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  1. #21
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    ...you should use all your body parts to represent EVERYTHING that's going on in the music at all times.
    My brain hurts just thinking about it. Blimey. ITA with what TribalDancer just said. And with this:
    ...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.
    Totally agree - when you get a spark of connection between the dancers in a group number it makes all the difference.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranya View Post
    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.
    I am not that keen on Ansuya's style of dancing either. It's just my opinion, but I find her dancing to be very erratic.

    I think there is a certain expectation for people who we 'should' like because of who they are and how successful they are. Admittedly some people must have liked certain 'stars' because otherwise how would they have gotten to where they are? But that doesn't mean everyone has to like them. I can appreciate that they dance their own interpretations of the music but it just doesn't appeal to me.

  3. #23
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    I saw both Suhalia and Ansuya on tour with BDSS and sad to sayboth ladies left me cold. Ansuya seems sooo frantic and Suhalia's posture stance and technique seems anything other than beautiful-she performed as if she couldn't care less. And the last thing I would ever want to do is emulate either even if I could .But others ..maybe nearer to the stage than me seemed to love them. each to their own but I was so disenchanted.

  4. #24
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    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.
    <snip>
    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.
    Very interesting back story. I agree her dancing is somewhere other than Egyptian. The technique (from the little I've seen of it) looks too hard (as in "hard body" rather than "difficult"). I've never seen Egyptians use that glute technique at all - and much, much less contractions or pops.

    But the kicker is the second part - "use all your body parts to represent EVERYTHING that's going on in the music at all times". Egyptian style eschews the demented muppet look. Yes, sometimes you do hit every nuance - and then you just ... do nothing for a while - let the audience breathe.

    Clearly Fifi would have been failed.

  5. #25
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Very interesting back story. I agree her dancing is somewhere other than Egyptian. The technique (from the little I've seen of it) looks too hard (as in "hard body" rather than "difficult"). I've never seen Egyptians use that glute technique at all - and much, much less contractions or pops.

    But the kicker is the second part - "use all your body parts to represent EVERYTHING that's going on in the music at all times". Egyptian style eschews the demented muppet look. Yes, sometimes you do hit every nuance - and then you just ... do nothing for a while - let the audience breathe.

    Clearly Fifi would have been failed.
    Wholehearted respect to you Kashmir for articulating my thoughts.

  6. #26
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    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?

    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.
    Speaking from my many years of musical training, which included playing in concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands, and pit bands for musicals.... This point of view demonstrates a real lack of understanding of how music is put together. Especially the orchestral music used for Egyptian style. A good composer would never, NEVER have every instrument playing continuously from start to finish. Composers arrange the music to make different instruments take turns playing, and often several instruments rest (ie, don't play) simultaneously.

    So it should be with us as dancers. Our aim is to make the music be visible,right? If only one instrument is playing at a given moment, then that is a simple instrumentation in the music and we as dancers should think about a simple interpretation. For example, maybe use only one body part at that point, no layering, possibly with an introspective mood. As the music builds in energy and complexity, we can correspondingly increase energy and complexity with our bodies.

    Music has moods. It rises and falls. Our dance should do the same. We should build when the music builds, and we should become quiet when the music becomes quiet.

  7. #27
    Senior Member Ranya's Avatar
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    Shira can't give you rep right now, got to spread it around a little bit, but know if I could I would ... loved your post.

  8. #28
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Gave it to her for both of us, Ranya.

  9. #29
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TribalDancer View Post
    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.
    What I notice about the level 3 technique classes is that you don't really learn anything new. Even the new "shapes" (Octagons, etc.) are just different arrangements of the same muscle isolations you do in levels 1 and 2. She gives you the tools in Level 1 (through learning where the downbeats are in the movements) to "layer" any 2 or 3 movements together -- all it takes is practice.

    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?)
    Exactly. I used to think it was just the technique, but it's also very definitely the way her students hear the music. Of course, I don't think it helps that they seem to continually use hip hop music in classes, rather than Middle Eastern music. After the last Level 2 I was like "Can I PLEASE hear something NOT rap or obviously hiphop?"

    There is a very definite style. It's very upright and angular, like Jazz classes I had in the 80s. Hard Body is an interesting way to describe it. I would have said Tribal Fusion, but I've seen TF dancers do wonderfully lyrical pieces with a softness that I've never seen out of the El Cerrito dancers.

    There's nothing WRONG with that style of course, but it seems to defy what so many of us found so beautiful about belly dance in the first place.

    What kind of clenched it for me was when I saw the clip of the first Level 4 graduating dancers. It's not on Youtube anymore, or there might be a really short version of it, I'm not sure. I know the clip itself was controversial with Gilded Serpent. Anyway, the longer clip showed a couple of the Level 4 dancers improvising to a live band, and I expected to be absolutely BLOWN AWAY by their dancing, but I'll be honest. It was good dancing, and looked very professional, but I kept thinking it should have been wildly fantastic dancing for all that time and effort. Like more fantastic than the students of any other teacher. I didn't see that.

  10. #30
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    I'm sure eventually this thread will get around to the core group, and someone will jump in to say that "she never said you're supposed to illustrate everything in the music all at once." But I'm extrapolating on what I've been hearing her say for the last 5 years. And she did proudly announce to us that in her violin solos with Fahthi, she was able to illustrate his every note.

    Plus, the minute a teacher seems to indicate that you shouldn't take class elsewhere, I'm out the door. It's so weird that she's starting to take that attitude because she hosts other teachers in for workshops.

    But I keep hearing a lot about the "purity" of the training, and that kind of single-focus vocabulary gives me cause for concern. I understand the base logic behind it, but it's very easy for the "focus" to turn into single-mindedness.

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