July 2007Volume V

Bellydance Superstars: Then & Now!

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Who are the Bellydance Superstars? Are you kidding?!?

Being a major bellydance afficionado for so many years, I have to remind myself that not everyone has heard about the famous Bellydance Superstars touring group headed by Miles Copeland and directed by Jillina of Los Angeles. Back in 2002, there had been rumors of a dance audition up in Los Angeles for a bellydance performing group which would tour the country and film a documentary in the process! I wanted to attend the audition so badly but family and professional committments forced me to stay put. However, I did learn that Dondi, a close friend of mine who was famous in Southern California, was definitely going to be a participant. I couldn't wait to see how this group would attempt to portray bellydance to mainstream American audiences.

I'll never forget the first performance. Their tour debuted at Cane's Bar & Grill, right here in San Diego, with a wonderful variety of Middle Eastern dance styles ranging from classical to modern with plenty of fusion in between! My friend Dondi served as the M.C. utilizing her award winning speaking skills to lead the audience through what was being depicted on stage. She also gave her award winning comedic performance as "Marilyn Monroe" or what Marilyn would have been like as a bellydancer. All of the music was recorded but they did have a wonderful Syrian drummer named Issam Hassan who, in addition to being considered "The Pharoah of Rhythm" by his contemporaries, had also played at the Grammies with Sting. I had heard of and seen a little bit of American Tribal Bellydance which was originally pioneered by Jamila Salimpour. However, the Superstars brought this formerly underground style of dance to the forefront and enlisted an amazing dancer to lead it. Her name? Rachel Brice of course! Overall, the show was a huge success.

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So to answer the initial question, The Bellydance Superstars is a professional American belly dance troupe formed by Miles Copeland (entertainment executive and former manager of The Police)and founded in 2002. Their tours have expanded to include many countries around the world and succeeded in turning many up-and-coming dancers into "bellydance" household names! In addition to touring throughout North America and Europe, The Bellydance Superstars troupe has released Bellydance Superstars I, II, and III, compilations of music and three DVDs, with a feature documentary film called American Bellydancer.

I highly recommend catching their show next time they come to town or at least checking out one of their performance videos. Better yet, during their off-season, many of the "Stars" tour the country giving workshops loaded with great technique and choreography. One such workshop will be taking place here in San Diego on Saturday, July 15th featuring one of the founding members of the BDSS (Bellydance Superstars) along with the rhythm king himself. Sonia and Issam of BDSS will be presenting a workshop titled "The Art of the Drum Solo". Having performed in every BDSS show since it's inception, this is a great opportunity to learn drum solo technique from Sonia, a dancer who has has probably bellydanced as a star performer to more people in more countries than any bellydancer in history! Issam and Sonia have also consented to a performance that same evening at Greek Palace in Clairemont Mesa! I am honored to say that I have been invited to perform as well along with Jayna (also of BDSS), Mariela and Jessenia of San Diego. Middle Earth will provide live music and tickets include an "all-you-can-eat" dinner buffet. At just $25/person, this is a great chance to see these world famous artists performe under such unique and intimate circumstances!

To order tickets for the workshop and/or show, please contact Frank Lazzaro at 760-703-1487 or flazzaro@msn.com. Tickets are going fast so be sure to reserve them early so you don't miss out!

Click Here to view the event flier!

Student Spotlight: Zy!!!

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*** Zy Dewey ***

Love Life and Live it Well!

This is Zy's motto and she definitely lives by it. A Middle Eastern dance instructor since June 2005, Zy was first introduced to Belly Dancing at a Balboa Park festival dance celebration where San Diego bellydancer, teacher and make-up artist Meleah was performing and offering a workshop. It was the summer of 2002. Belly dance was, at that time, a fun way to share a common interest with friends. As friends married and moved on, Zy continued to develop her love for the intricate muscle movement that is belly dance. Advancing her skills through classes with Meleah, Luisa, Rachel George, DaVid, Vilia and Suhaila, Zy was offered an opportunity to teach beginner belly dance classes near her home at the Encinitas YMCA.

In addition to her bellydance career, Zy earned her Master’s degree in Education, with a focus in psychology and physical therapy. She enjoys teaching active older adults chair aerobics across San Diego and North County retirement homes and often throws some belly dance moves in for fun.

Fun is what Zy loves to bring to her classes. This comes through not only in her classrooms, but when she performs in her dance groups as well. She is always grateful for her instructors and continues to take beginning classes to strengthen her teaching talents. If you don’t find her leading in the class room you are sure to find her giggling and having fun on stage or right next to you as a student.

Zy's favorite style is the Suhaila Salimpour format. Zy enjoys both the strict technique taught in Vilia's classes as well as the Egyptian flavored/Suhaila influenced belly dance style taught by Meleah. She aspires to the practice of taking twice as many classes during the week as she teaches, which keeps her happily on the dance floor almost every day of the week.

Don't miss Zy's upcoming stage performance with the HipSlingers at the SAMEDA Faire on Sunday, July 15th at 1:22PM. Her own student dance group, Zygotex, will also perform during the morning segments. Also, Zy has recently been accepted to the teaching staff at UCSD's Recreation Center (RIMAC) and will be holding introductory 8-week bellydance sessions every quarter on Mondays from 10:00 to 11:25AM starting this month! If you are new to bellydance or just want to brush up on the basics, the UCSD course is an excellent way to do just that. At just $60 per session (Less than $8/class!!) you can't go wrong!

Congratulations Zy...we'll see you on the dance floor!

Upcoming Events...

********** SHOWS! **********

Friday, July 6th and 27th - Vilia will be performing at the Marrakesh Restaurant in La Jolla. Enjoy an exotic Moroccan dining experience featuring two dance shows (7:30PM/9PM). Reservations recommended.

July 7th, 13th and 28th - Vilia performs at the Bird House Grill in Encinitas. Show starts at 7:30PM and features up to three dancers!

Saturday, July 14th - Vilia performs in the "Bellydance Super Show" at Greek Palace featuring Bellydance Superstar company members Sonia and Jayna as well as the famous Syrian drummer Issam Hassan. Middle Earth and Frank Lazzaro will play live music. Additional San Diego dance artists include Mariela and Jessenia. Only $25/person includes all-you-can-eat buffet. Don't miss this unique opportunity to see the Bellydance Superstars perform outside the normal show circuit! Click HERE for more information!

Sunday, July 15th (Between 1PM & 2PM) - Vilia and The HipSlingers perform at the annual SAMEDA (San Diego Middle Eastern Dance Assoc.) Faire. This event will take place at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley. Event features workshops, vendors and live performances throughout the day! Don't miss Jennifer who will also be performing solo between 3:30 and 4PM. Admission is just $10.00!

July 7th, 14, 21 and 28th - Jennifer performs at The Bird House Grill in Encinitas. Show starts at 7:30PM and features up to 3 dancers!

Saturday, July 7th & Friday, July 13th, Jennifer performs at Zorba's Greek Buffet. Enjoy live music, great food and four dancers! Seating is at 7:30PM..show starts at 8PM. (Chula Vista)

Sunday, July 29th - Christine performs at Kolbeh Persian Restaurant in Mira Mesa. Show starts at 7:30PM and features up to 4 dancers!

Friday, August 3rd, Jennifer performs at Armenian Cafe in Carlsbad. Enjoy two dance shows (7PM/8:30PM) with live music by Tatool and John Bilezikjian!

Saturday, August 4th - Christine performs at the Bird House Grill in Encinitas. Show starts at 7:30PM and features up to 3 dancers!

Tuesdays - Jennifer performs at Marrakesh in La Jolla. First show starts around 7:30PM. Reservations recommended.

** See the "Relevant Links" column to the right for restaurant websites and location information. **

********** CLASSES! **********

Saturdays - Starting July 7th! Taught by Vilia: 8-Week Introductory Bellydance Class at UCSD begins. Class runs from 11:30 to 12:55PM at the UCSD Recreation Center (RIMAC). Click HERE to visit the RIMAC website and sign up. This is a great way to gain a solid foundation to the dance or just brush up on the basics. Sign up quick as this class is always packed!

Mondays - Starting July 9th! Taught by Zy: 8-Week Introductory Bellydance Class at UCSD begins. Class runs from 10AM to 11:25. Learn/review the basics and learn a fun choreography too!


For Detailed Class Descriptions
Click Here!

Middle Eastern Dance Basics
Sat 11:30-1PM
UCSD Rec Center
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 534-3772
Registration Form (pdf)

Beginning/Intermediate Technique
Wed 7:30-9PM
La Jolla YMCA Firehouse
7877 Herschel Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Intermediate/Advanced Performance & Technique
Sat 2:00-3:30PM
Stage 7
3980 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104

Private Coaching by Appointment


** Existing Students ** Bring a friend to class and receive your class FREE!

** All Students ** Purchase a 6-class card and receive a FREE half-hour private coaching session valid for six months.

Relevant Links...