Become a member of the BDUC Hall of Fame
Win any 3 Titles and join this illusrious List of Champions from across the globe!!
Dual Winner Drum Solo Champion and Champion of Champions, Hall of Fame Contender
Champion of Champions + Drum Solo Champion =
Paula - Dominican Republic
Hall of Fame Award = Dilek CA
The Universal Champion = Sa’diyya - TX
1st RU = Mireya Yamilet - PR
2nd RU = Sherena - OH
3rd RU = Carmen - MX
Congeniality: Sa’diyya - TX
People's Choice: Sa’diyya - TX
Egyptian Champion = Shereen – Czech Republic
1st RU = Paula – Dominican Republic
2nd RU = Sa’diyya - TX
3rd RU = Oleg - Russia
Congeniality: Cassandra Fox - Canada
People's Choice: Lindsay - Canada
Group Champion = Arabina - CA
1st RU = Ya Amar Bellydance Troupe - Mexico
2nd RU = Bella Oasis Dance Co - CA
3rd RU = Raks A'Diva - CA
Congeniality: Talisman Dance Company - CA
People's Choice: Mirage in Motion – CA
Drum Solo Champion = Paula – Dominican Republic
(Also Champion of Champions!!)
1st RU = Sherena - OH
2nd RU = Lindsay - Canada
3rd RU = Tatiana Kuzmina – Russia
Congeniality: Ema - Japan
People's Choice: Tatiana Kuzmina - Russia
Taxsim Champion = Shereen – Czech Republic
1st RU = Oleg - Russia
2nd RU = Masha - CA
3rd RU = Cassandra Fox - Canada
Congeniality: Lara - CA
People's Choice: Masha - CA
Fusion Champion = Oleg - Russia
1st RU = Roxana - CA
2nd RU= Cassandra Fox - Canada
3rd Runner Up = Jeli - CA
Congeniality: Oleg - Russia
People's Choice: Regine- CA
Specialty Champion = Sa’diyya - TX
1st RU = Yi-Sin Lin – Taiwan
2nd RU = Mireya Yamilet – PR
3rd RU = Gabriela - TX
Congeniality: Gabriela - TX
People's Choice: Sa’diyya - TX
Jr Solo Champion = Kat - CA
1st RU = Shanti Feyrouz - CA
2nd RU = Wiiz - CA
Little Champion = Kassandra – CA
1st RU = Brianna - CA
2nd RU = Sasha - CA
3rd RU = Lucy Mary - CA
A Review by Marta Schill: "The 21st Century Meets the Twenty-First Universe!"
Friday, February 18, 2011, Long Beach: It was a dark and stormy night . . .not our customary freakin' gorgeous weather in SoCal, and yet definitely not enough of a deluge to keep dancers from a really smokin' show! In 2011, the newest facet on the gem that is the Bellydancer of the Universe Competition was a Friday evening 'Welcome to BDUC' party that took over the Pacific Sailing and Yachting Club, tucked away in the charming Shoreline Village. The locals at the Club were stunned by the effervescent array of talent - touting Amina Goodyear, performing as a slightly(?) tipsy Egyptian street dancer (talk about Sha'abi Chic!), and Helena Vlahos elegantly reclining on a converted pool table (as only she could do it) with coins dancing on her lovely midriff. Graceful Taji, piquant Katya, charming Amanda Rose and vivacious Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan transformed the club into an exotic Odalisque . . .then Atlantis and Shazireh rocked the house with All-American fusion that grounded any sailors who had felt at sea, surrounded by the Lorelei . . . always good to be home! Finally, before they could put the cork in the bottle, the feminine chimeras returned in the strikingly lovely forms of Sahra Saeeda and beautiful Dilek - two of the finest dancers on (this night) a very, very wet planet. This pre-show party will become a staple, and all the boys at the yacht club will be there!
* * *
As if to prove Einstein's theory of an expanding universe, Saturday morning's event exploded with action: First, the Group Preliminaries with an abundance of contestants, replete with creative costuming and story-dance concepts enough to fill the entire weekend on their own! What an amazing jumpstart to BDUC . .
Next came the coveted "retro" category - yeah, this is how it all began! Twenty-one years ago, the "BDUC" was born - with one division and one objective: To discover and to honor the finest Bellydancer around - and to this day, the Universal Category achieves that goal every year. Beautiful Sa'Diyya, 2011's winner, is a testament to BDUC's proud tradition - proving her stellar talents by entering (and winning!) other categories as well.
By afternoon, there came a warm feeling of familiarity regarding the new venue: Still housed in the beautiful Long Beach Convention Center, the BDUC's new location had a great vibe . . the lobby, the classrooms, the dressing rooms and the auditorium area had a layout in which there was a circular route that encompassed the entire spectrum of activity. All aspects of what was offered - shows, classes, vending, food - felt inclusive and comfortable.
Saturday's surprise turnout was for the Prelims in the Egyptian style! In this time of incredible diversity in the universe of Bellydance, there were over thirty contestants from around the world vying for recognition in this very traditional genre. The confluence of exotic fabrics, sequins, fringe, rhinestones and fabulous choreography filled the afternoon - myriad creative interpretations of the Egyptian style surfaced - including a truly excellent male dancer; Oleg, from Russia!
This last observation brings me to a highlight of the BDUC weekend . . .the Russian Invasion. A troika of dancers; Oleg, Tatiana and Victoria came, saw, and filled the event with their inventiveness, energy and humor. They came from Russia with love - and returned with more than a little hardware
Dinner Break. Time for one of the many attractions the Long Beach Center provides: Great restaurants right across the street! Irish Pubs, Island fare, Italian - all there, all inundated with literally hundreds of bellydancers; visions in headdresses, eyelashes and attitude - gearing up for the fabulous Judges' Celebrity show that night, as well as the first categories in which trophies would actually be awarded.
A galaxy of stars orbited Saturday evening's stage. We were treated to the Genesis of the Tribal style with Nina Sahar and Blue Lotus, the impishness of Pentagram, lovely and classical Marushka, the Gypsy insouciance of Mesmera and Lee Ali - countered by the sassy grace of Her Royal Highness, Princess Farhana! Not to be outdone in the 'regal' department, Helena Vlahos and Louchia added richness and sophistication to the gala. Legendary Anisa and her dance ensemble enhanced the playfulness of Amina Goodyear's Sha'abi dancer, who'd wandered over from the Friday show and once again displayed her expertise in a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Egyptian party dance. We were treated to the amazing diversity of bellydance reflected in lovely Ashana Hanada, flirtatious gamine Jayna, and the indomitable Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan. True subtlety, and the infinite grace of the Egyptian style was performed by consummate masters of the Art - Angelika Nemeth, and Sahra Saeeda. Renown oudist and composer John Bilezikjian and BDUC producer Tonya Chianis, cornerstones of Middle Eastern music and dance, opened with fusion and traditional melodies spanning their extraordinary careers. This amazing show was complete because of their energy, levity and unequalled talent.
The ethereal, nuanced moves to Taxim contribute much of the mystical quality to Mid-Eastern dancing. From a broad field of twenty contestants, the luminous Shereen of the Czech Republic emerged the victor, and claimed the first trophy. Culminating an astonishing evening, the presentation the Specialty Skills transfixed the crowd. The dexterous, artistic Sa'Diyya of Texas claimed the trophy; the initial coup in what would be an extraordinary weekend for this very talented performer.
* * *
Sunday morning came pretty quickly after such an intense evening; however, the fresh faces of the Little and Junior contestants, and their eager approach to performing became the perfect wake-up call for this amazing day. Beautiful little (tiny!) Kassandra won the Little class, and Kat captured the Junior Solo category . . . it was definitely a Sunday brunch of Special "K's!"
The great Amir Sofi and Superstar Jillina were two of the celebrity judges for Sunday's unexpected marathon - the Drum Solo competition boasted over 30 contenders, 13 of them from other countries! From this rivalry rose the sublime star of rhythm; intoxicating Paula from the Dominican Republic.
Most exciting among the contenders yet to be awarded a trophy before the Finals was the entertaining Fusion style. This year the contention was ramped up a notch by the fact that the Russian Troika were all among the competitors in this category! As the event unfolded (literally) it became obvious that break-away costumes were to emerge as the 2011 prop of choice! Following this trend, Oleg of Russia also broke away from the pack, and was deemed Fusion Champ
The air was electric with anticipation as Sunday evening, featuring the best of the best, began. Group finalists set a celebratory tone with energetic, finely-tuned performances. Troupe Arabina from California, directed by Dilek, captured the coveted Group Championship.
One of the hallmarks of the BDUC is the band playing live for each Universal finalist. They must improvise to music that is new to them; thereby showcasing the dancer who can spontaneously master her music. . . . OK , so what's more entertaining than a talented and skillful dancer improvising? Try four dancers at the same time! Both Universal and Egyptian finalists faced a novel challenge (challenging for the judges as well): performing together to an intricate drum solo played live by Amir Sofi.
The Universal Championship was won by Sa'Diyya of Texas, and the winner who rose to the top in the giant Egyptian category was the gorgeous Shereen from the Czech Republic . . .also the winner of Taxim.
The beautiful Dilek took her place on stage to be proclaimed the first member of the "BDUC Hall of Fame." This award honored her four championships captured at the event throughout its twenty-one years.
To witness the ultimate talents from the entire weekend in action - one after the other - is a truly humbling experience. This is exactly what occurs during the Champion of Champions process! Judges' discernments are tried to the limit; yet there must be a choice . . . and in a close race, the amazing Paula of the Dominican Republic claimed the title! Congratulations flowed from a wildly appreciative audience.
A poignant point in this marvelous weekend was the bestowing of the Lifetime Achievement Award to California's own Sahra Saeeda, a well-deserved homage to her life's artistic wealth of performances, travels, research, and never-ending studies - and for revealing much of her experience in her fascinating journals; an invaluable resource for dancers and aficionados alike. For all information on Champions and Runners-up, Congeniality and Peoples' Choice awards along with pictures, pictures, pictures - visit bellydanceroftheuniverse.com
Atlantis, the Mistress of this Universe, survived, prevailed, and triumphed again this year: Battling the challenges of a new venue as well as a personal bout with the flu, she guided this space shuttle safely home . . .we left with stars in our eyes as well as in our cel phone cameras - already making plans for next year - and the new dance category! No surprise that Tonya and Atlantis, the most well-known mother and daughter producers in Bellydance, would be offering a Family Duet classification, inclusive of Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, and any combination of the above! The 22nd Bellydancer of the Universe will be once again at the Long Beach Convention Center on February 17,18 and19, 2012. Prepare for takeoff . . .