Happy World Belly Dance Day!

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Today is World Belly Dance Day!

Each second Saturday of May we celebrate belly dancing – which is not just a sensual dance style, but a true art form.

Dance, music and emotion become one.

The melodic and rhythmic Arabic music is brought to life by the body of a belly dancer in such a way that it actually becomes visible. Along with the interpretation of the emotions – conveyed by the music or the meaning of the lyrics – this carries the dancer and the audience away into a shared exceptional experience.

Belly dancing makes us feel comfortable in our own skin and improves our confidence. Our body awareness grows and we move in a more flexible and elegant way.

Aside from the emotional aspect, a correct dance technique is very important. With proper technique, we can perform the movements in a safe manner with a beautiful posture. This makes the body stronger and often even cures ailments such as back aches!

…. does it show that belly dancing is my passion? 🙂

12 years ago, I took my very first belly dance steps with Samyra. Back then I had no idea how a dance initiation at a summer festival would change my life 🙂

I recently posted about the “Artist Challenge” that went around on Facebook, inviting artists to show their artistic development in the course of five days, by sharing photo’s and video’s.

I chose 5 milestones in my career (see them here), but belly dancing has brought me so many beautiful moments that I could fill multiple weeks with extraordinary memories 🙂

This makes me very grateful, and I am very happy to be able to give this to others by sharing my passion via performances and classes.

I wish you a very happy World Belly Dance Day!
Together we’ll keep this art form alive and kicking!

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Artist Challenge on Facebook

I was nominated by the lovely Courtney to participate in the 5-day Artist Challenge, which invites artists to share pictures or video’s of their art work or performances, showing their artistic development.

Usually I don’t take part in challenges or other online projects but I was feeling this one, so I accepted and dove into my archives… meaning my facebook photo’s, an external hard disk and Youtube 🙂

Day 1 – posted on 7th April

Samyra

#artistchallenge day 1 – I just ran into this photo a couple of days ago. It was taken at the Gentse Feesten, the festival in my home town where I took my very first bellydance steps. The dancer in the front is my first teacher Samyra.

At the time of this picture I must have been dancing for 2 or 3 years I think. I started dancing in 2003. The girl on the left, Jeanette, is a dear friend with whom I spent many many hours chatting online 🙂

Seeing this photo makes me smile!


Day 2 – 8th April

Queenie at Saqarah

#artistchallenge‬ day 2 – Fast forward to 2010! This picture was taken at Saqarah in London, by Maani Photography. I danced two sets, oriental and khaleegy.

This was the first of quite a few performances in England now, and I must say that it is always so lovely to go there. I’ve met so many wonderful people at Saqarah, Jewel of Yorkshire, Fantasia, Celebrating Dance Festival, Shimmy By The Sea!, Planet Egypt, Shimmy in the City… to name a few of the amazing events.

Very happy memories for which I’m very grateful, and I look forward to go back in October of this year, for the 15th edition of Celebrating Dance.


Day 3 – 9th April

Queenie is Bellydancer of the World 2011

#artistchallenge‬ day 3 – Moving on to 2011. The craziest year ever. I was teaching, performing, working and competing. In April that year I won first place at the Jewel of Yorkshire contest, in September I won third place at Shimmy in the City and in November I won first place at Bellydancer of the World at Leyla Jouvanas & Rolands Oriental Festival of Europe, shared with Kathreen from Czech Republic.

This picture was taken by André Elbing during that performance.
Costume by Bella – who always know what I want, even when I don’t know it myself 🙂

It was the last contest I entered – I am not competing anymore and I’m happy with that, but I have learned so much from it on multiple accounts. The competition world can be very tough, and there is a LOT of discussion about it, but the experience has been invaluable for my dance and for myself as a person.


Day 4 – 10th April

Queenie and Khalida

#artistchallenge‬ day 4 – I met Khalida for the first time in Eindhoven (NL) in 2008, where we both took workshops with Orit from Israel. We only met sporadically for a while but it was always nice to chat and have some fun 🙂 I think it was in 2010 that we started to realize that we have a *lot* in common. It also turned out that we started bellydancing in the same year and have experienced a similar dance evolution.

This photo was taken by Ludo Vanlangenakker at a show organised by Johanna and Nephélé, in 2013. Khalida and I both celebrated our 10-year danciversary that year 🙂

Although we only performed together a couple of times, we have cooperated for *many* projects. We still share rooms when we happen to travel together, which is always good fun, with dance geekery and philosophical talks. Thanks, dude!! ❤


Day 5 – 11th April

#artistchallenge‬ day 5 – For my last day of the challenge I want to post the video of my performance at Hanaa‘s hafla, in september 2014.

This performance is very special to me, as it was the first time where I was totally relaxed and into the music while improvising. No internal shoulds or what ifs… just the music, the dancing, and the audience. A really special experience, that confirmed what dance really means to me, and what I want to convey with my dancing. Going back to the essence.

Thank you so much for nominating me for this challenge, Courtney! I really enjoyed taking this trip down memory lane and remembering those milestones.

Hello, April!

Hello, April! Ahh, spring. How I love you! Those bright yellow broom flowers, the cheerful daffodils, and among my absolute favorites… the magnolia trees! These days their buds are so eager to burst open into those dreamy blossoms… just a few more days before we can enjoy their full glory over here! I’m a romantic soul at heart 🙂

Those last weeks of winter had a lot in store for me, so it’s lovely to take a short breath over the Easter break.

In February I taught the first Technique Intensive in my studio. A 3 hour class which was quite… intense! I had limited the number of participants to only 9, and it was interesting to work on dance moves and mechanics with just a small group of dancers. Thanks for your dedication, ladies! bellydance technique intensive with Queenie In March, I was happy and honoured to be a guest teacher at Shimmy by the Sea, not one but two glorious bellydance weekends hosted by the fabulous Chloe Dent.

I always love visiting England, and I’m actually getting the hang of driving on the wrong side of the road, which means that my travel companion Khalida felt comfortable enough to take some pictures instead of holding her breath 😉 bellydancers queenie and khalida Of course… getting gas is part of the fun! Although this one was a perfectionist’s challenge to deal with! 🙂 tanken We were lucky to catch the solar eclipse on 20th March! I had already given up on seeing it, being on the road on a grey and cloudy day, but just as I pulled up at the gas station, the clouds opened up just enough in the right place! With a bonus photo bomb, too 🙂 Solar eclipse march 2015 Upon arrival in Battle, there was some time to discover the village. Being there for a bellydance event, this sign made me grin – plump chicken fillets, anyone? 🙂 chickenfillets I love mugs! But I have too many of them already, so I was brave and resisted buying this one – even though it’s Queen(ie)-themed and it has a crown. I love things with crowns! twomugs At the festival, I really enjoyed teaching my workshops. Chloe had picked some of my favorite topics (drumsolo choreography, ‘Queentessence’ about graceful stage presence and ‘Go with the Flow’ with super smooth transitions).

I loved dancing with and for these ladies! The atmosphere at both events was so nice! I seem to be missing some group pictures, will post them when I run into them!

Once again it was a pleasure to travel with my dear friend and favorite roomie Khalida! It had been a while since we’d seen each other, so it took a while before the chatter calmed down 🙂

Another lovely thing about SBTS and its location at Crowhurst Park are the beautiful views and gorgeous sunsets. Each and every time we are treated with lovely skies. sunset1 sunset2

And last but definitely not least.. the last weekend of March brought another Queenie Day! The day started with an hour long practice flow, continued with a 2 hour technique workshop with a focus on the upper body, and ended with a dynamic oriental choreography. 5 hours of dance – we did it!

Queenie Workshop Day

A beautiful end to a quite busy but amazing first trimester of the year! Looking forward to what the coming months have in store! 🙂

Paris, baby!

Queenie - Karim Nagi - Bellydance - Paris

Last weekend I was invited by the lovely Illina to teach a Technique Intensive in Paris. We met in London a couple of years ago, and I was delighted to spend a few days with her. She welcomed me with open arms, and I enjoyed sharing ideas and experiences with her, over excellent home-cooked food and the best baguette in the world.

L'étoile du Berger

The boulangerie – with constant queueing!

L'étoile du Berger

There was some time for sight-seeing too! I preferred to visit the palace of Versailles over the Louvre museum – only because I’m not a fan of crowded places.

I’ve always wanted to see it, and I’m happy I finally got the chance. It was really cold though, so I resolved to go back in summer to be able to spend some time in the gardens without freezing 🙂

Pictures from the Versailles Wikipedia page

On our way to the Versailles estate, we passed by an event with vintage cars. There was some fun live music, too! Yes, we sang along 🙂

Live band

The band!

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It was cold!

Illina - Rolls Royce

Illina picked her favorite car – she went straight to the Rolls-Royce 🙂

Queenie - Fiat 500

My choice was… different 🙂 I love the old Fiat 500!

Expert at work 🙂

Obligatory selfie 🙂 Check out Illina’s remarkable eye colour!

That evening, Illina was dancing at L’Orient Palace in Coignières. 3 members of the association – Patricia, Anna and Maryse – joined us for a great evening with amazing Moroccan food and lots of laughs 🙂

Blurry photo with Patricia and Anna – and Maryse behind the camera 🙂

 

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan salad with a wedge of lemon – so good!

 

Tajine

Tajine with chicken, prunes and almonds – yum!

Charming Illina!

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Loved the decor!

The next day, it was workshop time! Illina had scheduled a 3 hour Technique Intensive, which allowed me to teach some of my favorite techniques and new combinations. I taught the class in French – which caused some language giggles from time to time 🙂

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With some of the lovely dancers after the workshop

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🙂

I really enjoyed this weekend. A big thank-you goes out to Illina and the members of the association for inviting me, and to the dancers who took my workshop.

Eiffel Tower

The perfect end to a perfect weekend

Queenie Eiffel Tower

Proof I was there 😉

Eiffel Tower Fridge Magnet

New souvenir on my freezer 🙂

I am happy I got to visit Paris again – I hope to be back soon!

Au revoir, la France!

 

Best wishes… and looking back

With the new year just around the corner, I want to send you my very best wishes 🙂

I wish you… a warm festive season as the start of a happy and healthy year with fulfilled hopes and dreams, but above all… enjoying beautiful moments, each and every day.

Friendship, love, reflection, inspiration, creativity… I hope your keywords will also fall into place in 2015!

Just like I look forward to every new year with plenty of resolutions, I also take the time to look back and think about events and happenings of the year that has passed… to be grateful for positive experiences and to learn from less than perfect occurrences.

For now, it’s such a pleasure to think back to …

“Diner Spectacle” in Brussels, organized by Jamila and Nadia (Photo: mark-n-oliver.com)

The very first gathering for the founding of the Belgian bellydance federation BFOD-FBDO!

With Oraya, Yamila and Nephélé at the International Bellydance Festival in Heerlen (NL)

After teaching a wonderful arms workshop at Zahra’s Week-end de la Danse Orientale in Wavre (BE)

With Khalida and Asiyah during the yearly hafla in Betekom (BE)!

At Layali Dubaï, show with live music organized by Jamila and Nadia, with Prof. Dr. Hassan Khalil (Photo: Guillaume Dedeurwaerder)

After the 4-day Dance Intensive Khalida and I organized in Germany!

With some of the awesome ladies at Tarazade belly dance festival in Istanbul: Courtney, Tevec, Rabia, Viviane, Gabi and Lara!

With Khalida from Belgium/Germany and Jamilah from Poland after Hanaa’s hafla! 

After an excellent Bellydance Festival in Nice (FR)! With Nadia Jalal, Sabine Zerbib, Alex Delora and Yassir Jamal!

Backstage selfie with Nephélé during the fantastic Dance4Children show in Brussels

During the last Queenie Day of 2014!

With this I like to conclude my dance year…

and now it’s time for some relaxing 🙂
See you next year!
Queenie wishes you happy holidays!

Great dance reads

Sharing some more articles that recently sparked my interest or made me ponder 🙂

The gifts dance brings to our lives
by Sheri Leblanc

Does stretching increase flexibility?
by Tia Ghose

When Lindy Hop isn’t fun anymore (dealing with dance slumps)
by Rebecca Brightly

Struggling with perfectionism? Learn to enjoy dance
by Sheri Leblanc

Being awesome anyway
by Lisa Zahiya

Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration
interviews by Laura Barnett

What I do when it feels my work is not good enough
by James Clear

And last but definitely not least, this quote by Derek Sivers:
What seems ordinary to you, may be amazing to others.

Bellydance festival in Nice, France!

I was honoured to be invited as a guest star at the first edition of the Bellydance festival in Nice. I love France, so I was excited to be able to combine my fondness of la douce France with my passion for dance 🙂

Nadia Jalal and Sabine Zerbib presented a great line up – check out the festival poster!