In August I was browsing through Facebook when I saw a post by Delilah Dance pop up on my news feed. Delilah Dance was announcing that she was auditioning for a belly dance theatre production of the well known tale of Aladdin.
As a passionate dancer I've always wanted to be in a full theatre production, ever since I could remember it's been a childhood ambition of mine. I thought "what have I got to lose, if you don't get it, well at least I get constructive feedback from the judges". So I put myself out there and emailed Delilah to apply for the audition.
I was one of many dancers from within the UK belly dance scene who auditioned at the beginning of September for a unique opportunity to be cast as one of eight characters in the theatre show. Auditions were held at the Lost Theatre which is also the location for the London showing in February. As a dancer I always find the anticipation is the worst part of the audition. Sitting in unknown territory amongst other auditionees, some of whom i already knew, all in the same position waiting for your name to be called. Once inside the room my heart rate started to triple as I knew that for the next two minutes I would be analysed piece by piece and compared with the other auditionees.
I performed my prepared piece after which I had a 'chat' with the judges where I was asked to choose a character and choreograph a short dance for the character in twenty minutes. It was a great challenge and one that I felt both comfortable and excited by. After showcasing the character I had choreographed I was told I would find out the results in one week. That one week felt like one of the longest of my life, I really wanted a part in the theatre show and it was killing me not knowing. Other dancers out there will understand. I checked my email almost every thirty minutes on the day I was due to find out. After what felt like forever, I found out that I had been cast as the mesmerising yet dim character of Sorcerer's Assistant.
Three weeks ago we had our first rehearsal for the Aladdin Belly Dance Theatre Production. After which, I was feeling very excited, ready to go and inspired. Delilah brought the group together for our first session where we showcased our homework and developments. The theatre cast is made up of eight females all with different belly dance backgrounds. Some of the girls are classically belly dance trained whilst others specialise in tribal fusion and dark fusion. Despite our different disciplines I can see why Delilah 'the mummy' of the course and theatre production has chosen us, it's the performer within us all that unites us. After all this makes sense as it is a performance mastery course and not a technique mastery course. In our first session Delilah talked us through the do's & dont's of performance after which we showed our solos to the group. I really enjoyed watching the different performances and what each character has dreamed up and developed into a "belly" dance format.
I can see exactly why Delilah has chosen the cast as everyone seems to fit their roles perfectly from the scary and creepy to the mystical and powerful and to the down right cocky. Here is the list of dancers and their cast roles.
I can't wait to see how the roles and characters develop throughout the course. I'll keep you posted. Ooooooooo
The Tour - Oxford, Manchester and London
Last month I toured England for the Performance Mastery production of the well known story, Aladdin. Myself and sixteen highly competent and well established dancers in different styles such as Oriental, Folk, Egyptian, Turkish, Tribal and Fusion performed three tour dates in Oxford, Manchester, and London over two weekends.
After months of hard work, blood, sweat and tears to produce a unique belly dance show of a high standard, we kicked off our tour with the opening night in Oxford. Having not performed in Oxford before, I wasn't sure how the audience would react, but to my delight the show was received very well with outstanding reviews. The cast including myself were chuffed with the response, especially as everyone had been working their socks off for the past eight months. However, the highlight of Oxford was not the actual performance but the shenanigans on return journey home. Certain members of the cast (eh-hem) couldn't sleep on the way back to London. Instead the we burst into song, singing our hearts out on the minibus with our renditions of Abba classics, Disney anthems, 90s hits, the Spice Girls and more. I'm sure the driver got us back to London in record time because of our 'fabulous' singing and you'll be pleased to hear that we're not auditioning for the X-Factor anytime soon.
The following weekend we hit Manchester and London with the former taking place on the Saturday night. After a five hour drive and some good pub grub we were ready for our second performance. The Manchester audience did not disappoint, they were energetic and really encouraging, clapping, cheering and even booing at the Sorcerer. On our return, some of the dancers didn't get home until 5.30am on Sunday morning only to perform later that day for our London showing. Ahhhh, the rock star life, it's all glamour.
The experience and reviews
The tour was an experience that I will never forget and to have the opportunity to close the tour in my home town of London was incredible. I had family, friends and my own students in the audience so the pressure was definitely on. In the last couple of weeks leading up to the London show all I could think was, would I impress my students? Would my family feel proud and let me off for not being around for the last eight months? Well, I was kind of in the bad books for having missed Mother's Day, my nieces 1st birthday etc.
The main struggle that I encountered as an artist was that after working on something for a long while, I lost all sense of how it looked, felt and translated as a story. Thankfully, all of my doubts were smashed during the tour as the reviews were incredible, I had a great response towards my character which was a huge weight off my shoulders (see the reviews below).
Normally, after I perform, I tend to be on a real high but after Aladdin I just felt numb, the buzz didn't settle in until the next day. After which, I couldn't concentrate for the entire week following the tour. All that effort, months of rehearsals, working with dancers I hadn't met before, making friends, playing a character and developing that character, getting in to the zone, and trying to get inside the head of your character. When it was all over, it felt very strange going from full speed intense training to zero.
Overall, being cast in Aladdin as Sorcerers Assistant is one that I will never forget and will cherish. I have always enjoyed performing belly dance styles on stage. Why should belly dance only be confined to restaurants? There is so much beauty and creativity that can go into making a belly dance theatre show. The best thing to come out of the tour was the friendships, which is one of the reasons I started taking dance lesson in the first place, so it's nice to see that this element hasn't been lost over the years.
Read some of the reviews on the Aladdin website: http://aladdindance.weebly.com/blog
Read some reviews about my character:
''Tev you are an absolute superstar☆☆ phenomenal performance! You were captivating and I loved spending so time with you dancing laughing and singing with you xx Thank you xx''
''It was lovely working with you. You are a genuinely lovely person to know and work with, an amazing talented dancer and an inspiration. Thank you! x''
''Tevec, Your performance was a tour de force...loved it!''
''Tevec Ibrahim you were brilliant tonight - the way you bought the mischief making character out was fantastic. Enjoyed it so much xxx''
''Congratulations on an excellent performance xx''
''You were amazing!!''
''You were simply amazing Tevec Ibrahim x''
Award-winning Turkish Oriental and Theatrical Fusion performer and teacher.