Wow! What an amazing whirlwind of a year. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most amazing, positive people in the world.

This year was certainly an ambitious one. I set out to accomplish a long-standing dream – to write and publish a book about belly dance and the experiences of dancers from around the world – and to produce its theatrical adaptation.  The result was two-fold: the book, aptly named Confessions of a Belly Dancer; Secrets of the Hieroglyph ©, was officially published and released on November 3, 2012 – the same day as the SOLD OUT debut performance at the Paramount Theater, Copley Stage in Chicago’s western suburb, Aurora.

The reason I sought to produce on a theatrical show centered on belly dance (or, as it is properly known, Oriental Dance) is because I feel it is extremely important to elevate this beautiful art form in the Western world to the same level of dignity as ballet, jazz and other interpretative dance modes.

I’ve had this dream for a long time. Through the years, many have heard my dreams, laughed at me and turned away. But this year, it was different.

Eighteen dancers from around the world joined forces and embraced the artistic vision to become our collective dream. My dance company, Raksanna’s Near East Dance Ensemble, and I set out to bring to life Confessions and we worked like crazy to make it happen. Thousands of hours every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent rehearsing with sweat, tears and yes, in fact, sometimes a little blood. That’s not to mention the hours and creativity that went into programming the lights, building the set design and crafting the choreography.

But it happened. It took place and it was real.

Saturday, November 3, 2012 was a magical moment in our lives. The sold-out two-hour show had an audience of friends, family, fellow belly dancers – and even the general public! And at the end of the first act, at the completion of a breathtaking performance of a zaar ceremony, the dancers received a 4 minute and 20 second standing ovation (yes, Momo Kadous – the artistic genius who co-produced the show with me – timed it!).

You might think my team is tired, ready to take a break … quite the contrary! We’re launching the international tour of the show, with the first stop in Kansas City, MO in May, 2013. And we’re so excited that we’re going to open up a select number of spots for new dancers to join us. Auditions for the show take place from mid-December 2012 to January 30, 2013. Details coming soon!

So, if you were to ask me, I’d tell you that I know with every cell in my being, you have the power to create a beautiful life where your dreams, hopes and ambitions come true ….

Dream. Believe. Achieve.