Back in 2013 MEDANZ was in the fortunate position of being able to offer a brand new Student Scholarship to promising dancers, put forward and supported by a teacher from the MEDANZ Teachers' Network.
There have been seven successful Student Scholarships so far, here are their stories:
SIOBHAN MILNER: DUNEDIN
I am about to enter my fourth year of a Bachelor of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Science, starting my Honours research project in belly dance. I’m 21, and began belly dancing with Abbraccia School of Dance in Lyttelton in 2010. Additionally, I began studying with the The Ruby Lady in Dunedin in 2012 and I have been performing since 2011.
2014 will be an interesting and challenging year without an oriental tutor in Dunedin, and in addition to self-directed belly dance practice I plan to take private classes with tutors around the country whenever I get the opportunity. I feel blessed to be part of the Dunedin dance scene, with ties to both the contemporary and belly dance communities. I hope to perform more and improve my technique in both styles of dance over the coming year. My goal for the next year is to gain more experience in choreographing my own pieces, and develop a deeper understanding of Middle Eastern dance.
Congratulations Siobhan - 2014 MEDANZ Student Scholarship Recipient!
Siobhan used her Scholarship to purchase a Karim Nagi DVD on Arab Folk Dance : Dabke, Khaliji, Saidi & Sufi, a Private Lesson with the legendary Aziza, and some private lessons closer to home with Zumarrad.
Siobhan went on to tertiary study in Canada, where she was exposed to some great belly dancers, and has now become a regular feature at our annual MEDANZ Festival, both teaching and performing, with a penchant for drum solos and delving into the classics.
Congratulations Nikki - 2015 MEDANZ Student Scholarship Recipient!
Nikki used her Scholarship to attend the Woollongong MED Festival in Australia, where she took classes with the divine Marta Korzun, and Aussie tutors Virginia Keft-Kennedy, Rose Ottaviano, Alma Sarhan and Jrisi Jusakos. Nikki also attended the Phoenix Belly Dance retreat in Auckland with Hadia, and private lessons with her teacher Traysi.
Nikki continues to teach and dance with the SnakeCharmer Belly Dance Troupe, and we've even talked her into joining committee!
NIKKI DOUGLAS: WELLINGTON
I have been belly dancing for a little over 10 years – I was with Wellington teacher Huda Sabour for around four years before joining Snake Charmer Belly Dance. When I was a kid I used to love dancing around the living room, and in the weekends I couldn't wait for my family to go out to their various sporting activities so I could crank up the stereo. But there was no money for dance lessons when I was young, so when I started belly dance at age 32 I was very surprised to discover I could do it and ever since then I have been hooked! It was a few years before I was brave enough to be part of a group choreography and a bit longer still before I danced a solo at one of the Snake Charmer haflas.
Being an introvert means this stuff doesn't come naturally to me but I have had lots of support from my wonderful teacher Traysi Ewayan and all of the fabulous women at Snake Charmer. I now really enjoy performing and teaching, and when I dance around my living room it is always to Middle Eastern music.
I am a bit reluctant to categorise my dance style because I've really enjoyed most of the different styles of dance I have experienced, but if I win the scholarship I am keen to develop my skills in oriental dance.
BRYDEE GIBBINS: CHRISTCHURCH
I have been dancing for 10 years, starting at the School of Contemporary Belly dance in 2005 until its closure after the 2011 earthquakes.
After dancing at home for leisure, I then joined a Steampunk Fusion Troupe, The Decapod Dolls, in 2013 along with my mum and aunty. The Decapod Dolls performed at many fundraisers, parties, and balls such as the Oamaru Steampunk Festival in 2014.
In late 2014, I started attending Tribal Fusion classes at TribalDiva and have been attending classes ever since.
My preferred dance styles are Tribal Fusion and Oriental although in the last year I have been trying out Gypsy Caravan and other Tribal based styles.
In the next year, I would like to have more involvement with the belly dance community, whether it be attending/performing at different haflas, markets and festivals across the country.
I would also like to experiment with taking different styles of dance such as hip hop or contemporary and fusing them with belly dance to make eclectic and rich choreographies, which I would love to perfect and eventually perform sometime in the future.
Congratulations Brydee - 2016 MEDANZ Student Scholarship Recipient!
Brydee has used her scholarship to make the most of the opportunities available through TribalDiva, attending workshops by Kristine Adams and performance and choreography training. Brydee presented a fluid fusion cheoreography at the last MEDANZ Festival and continues to learn and grow as a dancer with the TribalDiva troupe.
EMILY WHITLOW: CHRISTCHURCH
My name is Emily and I am a 21 year old baker from Christchurch. I dance with TribalDiva Belly Dance Company where I attend several classes each week.
I started taking dance classes 10 years ago and I have since tried many different styles which include: Ceroc, Historical, Jazz (which I hold an elementary diploma in) and of course Belly Dance! I have tried a few different styles of Belly Dancing but I mostly do Tribal and fusion at the moment.
I have a tendency to throw myself into the deep end sometimes when it comes to trying something new, I had only 8 lessons before doing my first ever dance exam! I love belly dancing and I love the deep sense of community and support that comes with it.
For the coming year I plan to travel more in order to meet the wider community, everyone does things differently and I would love to learn from different people and their branches and styles of dance. I also plan to improve my stage presence (remember to smile!)
Thank you to everyone who has made my journey awesome so far and thank you to MEDANZ for this great opportunity.
Congratulations Emily - 2017 MEDANZ Student Scholarship Recipient!
MEDANZ is proud to present Emily Whitlow, our 2017 Student Scholarship winner.
Emily has tried many styles of dance but fallen in love with Belly Dance. Her dedication and enthusiasm for this art form is admirable and we look forward to supporting her on her dance journey. MEDANZ offers the student scholarship every year as one of the ways we support our members and grow our community.
JANE STEANE: WHAKATANE
My name is Jane Steane. I am a yoga teacher and school teacher, originally from the UK, but now living in Whakatane in the beautiful Bay of Plenty with my husband and two children, aged 12 and 14.
I have been belly dancing for around 8 years and I absolutely love it! I started teaching belly dance after only a year, when our own teacher left us to live in Australia. It was like the blind leading the blind, but at least we got to dance together and have a lot of fun along the way.
In that time I have taken as many opportunities as possible to develop my dancing by attending workshops, and taking many trips to Tauranga to be under the guidance of Tanya Bamford King. I also lead a troupe of local dancers in Whakatane and we enjoy performing in community events.
I don’t like to be pigeon-holed into one style of dance or another, but I love Egyptian and folkloric belly dance. I’m also a dance magpie and enjoy playing with other styles of dance and fusing them with belly dance. I have recently learned some Gypsy Caravan with Christine Haviland, which was a refreshing challenge and so much fun.
In the coming year, I am enthusiastic to learn more about dance styles from different areas, the history and culture, particularly Egyptian and folkloric, and deepen my knowledge of Egyptian, Turkish and Arabic rhythms and to pass this on through my own teaching. I love the story behind the dance and feel it is important to keep these stories alive.
Congratulations Jane - 2018 MEDANZ Student Scholarship Recipient!
Jane first love is Egyptian and Folkloric Belly Dance but she is keen to explore other styles of belly dance and fusion. Her enthusiasm for this art form is intense and her passion evident. We look forward to supporting her on her dance journey.
MEDANZ offers the student scholarship every year as one of the ways we support our members and grow our community.
RAIN WAITERE-ROPER: CHRISTCHURCH
Rain, a 16-year-old secondary school student from Christchurch, has been studying ATS and tribal fusion with TribalDiva Belly Dance Company during 2018, but has been around the bellydance world with her dancer mum Aroha since she was three.
Sponsor Tracey Saunders (Aaralyn) says:
"Rain’s enthusiasm for belly dance, her aptitude for learning, natural performance skills and enthusiastic participation in TribalDiva Belly Dance Company activities & the wider belly dance community make me believe that any funds she received towards dance training would be a very good investment.
"I’m excited to see how Rain will progress in belly dance. I’m sure she will be very successful and I will be proud to have been one of her teachers along the way."
Congratulations Rain - 2019 MEDANZ Student Scholarship Recipient!
Rain used her Scholarship to attend the 2019 workshop intensive with Kami Liddle in Akaroa.
Congratulations Raffaella - 2020 MEDANZ Student Scholarship Recipient!
Raffaella has used her Scholarship to take online workshops with a variety of teachers whilst NZ has been dealing with Covid-19.
RAFFAELLA VENEZIANO - TAURANGA
My name is Raffaella Veneziano, I was born in Italy. At the age of 23 I left to go to Sri Lanka, where I married a Scottish boy and moved around....to Scotland, Cyprus and New Zealand.
I discovered Belly Dance later in my life. I saw my first Belly Dancer in the early 2000, in a Lebanese Restaurant, in Cyprus where I was living at the time.
When I moved to New Zealand in 2003, I attended my first belly Dance class, in Tauranga. I remember, climbing the stairs at the Dance studio and getting excited just hearing the Arabic music blasting from upstairs. I love Arabic music and for me it has been the deciding factor, reason and driving force to continue learning and dancing and striving to improve.
I have been a member of Medanz from 2010 and since then I have studied with some amazing local and foreign teachers at various Medanz festivals, in Tauranga, in Auckland and online. In 2018/2019 I volunteered as Secretary to the MEDANZ Committee. I believe Medanz is an important volunteer organization for New Zealand Dancers, an invaluable chance to connect New Zealand belly dancers of different dance styles, age and skill levels.
This Medanz scholarship has been a God-send for me, a unique opportunity to attend new workshops and online classes with international and New Zealand dancers that I respect, admire and inspire me (like Tais from Arabella Bellydance, Candice, my sponsor teacher, from Phoenix Belly Dance, Aziza of Canada, Joana Saahirah of Cairo, Jillina, Tamalin Dalal, Kamala (USA) and more...). In the coming year I would like to learn more improvisation techniques to allow me to be free in my mind (free from fear of forgetting choreography amongst others things☺) and to be able to connect and communicate more of my story and feelings to the audience.