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Graphic and layout: Konstanze Winkler
„If you are true to yourself you always find something worth making better, making nicer or making different“
Interview with  LEYLA JOUVANA
by Marcel Bieger
Let’s get back on the Eastern Europe dancers:
Do you encourage them to come?

Hm, let me explain it this way: If a Czech dancer has become “Belly Dancer of the World”, and next year a score of Czech girls shows up to also get their chance, I owe them that much, don’t I. In this case they registered themselves early enough, their videos also convinced us, so why deny them this chance? Unfortunately for a German girl she enrolled too late, and we couldn’t consider here for the contest, even when she was very disappointed. But the girls from Czech Republic announced themselves early enough, were right on time, so it was plain bad luck for that German girl. Of course we want to make it a colourful contest, and so we like to take in dancers from countries, which don’t show up here on a regular basis.

Especially Eastern Europe and Asia always awake great interest and curiosity. And we are doing an international contest, remember, which means having contestants from a great variety of countries, and not only Germans. This year we had contenders from Eastern Europe, China and South Korea, as well as from the US and the rest of Europe.
We noticed that last year nobody from Russia performed at the festival, with the exception of a German-Siberian woman.

Oh, but they wanted to come. Unfortunately some problems with their visa got into their ways. A shame, really. In Russia they have their own contests, and quite a few of them; so they are not in dire need of them. But this year we have applications from Russia - and these dancers already have their visa -, as well as dancers from Ukraine, Lithuania and other CIS countries. Last year more people from China should have come, but they also didn’t get their visas. But we had 20 Chinese students, and that’s a success, isn’t it?

Leyla Jouvana in China
Speaking of China, how did you get to know Guo Wei?

Two years ago we received a note from Chinese Television. No, the story starts even earlier. Moria Chappell (from BDSS) was in China, talked to Guo Wei, and later she asked us, if we would mind having the Chinese TV report about our festival. If so, they would bring a Chinese dancer along. And they came with not just a dancer, but with Guo Wei, who is a superstar in China. The TV team wanted to accompany Guo Wei on his tour and report on our festival as well.

Belly dance is very popular in the Far East these days, it’s comparable with  the Aerobic wave some decades ago in the Western world. So these Chinese TV people wanted to show the people at home what belly dance means in Europe. We thought this is really great and said yes. The Chinese came with a whole entourage, including the Chinese government TV CCTV, and editors of fashion magazines. They made a big affair about their tour and our festival, you could see and read about it in China in TV and the above mentioned magazines. Since then we have been invited several times to perform in China. Guo Wei on the other hand was such a huge success at our festival that we decided spontaneous to bring him again to Germany in the following year. Guo Wei owns two studios, in Shanghai and in Beijing, and each of them has a thousand students. In China it’s a great honour to have been coached and trained by Guo Wei. And not included in this number are the countless dancers, who come to his workshops.
Gue Wei
When you were in China, you cooperated with the management of Guo Weit exclusively. Hence the Chinese see it as their duty to also work together with you exclusively, when they are over here. At least Guo Wei’s manager told me that in an interview I conducted with this remarkable dancer.

It is an unwritten law that we cooperate exclusively with those people, who have engaged us to China in the first place. That’s only fair. Our promoter in China takes care of advertising our show and so on, just as we do for Guo Wei, when he is over here. When we were in China (see report in this magazine), some other promoters approached us and wanted to invite us to their shows. But we stayed loyal. And the Chinese handle this just the same. We are very grateful to them for sticking to us. Only that way, a long term good cooperation is possible. If we only wanted to make a fast buck and would say yes to every proposal, we would be out of the game very fast. Such way of doing is contra productive. Therefore we execute our 8 cities tour through China only at the side of Guo Wei’s manager Yao.

Guo Wei's manager Yao
The threeparted
video documentation
of the Chinese
national TV (CCTV)
on YouTube
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
How long is this fabulous presenter duo, Louis & Seetha, already hosting your festival shows?

For eight years. At their first appearance they were so well perceived by the audience that we had to have them with us again and again. Meanwhile they belong to the festival, and we would love to work together with them for many years more. Seetha had invited us to the German town Fürth some years ago. There we witnessed Louis for the first time and saw how these two presented their show. They both were just brilliant, and they have set new standards in show presenting. So we had no other choice but to engage them for our festivals. Their audiences as well as their students (they both hold work shops) just love them, and this pleases us very much

Seehta and Louis, the presenter duo
Photos: 1 - 4 © China Championdance 2009/2010, 5 © André Elbing,