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Shimmyathon NorthEast Belly Dance Festival

Saturday, Nov 2, 2019 at 10:45am

Raq-On Dance Studio
58 Bridge Street
White River Junction, VT 05001

Join us for our 10th annual festival! We’re having live music in every class to celebrate!

Schedule of Events:

Saturday Band: Mitch Kalthounas, Mohammed Mejaour and Jamal Sinno

Mitchell Kaltsunas has been delighting Arabic music fans in the United States with his singing for over two decades. Kaltsunas, who comes from Greek, Egyptian, and Syrian heritage, started playing guitar at nine years old. Soon, however, the Western string instrument lost out to the Middle Eastern oud and derbakke (tablah) for the young musician's attention. Kaltsunas credits his Near Eastern roots for putting him close to Arabic music.

Mohammed Mejaour is a Moroccan born musician with an innate understanding of how to create music. As a child in elementary school, he taught himself harmonica, and performed Andalusian music for school events. Mohammed then taught himself drumming and joined the El Massiri Band at the House of Youth. Next, he taught himself to play the nay and began to play on stage with the Baddi Band and then the Layali Zaman Band. Mohammed performed for special occasions, in hotels and casinos, with both Jewish and Arabic/Berber bands, and also played base guitar for Rock & Roll. He moved to the USA in 1981 and began to perform with Mitchell Kaltsunas at the Sultan's Tent. Mohammed branched out to perform at many clubs in Massachusetts, including The Averof, the El Morocco, the Casablanca, and The Middle East. He feels fortunate to have met and played with some of the best musicians across the USA and abroad, but holds a special place for New England, where he continues to play the nay, darbuka, riq, and all sorts of percussion instruments for your entertainment, one and all.

Lebanese-born Jamal Sinno studied qanun at the Lebanese National Conservatory under virtuoso Mohammad Sabsabi. Since moving to the U.S. in 1981, Jamal has performed with leading song stars of the Middle East including George Wassouf and Kazem Al-Sahar. He performs with Simon Shaheen’s Near Eastern Music Ensemble.

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM: Dancing the Rhythm with Riena (MA)

Do you ever watch dance clips with the sound off?  When the dancer embodies the music, it drives you continue to watch and turn it up! Mohammed and Reina combine their strengths and knowledge to create a workshop to enhance dancers unity with the music.  Rhythm is the scaffolding that supports the intricate beauty of Arabic music.  Mohammed will perform popular rhythms in Arabic Dance Art Form; Riena will teach hip movements, variations, and travel steps that illustrate these rhythms. Bring this wisdom into your dance to become one with the music.

Second Generation dancer, Riena, began performing to live music at age 17 in restaurants, clubs, haflas, and weddings throughout New England. She worked with Mike and Buddy Sarkissian in New England and Las Vegas.  Riena performed at long lost clubs including The Averof, Bishops, and Destinations. Being the daughter of Azziza (Cissy DeSilva), Riena grew up with a variety of music from the Middle East, North Africa; and predominantly from Anatolia.  She learned to dance to this music through immersion.  Her organic response to the music is intuitively authentic.  Riena first performed with Mohammed Mejaour at The El Morocco, when she was 19 years old.

12:15 - 1:30 PM: 10 classic and folkloric and Arabic hip moves a dancer should have under your belt with Shadia (MA)

Shadia will share movements from the Golden Age of Raqs Sharqi from Egypt and Eastern Arabia. Roots technique will be included.

Shadia has performed internationally with full show including  band, singer, folkdance, Sharqi soloist and monologist since 1975 with top artists from Egypt and Lebanon. In Lebanese and Egyptian  folk dance she was director of Mirza Dance Ensemble from 1985-2015 as well as member, choreographer and costumer of Boston based Baalbek Folklorique,  Artistic Dir. of Cedars of Lebanon Folkloric Troupe and World Lebanese Cultural Union Youth Debke Troupe. She has performed as Rakasa Sharbieh (Eastern Dance Soloist) since 1972 and still social dances, as she started, dancing socially in the Turkish and Lebanese Community since 1965!  She has been teaching since 1972 and many of her students are now successful dancers on local and international scene. In 2008 she created her roots of belly dance technique that is drawn from her years of classical and folkloric training and is in the process of creating a DVD. She plays sagat, riqq and tabla to every rhythm she has danced to and has been known to play her late husband's tabl beledi for special occasions. She is also a costumer for theatre/dancers of all kinds.

2:30 - 3:45 PM: Golden Era Belly Dance with Amerein (MA)

Connect to the roots of raqs sharqi through the drama, romance and elegance of the 1920s - 40's  "Golden Era" of Egyptian dance! Amarein duet will present vintage combinations and signature moves of iconic dancers such as Samia Gamal, Tahiya Karioka and Naeema Akef.

Yael Zohar-Gabay has been dancing since age 14. In addition to Egyptian Bellydance, she is trained in classical ballet and Flamenco and owns a Pilates Studio in Newton MA. Performances include Suzanne Dallal Center in Tel Aviv, Biblos restaurant in Jaffa and Layaleena in Cambridge.

Hanan debuted in Boston's Arabic dance stages in 2000 and continues to perform regularly in the Boston area's Arabic venues. Since 2007, Hanan has been a featured performer at Byblos Restaurant in Norwood. Recent performances include the Helping Hips Charity Gala (2008, 2009 and 2010,) MassRaqs 2010, and as a guest artist in the BellyBeat “Reflections” show in 2012.

Since 2015, Hanan and Yael have performed as the duet "Amarein," featuring classic raqs sharqi as well as Egyptian folk and shaabi dances. Performances include the "FIVE" show in 2017, Middle Eastern Mosaic in 2017, and Vintage Oriental in 2018. Amarein translates from Arabic language as "two moons."

4:00 - 5:15 PM: Meet the Band: Mitch Kalthounas, Mohammed Mejaour, and Jamal Sinno

Amity will lead a Q&A with 10 questions from dancers about working with a band, the band will share their history, favorite stories, and what things they feel important for dancers to know. Most importantly, there will be time for everyone to free dance to the band’s favorite songs.

Cost: $300 for the entire weekend (including show ticket and daily lunch) Monthly payment plan of $30 per month is available by emailing raqondance@gmail.com when registration opens.

Shimmyathon opens Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM for registration, shopping, and stretching.

This event listing provided for the White River Junction community events calendar. Community events are not associated with or sponsored by AARP, but may be of interest to you. If you have an event to share, let us know!

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster

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