WAMED Festival 2013

It is always fun and inspiring to dedicate time to doing what you love and in my case my profession. I have attended Belly Dance festivals both overseas and in Australia but had never ventured to WA to check out the Western Australian Middle Eastern Dance Festival (WAMED).

I had the pleasure of the company of three Belly Dance Arabesque travelling companions to share the experience with. We stayed in Fremantle and each day took the train to Subiaco where the workshops were being held and spent the day dancing and chatting with dancers from all over Oz.

I was booked in to 9 workshops over the 4 day festival and was totally inspired by all of them. Among my personal highlights was Tamalyn Dallal from the USA who is such a beautiful and emotive dancer. Her gentle and earthy nature along with her extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern Dance and Music made for very informative workshops. Paola Blanton from Brazil spiced things up with some Gypsy flair and certainly gave our legs a workout! The fabulous Rose treated us to an improvisational workshop with Mike playing Oud, such a treat to have 2 hours of live music to dance to. Paivi from NSW shared her extensive knowledge of the beautiful style of Muwashahat which has an ethereal quality. Some dance theatre with local teacher Natalie Diggins took us out of our comfort zone with theatre games and expressive techniques. Alma got us moving with her Lebanese Dabke workshop, such a powerful and fun style to learn, and of course the charismatic Ozgen from Turkey held workshops in the Turkish Romany style which was my personal favourite.

We were treated to two main shows; the first on Friday night was Ozgen’s ‘One Day in Istanbul’ which saw both local and interstate dancers performing Ozgen’s choreographies specifically for his show. The second show ‘Diamond Sky West’ was held on Saturday night and featured teachers and guests including a performance by Sarah Maeer, Sarafina and I as Divine Elements. We performed part of our ‘Winter’ piece from our 2013 Fringe show.

I found the festival had such a great vibe, everyone was friendly and welcoming, there was lots of variety in workshops and activities on offer, the overall running of the festival was excellent. To finish the weekend off there was a Grand Bazaar held on Monday where dancers could perform, shop, meet friends and talk about dance.

Well done to Keti Sharif and all the other organisers and helpers who made the festival a success. I would definitely head back to WAMED!

By Regan ‘Rania’ Gardner

Photograph: Regan, Sue, Paivi, Sarafina and Sarah

WAMED 2013