Shimmy Support had the privilege of interviewing the co-founders of the Jewels of the Orient festival happening Claymont, DE August 21st – 23rd. This is a truly unique event for the area and a great festival to attend. Please learn about and support the event by visiting their website.
Can you both give a brief overview of what it Jewels of the Orient is?
Nefertti: As far as Jewels of the Orient Bellydance & Wellness Festival, this is the third year and it is a bellydance festival and wellness festival that we do to promote the art of bellydancing through having live music, competition, red carpet night, just the glitz and the glam of bellydance much like it was in Egypt.
What are some things that make your event different from other bellydance events going on?
Nefertti: Well, I think what makes it different is our prizes. We really go out and make some prizes that are unique. Like this year, we have a first place prize for a trip to Egypt. That’s a really big prize for the winner. What also makes us unique is that there’s many times that women and men win bellydance competition. You get a crown, you get a trophy, and then what? What we do, as organizers, is we’ve started to work with other festivals where our winner would also go on a teaching circuit. If she come to the Jewels and win, either in tribal fusion category or oriental, we’re going to help market you to other festivals, and get you that experience and exposure, as a teacher and as a performer. That’s what really sets us apart.
Lorelei: As much as the crown and the flash are great, it’s more professional building experience which is especially good for a rising star. We also like to say, come experience the Egyptian Festival without the passport.
Nefertti: When I lived there, the festival are very glitz and glam. They have a formal night, they’re in gowns and suits, they serve dinner during the show. We have that at the Jewels. We have the red carpet, we have a formal dinner, we have people in gowns and suits, and photographers. It’s just the whole aspect of a red carpet night on our formal show. It is like the Egyptian Festival.
What are some of like other things in the area besides the event?
Lorelei: I can say that in downtown Wilmington, there are a number of great restaurants. There a number of art museums and other music venues north of creek in Wilmington. We also have the Wilmington Waterfront. As well as I know that by the hotel, they’re not too far from places like Longwood Gardens, Hagley Museum, and more. There’s a lot of other things to do in the area.
What was some of your reasons and ideas behind starting the festival?
Nefertti: Well, when I moved back from Egypt, I didn’t see in our immediate area a festival that really gave phenomenal prizes and I didn’t see a festival where you had the Egyptian glamorous festival. I didn’t see where the winners of festivals were going out and doing anything. I wanted to start building a festival where our winners will go overseas, and they would get lots of exposure. I’ve lived in, mostly, overseas as an artist and there’s so much opportunities there versus America. We don’t normally go over there, but we invite them across the pond. The idea was to take some our American winners or professionals and take them across the pond. That’s how the concept kind of came to be.
Any advice for people who are competing?
Nefertti: I’d say they need to practice a lot. That’s the first and foremost thing. Practice until it’s like walking, it should be like walking, and it’s a part of you. What would I to say to those that are on the edge or thinking about it? Go in with the mindset of not winning or losing. Go in with the mindset of being critiqued by professional judges. That can help you be a better dancer.
Where else can you go and dance, and get four or five people to critique you, to help you become better. If you go with that mindset, it’s like an intensive where the teachers sit down with you and says, “Okay, this and this and this to work on.” That’s the mindset I hope that they can go with. If they’re on the fence, can go into it with or take away the fear, “Oh, I gotta win, I gotta win, I gotta win.” No, you have to execute so that you can get better at your art.
Lorelei: I guess mine is also remember to have fun, make sure you’re enjoying yourself. Make sure when you put your competition, it’s something that you and well crafted. Similar to what Nefertti said, if you’re on the edge, you want to think about the feedback that you’d get. If you’re trying to grow as a dancer, it’s a good tool to have feedback, especially if you don’t know any of the judges, that’s going to give you unbiased feedback.
Nefertti: Also, I want to add to this. I think it’s really important that people know when they’re running a festival competition, as far as organizers, Lorelei and I, we don’t care if who wins. We have no vested interest personal or financial interest in anybody or any competitor. We give you the venue and you do your thing. We tell our judges, it’s written on our agreement with them and we’ll talk to them in person, we do not influence anyone, anyone. We have no interest in who wins. We just, again like I said, we give them the venue and they have fun with it and do what they want to do with it. I think, actually, it’s important for competitors to know that as far as our festival and competition, we have no vested interest and we say it verbally and we put it in writing as well. We try to make that easy for our judges that they provide a loser. These are the five things you’re grading on. Here are some information about what you’re looking for. We give each person 1 through 10 in this category. It’s very structured.
Lorelei: We’re happy for whoever wins. We’re happy for those that just had a good experience and good learning experience.
Is there anything as far as that to keep in mind for those attending the event for the first time?
Nefertti: I tell people, it’s formal night. Everyone is a star that night, so go for it. Pull out that dress that you hadn’t worn in 10 years. Go over the top and have fun with it. We got some guys coming in tuxes, some guys have ties and button downs. Of course, there’s no jeans at all. Everyone would’ve go all out, hair, makeup, gowns, it’s really beautiful. You can see everyone walking the red carpet and just looking beautiful. It’s a lot of fun. Then we have the after party after the show. We are having open floor dance and it’s a live dance. This is the time where husband and wife, your partners if others, you guys can get up and just dance and then enjoy the evening to live music, all dressed up. That’s going to be kind of romantic and a lot of fun.
. Just any tips on how to get started creating your own festival?
Nefertti: For me, I guess that before you decide to start a festival, look around in the community in the surrounding state and see what other festivals are going on during that time period and let them know of your interest and about your festival idea. We don’t want a market where it’s over-saturated with festivals, of course. That doesn’t help anybody. I say, when you decide to do that, do some research and then reach out to other festival organizers that you can coordinate and work as a group and not against each other. That’s what I like.
Lorelei: Well, definitely look at what else is going on in the area and make sure no one is doing the festival you want to create.
Any last piece of advice or any comment you want to make about the festival?
Nefertti: Just come out in the festival. We have lots of great teachers. This year, we have teacher who it is their first time on the East Coast. Come out and see some wonderful teachers, and international teachers. This year, we have live music added to it. They can just get in and just enjoy the shopping, all the vendors.
Lorelei: Yes, we’ve got vendors and anybody in the community can come and visit the vendors.