Today is the final day of the Randa Kamel weeklong intensive. The experience has been such a whirlwind of joy, hard work, exciting events and immersion in the Egyptian culture. In short, it has simply been a piece of heaven on Earth and I am so happy to be a part of it.

For the past two days, Randa has been teaching our class her signature choreography and opening number for which she is known around the world. I was amazed and so surprised (and overcome with excitement and happiness!) to learn that she was sharing it with us. Certainly, Randa’s generosity is rare to find and a treasure to be cherished.

I have met new friends from around the world – Scotland, Japan, Germany, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Russia, Poland, England and of course, the good ol’ USA! (There are five Americans here – two of which are in the final leg of the competition tonight!)

Speaking of the competition tonight, the finalists were asked to provide a list of ten (10) well known and loved Egyptian songs that her orchestra could play. Then, Randa selected each dancer the music to which she will dance this evening. It was my good fortune to be assigned <em>Fi Youm Wa Leyla, </em>one of my favorite Oriental songs in the whole world. It is the first time I have ever danced with a full orchestra and I am so excited for this opportunity.

While, as in all competitions, there will only be one “winner”of the Randa crown, I do firmly believe in my heart and soul that each of us who competed is a winner. Part of the competition was direct feedback and evaluation from Randa herself. For me, this information is a gift – because I am a teacher, I rarely receive feedback on how to improve and grow. To see myself through her eyes is wonderful because actionable items and points to focus on and develop on.  And my goal is to be able to show demonstrable improvement when I see Randa again in Chicago in May when she comes with Dee Dee Asad from Little Egypt. (Btw, if you have not done so now and are in the area, you should take the opportunity to register because as a dancer, Randa is a teacher, choreographer and performer that you simply MUST experience. Not only is Randa a lovely person, her impact on our dance and art form is global – and she is changing Oriental dance. For belly dancers who are interested in knowing the modern trends and technique, you will be left behind if you do not take the opportunity to study with and see her perform.)

So, tonight, it will be magical. Not only do I have the opportunity to perform with one of the best Oriental orchestras in the world, but I am dancing in a new costume from my dear friend, Mohammed. He is the brother of Hanan, the designer known as Queen Hanan, and he started his own design business about two years ago. On the plane ride home, I am going to write an article about him so that you get to know him. His quality is as high as Eman Zeki and I predict he will quickly become one of the premier designers of Oriental belly dance costumes.

For this evening, I am going to release all expectations and let go of all worries and concerns. I am going to simply focus on the magic of the moment – dancing in Cairo in the shadows of the pyramids, to a magnificent orchestra, in front of the woman who inspires my dance and artistically influences me beyond measure, surrounded by friends and loved ones I consider part of my extended family. Tonight is simply perfect.

And, another nice thing is that I signed up to dance with the orchestra for the open show to <em>Alf Layla We Layla</em>, another of my absolute favorites.