Leila Farid's new article
Ok not sure if it belongs here, but since it is about performing I thought I might post it here:
here's a link to Leila's latest article for the GS
Belly Dance News & Events – Gilded Serpent Blog Archive Dance for Dancers
I think it's just fabulous - after returning from Egypt and entering a competition in Europe (with judges who have little knowledge of the actual arab understanding of the dance) for the first time, a lot of dancers here wondered how come I did not win since I danced in Egypt and at Reda's etc. etc.... well Leila explained it quite well!
I was quite disappointed at how little people appreciate the "egyptianness" in my dance over here and how little they consider it actuall bellydance - I learned now to adapt my dance to european non-arab audiences (I dance every friday at a moroccan café/restaurant in Slovakia), and to get back to the "arabness" whenever there are arab expatriates or tourists in the audience (which is rare in Slovakia but still happens).
This article also illustrates quite well why Egyptians adore Camelia, yet western dancers not always...
Anyway, all this just to say that this article is a gem and worth reading!
Thanks for that link, I hadn't seen it. Very interesting, and so were the comments made afterwards.
What dancer audiences expect is different from what the GP in our countries expect, and both are different from what Arabs generally expect.
Lately I've been going through this nostalgia... some of the dancers I love the most have changed a lot. When I first fell in love with them, I loved the way they moved and I loved the way they interpreted music and I loved the way they interacted with the audience. When the music played, it's like they were the music... they evoked a quality of having settled completely into the music.
The recent stuff they've been putting out has mostly been a disappointment to me. The presence and interaction is still there, they still move well, but there is something about their connection to the music that I feel isn't there as much. I feel like in their heads they are going "what combination can I do that will look really impressive?"
Which isn't to say they have regressed as dancers. In fact, they have undoubtedly grown. However, when I watch their recent videos, I feel like I am being bombarded with stuff. It's like... BAM, BAM, BAM!!! I AM GOING TO DO AS MUCH AS I CAN POSSIBLY DO IN THIS LITTLE PHRASE OF MUSIC. AND YOU BETTER CATCH ALL OF IT!!!
And I just feel like they need to take a deep breath and allow the music to seep into their skin and take over their bodies.
When I watch Egyptian dancers, I NEVER feel that. Even someone like Randa who is a very technical, choreographed dancer... watching her I do not get this feeling. So I do get where you're coming from... what dancers here in the West seem to think of as progress isn't really a very Arab thing.
With that said, I disagree with the author's apparent notion that Egyptians are choreographing more because us Westerners only want to learn choreography. A lot of current famous Egyptian dancers choreograph *all the time*, not just for workshops around the world but also for themselves... for their own shows, to live music that is played for them exactly as they wish and not at all improvised, aside from maybe a few bits here and there, like a taqsim and drum solo, if that.
I also think it's important to realize that Arabs are not a homogeneous group of people who hold the same opinions on everything. Yes, you can learn about someone's culture and make certain assumptions based on it, but these assumptions are not foolproof.
I think anyone who has spent time in Egypt will see this as a pretty spot on article.
Having said that, there are dancers who have gone to Cairo to work and didnt have a clue what was going on around them (I met one or two) and they generally dont last long.
I think it is a much needed article as many people simply do not get the huge differences between the two scenes.
Caroline: Yes definitely
I was very glad that Leila posted this article on the GS, because while - as you well pointed out - this may seem obvious to dancers who worked in Egypt, it is not so for those who did not.
and now everytime I think about this article I miss dancing in Egypt (even though I had some bad sleazy moments, but it was still worth it!)
I never danced as a pro in Egypt.
For me, it is about culture and trends and analysing and understanding that.
I think there are two very belly dance worlds also in exsistance in Egypt, one is very dominant but very small and the other is very large and kept away from the outside world like some shameful relative.
Then we have the global belly dance world and what a fascinating place that is too.
Yes that is true, very well said there definitely are two bellydance worlds in Egypt also (am I right in understanding the by the large part you mean the cabaret scene and those "nameless" wedding dancers?)
Leyla mentions the festivals as not being about dancing for Egyptians which is true of course, but I also think there is an element of this in dancing tourist venues. Haram St is also about entertaining tourists. There are of course many Arabs but generally a dancer has to perform at weddings for the Egyptian audience.
More often, the significantly larger of the two 'belly dance' scenes in Egypt are your local Egyptian belly dancers dancing for Egyptians. Generally nobody likes them and they are considered trash by all.
There is often a perception that the 'five star' artifically created scene is more real and classy... makes me scratch my head alot.
In the past, all belly dancers were products of these low end 'sha'abi' clubs including the our wonderful vintage classic dancers.. there were no short cuts via an international trend in dance or folkloric troupes.
Last edited by Caroline_afifi; 12-20-2010 at 04:44 PM.
I saw this article too and I really liked it.
Yame, our tastes change constantly as well as dancers we used to love also evolve, and not necessarily the way we like them because we, too, evolve. I know how you feel though and I do share the "pain." Sort of like finding out Santa Claus doesn't exist.
In this case it wasn't so much that my tastes changed. I can still look back at their old videos and watch them over and over again and feel inspired... it's the newer stuff that's falling flat. And I think that is because they are losing a certain essence, due to performing so much for other dancers (and for a Western GP) who want technique, technique, technique, and flashiness.. Feeling, emotion, and connectedness to the music are not mutually exclusive to technique and physical ability, but I think when you focus so much on the latter it is possible to lose sight of the former.
Originally Posted by Greek Bonfire
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