Aziza Nawal’s Year in Review

Photo by Barbara Nies

I sincerely hope that each of you had a safe and happy holiday season and that 2012 will bring you prosperity. 2011 was a wonderful year – after we thawed out from January’s snowmaggedon, Taki and I began planning a trip to Burning Man and Awalim geared up for several opportunities to perform with live music.

Performing to live music comes so rare but the possibilities have increased tremendously by being a part of Awalim. One of my fondest memories was performing with Brezius at Natalie Brown’s annual Show of Doom in Columbia, SC – the treat was to see how the group recruited Natalie to assist the percussion session by playing the Davul in an effort to replace the irreplaceable Darbuka Dave who was ill and unable to attend. She and my fellow Awalim sister Teejei spend hours and hours rehearsing our set so when you watch the video below – you will sense the excitement and electricity we all felt.

Next up – Tribal Con. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this event. I was once asked – “why did you switch to tribal?” I didn’t really understand this question – who said there was any switching involved? Broadening my horizons has always been paramount to me as an artist so why not take more classes in a style I’m not overly familiar with? More on this in a forthcoming article but for now¬† check out Awalim performing with the Day Late and Dollar Shorkestra at TribalCon 2011

Now we move on – Big kudos to Sally Boyd who gave me an opportunity to teach and perform in Knoxville Tennessee! She had me Emcee her April Fool’s show that featured local dancers and live music by Tuatha Dea – a very interesting fusion group driven by a whole lotta djembes. It was a very special event for Sally who is a cancer survivor – I truly admired her courage during her ordeal and I am honored to be her friend. Thanks to the Amarna Dance Company and to Debke for having me teach their groups some classic Aziza Nawal drum solos during my visit!! I’ll be back in Knoxville again in March to teach teh Dendarah dancers fun choreo to a classic Warda song and perform again at Mirage!

Also in April, Awalim hosted Tribal Carnivale at Red Light Cafe which accompanied a workshop with Mavi (DC) – we got to perform some of my favorite Awalim choreographies – the classic Lesge and the sassy Sairiman – check it out:

In June, fellow Awalim sister Majda and I combined forces to host our annual student show at Nicola’s – it was a great success! I really look forward to putting on these shows every year because it gives my students such a perfect environment to perform in – a warm and receptive audience, great food for the guests and participants and who can resist the enthusiasm of Nicola! My 2011 choreographies were inspired by the 70s with an upeat routine to Eddie Kochek and a sensual dance to George Abdo’s famous rumba “Lila”.

Before going completely off the grid in August – we put on another show at Red Light Cafe – this time inviting performers from the Atlanta area to perform with the Day Late and Dollar Shorkestra. Wow – what a treat! I got to perform to “Aziza”!

Once I returned from the epic adventure that was Burning Man – I was thrown smack dab right into everything. I had two workshops to plan – one in Columbia thanks to Maria Palacio and the other at Triboriginal thanks to Onca. Plus I took an intense workshop with Suhaila who completely kicked my ass!

I need to mention that all year long I had the fortune of still holding down not one, not two, not three but four steady restaurant gigs. Ok well the fourth fizzled out in the first quarter – too bad. Awalim had a great run at a monthly gig but twas not meant to be and it was a lot of work! I keep thinking – this year I’ll retire from restaurants and it doesn’t seem to ever happen – they still want me and some even demand me – not trying to be too self serving – anyone who knows me can attest that I’m merely proud of my accomplishments and grateful I have students, family, friends, troupe members and colleagues who appreciate me and I appreciate them for being there.

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