Season of Renewal
April 6, 2023
Each and everyone experiences different seasons in life. Maybe there is a time where there is absolutely nothing inspiring you or pushing you to evolve - this could be considered a season of rest and recovery. Or perhaps another time when there are so many ideas flooding in that you can barely keep up with your thoughts - this can be considered a season of creative flow. There are many in between states of being in seasons, but right now I’m in a season of rebirth and renewal. It fits perfectly with the Spring, as the blossoms are starting to peek through and nature is reviving itself, my bellydance career is also renewing in countless ways.
A little over a year ago I was ready to completely stop my performances. I legitimately was questioning my dance career and lifestyle because I felt very exhausted. I was performing regularly, but many of the performances left me more tired afterwards. On the other hand, the art of bellydance itself enraptured me! I was completely satisfied by going to classes and learning more about the history of the dance and music. I studied with my teacher, Yousry Sharif, as I always do with vigor and ruthless enthusiasm as he continued to pour the depth of this art form to us in his NYC dance classes. This is where my heart was - in absorbing and making the information he passed to us my very own. I was fulfilled in the atmosphere of learning and absorbing information, technique and styling in my dance.
It seemed like the perfect time to dive into an intensive experience in Cairo, Egypt to attend the Jewel of the Nile Bellydance Festival. As a professional dancer who is a committed student of this art form, this is a pilgrimage. For months I worked on perfecting my technique, creating an interesting choreography, making sure I looked physically fit, my meditation practice and countless other things that may seem trivial to many people, but very important to me.
When I got to Egypt, I was so happy to be there - watching performances, taking multiple classes a day and connecting very deeply to the music. During this two week trip to Egypt, I visited my favorite designers in their studios - the late Madame Hoda Zaki, her sister Eman Zaki and Sahar Okasha. I absolutely loved this experience - to see their home base and how they design, create and manufacture their unique bellydance costumes. I took several trips to the Great Pyramids of Giza, bonded with fellow dancers and spent a few nights on my own sleeping outside under the desert sky.
At the bellydance festival I was planning to perform in the open stage show to live music. I rehearsed onstage with the musicians and a little bit after the rehearsal, I took a huge risk and did something completely unexpected. On a whim, I entered myself into the bellydance competition (where I would compete against other dancers from different parts of the world). I never felt this was for me, but I was guided to follow my fears and to do something completely different than I had ever thought. It was like I confronted the timeline - continue as usual, or do something drastic to change the trajectory of my future. It was a risk, but I’m so glad I took it because I won first place and title of Queen of Jewel of the Nile!
Winning first place gave me a full scholarship to return to Egypt for the next Jewel of the Nile Bellydance Festival, a gorgeous crown that I keep in a sacred place and a beautiful costume designed by the legendary Egyptian dancer and choreographer Madame Aida Nour. More than the physical prizes, winning the Queen in the Jewel of the Nile in Cairo, Egypt completely changed me and my entire dance career.
I returned home from this momentous trip with so much gratitude and excitement about my performances and my dance career. The week I got back, I performed at a gorgeous Arabic/Spanish (Spain) wedding in New Jersey, USA and I was specifically requested to dance one of my top favorite songs to dance to “Ya Msafer Wahdak” in the same exact venue I performed it a few years before at a different Arabic/ Latino Wedding (Westmount Country Club). I wore my brand new Eman Zaki costume and I felt so refreshed, happy and beyond grateful to have the honor of being the highlight of the wedding reception. The parents of the bride were so grateful that they came to me after the show and told me beautiful compliments about the quality of my dance and performance. Those very kind words live on in me and inspire me to continue to project my signature style of elegance and class at each and every performance. *Note: we should always remember the impact our words and deeds will have on others! Lace them with kindness because those words have the potential to shape the future of many moments to come.*
It’s been about 9 months since I returned home from Egypt - ironically, the exact amount of time it takes for a human to fully develop and be born. I feel like I am a completely new dancer and person! Since my return, I created and developed my beautiful website that I am very proud of. This process actually involved me doing a complete audit of my entire dance career along with making me thoroughly write out every single thing I wanted to let my audience know about my bellydance life and dance career.
Since then, I realized that I’ve been holding on to bellydance costumes because they are beautiful, but it’s been time for me to renew my collection. I took a bold step and had the largest bellydance costume sale I ever had. I sold things I didn’t ever think I would sell, and I felt so wonderful releasing them onto the loving hips of dancers who would enjoy them on stages across the world. It was funny, because I actually had several brand new costumes that I bought and didn’t wear from before my trip to Egypt that I ended up selling at a huge discount. I felt they just didn’t suit my image or the performance venues that I was envisioning in my future. I actually still have a few pre-loved bellydance costumes that I have not listed yet that are for sale (link).
Doing this bold step allowed me to recharge my entire bellydance collection and also my image. The sale freed up some funds and tons of space. I was able to place new orders from my favorite Cairo-based designers and freshen up my bellydance closet. This action is so important for ourselves. I cannot underestimate the spark that I feel when I’m dancing in a new design that fits really well, in a color that I love, to music that inspires me for a receptive crowd. It adds a profound level of confidence, creativity, enthusiasm, flashiness and motivation to continue to produce quality within myself, especially as a performer, and this spark inevitably translates to the audience.
Ironically, after I began my sale and put my intentions into motion, I got a text asking me to perform at Beirut Restaurant . I felt so fortunate because this was the place that gave me my “big break” 11 years ago. It felt so awesome to be back! I hadn’t been there since before the pandemic and I thought it was for a one time private party. It turns out that the newly renovated and opulent Beirut Restaurant was beginning a weekly Friday and Saturday night party - live music, bellydance show and DJ. I was absolutely stunned and honored when the owner was asked me to be the exclusive performer every Friday and Saturday for the 11:15 bellydance show! Once again, this is my “big break,” but on a different timeline.
I would never have been prepared for this opportunity if I didn’t initially listen to the impulses from the very beginning when I made the decision to travel to Cairo, Egypt to attend the bellydance festival. Prior to this, I was feeling drained from performing, but the passion of learning and being a student. I faced my fears and joined the bellydance competition and won first place! This reframed my perception of my dance and also, because I received a scholarship to return to “Jewel of the Nile” the following year, I must maintain my skills on the stage. My instincts told me to sell everything and start a brand new collection of bellydance designs. A few weeks later, I got the call for my dream gig at and I was freshly prepared with all the newest and latest designs and styles. I was ready!
As artists, we have to listen to impulses we have inside, otherwise we can become very stagnant and unhappy. We have to be able to recognize when we are being faced with the opportunity to create a new timeline where the trajectory is upwards and onwards. We must not allow fear to hold us back from our evolution. I embrace this season of my dance career, the era of rebirth and renewal!