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Interview with Salwa

by Marcel Bieger

At Leyla’s Oriental Festival you can see a variety of dance personalities from all over the world. And because this is so, it has to take a lot to surprise you – for instance an Africa rooted dancer which lives today in Belgian Brussels and worked hard to become an international renowned belly dance star. Sure enough the kind of person, which interests us. She has written her answers to our questions down, and so we are looking forward to meet her at Leyla’s and Roland’s festival in person and to see her perform, of course.
My career

I grew up in Kinshasa, Zaire (currently, the Democratic Republic of Congo), where dancing is part of the daily social activity. Since my youngest years, dance has been a big part of my life.

On my arrival to Brussels, I immediately followed Salsa, Flamenco and Hip-Hop classes but found my true passion in the Middle Eastern Dance. Driven by this passion, I decided to quite my career as an aeronautic engineer and concentrate all my energy on being a professional dancer.

Being a perfectionist and eager to learn, I followed an intensive and regular training, in Brussels in the earliest 90s with Gudrun Mahlberg, and internationally, having the opportunity of meeting as many of the Middle Eastern Dance Master teachers as possible. Striving after further enriching my dancing skills, I learned new dances and techniques such as the Twirling Dervishes, Gipsy and Indian dances, classic ballet, yoga, American Tribal Style (ATS), and am a Tribal Fusion Dance teacher in Belgium.
Following my rich experience, I have developed my own Middle Eastern Dance style. My unique original style will quickly be noticed and appreciated. I’m regularly invited to dance at prestigious events such as International Middle Eastern dance festivals and workshops, or private events in Belgium and abroad (Spain, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Thailand, Israel, etc.). I cover all levels from beginners to advanced during my workshops
My diversity and experience allows me to create shows presenting a delicious mixture and fusion of diverse dance styles and art. The last creation, «Plume et Poil» (“Feather and Fur”) was presented at Raqs Congress 2009. Farida Fahmy said about this show: “It was a long time I didn’t have so much fun with a dance show.
I’m impressed to see how you can at the same time organise such a big event and be such a strong performer.”

In effect I invite often a fellow master teacher for a workshop and show to Brussels. I’m organizing also one of the biggest festival of Europe “ the Raqs Congress of Brussels”, where I invited at least 10 master teachers from all categories and places (Egypt, USA, Europe, Russia, and so on) with international guests such as Randa Kamel, Soraya of Cairo, Mohamed Kazafi, The Uzume, Yasmina from Cairo, Tito, Fathiem, Farida Fahmy, Nour, Jill Parker, Queen Harish, Shahrazad, Sema Yildiz, Amir Thaleb, Tamalyn Dallal, Ariellah; Leyla Jouvana and many other. The last “Congress” was in March 2010.

In 2006, I was invited to an international highly selective casting for the prestigious Canadian circus troupe “Cirque du Soleil”, in the end of which I joined the troupe’s dance squad in order to integrate a show into the next programms.

I participated in many video clips, and many tv shows here in Belgium in the national Channel RTBF. I have my own dance studio in Brussels, where I teach belly dance and tribal. I also schedule very different dances in this studio as well as classics as ethno. Such as Bollywood, African, Salsa, Tango, Yoga, Ballet, Hip Hop, Ragga, jazz, ballet, flamenco, Brazilian.

I performed in the Duisburg noon gala (Lelya Jouvana’s Oriental Festival) some years ago. I also was invited by Leyla Jouvana for a workshop and studio show. I performed also at a Horacio and Beata Festival some years ago.

I perfomed in the two last festivals of Holland “the Baladi Festival” and The Orientaliscious Bellydance Congress in Amsterdam. I was invited  in the show “Pulsation” in Paris, and for performance and workshop in Portugal, Israel (by Orit Matsfir, and Asi Haskal), in Spain, and in Thailand. And for private events in Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Kenya, Switzerland, France, and Austria.
Some words about the Belgian Belly Dance situation

I think that the belly dance level in Belgium is starting to rise up. We start having some of our dancers are being invited abroad and that is very promising for us. That is a good thing because we were a lit bit behind Germany or France where the level is very high. I’m glad to be part of those “entrepreneur” dancers that are going to other countries to show the Belgium belly dance state of art. And I’m very thankful to Leyla Jouvana who believes in my skills and gives me the opportunity to show it in her huge Festival. And thank you to “Hagalla”  to show interest in me. I hope you all will like the show also.

My performance and workshop in Duisburg

I will perform a solo, where my style of fusion can be seen. I didn’t plan the last details already, but I know it’s going to be a mix of a lot of things and influences. There will be classic on it and some other genres.

My workshop is based on hands and arms postures. We’ll work on different positions and ways to move arms and to move hands. And we’ll work on how to have elegant transitions. And how to keep the arms flow, while we’re doing some technique and sharp moves with the body.  Also how to layer the arms with different velocity according to the music. This workshop is very intensive, but will give a lot of material to work on at home.
Salwas workshop: "Raks Sharki Combos with Arms & Postures" takes place on
Sat., Nov. 27th, from 11.20 am - 01.20 pm

further informations under
www.leyla-jouvana.de
I was asked to perform as soloist for the last Nancy Ajram’ Concert in Belgium in 2008, one of the biggest events of Belgium  “Foret National”.And I was a guest star invited by Jillina in the very first Bellydance Superstars ensemble troupe in Europe in 2005.
In September 2007 I won the 1st contest of the 1st International Congress in UK, judged by Jim Boz, Samasen, Yasmina of Cairo, Shafeek Ibrahim, Fahtiem, Sara Abou Farhat and Josephine Wise.
Photos are published with kindly permission by Salwa
Graphics and layout: KonstanzeWinkler