Essence of Belly Dance Workshop

Sumaya in Fusion Belly Dance Costume
Ready for the show

This past weekend I attended Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance’s annual Essence of Belly Dance workshop, in Atlanta Georgia. This fabulous workshop was held in the Marriott hotel across from Lenox mall, and despite the fabulous shopping across the street, the belly dance shopping to be had within the workshop walls was more than enough to keep me from leaving the scene.

Workshop Day One

Day one itinerary: An intensive technique class in the morning with Amar Gamal and Sadie’s drum solo secrets right after. Both dancers are known for being Cabaret belly dancers,  but they each bring a different, but rich, vocabulary to the classical side of Middle Eastern dance. Amar Gamal is influenced both by her Latin roots and her years of classical dance experience. Her technique class delved into the depths of the arabesque among other things. Where Amar was fluidity and grace, Saidi is precision and power. Her workshop focused on layering not just footwork, hip work and chest work together, but also keeping them totally independent of each other. We drilled the glutes, for the Suhaila styled locks and layered that with our hip work.

Workshop Day & Show Day

Day two sees me once again with Amar Gamal, this time, in her drum solo choreography. Then I am tiptoeing over to the tribal side for an afternoon class with Mira Betz. The evening holds the Gala and fashion show which features all four of the workshop instructors: Amar Gamal, Saidi, Mira Betz, and Jill Parker plus there will be performances from local dancers and the hosting troupe, Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance. The fashion show exhibits pieces from the vendors, but, unlike a New York catwalk, these models intend to shimmy down the stage! Of course Zivah Saphirah performed our favorite gypsy number “Start Wearing Purple” and Wayward Tribal debut a new fusion piece to “Sail”. Thankfully Zivah and Wayward were in different acts, so there was plenty of time to change—and to snap some great shots of the STARS!


Photos from the Gala Show


Amar Gamal Egyptian Cabaret belly dancer
Amar Gamal takes the audiences breath away the minute she steps on stage.

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Mira Betz tribal fusion belly dancer
A dramatic tribal fusion piece by Mira Betz, maybe my favorite from the evening.

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Egyptian Cabaret Belly Dancer Saidi
Saidi truly is the master of the drum solo.

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Tribal Fusion Belly Dancer Jill Parker
Tribal fusion drum solo from Jill


[clear]Look for photos from Wayward Tribal’s and Zivah Saphirah’s performances soon.

Shopping & Workshop Day

Dark pink Egyptian Cabaret bellydance costume
Beautiful new belly dance costume from Sheherezade Imports

My third and final day starts with packing everything up, hotel check-out, really, and I mean really, browsing through the vendors’ wares, loading my car with a last minute purchase (or three) – a gorgeous dark pink bedlah, a pair of shimmery organza veils, a tribal headpiece and an afternoon of dance. The workshop ends at 6:30, and with the time zone’s working in our favor this time, we will be back in Birmingham by 9!

Essence of Belly Dance is an amazing experience, I’ve been to three now, and every year they get better and better! The variety of instructors is amazing, and the variety of students is amazing too. I made a new dance friend from West Virginia, shimmied on stage with real stars, and did it all with other women who love this amazing dance as much as I do.


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