World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Ziva Emtiyaz

GENRE: Belly Dance
First appearance in SF EDF: 2014

Ziva Emtiyaz is an award-winning dance artist. She has traveled to Europe, Asia, Latin America, and across the United States as a Middle Eastern dance instructor, performer, and choreographer. Ziva was a finalist on Cheeky Girls Productions competition reality show “Project Belly Dance,” which led to the 2013 release of her debut instructional DVD “Powerhouse Percussion.” She strives to promote human connection through expression of music and ultimately ignite the dancer in everyone.


TITLE: Agoul Awak; Tabla Solo 2
GENRE: Belly Dance

Raqs sharqi—also known as belly dance—is upbeat and sensuous—and this piece begins beautifully as Ziva enters and claims the space, circling with her veil. Her first piece is Agoul Awak, danced to a contemporary, Latin-influenced song of the same name, by Lebanese pop singer Haifa Wehbe. Jeweled star on her hip, Ziva enacts a sassy and playful interpretation of ambivalent love, pushing her invisible
lover away and bringing him close.

I say forget you and then you appease me
I say I love you and you ignore me
One day it’s roses, one day it’s thorns
Your night is night, my night is day
Your heart is ice, mine is fire

Then Ziva’s finale is an improvised drum solo, with quivering shimmies and intricate isolations—matching her moves to the syncopated patterns in “Tabla Solo 2” by Mokhtar Al Said.

Forms of raqs sharqi dance have evolved over the centuries: from Middle Eastern dances for women among women; to forms for nomad entertainers; to this more familiar performance-art, brought to the Cairo stage by cabaret owner Badia Masabni in 1926. Northern California dancers hold a high respect and dedication to the form’s history and technique, and also join in its ongoing evolution. Some dancers develop East-West fusions; some build dance communities for confidence building; and others add
a California athleticism or tell a contemporary story. But they all dance for love of the ancient dance—for its skilled sensuousness, emotional expressiveness, and feminine beauty. Ziva’s eclectic style infuses Arabic dance styles from Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey with subtle elements of jazz, modern dance, and western ballet. This performance is for your enjoyment, and Ziva invites you to wave your arms, clap,
and sound the high-pitched “la-la-la-la” called zagareet.

The instruments heard are a large dohola drum and daf frame drum holding the bass lines; and the doumbek with its delicate syncopated solos. Also called a tabla, this last drum is the classic goblet drum—once stretched with a goat or fish skin, but often made today with a synthetic drum-head that holds a better pitch. The costume is a modern version of the sequined bra and belt bedlah designed for Egyptian cabarets and Hollywood films. Before the bedlah, dancers performed in everyday dress and classic dancers such as Suhair Zaki preferred the figure-hugging baladi dress, which covered the body.

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