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ON BOTH PARTS OF THE BORDER –
THE STARS OF THE MILKA/KHALIDA FESTIVAL

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Karten und Info unter: http://www.khalida.biz/bellydance/events.html
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LET’S MAKE IT AN INTERNATIONAL ENDEAVOUR!

Interview with dancer and promoter Khalida

by Marcel Bieger

Would you tell us something about your career, please?

I started taking classes in Oriental dance about seven years ago, and before that I earned myself a little bit of background in jazz dance and ballet. When I was taking oriental dance for about a year and a half Myriam and Yamila, 2 teachers whom I studied with in Holland invited me to do a three-year-course for professional oriental dancers/teachers. Just to speed up my learning a little bit, and prepare me in case I wanted to continue to pursue a career in oriental dance. I graduated from the course in February 2007. After that I applied for competitions, just to check my weaknesses and/strengths, get practice at dancing on a stage and hopefully grow further in my dancing You gain an amazing lot of feedback and experience just by attending at a competition.

At the second competition I entered that year was Leyla Jouvana’s and Rolands “Belly Dancer of the World” Contest, at their 2007 European Oriental Festival in Duisburg. After that I started taking a lot of work shops, not only in Belgium or Germany, but also in France, Great Britain and even Israel. I also started attending festivals to take workshops, gain stage experience, and hopefully make myself more known internationally. Last year, 2009, I won the second place in an English competition – International Isis Awards of Belly Dance Congress – and since then I’ve been travelling all over Europe. In May I had my first teaching job and performance in the USA. That was in Seattle. I’ve been studying with Aziza of Canada a lot, and she persuaded me to do a competition in the US as well. She advised me to contact Elisa Gamal, a great dancer from Seattle who hosted me for workshops, classes and a show with live music by House of Tarab One week after that I flew to San Francisco to attend at the competition “Belly Dance of the year” where I made it to the finale. Aziza won that one 2004.
Did you meet Aziza at Leyla’s festival?

Yes. That was a long time ago, after I started this professional dancer course, about one and a half year into my oriental dance education. I went to my first work shop in Aachen, Germany in that year. Leyla Jouvana was the teacher and it was her “1001 shimmies” work shop. There were also some flyers of her festival, and since I was a fan of Aziza (I watched all her video clips) and Leyla told me that Aziza would perform at her festival, I decided to go there. That was 2004 or 2005, and after that I visited festival every year.

You’re running your first own festival this year, together with Milka.

We will have a hafla on Saturday in Heerlen, which means a belly dance party (bring your hip scarfs!) with performances of professional dancers and professionals-to-be and a souk, plus workshops on both days in Würselen. The idea came by coincidence. We (Milka and I) were both performing at a belly dance party, organised by Aisa Lafour (who won the competition at Leyla’s in 2008) in Amsterdam. I was invited to teach and perform there, and Milka was dancing there as well. We drove home together, had three hours time to spare and started discussing about one day doing our own festival. By the time we arrived at home, we had a whole plan already laid out (laughs). We knew already which work shops we wanted to give and whom we wanted to invite for the hafla. After that all that was left to do was look for the venues, send a few emails, and the train was running (laughs).

It does sound a bit unusual that a Tribal Fusion dancer and a Cabaret dancer work together?

That’s right, but the two of us started together and know each other since a long time. When somebody starts to take in belly dance, he/she doesn’t always differ to strictly between the two styles. You see more and more dancers gain proficience in both. Amirah and Milka who perform as the Fusion-Duo “Kokoro” dance and teach Oriental too. At the festival we hope to communicate that Tribal Fusion (which is what Milka usually does) and Oriental Dance (that is what I mostly do) can work together as well.

Did you get all the dancers for your hafla that you wanted?

Almost. Unfortunately a few of the invitees were not available at that date. But we are already giving thought for the show next year, and maybe we’ll get them all together then. The most dancers we asked said yes immediately, and our list was full pretty fast. We even had to decline a few dancers who answered too late.  But, we still noted their names to hopefully invite them for the next edition.

Shall the next hafla again be held in June?

I think that’s a good time for us. This date is right in the break between the annual classes and summer courses. Earlier, in April and May, there are a lot of events going on everywhere, so spring would be no good time to start another fest. Maybe if this first hafla will be a success, we could do it every year, or even twice a year, one in summer and one in winter. But that is for the future to know.

You’re doing your festival over the Border, the work shops in German Würselen and the show in Dutch Heerlen.

Yes, the festival will be held in two countries, but both places are only 20 minutes away from each other. We wanted to use the advantage of both countries, plus this is a quite densely populated area dance-wise. In Germany there are a lot of good festivals going for years already, and in Holland we are still discovering different kinds of workshops, styles and festivals. When we have a festival in both countries it makes it a little bit easier for the Dutch and the Belgians to go to Germany. And for the German people it will be an easy option to visit a dance event in Holland, when they come to the party/show in Heerlen. So basically we are trying to build a bridge between both countries.

Why does a Festival at both sides of the border need work shops?

Well, one of the things that both Milka and I totally agreed with from the start, is that it has always been essential (and fun!) for our own development to be able to study with the many different dancers that inspired us over the years. And funny enough, even though our performance styles are totally different, we keep finding ourselves at the same events, both mixing tribal fusion and classic workshops in our study, and both using this input in our own ways for dance.

We decided that doing a festival together would not be complete without also offering fun and accessible workshops, and that the topics we wanted to teach would ideally be suited for whichever style you prefer, be it oriental or tribal fusion or both. So we decided to offer a mix of it all: A bit of tribal fusion, a bit of burlesque fusion and a bit of oriental, a bit of technique, a bit of combinations and a bit of choreography. Our wish is that dancers of different styles would want to try out the mix, work out together and hopefully find something that inspires them in each of them.

As for the language: Seeing that we are already combining locations in Germany and the Netherlands anyway, and that we will have performers, visitors (yay!) and even shops from at least 3 different countries, we decided to teach and present the festival mainly in English, and we can chip in for each other whenever translations to Dutch (Milka's job) or German (my job!) are needed..

So, June 12/13 is coming our way now, and we're very excited about how this is working out so far ... Let's make it an international endeavour. We hat a lot of fun organising this festival, although it is a lot of work. And I think that we are going to repeat it and have another go. It will help to bring the community together.
June 12th and 13th in Dutch Heerlen and German Würselen, PART 3