This is part fifteen of a series I am doing on the backstage rituals of well-kown belly dancers... today's post spotlights my friend Raksanna, who has the project of a lifetime coming to fruition on November 3, 2012...
Raksanna is an amazing bundle of awesomeness. Though I’d known about her and followed her career, we first officially met in 2009 in Cairo, at the Ahlan WA Sahlan Festival. For some reason, maybe it was fate, we seemed to be on the same schedule, both workshop-wise and jet lag-wise, and we just kept bumping into each other.
We’d always seem to meet in Hanan’s costume atelier, and smile at each other kinda pie-eyed over cups of steaming hot mint tea, valiantly trying to form comprehensible sentences. When we got over our jetlag, we began having conversations in earnest and I realized that not only was Raksanna a great performer, but also a truly warm, funny and intelligent person. She is also driven and ambitious- she always has a lot going on. Aside from teaching and performing, she writes for many dance magazine, has been featured on many belly dance DVD’s and tours the world.
Though she lives in Chicago, she has taught for the past four years at the Ahlan WA Sahlan festival in Cairo, where we keep seeing each other for our once-a-year date!
One of the things we love to do at the Mena House’s Khan Al Khalili coffee shop is pig out on koshary, sip some wine and discuss our various goals and projects…and for Raksanna, one of her projects has just fast-forwarded into reality! She has just written and released a book called “Confessions Of A Belly Dancer: Secrets Of The Hieroglyph”, can be purchased here: www.lulu.com/raksanna.
Not only that, it’s been adapted for the stage, and co-produced by legendary Egyptian dance master Momo Kadous! “Confessions Of A Belly dancer will come the stage next week on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at the Paramount Theater, Copley Stage in Aurora, a western suburb of Chicago. Featuring an international cast of eighteen members, the show, which features music by Dr. Samy Farag, will be touring in 2013.
Here is what Raksanna has to say in her own words, about preparing to go onstage:
“As a dancer, I believe the ability to bring music to life on the canvas of our bodies is a very special gift from God. Each time we have an audience, we have an opportunity to share that gift and uplift the people who come to spend time with us.
We never know what the people in the audience are facing – perhaps they had to choose between paying the electric bill and buying a ticket, just to escape the stress of life for a brief moment; perhaps they just had a huge fight with their loved ones; maybe they just received a promotion – we never know. Before I perform, whether as a soloist or with my team, I always pray and ask God to allow the Universal Spirit of love flow through me and touch each audience member on the soul level, leaving them uplifted and happier than before they walked in the door. I also thank God for the special gift of being able to dance.
Then, two deep breaths … and I dance my way to the stage.
And on the evening of November 3, my team will gather in a circle, hold hands and give thanks for the opportunity to touch the audience and ask for the Universal Spirit to flow through each of us – then, we’ll zagahreet as loud as we can … and take the stage by storm!”
For more information on “Confessions Of A Belly Dancer”- either the book or the November 3, 2012 shows-and the workshops she’s hosting with Momo Kadous on November 1 & 2, please visit http://www.raksanna.com/
Photo: Radiant Raksanna in a costume by Mahmoud Mahmoud, at The Mena House, Cairo in 2011. I'm not entirely sure.... but I think I took this picture!