2018 – Year in Review

WOW – 2018 flew by!! And what an eventful year it was – one full of growth and changes, both in dance and in our personal lives. Here are some highlights for the Invoketress ladies as we reflect back on 2018.

We kicked off the new year with 2 sold out “Hot, Hot Havana” workshops by Ishra. Workshop participants learned a sexy, slinky choreography which you can see Ishra perform at a “Glitter” Bellydance Show.

The mega fun “Hot, Hot Havana” workshop participants!

We are honoured to be regular performers at “Glitter” Bellydance Show hosted by our friends Eshe and Mahasti – The Bellydance Emporium. It always gives us an opportunity to showcase many of our non-conventional dance work as well as our Raqs Sharqi pieces and we are grateful to be a part of that community. This year, in addition to numerous “Glitter” shows and their summer “Sideawalk Sounds” series, we participated in two special edition “Glitter” shows including a “Swap” edition (where we essentially “swapped” dance styles with that of another dance studio) and a “Shuffle” edition where we did not know what song we would be performing to (see video)! The “Swap” prompted us to produce our “Harry Potter” troupe piece (choreographed by Siyobin) in homage to Mahasti having dancing a number of “character” pieces (i.e. Batman, the Grinch, Harry Potter, etc.). Mary took the challenge to “swap” in Eshe’s Turkish Rom style (see video). We performed the “Harry Potter” piece again at The Femmes Rebelles “Pop” themed Burlesque show.

Our “Harry Potter” troupe piece performed at The Femmes Rebelles “Pop” show.

Spring brings the start of the busy gig season, usually starting with the University of Guelph’s “Relay for Life”, a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society and performing at BellyUp‘s Showcase. This spring Mary also participated in the Datura Online‘s choreography challenge where she learned 2 of their choreographies and won the Social Media award! Check out her submissions (Sedona Soulfire choreography | Ebony Qualls choreography)

In May, we were super excited to host Nawal Doucette all the way from St. John, New Brunswick! She taught amazing workshops on a wicked hot May Sunday and we gelled so well with her and her vibe. We drilled and layered and conditioned and learned about the Salimpour format of training and certification.

The sweaty participants at Nawal’s workshops!

June is always dance madness for us, starting with the Guelph & District Multicultural Festival! This year, we were requested by the festival to produce two full-scale performances and tutorials, one in Bellydance and another in Bollywood.

At the Guelph & District Multicultural Festival.

The weekend after was our annual Belly Blush Student Showcase, our beloved show where we get to showcase all of the students in the Invoketress school from beginners, children’s classes, troupe performances, and special guest Valizan and friends. We’ve been blessed to have had the last few years sell out so last year we started having a matinee and an evening show and this system seems to work out wonderfully! The students shone and it was a beautiful day of performances! You can check out our fun Shaabi performance here!

Invoketress backstage at the Belly Blush Student Showcase. Photo by S Curve Photography.
All the performers! Great show, everybody!

Summer brought Invoketress to two Tribal Fusion Bellydance festivals. Ishra and Invoketress’ tribal fusion troupe Divine Eclipse traveled to Chicago to learn from great instructors like April Rose, Mardi Love, and Donna Meija to name a few at Tribal Revolution.

With April Rose at Tribal Revolution in Chicago.
With Mardi Love at Tribal Revolution.

A couple weeks later, Ishra and Mary traveled to Montreal to learn and perform at Tribal Momentum, a new, Canadian tribal fusion bellydance festival. Check out their “Thunderbirds” duet and Ishra’s solo below.

Tribal Momentum 2018 – Ishra from Tribal Momentum on Vimeo.

Summer is never complete without the Guelph Pirate Festival on the August long weekend! We performed 2 daily interactive shows as well as a customized set at the raucous Saturday night Captain’s Keg!

Day show mermaids at the Guelph Pirate Festival.
Bellydance & Burlesque at the Captain’s Keg.

August Long weekend is also the Mill Race Festival in Cambridge and Ishra is a regular performer there accompanying award-winning, nuevo-Flamenco guitarist Cuneyt.

Ishra performs with Cuneyt at the Mill Race Festival.

We love collaborating, whether it be with other artists, musicians, charities, or local establishments. This summer, Mary partnered up with Guelph Lebanese restaurant Retour Bistro to offer Bellydance & Hookah nights for people to indulge in the Lebanese experience of having a leisurely late meal or snacks, followed by some drinks, coffee and dessert while smoking some hookah and enjoying live Bellydance. We ran two Bellydance & Hookah nights and were especially pleased to have them both sold out successes! We are excited to make this a regular event – it seems Guelph is ready for it! We’ll be having our next event on Valentine’s Day!

In the new September semester, we were proud and excited to fully induct troupe apprentices Rachael and Shannon as full-fledged members into the Invoketress Dance Troupe! Congratulations, ladies!! You’ve earned it!

September was the Hamilton International Bellydance Competition‘s second year and we were proud to be performers at the gala show.  Having competed and placed last year, including winning 1st place in the Ensemble category, we were happy to sit back and enjoy the competition. The talent was impressive and inspiring! The gala show was stunning and included performances from competition judges Melissa Gamal and Henna, whom we were tickled pink to be slotted in between for the show!

We also kicked off fall by celebrating the Fall Equinox by performing with Roula Said and her amazing band at Farmfest at Thorpe’s Organic Family Farm!

Mary, Minerva, and Ishra perform with Roula Said and her live band at Farmfest.

2018 was also a Mosaic – Bellydance Fusion show year and this year’s theme was “Divination.” On November 10th, Invoketress and special guests delved deep into this theme, unraveling our cosmic mysteries and presenting them in dance art at this show at the River Run Centre.

This year’s performances certainly rose to the occasion! Special guest performers included Valizan, Shades of Araby, Raqs Mahasti, Tribe Mayafire, Anuka Bellydance, Wild Orchid Belly Dance and musical guest Adrian Raso. It was our first ever SOLD OUT Mosaic show and were thrilled with a smooth production and rave reviews. Videos are available on our Youtube Channel. Check out the gorgeous photos by Brandon Marsh Photography here.

In November, Ishra also road-tripped down to Ohio to teach Saidi workshops to the Egyptian Breeze Bellydance Troupe!

In line to our commitment to continuous learning, troupe members took multiple workshops with some amazing instructors throughout the year such as Shahrzad, Esmeralda Colabone, Angela Josephine, Audra Simmons, Heather Marie, and Henna to name a few.

Workshops with Henna.
Ishra at workshops with Sharhzad.
Workshop with Audra Simmons.
Mary and Arlene at workshops with Heather Marie at Mahasti. Mary will be performing in a group piece with Heather and other workshop participants at Kami Liddle’s “Sparkle Motion” in March in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Workshop with Angela Josephine.

We love collaborating with other artists and musicians and Mary was excited to be invited to collaborate with Guelph talent “The Naked Harpist” Leslie Shapiro at her Christmas concert!

In addition to the mentions above, there were many other performances and workshops at weddings, restaurants, dance shows such as Rising Moon Bellydance‘s show in London, the Spooky Souk Halloween show, the Pumpkin Promenade, festivals such as the annual Flying Dance Festival, World Peace Day, corporate events and parties.

And here we are, having just finished a slew of Christmas parties, in our last week of class and just one more large New Year’s Eve performance to go. Today is the Winter Solstice and we are ready to rest and reflect and welcome in the new year with openness to more artistry, collaboration, and abundance!

Thanking everyone for their continued support and love!