2006 Belly Dancer of the Universe Competitions
and International Dance Festival
A Review of the BDUC 2006, by Marta Schill
BDUC 2006 - Thank You's
CHAMPIONS OF BDUC 2006 with Photos
L-R Ralph Karapetian, Katayna (AZ) Universal Champ; Harry Saroyan,
and Atlantis in Foreground
A Review of BDUC 2006
The Ever Expanding Universe,
by Marta Schill
There was a major shift in the time/space continuum over the 2006 Presidents’ Day weekend in Long Beach, CA. Einstein’s theories were once again verified - and the result? The Universe exploded with excitement! The celebrated duo of Tonya and Atlantis offered a greatly expanded Bellydancer of the Universe Competition: More space, more workshops (16!), more competition categories (11), and more shopping than ever before.
Tonya and Atlantis’ BDUC has always worked toward the goal of attracting the attention of the wider public to the art of Bellydance - thus their courageous move to the gorgeous and spacious Long Beach Convention Center.
Competition entrants came from all of North America as well as the Near and Far East. This year’s theme was “Legends of the Dance,” resulting in an astounding spectrum of experienced, talented instructors presenting the seminars: Classes overlapped in two separate venues, leaving students with the deliciously difficult choice of which ones to take.
Saturday: From morning ‘til night, the stars appeared and shone. Early on, the Divine Championship was claimed by Soraya (Utah), with Deborah (So Cal) as First Runner-up. Then, the initial new category appeared, the Dancer’s Drum Solo, with an amazing number of eager contestants. The Champion, Louchia (So Cal) was fabulous, closely followed by Rimarah Hare (Florida) as First Runner-up.
Then, comets streaked through the cosmos – the Junior dancers (displaying our promise for the future) dazzled the audience with their talent and inventiveness. Magdalena was the luminous winner, and lovely Angelika took First Runner-up.
More enticing new life forms were introduced; Tribal Fusion Solo dancers were intriguingly innovative in their approach to this compellingly unique category. Washington State’s Elizabeth Dennis took the top trophy with an exciting Flamenco/Tribal fusion, while Rimarah Hare was First Runner-up with an exotic double sword dance.
The recent burst of activity in the area of children’s dance troupes led to yet another new venue: the Junior Group Category. The Champions? Gems of the Nile, with Jewels of Miehana as First Runners-up. Obviously, small dancers are perceived as precious stones (as well they are)! Continuing with the opportunity to glimpse our future treasures, the Little competition was held, with Nadana from Nevada the Champion and Vanessa (So Cal) as First Runner-up.
Saturday evening’s gala show opened with the Tribal Group competition, with Blue Stars of Tanit (So Cal) emerging victorious. First Runner-up went to the notorious Blacksheep Bellydance from Northern California. Then, the Champions from all the daytime categories displayed their talents, inspiring the audience to take to the floor for open dance.
One astounding moment of this extremely enjoyable evening occurred when Helena Vlahos, a legendary dancer famous for her abdominal control and expertise, performed majestically on stage – then came to a special dance floor on the ground level and enchanted the crowd with her expert wielding of quarters on her beautiful midsection: She brilliantly maneuvered the coins not only ‘in line’ up and down three times - but also rolled them down one at a time – then every other one separately! Be sure to see the video of this performance! It was truly spectacular.
Of Veils and Incense and Essence of Veils along with Atlantis’ breathtaking moves with her white feather cape continued this high energy show: Then, the dynamic diversity of dance styles presented by instructors Amina Goodyear and Una proved them the perfect superstars to cap an extremely successful first day.
Sunday: The second dawning of the new Universe convincingly demonstrated the BDUC’s myriad reasons for expansion! The new location was filled with attendees, students, dancers and musicians. This was the period of greatest suspense: Who would be still standing in the evening’s Universal and Egyptian finals?
First came the very popular Fusion competition; the diverse and eclectic presentations in this venue were beyond imagination, creating a galaxy of their own - all of these performers are to be congratulated. The Championship went to Viridiana (So Cal), First Runner-up, Chris! (No Cal); Second Runner-up, Washington’s Elizabeth Dennis; and Louisiana’s Morrighan was Third Runner-up.
It was now time to identify the brightest stars in the solar system…four finalists were selected from the Egyptian category (which had a record number of hopefuls this year!) as well as from the Universal dancers, who competed for the ultimate honor of the title which gave this competition its name.
Sunday evening’s show embraced the venerated traditions of the BDUC, opening with the Group competitions; ranging from a full stage (22!) of gorgeous dancers, all the way to a duet who almost went all the way! Their samba costumes sent ripples of excitement throughout the crowd. The “stage full,” however, prevailed over the “eye full,” and Anja’s Court (So Cal) claimed the victory. First Runner-up, Ooh-La-La from Northern California, Second Runner-up, Babylon Mood (So Cal) and Third Runner-up, Shazadi from Utah.
Now! Time for the finest dancers to be held under the microscope (or is it telescope?). Four beautifully appointed Egyptian performers competed, using their own recordings with the addition of a drum solo at the ending that was completely new to them. Ultimately, the standout representative of all things Egyptian was Louchia from Southern California! First Runner-up was Isis (Utah), Second Runner-up, Angela Prato from Ohio, and Third Runner-up was Talia (So Cal).
Drum roll…or was that thunder? The Universal finalists appeared one by one to perform to music they had never heard; including (among other factors) 9/8, 6/8 and drum solo played by oudist Viken Najarian, kanunist Carlos Devecioglu and noted clarinetist Andres Tsianis. This show was the ultimate test of a dancer’s ability to improvise, play zils, adjust and perform in any situation - the final challenge!
As the ballots were being tallied, a final bolt of silver sailed through the evening sky – Atlantis again performed brilliantly, posing the timeless question: Where does she find that amazing energy? Maybe Einstein can solve that one!
And…the Universal Champion was - beautiful Katayna from Arizona, closely followed by Julianna from Minnesota, Florida’s Rimarah Hare, and Aziza Nawal from Georgia as First, Second and Third Runners-up respectively. Congratulations to all of these extraordinarily gifted dancers.
More information, including the Peoples’ Choice and Congeniality Awards, with additional coverage of the teachers, judges, and vendors present this year is available at bellydanceroftheuniverse.com – as well as photos of all winners and of the event itself.
Once again, the telescope is at rest. Each star shone in its own beautifully unique manner – and will bring brilliance to Bellydance for the year to come. The Universe will once again convene on Presidents’ Day weekend in 2007. See you there!
BDUC 2006 - Thank You's
Dear Tonya & Atlantis,
Thank you so much for giving me the honor of being part of the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition as a judge/workshop instructor/performer. The whole event was wonderful and very exciting. The participants of the competitions were marvelous. I did not expect such perfection and professionalism and the costumes were amazing. It was very difficult to judge such great performances. I for one think that all of them deserve awards. They were so polished and rehearsed. Thank you for the guidelines that helped me make the right judgments.
I don't know how you did it all and still stood standing at the end of the event on Sunday. When I came to the convention center on Saturday both of you were directing all the activity. You never stopped for one minute and when you, Atlantis went on to do your show, I was amazed at your vitality. I would have been too tired to perform after all that hard work. Both of you and all your staff did a tremendous job in keeping everything flowing.
It was great seeing Andreas again after so many years. Please give him my regards and tell him it was great to hear him play again. I felt like I was back at the Athenian Restaurant on Pico where I first started dancing.
All my students that were with me on this trip thoroughly enjoyed the whole event and the workshops they were able to take. They also had great fun shopping.
With much love and respect, Helena Vlahos
Dear Tonya and Atlantis:
Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity for us to participate in a well organized event. This is my first time competiting and what an experience!......Especially for me who have only been learning the art of belly dancing for about 2 years. Winning the "People's Choice" Award in the Egyptian category is certainly a great honor and a pleasant surprise to say the least.
Thank you again for a job well done. I truely enjoyed every moment of it.
Best regards, Emily
Salutations Tonya and Atlantis,
Wow... this was my first year competing, and I don't think I could have picked a better event to enter. One of the most exciting things for me was finding out who the judges were going to be. To be judged by such talented and established dancers was an honor I can't even begin to put into words. Thank you for the opportunity.
For those of you who have not attended a BDU event... you must. The variety of vendors was amazing, and the prices were the best I've seen (even working bulk order deals). If your eyes weren't peeled to the stage, or zooming in on a certain sparkly something... then you were probably taking a workshop from a goddess. It was so great. I can't wait to come back. The pleasure was all mine.
peace and love, Morrighan
You know , you've been great! This has been my first competition and I really
appriciate your encouragement and the smooth operation
of the whole event . ...I'll be back next year ...I
can't come so close and not try again ! Sincerely , Julianna
Hi Tonya and Atlantis,
I just wanted to tell you what a great job you guys
did on organizing this event--not an easy thing to accomplish. We had two
great workshops and the vendors and commpetitions were great. Thanks for
doing such a great job and giving us Big Girls a place to play!
Hi Tonya and Atlantis,
Thank you for the wonderful weekend of dance at the new site. What a terrific, spacious location. Your work in organizing each years' event is extremely appreciated. I look forward to next year! This year, I motivated fellow dancers from Minnesota and Georgia to participate in the competition. It was great to share the competition experience with them. Until next year!
I just want to make a note on how much I enjoyed BDUC. It was my first year(since I just moved to the US) and I had a great time. The performances were of exceptional quality and I was entertained the whole time.
Your performance on Sunday, after the award show was amazing. I love Mariah Carey's music but I never thought about using it as bellydance music - and what a great piece it was for you. Since I saw your performance, everytime I hear it on the radio, I think- yes, it can be bellydance music. :)
So I just wanted to congratulate to you and everyone who was involved in makeing such a great event come true. I will be there next year for sure. Nanda Dyssou
Hi! I had such a great time this weekend. The classes were awesome- the show was awesome and the shopping just fabulous! Thank you for your hard work putting this all together. Thank you for the darling congeniality trophy as well! See you next year, and keep in touch!
Hii T & A -
As always, had a wonderful time at the BDUC. Loved the new space.
Didn't get to spend enough time with you two, though....but
congratulations! It's such an incredibly demanding event and you both
handle it with such grace. It's also a pleasure to see so many talented
dancers from all over the country participating!
Hope to see you soon,
What an experience! I have been to other belly dance competitions in the past, but this was my first time at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition. I knew that the past winners are all amazing dancers - Rania, Aziza, Jamileh, and Ava to name a few. So I geussed that this had to be a well-judged contest. I was also impressed with the workshops that I took. I feel so proud and honored to have recieved the champion trophy in the universal category- it was certainly not from lack of some tough competition! The other dancers that I was able to watch were awesome performers. Thank you Tonya and Atlantis for all of your hard work and dedication. I am so glad that I attended! -- Katayna