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in Leiden, NL
August, 5th - 7th 2011
Bellydance Spectacle: The Bellydance Spectacle took place on Saturday evening at the prestigious and historic ‘Stadsgehoorzaal’ in Leiden. A beautiful ambiance for a wonderful event! Many visitors took pictures in front of the Summer Bellydance Festival 2011 “red carpet” backdrop.  What a fantastic detail! Unfortunately Milla Tenorio was unable to perform because she broke her foot teaching a workshop.  Amira Shazadi from Germany took her place and performed on Saturday evening.

The fantastic lively Bellydance Spectacle started with a beautiful introduction video announcing the dancers and flying butterflies which ran over into the first dance by Anusch herself. She wore a beautiful pink and blue butterfly costume and danced like a butterfly owning the stage. All the international star dancers performed twice before an enthusiastic audience and they rocked the sold-out hall! The evening ended with the announcement of the winners of the Summer Bellydance Contest 2011 and the crowning of the ‘Miss Summer Bellydance 2011’. The applause went on and on and on . . .  What an amazing event!

Anusch had put together a very varied program. Each dancer had her own dance qualities.  The audience enjoyed a broad range of dances such as Turkish Roman, Egyptian raqs sharqi, modern flag dance, sword dance, and Khaleegy from Dubai. Anusch performed the opening dance and set the tone for the evening. She carried the audience into a dance spectacle. At the end of the evening she announced that the DVD of the gala show will be available at the end of September – that will allow us to enjoy the unforgettable Bellydance Spectacle again and again.

Because of the big success and the sold-out theatre, Anusch also announced at the end of the evening that the gala show "The Bellydance Spectacle" will be shown in Morocco

Graphics and layout: Konstanze Winkler
Photos © André Elbing,
Sophie Armoza (Israel)
Amar Lammar
Amira Ates
Shayma (Argentinien)
"Asha" about the event:

The International Summer Bellydance Festival 2011 took place in Leiden on August 5th, 6th and 7th and was organized by Anusch Alawerdian. The festival consisted of Workshops, a Bellydance Contest, an elegant gala, “Bellydance Spectacle”, and the grand closing party, the “Bellydance Lounge”.  This was the first “International Summer Bellydance Festival” (ISBF) and it was a big hit so it was decided that there will certainly be a follow up in 2012!  
This festival was organized by Anusch Alawerdian who had surrounded herself by a team of excellent assistants.  When we interviewed Anusch earlier, she was not in the least kidding when she told us that she was aiming for a professional and high-level festival.  And high-level it was! The dancers, the venues, everything was perfectly organized from start to finish with great attention paid to every little detail.

The ISBF 2011 brought together amazing dancers from around the world:  Milla Tenorio (United Arab Emirates/Brazil), Amar Lammar (Mexico), Sophie Armoza (Israel), Nelly (Austria/Greece), Shayma (Argentina), Amira Ates (Netherlands), Amira Shazadi (Germany) and the organizer herself, Anusch Alawerdian (Netherlands/Armenia). Live Music was performed by Star Singer Ramy Lapache and his band.

Workshops: During the three days, the dancers conducted workshops which were all fully booked. The workshop participants greatly appreciated the unique opportunity to learn from internationally renowned professional dancers!
The unrivalled star of the evening was, of course, the host herself, Anusch Alawerdian. In her two performances she shows her interpretation of raqs sharqi, which is more than the usual moves and steps. This dancer with Armenian roots (but now living in the Netherlands) adds new ways and meanings to the Oriental dance. This way her acts are a special event. But with this she doesn’t forget her passion and femininity, which rule her dance the same way as her elegance and her joy of telling stories through her dance do.

Also from the Netherlands comes Amira Ates with a dashing as well as cue modern Oriental pop, in which she puts in grace and comeliness. This dance turns into a raqs sharqi, which metamorphoses into a drum solo. This way she shows us all sorts of styles, which are held together by Amira’s sheer joy of dancing. In the second block we see her as champion of the raqs sharqi. She tells us a story full of yearning, passion and melancholy, accentuated by shimmies – what a sight!
Raqs sharqi is also the theme of Amira Shazadi from Germany. She dances it the traditional way as the traditional minded amongst the audience loves to see it – and why not. Her danced stories have all, what it needs, but could show a little more inner turmoil.
Pure exotic that is what we can expect from Amar Lammar, when she interprets the raqs sharqi in her very own and special Latin way – after all she is from Mexico. This gets even more obvious, when she does the drum solo and the tablas do the Samba. Equally unusual is here flag performance. Where men wave the flag with strength and athletics, she does it with female elegance. And this is followed by a dance in which the Melaya and the Khaleegy alternate.
Anusch Alawerdian
Amira Shazadi
Contest “Miss Summer Bellydance 2011”: The theme of the contest was “Oriental Bellydane.” All contestants followed this theme. Twenty dancers competed for the title ‘Miss Summer Bellydance 2011’. The Jury consisted of:  Milla Tenorio, Amar Lammar, Shayma, Nelly and Anusch. They had a difficult job because all twenty contestants were of a very high level.  Eventually the jury reached agreement:

First Place: “Miss Summer Bellydance 2011” Izida (Germany/Bulgaria)

Second Place:  Loretta (Netherlands)

Third place: Hana Yi (South Korea)

The winners received awards, many beautiful prizes and the “Miss Summer Bellydance 2011” was invited to perform at the closing party.
Nelly is from Greece (but today lives in Austria). She is also “notorious” (if I may say so) for her exoticism – and indeed, her raqs sharqi shows many elements from the Turkish variant wilder and more extrovert than the Egyptian way. In the second block she surprises us with a cane dance, which is similar wild and expressive, but not forgetting the female emotional side of it. When you see Nelly dance, you can see, why Turks and Greeks quarrel over the question, who indeed has invented these dances.
Oriental dance from an Argentine dancer is something you don’t get to see every day. Shayma indulges us with a sword dance, which not at the very least martial, but a emotional and slow play wirh this prop. Shayma dances it on her knees, lying, standing, and with two swords.
Even from Israel there comes an artist to dance Oriental. Sophie Armoza dances Turkish Romani with zymbals, a classic Melaya, a Dabke and a classic Gypsy. But she doesn’t intermingle these dances nor does she vary them.
– Later we see from her a classic raqs sharqi. The long introduction with the veil is quite innovative.
An evening filled with state of the art and as wonderful and as colourful as you can get it, lies behind us and we are left behind with pleasant anticipation for the next festival by the exceptional Anusch Alawerdian.
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Anusch Alawerdian
The contest winners: Hana, Loretta and Izida
Raqs sharqi has a long tradition and is rightfully known as a form of art in its own right. For a long time already it stands as synonym for belly dance. For quite a while it was quite content being on its own, st least in the Western world. But as of late we see more and more young raqs sharqi dancers who breathe new life into this art form by introducing new elements into it and giving it a new kind of swing. To this moment these dancers are a minority, but their performances stay in our memory.

One of these innovators is Anusch Alawerdian. The Armenian girl, who now lives in Holland has mounted a very special and personal festival, the "International Summer Bellydance Festical", and below you can read, what it all was about.
by "Asha"
and Marcel Bieger

by Marcel Bieger

Six international renowned artists had come to Anusch Alawerdian’s major league dance gala, and of course, she did herself the honor of performing. Since the show was divided into two parts the audience got to see every artist twice.