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  1. #11
    Member TribalDancer's Avatar
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    I am skipping the second clipl because she is performing that with her young daughter and it may be a specific circumstance with regard to choreography.

    The first one looks like regular ol' cabaret style to me. Maybe with a bit more layering, but ultimately, I am not sure I understand the point you are making wiht this one example.

  2. #12
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Well, it seems mechanical to me, but I am not a big fan of group choreography for cabaret styles because emotional interpretation gets lost in the synchronization, if ya know what I mean. That's not to say something like ATS is unemotional- it was designed to be danced by a group and has a different flavor than AmCab, which is essentially an improvisational style.

    Shoot, I know what I mean, but it's past midnight and I think the word faeries are playing havoc with my brain or fingers or both.

  3. #13
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TribalDancer View Post
    I am skipping the second clipl because she is performing that with her young daughter and it may be a specific circumstance with regard to choreography.

    The first one looks like regular ol' cabaret style to me. Maybe with a bit more layering, but ultimately, I am not sure I understand the point you are making wiht this one example.
    It doesn't look like "regular ol' cabaret style" to me at all. My teacher is teaching us a similar choreography with zills and she's been studying intensively with Suhaila for years. Coming from an Egyptian and American Classic background, I do not think it's similar at all technique wise or aesthetics wise. In the choreography we've been learning and with this, it seems like she's trying to avoid any sort of aesthetics flourishes in favor of having a very slick, technique oriented choreography where you can't just get lost in the music and you have to constantly count in your head with all of the precise movements and the constant chance in zilling patterns.

  4. #14
    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    My reflection on the first Suhaila clip (the group choreo) is that while she has the confidence to pull off both the technique and the emotion, her students are less confident and are having to concentrate on just doing the movements. I don't especially like group choreography either, although that's mainly what I've learned - but at the moment I'm struggling with this simply because I can't 'get lost in the music'.
    There's no information about how long the dancers have been learning, so I wonder whether it's a more junior level?
    I personally don't like her style either, it does feel more about 'technique' than emotional interpretation of the music, but I've been influenced by Lucy and Fifi and Nagwa and others!!

  5. #15
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Maria,
    I understand EXACTLY what you're talking about, and none of the clips here really show the depth of the issue you have. I think the hard rock choreography more than anything I've seen lately shows just how different her sense of aesthestics have changed.

    I'm going to go waaaaay out on a limb here and confess something that will likely get me shunned in the dance world. But first a little back story:

    I've been following Suhaila around the country for the last 5-6 years, studying with her at every opportunity I could. She came into my life at a time when I was very desperate for a teacher who could inspire me, and she showed me great love and affection so I put my faith and trust into her. At that time she was telling us "This technique is meant to support your existing training, not to supplant it." She wanted you to study with other teachers at that time, and we were supposed to learn her format in her class, and our other formats in our regular classes.

    Recently I went to a level 2 workshop. Now, I knew what would be expected of me, but I really didn't have all the movements as fast as they were supposed to be done. That just takes time, and I ran out of time before the workshop. I was cool with not being able to do everything because I knew I would attend another level 2 in the spring and I could test then. My big goal was getting to level 3 to take the emotional preparation and choreography classes, and to learn the level 4 choreographies.

    Well, I saw a demonstration of the level 4 choreographies several times that week and I was shocked. They were just a bunch of technical drills thrown together that didn't reflect what I heard in the music AT ALL. I felt they were boring to watch, looked boring to dance (no matter how hard the choreographies themselves were) and reminded me more of high school drill team than the wonderful Egyptian style bellydance I'd fallen in love with.

    After what I heard about the choreography class for level 3, and how she gives you feedback on what you should add to it and where, I decided I was no longer interested in the program. For a long time I have felt that her choreographies were overworked and too busy, and she encourages complicated layering whether or not the music demands it -- just because you should ALWAYS be complicated. She once told our class, "If you're just walking across the stage, you'd better be adding a 3/4 shimmy." I say you do that only if the music tells you to. Why would I want to continue studying with her and getting choreographic advice from her if I don't like her choreographies?

    The last thing that weirded me out was something very odd that she said about studying with other teachers. She didn't come right out and say it, but it definitely felt to me as though she was DISCOURAGING me to study with another instructor, as if that would dilute the purity of her teaching. I disagree completely with that. She considers the difference between her technique and Egyptian technique simply a "stylization" and again I disagree. I had to dance a whole NEW way when I started Egyptian technique, and I love it. But it definitely comes from a completely different place than her technique does.

    (I think she's trying to come up with a comparable technique to Egyptian, with her pyramids and v's and octagons and such, but I don't think it can quite compare yet.)

    I understand her choreographic aesthetic -- she believes that you should use all your body parts to represent EVERYTHING that's going on in the music at all times. I do understand it intellectually, but it leaves me completely cold in the emotional realm. She likes to make complicated floor patterns with her dancers, like drill team, but that's not what I love about belly dance so it's not for me. And of course, she is gravitating more towards hiphop and techno music, with all that jazzy stuff, and that's also not for me. I realize that's modern and Tribal Fusion and all, and very popular, but not for me. I think it seriously lacks the honest and genuine emotional connection that comes about through regular old Egyptian bellydance, and if you put her Nebtidi up against Orit's Nebtidi (also not a native Egyptian) you can easily see the difference in emotional quality.


    (Don't be surprised if I delete this post after a day or two. It's not fun having the mafia down on you because you criticize their golden idol.)

  6. #16
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    that reads like an interesting, personal and honnest review of your experiences, so please dont take it down. even if people might disagree.

    (i only ever took a suhaila workshop years ago, so i cant comment).

  7. #17
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    No, Ayizade, please don't delete that!!! That really reflects what I feel about Suhaila's choreographies. My teacher performed a Suhaila drum solo at our school show and no one in the audience enjoyed it even though it was incredibly, technically precise and there wasn't room for emotion. And to those with no Suhaila training, it looked like a jumbled mess of moves. My teacher is an incredibly emotional dancer but the choreography didn't leave room for her to give it any feelings. I finished a Suhaila choreography to Ali Gara and there was a section in the song that didn't go with the music at all and the moment I try to "get lost in the music", I would mess up because it required constant counting.

    I'd just like to know WHY she wants everything to be so incredibly technical and coordinated. I appreciate and understand her wanting to raise the standards of belly dance to ballet or other well-respected dance forms, but it seems like she also wants to change it completely from its roots. I don't have a problem with her drills and technique but it's her way of presentation that makes me start questioning.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Ranya's Avatar
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    Although it is obvious that Suhaila is "someone" in the bellydance scene, I have never been a fan of hers. I first saw her on the very first BDSS DVD (the one where they dance solo in a studio) and I did not get her style really, it was too busy.
    I had somehow the same feeling with Ansuya even if of course her style is completely different from Suhaila, but in the sense where (in my beginner's days) I had the impression that everyone loves her (and Suhaila also) and that I somehow HAVE TO like them too... and yet I found both of them very little bellydance-y, with Ansuya being plain boring. My point is, I think the main problem is the fact of not being one with the music - a lot of technique might look good if it is connected to the layers of the music. Which I do not see in Suhaila's style. Ansuya on the other hand has very little (when compared to Suhaila) technique or at least always exactly the same technique in aaaall her dances (anyone else got the impression that if you turn off the sound she might always be dancing to exactly the same song?) and is so so so SOOOOO disconnected from the music.
    For me personally, although being egyptian-style-educated and having performed in Egypt I largely prefer impro, a technically challenging dance might look really nice as far as it keeps its connection to the music.

  9. #19
    Member TribalDancer's Avatar
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    I think ultimately what we're talking about here, in addition to a side-topic about Suhaila's specific propensity for layers-layers-layers and her musical interpreation, is group dance versus solo dance. In general, group choreogaphed dance is necessarily:

    1) more single-tracked emotionally: because everyone needs to generally emote the same thing at the same time, it isn't any one person's expression in the moment

    2) more limited in execution: because one person doing complex arm movements may be fine, but increased exponentially with a group, it can look overly busy. Simpler is better, and then let the power of the group amp it up to the next level

    3) will *feel* choreographed in a way that even a soloist choreographed does not necessarily feel: because with a soloist, even a choreography can be masked as improvisation with the right emotional and technical treatment of it. In a group, choreographed is choreographed, and you can't hide that. That's why I feel interpersonal connection is a key component of group choreographies, and why so many can leave me cold despite great strength in the individual dancers and thoughtfulness to the choreography.

  10. #20
    Member TribalDancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    She once told our class, "If you're just walking across the stage, you'd better be adding a 3/4 shimmy." I say you do that only if the music tells you to. Why would I want to continue studying with her and getting choreographic advice from her if I don't like her choreographies?
    Yes, this. I, too have felt that going beyond the Level 1/2 technique, unless you want to dance solo, and more in Suhaila's style, then the value of the continuing levels is not as high. I had this confirmed for me by two others who have done level 3 at this point, and found there were bits and bobs of good info in there, but for the level of work and the expected results, it was more for people who wanted to dance Suhaila's style (though she claims there is no style, we can spot it when we see it, yes?)

    I understand her choreographic aesthetic -- she believes that you should use all your body parts to represent EVERYTHING that's going on in the music at all times. I do understand it intellectually, but it leaves me completely cold in the emotional realm.
    And this does NOT make sense for me. I have always felt that the role of a dancer was not necessarily to reflect everything all of the time, but instead to choose key instruments and phrases and draw them out, embellish them, focus attention of your audience to them through your movement.

    Just like when listening to music, we don't hear all the instruments in detail all at once. With each listening, we grow to hear more nuance--this time we really hear the flute, this time we really catch this funky rhythm in the background. If I try to hear it all at once, *in detail*, it becomes cacophonous. To really experience the music and appreciate all its levels, our options are to hear the overarching melody, or to focus on one or two instruments at a time, right? I think that is what we as dancers should be responsible for--just focusing on this or that, giving each a turn, and using different parts of our body (and stage) to reflect the different layers we are presenting. Trying to do it all, all the time, is an audio-visual mess.

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