Oriental Dancers and Producers, a professional relation - Interview with Anusch Alawerdian

photo by M. Joudi
 by Isis Zahara

"You are invited to the festival of this world and your life is blessed."
 Rabindranath Tagore

Anusch Alawerdian is an internationally acclaimed oriental dance performer, choreographer, instructor and organizer of a big Belly Dance Festival in Netherlands. She was born into an artistic Armenian family and was a young child, at the age five, started to dance into an Armenian folk-dancing group called "Arevik".

At the age seventeen Anusch has embarked on a long journey through 1001 countries to specialize in the Art of Oriental Dance.
In the last 2 years, the United Arab Emirates has been her home where she dazzled the stages of the best 5 star hotels in the region, such as Al Diar Siji hotel (Al Fujaira), Fairmont Hotel, Intercontinental, Hilton Hotel, Studio Masr Abu Dhabi, Wafi Dubai(Baladna), Al Awtar(RAK), El Meridien Hotel(Abu Dhabi) and many others.

 Anusch also organizes Belly Dance festivals. Since 1999 She has organized annual events as the “Oriental Lounge: an International Bellydance Festival and now the International Summer Bellydance Festival. A three-day event with  special guests from different parts of the world, dancing competitions, workshops, open stage performances, and elegant closing gala, what requires exceptional organizational talents to put it all together.

Behind the Festival there is a great deal of activity taking place behind the shows, workshops etc. It is project, which has a growing number of people supporting and working on it.

Today, some artists, as Anusch,  are also producers and this is very special because, as an artist they are creatively inside the process of making the show.

 If you don't have any idea about what means to be an festival organizer or producer, here is a little explanation about:

An Art executive producer is an individual working within the Entertainment Industry. A producer has many roles including: gathering ideas for a project (Festival, Show, etc.) selecting artists (dancers, musicians, actors etc.), coaching the technical team, controlling the subscribers, guests, the media, supervising the entire process. Be a producer of a Festival is a big responsibility with budgets, sponsors, schedules and negotiations.

"I think, the ‘key’ is: believing in yourself and hard working.
 Never give up something you love!"

IZ - You started to dance very young. Do you remember the beginning? 
Anusch - Oh yes, I still remember! I was four years old; my mom brought me for the first time to a ballet class. After a year I was so bored they moved me to an active folklore dance class, which I continued until I was sixteen.

Dance Company Mirage, founded by Anusch in 2004

IZ - In America we have a lot of Armenian musicians producing Belly Dance music in the last years.  Is there a specific Armenian Belly Dance style? 
Anusch - No, there is no specific Armenian belly dance style. Armenian dance is a totally different style, but still as much beautiful and feminine as belly dancing.
The Armenians are spread all over the world. We have a lot of Armenians who are living in Arabic countries, such like Lebanon, Egypt, Syria…, but many moved to America.  So the producers are not only producing Armenian music, but also Arabic, as this became part of their culture.

photo by Tony Bassel

IZ - Today you are an internationally acclaimed dance performer, who has been dancing in many eastern countries, India, USA and Europe. What are the keys to achieving the highest levels in Belly Dance or in any art? 
Anusch - I think, the ‘key’ is: believing in yourself and hard working. Never give up something you love!!!

 "That’s why my laptop travels with me
 the whole year and keeps me busy 
with the event while I am touring during the year 
through the Middle East or other countries.
 And my festival super team is supporting me
 from the Netherlands as well."

IZ - How is the belly dance in Europe or USA different from the dance in the Eastern Countries? Is it such a different repertoire? 
Anusch - In the Middle East you are always performing for an Arab audience, who are most of the time singing all the songs and clapping their hands. It is like coming into contact with the culture of the ‘dance’ you are dancing.  And of course dancing on live music is a big pleasure for every belly dancer.

IZ - Can you pick one dancer and one choreographer and describe how they are inspirational, what you admire about them?
Anusch - To be honest I admire many belly dancers, not only one. Each belly dancer has her own quality and I get my inspiration from many dancers.

photo by Andre Elbing

IZ –Which BD style do you like to perform the most?
Anusch - I always loved the Egyptian style. But the last three years being and performing in the gulf countries, I also started to add Khaligy style and Lebanese belly dance style in my shows. But I never stopped loving Egyptian style; this will always stay remain my main dancing style.


IZ - Tell us about being a producer and administrator of your own Dance Festival.
Anusch - To produce such a festival is a big responsibility. I always try to be perfect and also do my best to make the participants/guests and the artists very happy. That’s why my laptop travels with me the whole year and keeps me busy with the event while I am touring during the year through the Middle East or other countries. And my festival super team is supporting me from the Netherlands as well. My festival is growing each year. It is a very beautiful feeling.

IZ - How do you select the professionals for your festival?
Anusch - During my travels, I meet a lot of belly dance talents. If I could, I would love to bring them all and present them at my festivals, but I have to select each time. And as I like to make my show and workshops of my festivals very broad, I try to select dancers with different belly dance styles. Also I love to present new talents and give them the opportunity to show their talent at my festivals.

photo by Ayman Shoala

IZ – You got much Brazilian dancers this year. Do you like the Brazilian style?
Anusch - I like all kind of belly dance style. Jacqueline Braga and Esmeralda are both colleagues who are working with me in the Emirates. I saw them dancing many times and each time they amazed me, so I really wanted them to be a part of my festival this year. They both are fantastic artists, very inspirational.

IZ - What can you say about the Summer BD Festival in 2012? 
Anusch - 2011 Summer Bellydance Festival was a big success, with many unforgettable moments. Also this year I am planning a big sensation, with many talented international artists, the Miss Summer Bellydance Contest of 2012, many workshops, a gala spectacle, live musicians and many more fantastic surprises… I am really looking forward to welcome all the top artists and participants from around the world at my festival in the Netherlands this summer.
Festivals produced and organized by Anusch:
 August 2012 - 2nd International Summer Bellydance Festival (In Process)August 2011 - 1st International Summer Bellydance Festival June 2009   Oriental Dance-Adventure (production)November 2008  - 4th Oriental Lounge Spectacle (festival: worked with Sadie(USA))October 2008   - Dance tour in Marrakech(Morocco)February 2008   - Dance tour in Cairo(Egypt)June 2007    - Indian Oriental Fantasy (production)May 2007   - 3rd Oriental Lounge Spectacle (festival: worked with Marcela(Chilly/Spain) and Liza Laziza(Eg/Persia))February 2007- Dance tour in Cairo(Egypt)May 2006  - 4th Multi-cultural Dance Adventure (production)February 2006  - Dance tour in Cairo(Egypt)November 2005 - 2nd Oriental Lounge Spectacle (festival: worked with Kamellia(Jp/Fr), Shahrazad(G) and Aladin el Kholy(Eg/G))April 2004  - 3rd Multi-cultural Dance Adventure (production) was a benefit show, for the Tsunami victims in ThailandNovember 2003 - 1st Lounge Spectacle (festival: worked with Mayody(Fr/Morocco) and Shahrazad(G/NL))November 2002 - 2nd Multi-cultural Dance Adventure (production)June 1999 -1st Multi-cultural Dance Adventure


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