Sunday, May 22, 2011

Colleena Shakti events

Only one week left before our next show, and as usual, it's madness!

Monique and I are especially excited about this event as we're flying international performer Colleena Shakti in from India for three workshops and the show. I have been a big fan of Colleena's ever since I heard of her from her Odissi Guru, Padma Cherun Dehury in India. In 2005, I studied Odissi with Padma for 6 weeks in Orissa, and when he heard I bellydanced, he showed me Colleena's business card. I was instantly enamored with this western woman who had been intensely studying Odissi and Rajasthani dance since 2001.

When I learned that Colleena lives for most of the year with the Khalbelia 'Gypsies" in Rajasthan, my respect only grew. Being accepted into this group was no easy feat, and Colleena had managed to become "one of them" through respect, dedication and passion for the dance. "Colleena was the first outsider to go so deeply into the Khalbelia culture to find the origins and symbolism in their dance and lifestyle."

I finally met Colleena in person in Pushkar, Rajasthan where she helped me put on a small show at the Raganath Temple, where she now operates the Shakti School of dance. Since then, Colleena's star has been on the rise around the world, her authentic and graceful presence hypnotizing audiences at Tribal Fest and many more events. In fact, after leaving Halifax, Colleena is teaching two sold-out workshops at the opening of Studio Datura, Tribal Fusion Pioneer Rachel Brice's new studio.

Colleena Shakti

We will be blessed with Colleena's presence at the show, where she will be performing both Odissi, Rajasthani, and Indian-Arabic fusion bellydance. Besides Colleena, we have so many other amazing performers! Both Monique Ryan and I are debuting new-to-Halifax numbers, Rhonda Barrett and Nawal Doucette will be performing their delicious fusion bellydance, the ever-awesome Elinor Crosby is in attendance along with her troupe Uberwench Tribal, and I can personally attest to the fabulousness of Mahari's gorgeous new number! This is one show you don't want to miss. Buy your tickets here or at Pretty Things Boutique in Halifax.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nath Keo Workshop

This weekend I took in Nath Keo's "Sacred Centre" and "Oriental Bliss" workshops, and they were fantastic! Put on by BC ex-pat's Kathryn Burke and Lara Kirkpatrick, the workshops were held at the Dartmouth Sportsplex. I first met Nath after he blew everyone away at the first IBCC in Toronto. He was one of the performers everyone asked about, and due to popular demand Yasmina brought him back the next year to teach. Check out any of his Youtube videos and you'll see that his precise and innovative dancing is like nothing you've seen before.

What I love about Nath is his humble attitude and sense of humor, not to mention impeccable technique and a lot of passion for the dance. Influenced by his training in both Cambodian dance and Oriental style (aka Egyptian/cabaret bellydance for the stage), his style is very unique. Nath often mentioned how his teaching style is influenced by his work choreographing for Sacred Centre dance company, with the end goal being synchronized lines and technique.

Having been away from Yasmina and my other teachers in Toronto for many months, I was thrilled to be a student again, learning a fresh perspective on oriental technique as well as new and innovative combos. I even felt Nath's aesthetic coming out when I taught my classes on Saturday.

Nath is truly a Canadian treasure and belongs on the international workshop circuit. The quality of the workshop was right up there with many I've taken with more famous dancers. So get in your classes with him while you can!

I've been thinking a lot lately about creating group choreographies for our Cabaret Serpentine shows, and for various events in Atlantic Canada. Now I'm even more inspired!

Read more about Nath and his dancers here: