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Konstanze Winkler
Aisa Lafour is still young in years but already one of the most important new belly dance stars. All around the world she is welcomed, and amidst the Dutch promoters she is in the top position. Not to forget her biggest artistic success so far, her participation at Jillina’s “Bellydance Evolution – Immortal Desires”. She will perform at the Oriental Festival of Leyla Jouvana and Roland this year and will be in the jury of the contest “Bellydancer of the World”. We are really looking forward to meet her again.
RAQS SHARQI - THE LATIN WAY

Interview with Aisa Lafour

by Marcel Bieger

You seem to come all around in the world, where are your roots and how did they influence your dance?

I am a very mixed blood person. My father is from South America: Surinam (Dutch Guyana). My mom is Dutch but also mixed. I am a real cocktail of different cultures. French, Spanish, Dutch, Surinam, some gypsy ... I have lived in Brazil for a while so that also influenced me as a person. I am dancing Latin dances since my 15th age. I started with Salsa, and later Samba, Zouk and Axe, that can influence my dance by choice. But belly dance was my first love, I danced it since I was a little child.

Your raqs sharqi has a Latin twist in it, which gives it a fresh appearance. How do you work with these two styles, how do you mix them and what would be no gos?
I do all that is mentioned above. I have actor skills because both of my parents were professional actors and I was basically raised on the acting academy. Before choreographing or structuring a dance, I listen to the music 1001 times. I try to feel the story behind it. If it's a Tarab for example, I would translate the song from Arabic into English or Dutch. I also will discuss the song with my Egyptian friends, to talk about the real meaning and feeling of the song. I also watch old videos of for example Oum Kalthoum and look at the emotions that are given to the public or transmitted by the singer herself. So the story behind the song is very important for me. When I really, deeply understand the song I will find movements that fit to the emotions and experiment with that. I will film myself to see if things are working. On the moment of the performance I let go, all the information and the music will help me to really transmit the story into my dance.

“Orientalicious ” was a huge success, the recent “Orientalicious 2” was even more successful.

 Yes the “Orientalicious” festivals were a success so far! The sequel was even more successful. I am very thankful for that! I think it had to do with the choices that were made for the performers/teachers, and the artistic image and organisation of the festival. Also the locations that were chosen were very important for the success. I travelled a lot to festivals in the world to teach and perform in the last years, so I met a lot of very talented and inspiring dancers and saw very good examples for the organisation. I wanted to bring these good dancers and concepts to Holland to show what kind of interesting developments in belly dance are going on in the world.

At “Orientalicious 2” we had a very good team working on the project. What was very special this year was the super beautiful colonial theatre that we hired and the

Tarab part of the gala show. The Tarab songs were played by the best Arabic orchestra in the Netherlands: Ensemble Arabesque. That
everyone came in gala clothing really helped the atmosphere to be very good. A real special night out.
How did BDE and you come together?

That started in 2009: I met Jillina at Ahlan wa Sahlan. We talked about our dreams of creating a big show like a ballet for oriental dance and bringing belly dance to another theatrical level. Jillina was inspired by all the talented dancers she saw at the festival and she decided to organize an audition. I was invited too! I was so nervous, we didn't know what for we were auditioning. The funny thing was that Jillina didn't even know yet what exactly she wanted to do. After going home,  I think that she created the concept because the next time at Ahlan wa Sahlan when we met again she told me that she had decided to make a big theatrical Oriental show, and found a writer who wrote a story for her to create the show. She told me that she would open an audition.

When I came home in Amsterdam, I also read an announcement in an Oriental magazine that Jillina was going to make an audition for a new project: Bellydance Evolution. I felt that it was a sign. I decided to upload my video and very soon I knew it: Jillina chose me for the show. I was a big new step in my career. I danced in LA, Morocco, Hungary and Germany with BDE. I even danced one of the main characters: Peitho (seductress).

I will also show a little performance, I will do a modern Oriental piece, which is a brand new choreography, actually. I will even teach a modern Oriental piece with veil on my workshop. We will be exploring quick impressive veil work, for the entrance and the students will learn new steps and combinations, with quick spins and high legs. It will open the mind of the dancer and will give new possibilities and perspectives when they create their own dance.

The other workshop that I will teach is Stage Presence and Star quality. This is a very interesting workshop. I have analyzed the important points for stage presence. I was asking myself, what makes a dancer having a charisma on the stage and what makes her a star? I have structured the answers and this gives new tools and understanding of creating a dance and the moment on the stage. The student will have a new understanding of using the space in a dance and time of the music.

Homepage: www.aisalafour.com
Aisa Lafour ia guest at Leyla und Roland Jouvana's
19th Oriental Festival of Europe
November, 18th - 28th 2011 in Duisburg
Photos © 1 + 4 Aisa Lafour , 2 + 3 Carl F. Sermon
Aisa Lafour
I like to put a latin twist to my Raqs Sharki, it can give it some extra spice. Sometimes I make real crossovers, for example Salsa/ Bellydance. Sometimes I just use it to put in a little flavour to an Oriental dance. I can choose both: dancing real Oriental or with a Latin flavour. It really depends on the music. A lot of times Oriental music contains Latin rhythms like the Bolero or a Samba rhythm. What would be a no go might be: Dancing over Latin styled on a pure oriental song.
How do you proceed when you work on a new choreo-graphy or new dance piece. If you want to show a certain emotion in your dance, do you train or rehearse this or do you have actor's skills or is this all improvised on stage?
And this year you are invited to Leyla Jouvana’s Oriental Festival to sit in the jury for “Bellydancer of the World” contest. 

This year, Leyla Jouvana invited me to be a judge on the "Bellydancer of the world" contest. I was the winner in 2008 and now I am a judge on the contest! That is such an honour, and it means a lot to me. It's a new step in my career as a dancer. I am looking so much forward to see all the young talents on the stage.