Out of Egypt MEDANZ Annual Festival, Orewa 2014

24-27 April 2014

Out of Egypt MEDANZ Annual Festival, Orewa

Ava Fleming and Karim Nagi are in NZ!!! Are we spoilt or what!

WOW. This year is full of fantastic dancers coming to our side of the world.

24 April

Festival opening day with Teachers Day and AGM. At the AGM we saw Bev Dowling get a lifetime membership with MEDANZ but she was awarded it via a This is Your Dance Life – complete with Red Book and Presenter. This was brilliant and was such fun to hear about Bev’s dance life over the years. A great way to kick off the festival.

Teachers Day Masterclass with Ava Fleming

A great warm up that challenged us but got us ready for the intensive 2-hour masterclass with Ava. Redefining our ideas of isolations and how we use our bodies, we were given min-combos that eventually grew into complete dance phrases to open up a new arena for our dance. Awesome.

25 April


What a fantastic show Pip envisaged and put together. Like none done before at MEDANZ, the theme was to link back to Egypt with some collaboration between dancers across the country. As part of the opening ‘Zeffa’ – (wedding parade) with Phoenix Belly Dance- I performed a Shaabi Solo to ‘Yasta Al Arribiya’ that I’d learnt from Alexsey Ryaboshapka when in London attending his workshops. It was about the “wedding car’ and I danced it as the ‘bridesmaid’ for the bride and groom who were on stage with us. I love that choreography! It’s such fun and cheeky and suits me totally!

A couple of items later, I was back on stage again with Halay and Cinch Dance performing a joint collaboration. This was an awesome vision of Angela Mott to the music Egypt Unveiled Pt II, Phil Thornton & Hossam Ramzy. Angela, Michaela and I portrayed 3 travellers (complete with large hooded capes and lanterns) who come together at ‘an oasis’ and each perform a short solo for each other. Michaela spinning and whirling with her cape as a prop, set the scene. Angela then glided to centre stage, as Michaela moved back, to perform to a more lighter part of the music, with obvious enjoyment. Then as Angela glided back, I ‘slithered’ on (LOL- upright I might add), to reveal I had a travelling companion – a snake! Offering the snake to the Gods, I performed a short solo, moving back finally to then be enveloped back behind the capes by a waiting Angela and Michaela. And as we turned back to the audience – (me complete with cape on too), Cinch Dance (Suezy, Andrea and Carmen) appeared from our capes and performed a moving, mesmerizing piece to Fairly Right" by Bajofondo and Elvis Costello.

Angela, Michaela and I stayed in the half darkness and mirrored some of their moves, as they were our spirits/other selves that had ‘sprung’ from us, eventually returning to be welcomed back into us. I think the audience found this to be quite a moving piece. And it was a triumph for us to do this together.

Karim ended the first half for us with his expert zilling – Man, he can move his fingers! He was very entertaining as he zilled his way across the stage with us all mesmerised at his cleverness.

The lights went out briefly for a few minutes, which saw Bev Dowling doing her chicken, cluck cluck dance to summon back the lights – absolutely hilarious as only she can be! And hey presto – back on they came!

Ava closed the second half of the show – what a stunningly beautiful dancer – so graceful yet precise. A lovely end to a truly wonderful show.

26 April


Phew, with the show over, now was my time to relax and enjoy. All sitting at tables with Middle Eastern food to enjoy and the open dance floor in front of us, Ava and Karim entered and danced and drummed up a storm for us! What an absolute thrill and highlight to see them together dancing, mimicking, question and answering. WOW! The energy in the air was fantastic! What a rare opportunity to have two international (male and female) guests together, performing before us. It was wonderful to see.

The whole night was one of excellent entertainment from dancers from all over NZ. And Karim got us all up doing his famous Dabka – what a hoot!

Happy, happy off to bed.

Workshops I took over the weekend:

Pip E-Lysaah - Warm Up and Drills with Pip 3 mornings at 8am!

OMG! Was I mad to book for 3 early mornings of warm up and drills with PIP? Yes! Definitely! LOL. But I loved it! Pip got us moving and motivated. I could do with her as a full time personal trainer - she'd whip me into shape :-) I love her daily 5. The little extras that she shared with us that she does were totally inspiring. Thanks Pip :-)

Moonjelly - Hens Parties

Moonjelly is an absolute favourite teacher of mine and I always try to attend one of her workshops. She makes them fun (well- HILARIOUS actually) as well as informative. She is an awesome teacher and has such knowledge that she willingly shares. This workshop met expectations and more, with us role-playing as though were at an actual hen's party. It was so well put together. Yet another fun filled time with Moonjelly :-)

Karim Nagi - Tahteeb and Assaya (Dancers)

Loved it! Karim took a 'firm' hold of us from the very start with safety instructions for a room full of women with canes - LOL - yes, it could have got bloody if he hadn't laid down some ground rules! He's an excellent teacher - explains and demonstrates really well and he has such a sense of humour too. I also took Karim’s Dancer-Drummer Communication – the drum solo explained by an actual drummer! Invaluable!

And Musicality for Dancers, covering Taksim, Melodic Themes, Song Structure and many more. Helping dancers to become the ‘physical personification of the music’. Exceptionally informative. So pleased to have been given the chance to study with him. He has a fantastic personality as well as being such a wonderful musician (and he can dance too!)

Ava Fleming – Shiver Me Timbers

And ‘shiver our timbers’ we did! Breaking down the shimmy covering basic mechanics to travelling moves and combos. This was a great refresher on shimmies and also gave some added info that I hadn’t come across.

I also did Ava’s Elegant Emotion – learning how to mix your body’s own natural movement with your own inner diva for true expression in your dance; and Combonique – killer combos and Ava’s signature technique – awesome – challenging isolations but worth it for the outcome. All were thoroughly enjoyable and Ava is a great teacher explaining in detail and by demonstration. She’s awesome to watch!

ava and karim.JPG

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