An interview with Artemisia

We are delighted that Artemisia will be bringing her own special brand of magic to this year’s festival.

First, a little background information:

Artemisia is a successful international performer, teacher and choreographer of oriental dance. She is the whirlwind driving force behind dance school (e)motion in Leuven (the largest school for oriental dance in Belgium), the annual Raks Summer School in Belgium, the professional dance ensemble Raks Pro, and her student troupe the A-Team. Audiences around the globe have loved her sense of humour and drama on stage, as well as her magic with a silk veil. Students have found her an inspirational teacher, bringing both technical expertise and a unique approach to dance as (e)motion to the class room.

She teaches regular workshops and classes at dance school (e)motion in Leuven, and other dance studios around Belgium (by request). She is also a sought-after workshop instructor at belly dance events in Europe and worldwide (such as UK, US, Germany, Iceland and South-Africa)

Visit Artemisia’s website – www.emotionvzw.be  and RAKS Bellydance Summer Intensive

Can you tell us about a few key milestones in your dance career?  What was your first solo like and how about your first costume? You have a beautiful dance name, how did you choose it?

One of my first solos was for a Moroccan football club near Brussels. My teacher then had sent me out for the gig, and had told me the organisers wanted a bellydance name, so we picked “Aisha” for me as she felt that suited the young dancer I was. Well, they made fun of it !! “The blond Aisha”, hahahaha! I didn’t think it so funny, so when I got back home I decided I didn’t want an “Arab” name, as I didn’t “look the part”. That was a bit of an internal struggle. I think all dancers get these phases of self doubt, and I just suddenly doubted being a “real” bellydancer. Finding a name that DID feel like me and did feel like a dance name, was very important to me. Artemisia I picked for the 17th century Italian painter by the same name, whose painting I absolutely adore. She is one of the few female painters who reached the technical level of the names we know better (Caravaggio etc), as so little training was available to women. Also being an historian, a gender studies scholar and in love with Italy, I feel that name does belong to me! And when I was living and working in Italy, people there loved it too.

My first costume (I still have it) was a purple and gold Bella, custom made. I waited a long time before I bought a first costume, but then went for the good stuff right away.

What were your first international engagements?

My first international contracts where in Iceland in November 2007, where I taught for 5 weeks, and in Cape Town, South-Africa, in November 2008. The festival in Cape Town was the first time I was a headliner, that was quite something. It was amazing. The students were sooooooo enthusiastic, but it felt a little decadent too. To be flown halfway across the world, for a few dance workshops and a show. Performing in Cape Town city hall, where Mandela held his first speech a few hours after his release is something I’ll never forget.

What is it that makes you still love to Belly Dance, is it the same now as when you first started out or has it changed over the years? Which do you think you get the most enjoyment out of – performing or teaching?

I love the music, I love discovering new music and new styles. I love that it never ends, that there is always more things to discover.

I love the friendships I have developed with amazing women from all over the world.

Most of all I love, love, love teaching, from baby beginners to very advanced, and everything in between. From first steps, to coaching advanced students going pro. And seeing people being happy in class and after class, and being proud of themselves, seeing their face light up when they manage a new step for the first time, or finally grasp a concept, a feeling, get in touch with the music, their body. And when they stand up just that little bit straighter. Seeing my students perform, and seeing how proud their family and friends are of them. Feeling their sense of achievement and sharing that with them.

You know, performing myself of course makes me happy too, but when it really comes down to it, the teaching part gives me the most joy.

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Welcome to our new blog!

This is the place to find out all the latest news about Celebrating Dance. There will be interviews with our instructors, festival news and much more!

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