What to expect and timelines for the 2024 Challenge
After you have registered, please send us a recording of yourself performing a Majence or piece of oriental music of your own choice. It can be something you already have, providing it is footage from a recent performance, or it can be something you record especially, in your own space. It may contain a drum solo but please do not submit a drum solo by itself. You will not receive any feedback on this, but the Bellydance Now Team will use it as a reference as to where you are currently in your dance development.
You must also let us know which category you would like to enter when booking your place:
Category 1: Dancer, teacher, student or professional – final stage performing live at Fantasia
Category 2: Dancer, teacher, student or professional based abroad and who know they cannot travel to London for 22nd February 2025. (We may ask you to perform live in the final on Zoom, but only if this is technically feasible).
Category 3: Amateur dancers with less experience wanting to develop their skills
“This is a non-petition really – aimed at nurturing talent and creating dancers that can shine in their own right….” – Yasmina of Cairo
We will be asking those who sign up for the Challenge to work towards the final through different stages, each designed to bring them closer to their goal of personal development. Below is a summary of the stages / challenges followed by a more detailed description of each stage. All mentoring sessions will be recorded – so you can catch up if you can’t make them ‘live’.
- BDNIC TIMELINE OVERVIEW
- 1st Challenge: Classical Challenge – music received on registration
- 31st March: First group mentoring session
- 28th April: Second group mentoring session
- 19th May: Classical challenge submission deadline
- 2nd challenge set: Drum Solo
- 15th June: Third group mentoring session
- 29th June: Drum solo submission deadline
- 30th June: Fourth group mentoring to set Folklore challenge
- 3rd challenge set: Folklore
- 30th July: Fifth group mentoring session
- 31st August: Folklore challenge submission deadline
- 14th September: Sixth group mentoring session
- 4th challenge – Improvisation
- 15th September: Improvisation challenge sessions through the week
- 14th October: Seventh group mentoring session
- FIRST SET OF ELIMINATIONS
- 29th October: Eighth group mentoring session for remaining participants
- 5th Challenge: Dancers choice
- Mid November: Optional Zoom talk with judge Oxana Bazaeva
- 23rd December: Dancers choice submission deadline
- 14th January 2025: Finalists announced & winner of category 3
- 6th Challenge: Live performance at Fantasia
- 21st January 2025: Ninth group mentoring session for finalists
- Saturday 22nd February 2025: The Final at Fantasia Festival.
The challenges change each year – this years challenges in more detail:
CHALLENGE ONE – The Classical Challenge
After you have signed up and sent us a reference recording of yourself, you will be given access to a choice of classical songs for the first Challenge. You will choose one and can begin working on this right away.
If you wish you may enlist the help of a mentor (not obligatory) while preparing for this and the ongoing Challenge submissions. We have lined up an amazing list of international mentors to help you:
Brenda Diaz (Cairo/Argentina)
Abeer Will ( Egypt/Germany)
Julia Farid (Ukraine)
Sara Farouk (Cairo/UK)
Zara Abdel Rahman (Cairo/UK)
Serena Ramzy (UK), Kay Taylor (UK), Dorte Evelyn / Ishtar Dance (UK), Carmen Tormo (Spain/UK), Amera Eid (Australia), Rakiya el Maaza (Belgium), Katie Alyce (UK), Yallar (Latvia/UK) We have specialist folklore mentors: Khaled Seif, Doaa Salem, Mohamed Salah, Vanessa and Shining. Check our mentors page for more details about what each one offers and to decide which one might be best for you.
Lessons given by mentors will be at the competitor’s expense. They are each ready to give you private classes expressly to help you during the Bellydance Now International Challenge. A list of mentors, contact details and prices will be sent to participants.
Sunday 31st March 2024: First group mentoring session
if you have missed this you will have access to the recording.
Yasmina and Carmen will answer questions about the Challenge you are working on and check your progress, as well as laying out the format and expectations for the ongoing stages. It will be recorded so if you cannot make the session, you can catch up later.
You will then continue work on your first submission. This should be performed in costume and must be submitted by 19th May. The choreography can be your own or that of someone else. However when you submit your video, you should let us know which.
Sunday 28th April: Second group mentoring session
This session is all about finding out how you are doing and help with any queries about your first submission.
19th May: Classical Challenge deadline
Within three weeks of sending in your submission you will receive detailed feedback from our panel, comprising a minimum of two judges from the Bellydance Now team.
We will also send you the music for the second Challenge:
CHALLENGE TWO – THE DRUM SOLO CHALLENGE
This is the first time we have introduced this challenge, aimed at honing in on your technique and rhythm skills, as well as your creativity. You will choose from a short list of drum solos provided. Work on your submission, record it and submit by 29th June.
15th June: Third group mentoring session …checking in to see how you are doing and an opportunity to ask questions.
29th June: Drum Solo Deadline
Within three weeks of your submission you will receive detailed feedback from at least two of our Bellydance Now judges.
You will also receive the music options for the third Challenge.
CHALLENGE THREE – THE FOLKLORIC CHALLENGE
You will be given a piece of music in a folkloric style (you will be able to choose from a short list supplied by us) to work on for the next submission. You will need to research and study technique, costuming and presentation in the style you have chosen. We highly recommend engaging the help of a folkloric mentor when working on this challenge.
30th June: Fourth mentoring session with Yasmina, Carmen and Abeer
to talk about the folkloric challenge…..this is an important session to look at your choices and how to approach them.
A talk on ‘The importance of folklore in oriental dance’ will also be made available to help support the contestants in the next stages.
30th July: Fifth mentoring session
A catch-up with participants, get together and discuss progress.
31st August: Folklore Challenge Deadline
Within three weeks detailed feedback from ONE Bellydance Now judge will be received, with the option to request additional feedback at £15 per set. No matter who gives the feedback, it will also include an overview on your folkloric style by Abeer Will, our folklore dance expert.
CHALLENGE FOUR: THE IMPROVISATION CHALLENGE
Live Zoom improvised performance (First elimination round)
14th September: Sixth mentoring session
This next group mentoring session with Yasmina and Carmen is really important as they will explain the process of recording your journey and how the live Zoom performances and elimination round will work. This session will be recorded for participants who cannot join live.
You will work on your own development, with or without your mentor, and prepare a short summary for the panel about your journey so far. This can be written or recorded, and include your thoughts about what you are learning, the challenges you are facing, your sources of inspiration etc.
You will also prepare and develop your improvisation skills in preparation for the third Challenge.
Week commencing 15th September:
Zoom sessions will be tailored to different time zones, in which each competitor will improvise to a piece of music given to them 1 hour beforehand.
Within two weeks of this Challenge you will receive feedback from ONE Bellydance Now judge, with the option to request more feedback at £15 per set.
All four submissions will then be taken into consideration when deciding who goes through to Stage 4. Everyone will receive feedback and evaluation from the Bellydance Now panel on their work so far to support their own further development.
Participants who do not go further will receive a ‘Bellydance Now International Challenge’ Certificate.
October 14th: Seventh mentoring session
This is the final one for all participants, sharing experiences of the first four Challenges, followed by an announcement of the eliminations.
CHALLENGE FIVE – Recorded submission of journey + Dancers Choice challenge (Second elimination round)
29th October: Eighth Group mentoring session
Your group mentoring session with Yasmina to discuss the next stage is only open to those who have been successful in the elimination round. You will begin to prepare your final stage piece (maximum length of four minutes), while at the same time continuing to record aspects of your dance journey. You will choose your own music, and create your own choreography, but if you are working with a mentor, they can help guide it.
Mid-November: The Dancer in competition, Online Lecture
Join our Zoom lecture with our star judge Oxana Bazaeva on how to prepare, what judges look for and how to help the competition develop your dance. Challenge participants will be able to access this at a discounted price.
Saturday 23rd December: Fifth Challenge Deadline
Deadline for submitting your final performance piece, along with a short video presentation of your journey and experiences. You can request feedback on this submission from any of the judges, at £15 per set.
Sunday 14th January 2025: Finalists will be announced
The Bellydance Now panel will select six finalists in categories one, who will be invited to perform at the Fantasia Festival in London on 22nd February 2025. Three finalists from Category 2 will be announced, and will have the possibility of performing live on zoom to the judging panel earlier in the month. Date to be confirmed. A winner will also be selected for category 3, the development category.
CHALLENGE SIX – Live performance at Fantasia Gala show
Sunday 21st January 2025: A last group mentoring session
Yasmina and Carmen will meet up with the finalists to discuss the final stage.
Saturday 22nd February 2025: The winner will be crowned at Fantasia Festival, London
Our finalists will perform their piece for the opening of the Fantasia Festival Gala Show. The music must be under 4 minutes. We will also show a short video of each finalists’ BDNIC Journey before they perform on stage.
Our panel of judges includes:
Yasmina of Cairo (Egypt/UK)
The live audience will also take part in the final of the competition by nominating their ‘Peoples’ Choice Award’ on the night.
Before you sign up for our ‘Bellydance Now International Challenge’, what do you win?
1st Prize: Full Fantasia festival package and performance in our Gala show, London 2026 (the link is to 2025 so you can see what is happening this year)
+ a Festival workshop pass, perform with live music at Camp Negum in Cairo October 2026.
2nd Prize: Weekend pass to the ‘Inspire’ weekend. Workshops with an international star.
1st Prize: Full Festival pass for ‘Etoiles d’Orient’ run by Levana in Majorca + performance at Gala show.
AND a Full Festival pass for the Orientalism festival in Barcelona + performance at Gala show
2nd Prize: Weekend pass to our ‘Inspire’ weekend. Workshops with an international star.
1st Prize: Perform at Fantasia Festival, London 22nd February 2026
Weekend pass to ‘Inspire’ weekend. Workshops with an international star.
2nd Prize: 2 tickets to the Inspire show.
To join our challenge, book your place here
Questions you may be asking yourself:
How much is it going to cost me in total?
This partly depends on your budget: £95 to register, £10 for the lecture with Randa Kamel and the private lessons with whomever you choose to mentor you. You can ask your own teacher or you can work with one of our mentors or you can choose to work on your own. A 1-hour private lesson costs from £35 to £75 per hour (depending on whom you choose). Most teachers do discounts for block bookings for our participants. We send you the prices and contact details when you start the second challenge.
You can choose to request additional feedback from specific judges at £15 per time.
What will I get from it?
Eight mentoring sessions through the first four Challenges.
Six sets of specific feedback on four submissions designed to help you develop as a dancer.
The chance to work with some amazing mentors. engage with other participants, make new bellydance friends and widen your experience.
All participants will receive a ‘Bellydance Now International Challenge’ certificate.
We are passionate about Bellydance, we love to help dancers develop their skills and provide new opportunities and different ways of building the bellydance community.
Experienced Dancers who could attend Fantasia in person.
From Latvia but now based in the UK near Hinckley
We also had 2nd place: Tatyana from Belgium and 3rd place: Safka from the UK.
Experienced dancers who could not join us in person at the Fantasia Festival. There were less participants in this section so just 1 prize.
From the USA
Less experienced dancers – or those with less performance experience.
Our Winner for 2022/23
Vicki Ng – From the UK
2023/24 winners will be updated after Fantasia 24