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Near East Belly Dance Festival Offers Music, Food, and Moves in Ojai Saturday

March 19, 2010

belly dancer

Second Annual Ojai Bellydance Festival
Saturday, March 20, 2010
441 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai, CA 93023
12:00 – 6:00 p.m. Day Show / $7.50 general admission
8:00 – 10:00 p.m. Night Show / $10.00 general admission
$15 Admission both shows
$4.00 children & senior admission (4 yrs. & under, free)

The 2010 Ojai Bellydance Festival, now in its second year, offers an intriguing glimpse into the many styles of Bellydance aka Near Eastern Dance. Enjoy live music and dance, henna art, shopping, and delicious food and hear some of the hottest Balkan and Near Eastern music this side of the Black Sea with two fantastic bands.

Bring the family for a day show featuring live music with Ojai’s own Byzantium.  Dance performances include Egyptian and Turkish, American Tribal Style, Cabaret, Tribal Fusion, and Vintage Revival.  Performers range from student to professional.  In between shows, shop for exotic décor, tribal jewelry, and couture dance fashions and feast on delicious Lebanese food from Abe’s of Ojai.

An evening show includes by artists by special invitation, live music and open floor dance with LA’s premiere Balkan Gypsy band, Lissima.  Guest artists are from as diverse locations as Los Angeles, Turkey, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Oregon.

The Festival showcases several kinds of dance. Near Eastern Dance or Bellydance,  once found only in the Arabic and Ottoman worlds, is as an international dance style performed by dancers on all seven continents. Modern Fusion style, born in San Francisco, USA, incorporates hip-hip, jazz, and Bollywood elements with Near Eastern dance.  American dancers now teach and perform this style worldwide.

The event is being organized by Natasya Katsikaris who I met 10 years when we were both doing yoga teacher training with Erich Schiffmann. While this is only the second annual Festival at this location, Natasya has been involved with putting on successful events like this for as long as I’ve known her, bringing amazing talent to our community. Many locals know Natasya from her years of dancing at the Greek at the Harbor and as a teacher of dance in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The Festival this year seeks to raise funds to support efforts to convert land in Meiners’ Oaks previously used as a junk yard into a permaculture site with organic gardens, grey water recycling and hummanure composting.  According to organizer Natasya Katsikaris, “last year’s festival helped finance the removal of 12 tons of junk.  Proceeds from this year’s festival will be used to purchase more plants and mulch.  A portion of the proceeds will also be donated to SGI, an organization working to create a Culture of Peace.

“The Ojai Bellydance Festival sponsors a Culture of Peace as part of a mission to foster peace and appreciation for cultural diversity,” continued Natasya Katsikaris. ” In an age when the countries of the Near East have conflicts with the United States and with each other, the festival builds bridges of cultural understanding by showcasing the artistic trend toward global fusion which mixes the incredibly rich musical traditions of the Near East with innovative and vibrant modern American dance styles.”

More information can be found on the Website at http://www.neareastdance.com/Festival.html

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