The Shimmy Queen of Belly Dance - Interview with Leyla Jouvana

picture by Marie Louise Avery

by Isis Zahara

"Do all you can to make your dreams come true."
Joel Osteen

Leyla Jouvana is a superb belly dancer, instructor, choreographer and together with her husband Roland, are one of the most sought artistic duos in the world. She discovered her love for the Oriental Dance after Yugoslavian Folklore and Jazz Dance.

They received many awards including the Halima Award (Germany): "Shimmy Queen", Bellydancer of the world in 2007, 2008, 2009 e 2010 (Show Group and Ensemble Leyla Jouvana & Choreographie Leyla Jouvana, the Giza-Akademy in LA named Leyla Best Live Dancer and Drum Soloist.

 She is consider one of the best dancers in Europe running one of the biggest and most successful Oriental Dance studios in German and one of the top Oriental dance festivals in Europe" ( bi-annually. on 1./2nd week of. Advent - End of Nov./beginning December- in Duisburg - with more than 4.500 visitors) . 

Leyla and Roland Jouvana undertake year-round world tours at weekends - as such, they have been guest stars in more than 40 countries and coached more than 75,000 students worldwide!
 Their structured dance education and workshop system is sought after among dancers worldwide and their studio offers courses from beginner to master class level and the possibility to work towards the prestigious CODE certificate (Certified Oriental Dance Education). 
Leyla has also made several bestselling DVDs: 21 Shimmies & 1001 Variations, More Shimmies and Layers with Leyla -  (in conjunction with IAMED Hollywood Productions). 

Leyla and Roland can also count more than 500 appearances on national and international TV and magazine covers. And now you can watch then  on Suhaila Salimpour online BD classes.

For more information about Leyla Jouvana and the 20th Oriental Festival of Europe:

IZ – You and Roland are one of the most acclaimed artists duo in the world. Did you remember the beginning? Did you have any difficulties to start?
LEYLA - Yes we remember very well our beginning because we worked very hard for the good reputation of Oriental Dance and to make it an art. At this time there were many rumours about Bellydancing and Bellydancers. But we are very satisfied with the results of our work in Germany. 

IZ – What was the first Award you won?
LEYLA - it was the Giza-Award in USA, "Shimmy Queen" and "Best Soloist" After that we received the Halima Award in Germany for our work and for our festival : "one of the biggest and most famous Festival in the world“, "one of the most successful Dancers and school in Europe“. We were very proud.

IZ – You and Roland have an impressive engagement between body and rhythm. How is to combine the stamina/inspiration with a depurated technique? What is the secret?
LEYLA - Maybe because we are a couple in love...We know each other, we feel each other, Roland knows what I am dancing, I know his style of drumming. So we feel each other and we feel the rhythm, we both become one with the dance and the rhythm. But before feeling and becoming the music we studied the rhythms and technique very intensively, otherwise it would not be possible to improvise for example.

IZ - You are teaching on Suhaila Salimpour online BD classes. When started this wonderful partnership?
LEYLA - Yes it is really a wonderful partnership. It started some years ago when we met Suhaila at Rakkassah Festival in San Francisco. We love her so much.

IZ – How is work with Suhaila?
LEYLA - It feels like a friendship and not like work. We have always a great time together, we treat each other with biggest respect and handle everything in a correct and clear way and have a lot of fun.

IZ – What can you say about the online classes you teach in the website? Are the lessons prepared for all levels?
LEYLA - Yes, it is prepared for all levels. Every level can pick up something. Beginners can start with only one layer and others can add more layers according to their personal level. We made very good experiences with this kind of teaching because we want all students to be happy.

in China with 400 students

IZ - Asides being teacher, performer, choreographer, you are also producer and administrator of the Oriental Festival of Europe, with many international superstars, including Raqia Hassan, Suhaila Salimpour etc. The Festival is well known for impeccable organization.
How can you handle it all?
LEYLA - I think it is the experience to organize a festival since 20 years. It started small and became bigger and bigger so we can handle it. To handle it in a good way is only possible if an organizer is willing to work hard and with passion. We are a little bit workoholic. We support each other... without Roland I could not do it. All is easier with a great partnership, if both support each other. I thank God almost every day, that I have the most wonderful husband in the world ...

IZ – How would you define the present moment in Belly Dance? With so much investigations going on that transcend this dance to an Art without borders…
LEYLA - Why not1? We like it. We like both, the traditional Egyptian style but we are also very open for fusion. Art without borders is development of the dance and of the dancers, it is always an enrichment.


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