"It is the darkness that is the light, and the stillness that is the dancing"
The 'Bellydance Superstars' is a fairly new addition to the belly dance world. The concept was created by Miles Copeland, the founder of I.R.S Records and the record label BTM. With the help, knowledge and expertise of Suhaila Salimpour, and the guidance of Jillina he toured America recruiting belly dancers displaying great skill in the dance. As far as I am aware the troupe remains flexible in accepting new members.
The Bellydance Superstars company features some of the worlds best belly dancers chosen by the company to create the 'Bellydance Superstars troupe', primarily from America, which organises tours and shows in different states and countries, showcasing these dancers and the art of Belly dance.
The chief choreographer for the troupe is Jillina, the dances performed are primarily classical oriental dance, 'Raqs Sharqi', with a small group of Tribal Fusion style dancers: Rachel brice, Kami Liddle, Zoe Jakes and Mardi love.
The aim of Miles Copeland and the Bellydance Superstars is to bring belly dance into the spotlight, commercialise it and introduce it to the realm of competitive, world-class performance, to be performed alongside other famous shows such as “Riverdance and the Royal Ballet” (taken from the BellyDance Superstars site).
Who are the bellydance superstars of old?
Born as Babaweya Mohamed Kareem Al Nirani in 1920, she was a famous Egyptian belly dancer and actress who rose to become a bellydance superstar in the 1940's and 50's.
Born into a respectable family, she was discouraged from dancing but at the age of 14, due to family differences, she moved to Cairo to stay with Suad Mahasen, an artist and nightclub owner.
Taheyya requested employment at the nightclub though Suad refused, wanting to protect her. Through Suad's friends and associates, Badia Masabni, the owner of Casino Opera, a very well known and classy night club of the time, heard about Taheyya and offered her a position in her troupe, giving her the stage name, Taheyya Mohamed.
Taheyya became a famous soloist and gained the name, Taheyya Karioka after a Samba dance from Brazil called the Karioka, which she learned and incorporated into her Oriental dance solos. She started her career as an actress during the 'Golden Age' of the Egyptian Film industry, becoming not only a bellydance superstar but also an accomplished singer and actress.
Her real name was Zeinab Ibrahim Mahfuz. Born in 1924 she became famous in the 1940's, dancing at Badeia Masabny's nightclub, Casino Opera, in Cairo.
She had training in Contemporary Modern dance as well as Ballet, Jazz and Tap, alongside her training in Egyptian Baladi. She became close friends with another famous dancer of the same troupe performing at the nightclub, whom she trained under, and you've just met her... Taheyya Karioka.
Soon she was given solo slots in the nightclub performances and her unique style emerged, incorporating ballet and Latin dance flavours. Her career expanded and she began acting and dancing for film, the first being called, 'Min Fat Adimo', which was not a huge success but opened the door for her into the world of acting for film, which was to prove successful.
In 1950, Samya went to America after Egypt's King Farouk (who used to invite her to dance at his royal banquets) proclaimed her the National Dancer of Egypt, hence giving her international acclaim and a status as an undisputed bellydance superstar.
Here she married a so-called millionaire, Shepherd King 111, who apparently converted to Islam and was renamed, Abdullah King. The marriage did not last long and she returned to Egypt to continue her career as a dancer and actress. She then married Roshdy Abaza, a famous Egyptian actor.
It is said that Samya was the first to dance in high heeled shoes on stage, indicating her wealth and status and ultimately adding to and changing the costume style of Oriental cabaret dance to this day.
If you would like to join the bellydance superstars take the first step here...