfort and intimacy not normally present when we entertain! It is also a chance for the community to raise any issues or concerns for 2013!

I know I need to gather my goodies for sale as well. If anyone is interested, I will be bringing a few inexpensive costumes, skirts, and veils 🙂

Hope you all can make it!!!

Belly-Off 2012: Lalita!

Our featured dancer of the day is Lalita of Maryland, our Entertainer of the Year! She will be one of our guest judges next year as well as a guest instructor at the Pittsburgh Bellydance Festival 2013.


Who do/did you study with?  How long have you been dancing? Also what style of Oriental do you prefer, Turkish, Egyptian or Lebanese and why? Or are you a fusionista?
I started belly dance classes with Sitamun in the fall of 2006, and I immediately fell in love with this exotic and sensual art form!  I now take classes with Artemis when I can, and I travel to do workshop master classes with amazing instructors.  This year, I have studied with Dina, Aegela, and Shereena just to name a few.  I like to experiment with fusion and many styles; however, I am probably most comfortable in my body with Egyptian stylings.
Do you travel? Teach or take at workshops? Perform?
I perform at restaurants, haflas, gala shows, and other special events locally and even nationally 😀
Do you prefer dancing to live or recorded music?
I have only had three opportunities to perform with a live band (two of those times were at the BELLY OFF), and I want to enjoy live band dancing more often– the energy and passion you feel from the live music is exquisite!
Why bellydance as opposed to another dance form? And finally, what does bellydance mean to you?
I have studied many dance forms, but there is something so enchanting about belly dance.  I love that it is so beautiful and expressive and embracing of womens’ bodies of all shapes and sizes.  Belly dance makes me feel strong, sexy, and sassy 🙂

In studio with Laura Dark!

Laura Dark is amazing! From her facebook fan page, Dark Beauty and Fashion Photographer Biography

Laura Dark has been shooting professionally for the past 15 years.  She attended art school for a BFA and apprenticed for 2 years under a local commercial and portrait photographer.  She is well versed on both sides of the camera as both Model and Photographer.  It has been said that, “what Laura can do in a half a dozen frames would make grown men cry.”  She is best known for her dark portrait and beauty work which has been described as, “beautiful and creative to the max….the images are so realistic and haunting…it’s insane.”
Laura is also the Fashion Editor for the avant garde fashion and photography magazine, Dark Beauty.  Dark Beauty is a magazine dedicated to artists, fashion designers, photographers, musicians, and actors who crave dark glamour. We provide a new avenue for promoting new and exciting talents who dares to push the envelope and bring such fantasies to life. Our focus is to highlight and bring awareness to bold talents from the darker side of the arts community.
Needless to say, after my second photoshoot with her, I am not only a fan, but totally hooked! Laura captures the magic of veil work like no other photographer!

In studio with double veils
Janim performs with double veils
In studio with a silk veil
In studio with a silk veil

Belly-Off 2012: Angela Alam

Part 2 of our Belly-Off in review features Angela Alam, runner up in our Headliner category!

Angela AlamHow long have you been dancing?
I was a late belly-bloomer.  I began taking classes in 2006 at the age of 35 with Amira Nagi in Hurricane, WV.
Maybe I should give you some back story on how I got into this… It might be more interesting than just the static question and answer…or not. ha
I found belly dance sort of by accident.  I had bariatric surgery in 2005 and ended up losing a total of 100lbs.  My Dr was really after me to find a way to be active and maintain my weight loss.  I found belly dance at an art fair in Charleston, WV.  A group called “Rom Neve” performed, and to tell the truth I cant remember if they were part of the scheduled entertainment or just busking, but I was hooked on the music and the beautiful dancer that “moved like smoke” (to quote a band member). I set out on an internet search to see if she offered dance classes locally.  I didnt find that particular dancer, but I found videos of Rachel Brice and “Fat Chance Bellydance” and finally information on a local teacher, Amira Nagi. I was hooked. I took classes for a few years with Amira and danced with in her student troupe. When Amira took a break from teaching, she turned her classes over to Jenna Brooke Swanson.  (fyi, Jenna was the Rom Neve dancer…YAY)
I danced with Jenna’s student troupes in its many evolutions;  Bella Dames and the Nitty Gritty Gypsies, Bal aBlonde (funny story) and Raqs Shakti.  Jenna has since moved to the west coast to further her career and I have sort of been on my own since.  I travel to as many workshops and intensives as financially possible.  I have studied with Moria Chappel, Sherena and Tiffani Ahdia from Project Bellydance.     I began as a fusion dancer and only recently discovered the more traditional forms of bellydance.  Teachers of Oriental dance are scarce here in my little part of the world.  I have made it my goal to learn all that I can so that I can share it with others some day.

Do you prefer dancing to live or recorded music?
Choreography to recorded music is my friend and I love the secure feeling it gives, however nothing compares to the power and energy that comes from live music and improvised dance.  The planned and canned performance is fun, but its a dance recital and it is what it is.  The power of improv and live music fills the room and is something…well, MORE.  (sorry, I cant find better words to describe it)
Why bellydance as opposed to another dance form? And finally, what does bellydance mean to you?
I love that belly dance doesnt care that I’m not 5’9″ and 125. My belly sisters and I have been through lots of personal ups and downs.  Dance lets me get it all out…good and bad.
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