Mariyah's Blog

Dance Collaborations

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Years ago when I first discovered bellydance I was immediately enchanted by many aspects of the art form: the beautiful music my teacher used in class, the powerful, elegant yet earthy movements and the exotic and ornate costuming. However, the solo, that expressive and improvisational aspect of bellydance, was most certainly one of its most fascinating attributes. When I began to take my first belly dance classes I was coming from a few years of training primarily focusing on ballroom dance. There are many things I love about ballroom but up until I started to seriously study bellydance, all performance aspects of dance for me had been focused on working with partner or group. The individual and expressive nature of the solo dance is still one of the things I love most in bellydance. Still, there is much to be said for the power of working with a group and the energy of synergistic collaboration. Over the years, I have done countless performances as a soloist, but I have also taken the opportunity to work with some other amazing dance artists. I am fortunate today to work with some wonderful dance companies as well as partnering in past and current projects with some very talented dancers.

Coming up in less than two weeks I will be teaching a duo belly dance drum solo workshop, a collaboration with wonderful NYC dancer, co-company member and dance partner Layla Isis.
This workshop will be a fundraiser for the Dalia Carella Dance Collective, a fusion dance theater company, in which we are both dancers. I have been dancing with the DCDC since 2001. It has been an amazing experience over the years dancing with Dalia and being a part of her unique artistic vision. As a director she always brings out the best in all of her dancers and I am very excited to be part of the upcoming 10th anniversary show of the Collective September 23rd and 24th in NYC.

Another company in which Layla and I both collaborate is NYC Arabic music and dance ensemble Zikrayat. Zikrayat’s focus is the Golden Age of Arabic music and dance and features classic belly dance and folk dance performances. In the past year, I have had the opportunity to do some direction and choreography for the dance ensemble. It has been a great experience creating and staging choreography with the wonderful dancers. Zikrayat is both a musical ensemble and a dance company which is especially important to me. I “grew up” as a dancer on live music and I cannot imagine my experience as in dance without it. The interplay of music and dance is such a vital part of this art form and in fact it is this creative collaboration, between musicians and dancers, that is my favorite in the world of bellydance.

Most recently I have also joined Bellyqueen, a popular and highly regarded bellydance based dance theater company in New York. In March, I joined the group for a mini-tour of the show “Journeys Along the Silk Road”. This unique production is a theatrical dance show using a strong basis of bellydance to tell its story. It has been just a few months so far but it is a great experience and an adventure rehearsing and touring with these talented dancers.

I never tire of seeing the individual expressiveness of a solo dancer in bellydance, or of performing my own solos. But dancing as a part of a group opens up a world of artistic possibilities as well as new opportunities and ideas. Working with three such unique groups while keeping up with my solo work takes a lot of energy and organization (not to mention rehearsal!) but it is a powerful experience and an adventure all the way!

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