313 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA
Public transit: Porter Square Station (Red Line)
MassRaqs is New England's premier belly dance festival. World renowned instructors give dance workshops, international belly dance artists perform in two star-studded shows, a panel discussion delves into pertinent issues.
We bring high quality instruction and performance to the Boston area, celebrating the amazing talent in our dance community, while offering you ways to learn, love, and nurture your dance practice, in great facilities, within the city, with safe dance floors, mirrors, proper equipment — and with a firm and unwavering commitment to quality in every piece of this process.
Learn about the organizers ...
Aleksie is a Boston-area dancer who started learning Middle Eastern dance in 2003. She enjoys studying both folkloric and Oriental dance, taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities presented to her through classes and workshops. In addition to Middle Eastern dance, she also studies Bharatanatyam.
Working on MassRaqs has fulfilled Aleksie's interest in becoming more involved with the Middle Eastern dance community. This has also provided an excellent opportunity to learn the nuances of hosting dance events, something she hopes to do someday. When Aleksie is not working on her own dancing or helping with MassRaqs, she is a full-time graduate student at Boston University where she studies physics education.
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Badriya al-Badi'a (Regina Harrison) has been studying Middle Eastern dance since 1999 and has focused specifically on Egyptian styles for the last several years.
As a former anthropologist, issues of cultural representation and "authenticity" are very important to her on both an academic and personal level. These issues apply both to the physical movements of the dance itself and to the statements conveyed by dancers about the Middle East as a locus of artistry and sophistication. At the same time, as a performer of gothic belly dance, a result of the synergy of her own cultural background combined with the dance that has become a part of her body, she is also fascinated by the ways in which a dancer's individuality and creativity can emerge through dance while still maintaining some sense of connection to its origins.
She is very excited to be a part of MassRaqs and helping to present New England with an opportunity to explore both Middle Eastern dance technique and the cultural ramifications of presenting Middle Eastern dance on Western stages.
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Cecilia is a music maker, dreamer of dreams, a mover, and a shaker. As Cecilia al-Bahr, she has been a perpetual student of raqs sharqi since 2002. While it was the mermaid-like moves that drew her in, it is the empowerment of expression in raqs sharqi that keeps her hooked. Cecilia continues to fill her grotto full of sparkles and sequins, and takes absolute pleasure in sharing the dance with others.
When she's not dancing, she is providing sensual and romantic advice as Athena's by Cecilia. Cecilia believes that MassRaqs not only provides more opportunities for the Belly Dance Community to enhance their dancing, but also provides a space for open dialogue about the why's and how's of belly dance in our lives. Cecilia is excited and honored to utilize her event management and community outreach skills as part of the MassRaqs Team!
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Eli cherishes the folkloric dances and traditional music of the regions of North Africa and Egypt, the Levant, and Maghreb, along with those of the Arab peninsula. Her favorites are the Saiidi and Fellahi rhythms and the dances; the Raqs Beledi, Ghawazi, and Raqs Assaya (cane dance), from the countrysides of Egypt.
From Amel Tafsout, Eli has found a new fascination with the Andalusian music and dance in North Africa, the Maghrebi Berber Tribal Dance and Music of Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, as well as the fascinating "Algerian Blues" music known as Rai.
Studying Arabic drum technique is another favored past-time for her, all the while supplementing this with Armenian and Greek rhythmic training. She has recently begun studies in Persian Rhythms with Peyman Nasehpour in Germany, via Skype. The Rhythm Instruments that she plays are primarily the Egyptian Tabla, Frame Drum, and Riqq.
Eli is an American Tribal Style dancer who spends her remaining free time studying Taxim movement and musicality, along with folkloric, Baroque and Early music.
Yuleidy "Jewels" Valdez was born and raised in the Dominican Republic where the sounds of music are a daily occurrence. She was actively involved in local Merengue dance groups from a very young age in her hometown of Nizao. Jewels continued her dance training and love for music in Boston as a member of All-City Dance Company and began taking Oriental Dance classes in 2002.
She has performed in various theatre productions and has made many appearances at local venues and on television programs. "Last year's experience with MassRaqs was so incredibly fulfilling that I had to be part of it again. I've learned and grown so much from working and training with Meiver."
Meiver, the host of MassRaqs, is a fiery entertainer hailing from Dominican Republic, via Boston, Massachusetts. With natural grace (her middle name!) combined with a keen feel for Arabic rhythms, she is one of Boston's favorite and most sought after performers.
In addition to extensive work as a solo artist, Meiver has also performed Sharqi/Baladi, Arabic-Techno fusion, Bhangra and Turkish/Eastern European Folk Dances with such groups as Bellydance Overdrive and Collage Dance Ensemble (Ahmet Luleci's Boston-based folk dance company). Since it's inception in 2002, Meiver was a performer and choreographer for the Bellydance Overdrive dance group, along with the versatile Egyptian musician and dancer Karim Nagi Mohammed (a.k.a. Turbo Tabla), the uniquely talented dancer and singer Nina Torres from Brazil, and percussionist, video-producer and exceptional dancer Lauren-Michelle from the USA.
In April 2010 Meiver was a featured speaker at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada, where she was a panelist and gave a lecture, in addition to performing. She has been teaching Oriental Dance since 2002.
Visit Meiver's website...
Rosa Noreen is an elegant and engaging classically trained dancer with a passion for Middle Eastern dance. A force in the Maine belly dance community, she is the co-owner of Bright Star World Dance studio and the creator of the popular recurring performance events Raqs Borealis and the Solstice Spectacular, and the host of annual workshops with dancers including Michelle Joyce in 2010 and Tamalyn Dallal in June 2011.
In September 2011 she will be a featured instructor at the Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive in Las Vegas, NV. Rosa pursues the development of her unique style of belly dance with local masters and workshops presenters near and far, attending academic and physical dance intensives around the country.
Visit Rosa's website...