Welcome to week two of our Masters Monday series! This week our featured performer is Kamala Almanzar!
Kamala is a 3rd generation dancer, who transitioned from a ballet company (Pasadena Dance Theatre) in her teens to Middle Eastern Dance, which remains her passion some 35 years later. Her training extends from classical Jazz, to classical Ballet, to all the notable Egyptian teachers, but mostly on the job experience from the long hours spent performing in Arabic nightclubs.
During her long solo performance career, Kamala performed in nightclubs, restaurants & hotels in many countries, most notably the large Arabic nightclubs in 1980’s Hollywood, London & Acapulco, where she performed nightly with Egyptian orchestras. Kamala was also a featured dancer in films and on TV shows in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Kamala’s first troupe experience was with “Arabesque Dance Co.” based in Southern California. Alongside Sahra Saeeda, their repertoire was choreographed & directed by Egypt’s legendary Farida Fahmy. With Kamala’s love of American & Egyptian movie musicals, she was inspired & transformed by the experience.
The 1990’s brought Kamala to a new group of professional dancers in LA, hired to perform at Al Andalus Egyptian nightclub. “The Flowers of the Desert” started as a traditional company, but as the multiple dance genre talents of its members became clear, they began infusing their Ballet, Flamenco, Jazz and Bollywood training into their choreographies. This was the first fusion company on the west coast, which inspired subsequent dancers to create their own fusion genres. They produced theatre shows, tours & concert dates with everyone from Hakim & Amr Diab to The Talking Heads & The Go Go’s, appealing to both Western & Arabic audiences.
Currently Kamala teaches & choreographs Middle Eastern Dance in the LA area & is on staff at Dance Garden LA, whose students come from around the globe to study. Kamala teaches at festivals around the country. Her students & choreographies have won countless titles at “Belly Dancer of the Universe” & other competitions, including Egyptian, Fusion & Group categories. Kamala produced a theatre show “Shaabi Chic” in 2009 with 18 of her own choreographies. In 2011 & 2012 & 2014 Kamala produced “A Choreographers’ Collective” & “A Choreographers’ Eclectic” featuring esteemed choreographers from So California including Sahra Saeeda, Zahra Zuhair, Karin Jensen & Jillina, with a company of 40 professional and advanced dancers. Most recently Kamala produced the Night Show for 2015 Cairo ShimmyQuake, LA’s largest Belly Dance Festival. Kamala strives for an artistic presentation of Belly Dance, one that is well informed, yet uniquely her own.
Watch this improv piece to see why we just adore her!!