Figment 2011 recap…AKA, the Marriage Proposal Show!

Figment 2011 was off to a great start after my show on Friday, but had an even better finale on Sunday. To my (and the audience’s) surprise, my boyfriend hopped onstage after the show and proposed! After being so shocked I couldn’t say anything, I said…YES!

Thanks to all the photographers who have been sending me pics of the big day, and to Rachel, my Figment dance curator for helping to coordinate the show.

Belly Dance "Prop-tacular" sign with QR codes

Belly Dance "Prop-tacular" sign with QR codes for audience members to scan to view blog posts about the show's props

Najla Isis Wings

Isis Wings

Just when I thought the show was over…

Najla Figment 2011 proposal

He proposed!

Najla Figment 2011 proposal 2

In shock :). Photograph by Dave Bledsoe of FreeVerse Photography.

Najla Figment Governors Island proposal

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Belly Dance “Prop-tacular” at Figment – Sword

Thanks for coming to Belly Dance “Prop-tacular” at the 2011 FIGMENT festival in NYC!

Sword

Najla Belly Dance Sword

Najla balances a sword

The flash of metal. A glimmer of a sharp blade. A dancer’s sinuous movements and deft skills. A historical fantasy?

Maybe. Sword dancing (raks al sayf) is not traditional among Egyptian women, but it does have a historical presence elsewhere in the Middle East, and even in some present-day men’s dances. The 1893 World’s Fair featured Algerian women–probably the Ouled Nail–who were photographed holding thin, straight swords. Paintings of dancers and harem women in the Orientalist paintings by Ingres and others may have contributed to the present-day popularity of sword dancing among belly dancers, though it is likely that the swords in these paintings were the imagined fantasies of the painters, as were may aspects of their works. An exact date for the introduction of swords into belly dance is unknown, but it is generally traceable to the 1960s or 1970s when the American dancers Leona Wood and Jamila Salimpour began to use swords in their performances. Today, swords are used by belly dancers of all stripes, from cabaret style to fusion performers. While very common in the US, Europe and elsewhere, sword is less commonly used by female dancers in the Middle East.

For more information on Najla’s performances and classes, visit her website.

For more information on FIGMENT, visit their website.

Belly Dance Prop-tacular at FIGMENT NYC 2011 - Najla Belly Dance NYC - Logo(For those of you who aren’t coming to this page from the festival, this blog entry is part of a series of posts on the different belly dance props being showcased during Najla’s festival performances at the Colonels Stage on Governors Island at 1:30 pm on June 10 and at 12:00 pm on June 12, 2011. Audience members will be able to scan a QR code next to a picture of each prop in order to learn more about it.  )

Belly Dance “Prop-tacular” at Figment – Candle Tray

Thanks for coming to Belly Dance “Prop-tacular” at the 2011 FIGMENT festival in NYC!

Candle Tray
The candle tray is a balancing prop that requires a dancer to have perfect posture and dextrous movements in order to not tip over their fiery accessories. Candle trays are related to the shamadan, a candelabra worn atop the dancer’s head for traditional wedding dances and entrances (zeffas), but are actually more closely related to some of the many other balancing dances of the Middle East. Requiring an acute sense of poise and grace, the tea tray dance (raqs al senniyya) of Morocco involves balancing a metal tea pot and (sometimes full!) tea glasses on the head while performing. Tea trays were often decorated with lit candles, which later evolved into trays with just candles.

PS. Why no fire today? For everyone’s safety, no open flames are allowed on Governors Island.

For more information on Najla’s performances and classes, visit her website.

For more information on FIGMENT, visit their website.

Belly Dance Prop-tacular at FIGMENT NYC 2011 - Najla Belly Dance NYC - Logo(For those of you who aren’t coming to this page from the festival, this blog entry is part of a series of posts on the different belly dance props being showcased during Najla’s festival performances at the Colonels Stage on Governors Island at 1:30 pm on June 10 and at 12:00 pm on June 12, 2011. Audience members will be able to scan a QR code next to a picture of each prop in order to learn more about it.  )

Belly Dance “Prop-tacular” at Figment – Veil

Thanks for coming to Belly Dance “Prop-tacular” at the 2011 FIGMENT festival in NYC!

Veil

Najla Belly Dance NYC Rakkasah East Veil

Najla dances with a veil at Rakkasah East. Photograph by Carl Sermon Photography.

Veils are large pieces of lightweight fabric (usually silk) that are used by belly dancers to create flowing, atmospheric dances. Veils come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including rectangular and half circle, and can be used singularly or in pairs (or sometimes more!). The veil dance may be a distant cousin of North African and Middle Eastern shawl, skirt and handkerchief dances, but veil dancing as we know it today has its origins in theatrical performances from the 1940s by Egyptian dancers like Samia Gamal and fantasy “historical” performances by Ruth St. Denis and others. While veils were originally used to make grand entrances and the dropped soon after, veilwork has evolved to become the focus of entire dances.

For more information on Najla’s performances and classes, visit her website.

For more information on FIGMENT, visit their website.

Belly Dance Prop-tacular at FIGMENT NYC 2011 - Najla Belly Dance NYC - Logo(For those of you who aren’t coming to this page from the festival, this blog entry is part of a series of posts on the different belly dance props being showcased during Najla’s festival performances at the Colonels Stage on Governors Island at 1:30 pm on June 10 and at 12:00 pm on June 12, 2011. Audience members will be able to scan a QR code next to a picture of each prop in order to learn more about it.  )