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Interview with
Devi Mamak
by Marcel Bieger

Have Ghawazi Caravan started as an ATS troupe, if not when did their paths cross with those of FCBD?

Yes we started as an ATS Troupe. I had been studying folkloric Egyptian styles with my teacher Kaiya Seaton after stumbling on a video [yes there were no DVDs back then!] of FCBD. There was no one studying ATS in Australia nor the southern hempisphere or [Ii think] anywhere but the US at that time. I asked my teacher about them and she told me that they lived in caravans, tattooed themselves and travelled around the county performing in America! I left that dream for a few years and then in 1999 went to San Francisco (I actually have family there and was born there myself) to study with Carolena for 3 months.

When I came home I was struck with the obvious that I have no one to dance with so by default andwith the encouragment of my teacher I started to teach with the goal of training others to dance with me. After 6 months we had a troupe … as rough as it was back then!
Tell us something more about the history of and the idea behind "Ghawazi Caravan".

Well it’s been a long journey for us now. We are in our 11th year and many of the original members of Ghawazi Caravan are still with me. We started off doing folkloric /ATS mix mash, then slowly became totally ATS until we all got that into our bodies.
We still do pure ATS in our sets but for many years now we have mixed it up with other choreographies that have different flavours and our main influences are Classical Egyptian, North African, Ballet, Flamenco and Odissi as well as a bit of Tribal Fusion. I feel very lucky to have some AMAZING dancers in Ghawazi Caravan. Many being professional dancers before they joined me. There are 9 of us right now but I invite everyone to check out our website and see all of Ghawazi Caravan’s dancers on our Bios page
( I think we are known in Australia for always having a classical elegance to what we present which is great because this is what I have strived for.

Right now we are passionate about working with live musicians and putting on theatre shows. It’s hard work but so rewarding!
Since we know next to nothing about the belly dance community of Australia, would you care to enlighten us a little? Do you and Ghawazi Caranvan feel yourselves of part of this community, and are there strong ties to New Zealand, Tasmania or even to Asia?

Yes we are very welcomed in our community not just by the Tribal community (which I might add that since I started it down here is now MASSIVE!) but also by the oriental community. Australians are very friendly and laid back and this comes into the general belly dance community. We have very strong ties to New Zealand  (Tasmania is a state of Australia). Asia perhaps not as much because of the distance but I think that is slowly starting, too.

What did you do before dancing?

I was a classical piano teacher/pianist. I still do this, too!

When will you come to Europe/Germany again?

When ever you will.have me!

Devi Mamak
is guest at Gabriella's
in Dillenburg,
April, 16
th/17th 2011!
Saturday, April 16th

NEW TRIBAL & FUSION COMBOS: Come & learn some exciting new combos [Aussie style!] suitable for both Tribal & fusion styles of dance. Devi has carefully Selected & created these steps so that they work well within Ghawazi Caravans favourite dance styles including ATS, Flamenco, Indian , oriental & fusion. This workshops will have plenty of variety to suit everyones taste & dance ability & you will find them easily injectable into your own dance style!
02:00 - 04:30 pm

SLOW & SLINKY: In this workshop Devi will give you the tools to create strong & sensuous slow movement. Learm the art of walking or to simply stand & command an audience. Once this is in place we will look at some well known slow ATS movements & have a lookg at where the tension & release lies in each movement which you can then apply to any slow step no matter what your style.
05:00 - 07:00 pm

Sunday, April 17th

OFFICIAL NEW ATS STEPS & DRILLING: This workshops is exactly that! Come & be some of the first in the world to learn Devis new ATS steps that have been accepted into the FCBD format. These 9 steps & their variations will be added to the next FCBD DVD to be realeased later in 2011. There wil be plenty of time for drilling the steps as well as question & answer time.
11:00 am - 01:30 pm

GHAWAZI CARAVAN FORMATIONS: Ghawazi Caravan are well known in the southern hempishere for their exciting staging & formation ideas that are suitable for both choreography & improvisation. In this workshops you will learn new ideas & techniques for chorus line, small & large groups as well as Devis ideas on staging dynamics.
02:00 - 04:00 pm

Further Informations:
What will be your next plans/projects?

Coming to see you guys! Then in June some of Ghawazi Caravan & myself are off to San Francisco to be a part of Carolena’s Devotion show and to film the next FCBD DVD. Exciting!. Later in the year I will be making my own DVD on my other fusion style steps, going to Taiwan later in the year with Carolena as well as trips all around Australia.

Next year we will be working on another show with our musicians, get my piano music published, spending time with my kids and partner ... phew!