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How Fanoos Started…and Where It’s Going

A letter from Oriana

Like most creative endeavors, Fanoos started as an idea during a time when big changes were happening.In the middle of 2020 lockdown, the idea sprang up as I noticed that the vast majority of dance projects were being forced online.I know this was hard and a big change for most, but for me it was exciting.

I saw that the community at large was finally embracing the possibilities that technology held.We could communicate and connect on a global platform.Dancers in small towns, those stuck in toxic environments, business owners and event organizers could now reach an infinite number of audiences if they played their cards right.

As scary as 2020 was I found myself being incubated as an artist and being given the space to explore new avenues without the pressure of performing constantly or “fitting in” with a local community.

In years previous I had longed for more exposure for the average and new dancer.Teachers who were heroes to their students but not “famous.”Artists needing help for their projects and fanfare for thise doing incredible work.Where was the platform for information sharing that could cross lines of social media fame and language?Could there be such a place where famous and unknown could equally be celebrated for their contributions to Belly dance?

It wasn’t long before my mind clicked into an intersection of my love of writing, my tech development background and a longing to help other dancers.The symbol of the light bearing lantern became my inspiration and Fanoos Magazine was born.

I wanted Fanoos to be a contemporary for other Bellydance Magazines before and present- Zaghareet, the Gilded Serpent, Yallah, The Bellydance Chronicles and Zameena.I wanted it to join ranks in uniting the global community and showcasing dancers fighting the good fight.But I also wanted to avoid some of the things I had seen in magazines in the past:talking about costumes endlessly, weight loss, how dancers need to just accept poor treatment at gigs and being focused on only professional traditional female dancers.

I wanted Fanoos to be part of the new wave of publications that embraced every facet of the members that make up the MENAHT/SWANA dance community.A place for research, projects, thoughtful discussion, archival information and interviews with living artists to be preserved. I wanted everyone to feel like they could be on the cover and to submit at any time even if they were not a “big name.”

Writing and dancing may not seem to go hand-in-hand, but my hope is that you read this issue and realize that if not for writing so much of our history, culture and progression might be lost. The Art of Writing has it’s place most obviously in our historical research but also in portraying how we want our art to flourish. Everyone has a story to tell. I’ve had the honor of publishing everything from the most detailed research to stories of dancing with Cancer.

Since starting Fanoos I have not only found a renewed love of writing and research, but I have also seen the names that come across my desk soar into the stratosphere. I swell with pride and nostalgia when I see the very same dancers that have graced these digital pages carving out names for themselves. All it takes is the first steps of publishing your intent and communicating your projects to the public in a safe space.

Fanoos is your safe space. The magazine has grown explosively since its inception. It's grown beyond my wildest dreams, and I am still pleasantly surprised when I meet people for the first time that have not only heard about it but are also huge fans. Do you now how surreal it is to take a workshop with a well-known instructor who then approaches you to ask if it would be ok to submit to your magazine? Like, yeah, it's ok! My dream for Fanoos is to upgrade to an easier- to-use submission format and increase our number of staff writers. More social media and more live interviews with staff around the world. Eventually we may even start holding our own events and lectures. I'm not sure about printing every issue; but I have considered printing a "yearbook" of sorts. I fervently believe Fanoos should always be free to its readers. In an effort to mitigate gatekeeping of information I only accept donations and offer advertising packages to help with the cost of the website domain. By and large, I pay for Fanoos as a passion project. So my biggest thought in growing Fanoos is how to keep the information free while still maintaining quality. Let me know your ideas!

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