Wow what can I say; winning Belly Dancer of the World 2013 has definitely been a major highlight of my career so far! I am so excited and can’t wait to come back next year. I am still in Germany as I write this, and I thought it would be fun to explain what the competition is really like for those who are curious and a few fun German facts pertinent to dancers coming in Part II.
I enjoy competing but taking the risk to spend the bunch money to fly over there, pay for the workshops I wanted, plus room and food, was definitely nerve wrecking. I am not rich, but this was an event I had heard nothing but good things about when I researched and spoke with dancers and artists. I knew that in 2013 this was the competition I wanted to do, as winning this would open a lot of doors.
So What is the Competition REALLY Like?
Ok so before you ever compete, you need to of course make your music selection. At this festivl there is some “history” with regards to music and licensing and thankfully they won the lawsuit but for dancers this means that not all music you select can be used. You must choose a few options of songs you would like for each category and get them approved by Leyla and Roland BEFORE anything else! My first two choices were not approved, which had me a tiny bit stressed but my third choice was still a song I loved so once I got the “OK” everything else was gravy.
The competition is no joke. I call it a “marathon”. It is 10-11 hours long and although there is a pretty close estimate of when you need to ready by, the nerves and anxiety will cause you to come much earlier as it is held in a location a little bit a ways from the workshop site.
The dancers must bring their luggage and necessary supplies with them to one of three floors. Why 3 floors? With hundreds of contestants battling it out to win, the floors are brimming with dancers getting ready, packing, or rehearsing in the designated areas. So get ready to run up and down several levels frantically between categories. My quads were killing me lol!
There is no attendant on the 3 floors of changing/rehearsal areas, so it is YOUR responsibility to be AWARE when it comes to being backstage and ready on time. Once your name is called get ready because you better be fierce or you will go home with the amazing and creative dancers from around the globe that have prepared for months.
For those of you who wish to go, I advise this…be ready to hustle! I competed in 3 categories and won, but even with estimating that I had enough time to change it was still a rush due to the 3 levels and hallway to get to the stage. Organize your suitcase very well!
The dancers backstage were super warm, and Leyla and Roland were absolutely wonderful, which made me feel so comfortable. Thank goodness for Andrea of Stellar Advantage too, who was a huge help in showing me around, and a nice support in not getting lost or without food that first day lol!
So I know the first thing you are wondering is does it give money…no. This competition does not award money, but it does have a nice list of prizes such as a free professional photoshoot, invitation to teach next year at Leylas event with expenses and compensation paid, costumes, jewelry, more photo vouchers, advertising voucher, interviews, and with the thousands and thousands of people and dancers attending, MAJOR exposure and networking opportunities.
The winner will also receive invitations to come and perform or teach at other festivals but just be aware, a few of these were not all expenses paid, which is not my cup of tea (although I am very thankful to be asked), so just be aware some festivals in Europe kind of offer this I guess.
I saved all my pennies in order to come to this, and it was worth the investment, but even if you don’t win, or decide to compete this is definitely a goody to attend. I will NOT attend some competitions/events due to the major political bull and in my opinion, unethical practices given to newbie artists. This is one I definitely support because it is all out in the open from the getgo with what to expect and how everything is calculated and run.
If you have any questions about this event or competition please write below. It was so nerve wrecking going to Europe where I barely knew anyone and with the pressure to do well to make the investment a bit more worthwhile, so any way I can help just let me know!