I can remember sitting in the crowd at the Istanbul Tarazade festival opening gala in 2012 and Aziza glided out, she moved so fluidly, so transcendently, and she drew everyone right into her. There were moments where it felt like she was looking directly at me and saying, this is for you, just you! I knew then that she was different.
The next day I found out not only was she the most captivating performer at the festival but she was also my favourite teacher. Her ability to simplify complex concepts about how to be a better dancer and contributor to our dance world was what blew me away the most. So right after the workshop I asked her if she'd be interested in visiting NZ. She was delighted, and so started the 2 years of planning the event.
Fast forward to October 2014, and we spent the first 3 days of Aziza's visit in the company of some of New Zealand’s most wonderful people and great examples of the students, teachers, and mentors in our belly dance community at the retreat! We were lucky enough to have representatives from all over the country and Australia to share our part of the world with her. I was so excited that so many of us would be spending such quality time with Aziza so that everyone could absorb some of that sparkle I found with her in Turkey. The Friday night show was incredible, and we had such a massive variety of performances that it was overwhelming. Aziza was simply magnificent to behold.
The workshops were fantastic, and Aziza’s nuggets of simple principles to apply to our dance and thought processes were mind-blowing. The content of the workshops were well structured, full of homework to take home for technique drills, infused with a sense of realising our self-worth as dancers, and paced very well. They felt complete and worthwhile to me and hopefully to all the people who attended. The other aspects of the retreat which include the surprise activities and the belly dance Amazing Race were as always for me, the highlights of the weekend, and Aziza was a very willing victim/participant/victor! Her vigorous leadership of her troops made sure we all "got stomped by Team Five”! Oh and I have that on video for the record ;)
At the end of the retreat we were all a little tired, a little inspired, and filled to the brim with happy memories and new friendships - and I don’t know about you kids, but I felt damn proud and lucky to have Aziza as a friend. Shortly after we said our goodbyes at the retreat, my favourite person in the whole world, my husband Martin, informed myself, Aziza, and my gorgeous BDE sister Bibiana from Adelaide, that we were all scheduled for relaxing Thai Massages that afternoon... well I have to say that I couldn’t have made the retreat weekend happen quite as smoothly without my wonderful Habibis and my hubby. Shout out to all of you - you rock my world!
Part 2 to be continued in the next edition of the newsletter… find out about my romantic getaway with Aziza, our intensely competitive card games, luging, oh and about our amazing time in Christchurch.