Belly dance is not all about flexible bodies and shiny costumes. Above all, it is hard work, hours of sweating, and sore feet. Behind the glamor you see on the stage, there are personal discipline, dedication, and passion just as in any other dance. What I strongly suggest to beginner dancers is to visit international festivals as early as possible. The experience provides high doses of motivation, hours of euphoria, and like-minded friends from all over the world.
I’ve been dancing for a little longer than a year when I visited my very first festival, Enta Omri in Belgrade, Serbia.
Enta Omri Festival
There are quite a few dance schools in each major city, and some of them organize annual festivals. Enta Omri usually takes place in May and it is organized by Anahata Dance Studio. No matter which one you pick, most times the events run in a similar way: over a three-day weekend there are workshops, a competition, a gala show and a dinner party. Usually, all events take place at the same venue, but this year we had to travel to the workshops and the shows, which left us with barely any time to explore the city.
Belly Dance Workshops
This is of a major importance to newbies. Organizers typically invite several belly dance stars, who hold workshops in various styles during the festival. Depending on your budget, you can sign up for as many as you wish. Keep in mind that the workshops require serious physical stamina, so it is not a good idea to go for more than two or three at the start. Prices vary from festival to festival, and some organizers provide flexible packages to match everyone’s taste. The benefits of taking part in the workshops include learning new techniques and movements, familiarizing yourself with other styles, observing different approaches than the ones used by your personal instructor, and working out at a higher intensity, among others. The masters we learned from at this year’s edition of the festival included Leandro Ferreyra (Argentina), Isis (Mexico), Kasumi Kimura (Japan), Aliah (Poland), and many others.
Belly Dance Shows
In the evenings of the festival you can either support your favorite dancer in the competition night, or you can just indulge in the splendor of the gala show, where all the instructors participate. Even if you have never considered dancing yourself, you will be astonished by the gala show the stars put up. Belly dance teachers from across the world also take part in the performance. The live orchestra contributes to the oriental vibe and surprises some of the dancers who are left with no other options but improvisation. To sum it up, it is not something you can see any time, anywhere, so the experience is totally worth it.