In The News In The News ~ Events and Kudos
Vanessa dancing with her tray to music performed by sister Cecilia on violin, mother Jennifer and seven-year old sister Sophia on drums, and father Matt on electric bass. Photos by Bill D'Agostino

In what has become an annual tradition, the Sunshine Sisters celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with the clients of Brockton’s LIFE Center. At a March 9 luncheon, Bettina, Emelita DeIulio, Penny Hahn, and Krysten Wetzel entertained, with the help of emcee Faith Humes and support from Bahirra Janan, Erika Bradley, and Gerri Leahy. The audience showed their appreciation with zaghareets and cheers, and several joined in the group finale.

The Helping Hips offers an enthusiastic thank-you to those who danced in two June Sunshine Shows and to the volunteers who supported them. Performing at the Hannah Shaw nursing home on June 5 were Anka, Bettina, Mary Dorinda, Najla, and Nashida, supported by emcee Aurel and DJ Bahirra Janan. The Berkley Council on Aging on June 15 was treated to performances by Aurel, Bettina, Mary Dorinda, Ioke, Najla, and Penny, with assistance from volunteers Bahirra Janan and Gerri.

Area belly dancers from student to pro had the opportunity to learn from Riskallah Riyad on March 21. Thanks to Phaedra for sponsoring a workshop at Ancient Art Studios, where Riskallah taught a beautiful veil choreography to a dreamy version of Bir Dimet. After the workshop, some of the participants danced in a show, which featured the talents of Aurel, Kanina, and Riskallah herself.

Tava and Zamari Cauley show their appreciation at the April 18 Shimmy Shack.

A drum workshop followed by a spectacular Shimmy Shack at Ancient Art Studios on April 18 provided an education in rhythms and a stunning show. Master drummer Mike Gregian taught the workshop at Ancient Art Studios, where 15 drumming or zilling students mimicked his demonstrations of rhythms used in drum solos. Headliner Aurel reprised her vocal of Bibajim, which she first performed at the 2009 Helping Hips Fundraising Gala and then enthralled the audience by dancing with a huge tray of candles balanced on her head. In addition to delightful performances by Anneke, Seafae, Nashida, Phyllis, and Qalayla, the Vacanti family from Syracuse, NY, charmed the audience with 12-year-old Vanessa dancing with her tray to music performed by Cecilia on violin, mother Jennifer and seven-year old Sophia on drum, and father Matt on electric bass.

Produced by Lisa Butler, “Belly Dance for a Cure,” a fundraiser to support the Avon Foundation and the Boston Area Walk for Breast Cancer, brought together a diverse group of dancers and styles. The May 1 show included a veil routine to a Beatles medley, belly dance/hip-hop fusion, and an impromptu duet by ZaBeth and Kasim. Sabaya! Belly Dance Sisters of the Sand performed a 30-minute set featuring khaleegy, Greek, and oriental styles as well as Tonia’s Romani solo and Aurel’s mini-show.

The Sabaya troupe in a Khaleegi dance at Belly Dance for a Cure. Photo by LeClerc Photography

A full house was present at Ted’s Place in Whitman for the premiere of Oasis on May 2. This exciting event, sponsored by Ancient Art Studios, initiated a planned series of Southeastern Massachusetts live-band restaurant shows. Sarasvati, Guiermina, and headliner Aurel danced to the music of Okbari and the audience enjoyed social dancing afterward. Professionals and advanced student dancers are welcome to take the stage at future Oasis events. Contact for more information.

What a trip! Kanina attended the Turkish Delight Dance Festival in Istanbul this spring. She studied a choreography with Yousry Sharif and "romantic" dance with Tamar bar-gil, and explored hand and facial expressions to interpret the music with Fifi Ness. See her blog to read about these and other workshops (Asi Haskal (Egyptian Nostalgia), Serkan Tutar (Modern Drum Solo), and Filiz Dursam (Turkish Karshlima); her performance to a packed ballroom (to rave reviews!); and her experiences shopping and dining in Turkey.

Congratulations to 54 Ancient Art Studios students and a group of disabled women from North Dighton’s CO-OP Center, who presented an afternoon of sparkle, spins, and sounds at the June 27 recital. Assisted by 14 volunteers, dancers from intermediate and advanced levels, as well as Sabaya! Belly Dance Sisters of the Sand, entertained in a variety of styles – solos, duets, swords, wings, canes, veils, drum solos, karshlima, and even a zill-only piece sans music… all were beautifully presented and enthusiastically received.