The event promised a scrumptious variety of some of London's best dancers, food, fashion catwalk from Zara's Zouk and rhythm workshops. It definitely delivered!
I went with a couple of my students from Saturdays class and when we arrived we were warmly greeted by Zara at the door. We brought a drink, took our seats and the show started shortly after. Opening the show was Maelle (pictured left), winner of Belly Dance Trophies 2011-12, whose performance was elegant and classy setting the tone for the rest of the evening. We were then treated to the first catwalk show, modeled by London belly dancers of all styles, which showcased Egyptian costumes, the new range of practice wear from Plum Scarlet and tribal pieces some of which were sourced from Afghanistan. Following the catwalk show, Miss Belly Dance UK 2011 and Director of this year's Aladdin Dance Theatre Show, Delilah, delivered a shimmytastic crowd pleasing routine.
Zara was our delightful hostess with the mostess, she encouraged people to get up and dance in the breaks and have a good time 'Egyptian style'. Things really started to warm up during the interactive rhythm workshop led by Christina with guest appearance from renowned London-based drummer Sallam Al Sheikh. We each had a Duff (drum) and played out the commonly known Maqsoom and Zaar/Ayoub rhythms. I felt this was a nice touch to the evening as it added an authentic element and at the end of the day what would belly dance be with out a drum?
After all that hard work it was time to eat. Before us lay a delicious array of vegetarian dishes from Mediterranean and Middle-East cuisine such as stuffed vine leaves, falafal, cous cous and Greek salad. Being Turkish Cypriot I am a very good judge when it comes to food and I have to say that everything was absolutely yummy. The icing on the cake was literally a cupcake for each and every guest....mmmmmm. All of which was included within the ticket price providing great value for money.
The evening flew by as I caught up with familiar faces and friends, moving swiftly it was time for the next two performers. Organiser of Belly Dance Trophies and Director of the London Algerian Ballet, Farah Nasri, stunned the crowd with her powerful modern Cairo style and fabulous dancer Tara Lee-Oakley brought lots of energy with her Turkish style performance. As Zara introduced each performer it was nice to hear her personal reason for choosing them. Most of whom she is either friends with or is inspired by. I thought that added a nice touch to the evening as it highlighted positivity within the belly dance community and friendships built as a result of our love for the art form. As we all know there is often much rivalry and bitchiness in the dance world so it was refreshing to feel the 'lurrvvee'. We then oooed and ahhhhed some more during the next catwalk show as some really nice pieces came out. My favourite costume of the night was a black number worn by Kassandra (pictured right) with an all over embellished body stocking, that sold it for me, it was so unusual and pretty.
Closing the first half of the evening was Ayanna (pictured right) who brought an old school Egyptian feel to the evening with her elegant and classical style performance. So much so that I was shocked to find out that she wasn't Egyptian. I had to leave soon after but the second half of the evening continued with a hafla including performances from fellow Aladdin cast members Darkstar and her troupe The Darkettes, newly crowned Miss Belly Dance UK 2013 Roxane and Kassandra as well as other artists. The evening then turned into night giving the audience a chance to enjoy themselves on the dance floor.
Overall, it was a warm and friendly, great value for money event with a high standard of artists from the across the London belly dance community. I was thoroughly entertained, well fed and for me, it was nice to sit back and enjoy all the performances instead of dancing myself. I really look forward to the next one, hopefully same time next year.