Interview with Belly dancer Bozenkaby Salome
Bozenka took up Oriental dance in 1998 through the "Mideastern Dance Exchange" and soon became one of the organization's prima dancers. She began teaching and touring nationally a year later.
In conjunction, Bozenka won the "Miss America of Bellydance" title in 2000 and began forays of performing and teaching in Canada, Central and South America, Europe and the Caribbean.
Bozenka has performed for celebrities like Sean Connery, Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner, Madonna, Enrique Iglesias, and performed with Alabina during her concert tour in Miami Beach. She is also a recent addition to the "Bellydance Superstars" tour and choreographer for Latin Pop sensation Shakira. Welcome Bozenka!
Salome: I understand that Tamalyn Dallal has bestowed Artistic Directorship of the "Mid Eastern Dance Exchange" to you. What ambitions do have for the organization, where would you like to take it?
Bozenka: I'm very excited about the direction that the studio has already taken. We are a non-profit organization that depends on the energy put into it. Our staff is now very focused and working hard together on several projects. I'm also directing the troupe so that we have a core of well trained dancers to represent the studio and this art form. One of the things I'd like to do is to open up another "Mideastern Dance Exchange" in another part of the world...
Salome: You have repeatedly taught and performed in South America, it seems with particular success in El Salvador and Colombia. What is the Belly dance scene like in South America and how have you contributed there?
Bozenka: There are large Arabic communities in several countries in Central and South America, El Salvador and Colombia being two of them. So I have performed for many private events. I have also gone to teach seminars and I have to say that the bellydance scene in these particular countries is very new and so my contribution has been predominantly starting them with basic and clear technique. They are hungry for information and I'm lucky to be fluent in Spanish.
Salome: You choreographed for Pop sensation Shakira for her "Tour of the Mongoose". Can you relate the experience to us?
Bozenka: It was 8 hours a day of rigorous work. I had to have many ideas at hand and be very flexible to her thoughts and feedback. To choreograph for a star (or anyone else for that matter) is very different than choreographing for students or for yourself. I kept pulling out ideas and steps and things until it was perfect for her. It kept me on my toes! It helped that she was tremendously humble and kind to me. The ultimate reward was seeing it on tour and recognizing my choreography that she performed for so many millions...it made me very proud.
Salome: You toured the U.S. and Canada with the "Belly Dance Superstars" in 2004. What were the highlights and will you continue working with that project?
Bozenka: The highlights definitely included meeting some of the most amazing women ever and sharing the stage with them, finding strength in myself when I thought I didn't have anymore to give, and getting to meet so many different audiences. I will be touring again at the end of the year.
Salome: What are your thoughts on creating a universal movement vocabulary for Oriental dance, and/or certification system?
Bozenka: I agree with the universal movement vocabulary because it will help, even though it's never been a major obstacle when teaching abroad. Once you show the movement, whether you call it a Maya or an outward figure 8, it's the same movement. The certification system will be interesting because first they'll have to decide who's qualified to certify dancers and I think that might take us another 5-8 years to decide!