Stirring up Ottawa’s Belly dance community in 2014

Hey folks,

I’ve been percolating on a few things for the past few years, as enrolment in my classes has shifted downwards a bit, we’ve seen attendance to events like the Dancers’ Bazaar decline, and am pretty sure I am not alone.
What to do, what to do….?
When I started taking lessons in Ottawa, OMEDA { Ottawa/Outaouais Middle Eastern Dance Association} was a present and active force.
Halyma circa 2004 at Uncle Louie's

Halyma circa 2004 at Uncle Louie’s

It’s volunteer members organized events from shows to workshops and a fairly regular newsletter that was mailed out to the membership.  It was through this association that I found my own Goddess of Dance, mainly with amateur parties where I could try new things, play, and learn by watching other dancers and meeting other creative souls.  I am still friends with some of the fabulous women I met through OMEDA.
I know that my own activities when I first got into the local community, way back in 1995, were in conjunction with OMEDA and I did my own small amount of time volunteering with the association too, but really did not want to take on too much responsibility, preferring to support the events as best I could while developing my own side newsletter/ events when I could be a benevolent dictator.
🙂
Over the years, I’ve been honoured to take part in other local events too, as many others have done their own thing and tried to include the community at large.

At the Fire and Ice show – 2013

So, all in all, Ottawa-Gatineau still has a great core of dancers/ teachers and events that can be sustained, to a degree.
But where can we rejuvenate?
Are there new and upcoming students and potential performers who would like to show off their dances, but are not comfortable at the OCCP? Or even the theatrical fundraisers of either Catharine or Anna and Safiya?
 I know I can only accommodate a limited number of dancers, and the same is true of the other fundraisers run by others.  And these more theatrical events need to continue for the more advanced dancers who are polishing their skills and developing their stage presence, but…
Can we revisit having some relaxed, open invitation dance parties in Ottawa again?  Pack your costume and cd/memory stick/ipod and sign up when you get there and dance type parties-how much fun would that be?
Will this type of event also bring new people into our classrooms when they can see the fun and positive energy that this dance form brings to us?
I think it’s great that Studio Oasis is also thinking along these lines and has the ball rolling with their Nov. 23rd Galabeya party!
I can see, if other people feel welcome to take on an active roll,  having an assortment of these types of events throughout the Ottawa-Gatineau area.
I am not thinking of getting too crazy with this idea, just looking to see if we give it a try for a one time event this winter, will others be open to setting up something in their part of the city,  a couple of months later, so that everyone can start to benefit?
I am interested in opening up a conversation with you: teachers, event organizers, professional dancers, and active members in supporting Ottawa’s Middle eastern/ belly dance community. 
Do we need OMEDA again?
Do we need something new?
Or can we come together as Rogues  { my Belly Dancing For Fun dancemates know what I mean} and create a fluid community that benefits everyone?

If you would like to share your thoughts publicly , please comment below.

If you prefer to share them privately, message me: halyma@bellydancingforfun.com

PS/BTW – the reason I chose the photos of only me is that I wanted to get this post out there! While I have some great photos of people from the various events throughout my years dancing, I don’t like to publish anything without permission. Just know there are some beauties who are part of this great community!

 

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10 thoughts on “Stirring up Ottawa’s Belly dance community in 2014

  1. A friend and I used to go to daytime classes in Kanata. Evening classes are not something we want to do – it’s family time. When we stopped going to classes we also stopped going to belly dance events such as performances and bazaars. We both miss it – we had fun.

  2. Might be fun to host casual dance parties seasonally. I’d be willing to arrange use of the dance studio at Canterbury CC. Teachers could bring new students, to mix, mingle, meet, and learn to perform in a non-intimidating environment…just sayin’…..

  3. Awesome! If you want to brainstorm, let me know, otherwise keep me posted so I can share the info! Ps don’t pick Jan 24 as I have a Bollywood thing that night 🙂

  4. I don’t have any ideas but just want to say that of all the places I have lived, Ottawa is the most difficult city to try and run classes in! I hope your classes fill up Tracey!

  5. I think we’ve had the conversation about how class enrollment across the city is dropping. When I first started teaching I had enrollment of 16-25 students in all my classes and was teaching 3-4 classes a week. Now I teach one small class a week. That could also be due to my classes being specialized now but these classes started as regular Beginner Belly Dance… due to low enrollment we shifted to specialty (Steampunk Belly Fusion) and my classes run.

    An opportunity to build excitement and interest in belly dance would be great. A way to offer all dancers at every level of experience and skill the opportunity to try something new on an audience of supportive dancers is even better. I’ve been thinking along these lines for years but never believed my presence in the community was enough to organize anything.

    I’ve often observed friendships being forged in the fires of Belly Dance, experiencing many such bondings myself. To offer that opportunity to others would certainly help build a stronger community.

  6. Oh, and as one of the rogue dancers of BDFF I can vouch for the total hysterical fun that can be had doing adhoc, sometimes last minute, performances. So one thing I’d love to try is a ‘pop up’ dance party once every couple of months. You’d only get 1 week notice (if that) and there would only be a door fee to cover expenses. I might give it a try in February. Maybe 😉

  7. Leslie of Shakti fusion here! For several years I ran workshops and accompanying shows at the Mercury Lounge and the Arts Court theatre! I definitely do plan to come back to this but for now am focused on completing my grad studies! I will be back at it when more projects are off my plate 🙂

  8. I literally fell in love with Belly Dance. It’s definitely not just a phase for me. However, having young children has made it difficult for me to pursue this passion. It’s too complicated for me to attend evening classes at the moment. Formal performances require a commitent I can’t make, and I don’t feel comfortable performing at restaurants and weddings anymore. Sooooo, with all that said, I would LOVE casual dance parties where I could let loose once in a while. And I do plan to return to regular classes in the not so distant future. 🙂

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