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  1. #51
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    Hey AngeliqueHansworth!

    Please understand that I posted the video NOT to bash Suhaila or her style! And I'm sorry if I offended. My teacher is a Suhaila student and most of what we do in class is focused on using her techniques and drills. I have the Suhaila drills to thank for my crisp, sharp isolations and layers. My problem is that her recent development in what she's presenting to the dance world in terms of choreography just plain confuses me - all I see are modern dance and jazz mixed with some isolation that to the eye of a trained jazz or contemporary dancer can look comical (please don't take this the wrong way...the first time I showed a recent Suhaila choreography to a jazz/ballet teacher she looked at me and said "What the heck is this?" She couldn't see where the belly dancing was - it looked like bad modern dance to her). I know what she's performing might not be what she's teaching but if she's showcasing it that way well...I think it can be a bit of a problem if she wants to tap into getting new students and it can also make loyal ones stray...I used to be a big fan of her but with the recent choreographies and her approach to technique that includes confusing shapes and name of muscles well...I'm not a big of a fan as I was.

    Choreography I'm talking about that really, really, made me think:



    I appreciate her technique and the way that she teaches which can appeal to the more right-brained side of our community but her style of dancing and certain aspects of her teaching is just not my cup of tea anymore.

    Peace!
    Last edited by gisela; 10-07-2010 at 09:31 AM. Reason: fixed embedding

  2. #52
    Senior Member Ranya's Avatar
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    Ok this is no relation to Suhaila as a person or to her bellydance technique as such, just to the particular video that Maria posted - it looks pretty much like "the bellydancer who always wished to be a Broadway jazz dancer..".

  3. #53
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Maria, are you sure that's bellydance? I'm not seeing anything anywhere on the vid claiming it is, except perhaps the tag for 'suhaila'.

    To be honest, that choreo about as far removed from bellydance as anything I've ever seen. It looks like modern dance to my uneducated eye.
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  4. #54
    Junior Member AngeliqueHanesworth's Avatar
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    Riiiiight..... No, I get your point. And I'm not really in a position to defend Suhaila's choices for what she puts on the Rakkasah stage, but I will offer up these points:

    1. Suhaila is a consummate business woman, and this was Rakkasah West. Not having been to a Rakkasah West (I only go to East), but based off what I see on YouTube, it seems that most of the performances are tribal/fusion and there is very little traditional bellydance. So for that venue, I think she feels the freedom to break out of the traditional mold and try to really do something new. You can certainly say you have never seen a performance like that before, and I bet most people watched the clip through to the end. And guess what - we are talking about it! ("There is no bad publicity"). In a world were so much "fusion" happens, what I really see is a lot of copying of the bellydancer de jour. So I think what she was trying to do is kinda shake people from the monotony of hours and hours of the same-ish bellydance performances. So... just remember the setting, and having worked at Rakkasah before, I can tell you that my eyes are glazed and I can't really speak in full sentences by the end of the weekend.

    2. Suhaila has rehearsal every week for a couple hours. Regardless of whether or not there is an upcoming performance. These girls have about 20 choreographies they have to learn (I'm not kidding). Most of them are traditional, so they really do spend time in that space.

    3. Most of the girls you see on that stage have been dancing for 2/3-ish years, never having had another dance class in their life. Think about the average new student that walks into a class, and think whether or not they would be able to learn the choreographies that have been posted in this thread, because the girls in her dance company have to do it all. And like any dance company in any other art form, you don't get a choice about which choreographies you learn. You just learn them all and the director tells you what to do for which performance.

    4. This was a Damien Marely song, so I know Suhaila would say that traditional belly dance would be inappropriate. I learned some of this choreo and it was very hard. I believe she said there was supposed to be technique on top of it, but no one was at a level yet where they could do it. I also know that when she choreographs, she does not choreograph for her students. She imagines she has dancers that know no limitations, and then she will modify her vision to suite her dance company at the time (which is always in flux). I'm sure she was very proud of her girls, but I'm also sure that as is, this is not something she would put on stage and charge people money for seeing. (She often talks about the difference between the quality of work that is acceptable for a hafla (for example) as opposed to a paid performance).

    5. Suhaila has said that through the course of her life, she has created over 300 choreographies. I think it is really natural to jump waaaay out of the box after that much work.

    But please remember, this is just my interpretation of what is going on. I could be wrong here. Also, I am not offended by anyones opinions expressed here. I can totally see how this could not be someone's cup of tea, especially for dancers who have not been privy to her body of work and / or really just want that traditional belly dancer "look".

  5. #55
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darshiva View Post
    Maria, are you sure that's bellydance? I'm not seeing anything anywhere on the vid claiming it is, except perhaps the tag for 'suhaila'.

    To be honest, that choreo about as far removed from bellydance as anything I've ever seen. It looks like modern dance to my uneducated eye.
    No, it's not labeled as such but most of the other vids aren't either but it was performed at a belly dance festival and I know she's not labeling it as traditional or even fusion belly dance either but I question why she would even make a choreography like that for a venue such as Rakkasah where the audience is there to watch belly dance and other such fusions - not modern dance. The other choreographies she presented at that show were more belly dance-esque in nature than that clip but most of it was so jazzy...

  6. #56
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngeliqueHanesworth View Post

    1. Suhaila is a consummate business woman, and this was Rakkasah West. Not having been to a Rakkasah West (I only go to East), but based off what I see on YouTube, it seems that most of the performances are tribal/fusion and there is very little traditional bellydance. So for that venue, I think she feels the freedom to break out of the traditional mold and try to really do something new. You can certainly say you have never seen a performance like that before, and I bet most people watched the clip through to the end. And guess what - we are talking about it! ("There is no bad publicity"). In a world were so much "fusion" happens, what I really see is a lot of copying of the bellydancer de jour. So I think what she was trying to do is kinda shake people from the monotony of hours and hours of the same-ish bellydance performances. So... just remember the setting, and having worked at Rakkasah before, I can tell you that my eyes are glazed and I can't really speak in full sentences by the end of the weekend.
    Just my opinion but I don't necessarily think that if people are bored, doing something completely different than what people intended to watch is going to shake things up - more like confuse them! And I do believe in bad publicity! We may be talking about it but that's it...I don't think anyone is going to join her class because of that routine.

    2. Suhaila has rehearsal every week for a couple hours. Regardless of whether or not there is an upcoming performance. These girls have about 20 choreographies they have to learn (I'm not kidding). Most of them are traditional, so they really do spend time in that space.
    I haven't seen that many traditional Suhaila choreographies...can you link me to them? I have learned one to Ali Gara and watched my teacher perform a drum solo but the only traditional thing about it in my opinion is the music! It's all very Suhaila-esque to me but I'd love to see more.

    3. Most of the girls you see on that stage have been dancing for 2/3-ish years, never having had another dance class in their life. Think about the average new student that walks into a class, and think whether or not they would be able to learn the choreographies that have been posted in this thread, because the girls in her dance company have to do it all. And like any dance company in any other art form, you don't get a choice about which choreographies you learn. You just learn them all and the director tells you what to do for which performance.
    Oh, I know that no average new student would be able to learn Suhaila's choreographies. I've struggled through one or two myself and find them very challenging. And I no that in a dance company, you just do what the director tells you to! I belong to one

    4. This was a Damien Marely song, so I know Suhaila would say that traditional belly dance would be inappropriate. I learned some of this choreo and it was very hard. I believe she said there was supposed to be technique on top of it, but no one was at a level yet where they could do it. I also know that when she choreographs, she does not choreograph for her students. She imagines she has dancers that know no limitations, and then she will modify her vision to suite her dance company at the time (which is always in flux). I'm sure she was very proud of her girls, but I'm also sure that as is, this is not something she would put on stage and charge people money for seeing. (She often talks about the difference between the quality of work that is acceptable for a hafla (for example) as opposed to a paid performance).
    Well you definitely can't do anything traditional to that song because it's not Middle Eastern music! THAT I totally agree with you. Even if you did a whole combination with saidi hops, hip drops, and a shimmy it wouldn't even have a touch of the traditional in it.

    I think that's amazing that she has a vision where she choreographs something without thinking about whether her dance company could do it or not - I had a band director that was like that and it really helped up grow.

    5. Suhaila has said that through the course of her life, she has created over 300 choreographies. I think it is really natural to jump waaaay out of the box after that much work.
    My problem with that is that other dancers and choreographers don't seem to have the need to jump out of the box after creating countless choreographies.

    But please remember, this is just my interpretation of what is going on. I could be wrong here. Also, I am not offended by anyones opinions expressed here. I can totally see how this could not be someone's cup of tea, especially for dancers who have not been privy to her body of work and / or really just want that traditional belly dancer "look".
    It's not my cup of tea because to me because in my opinion, she's lost most of the aesthetic values that I enjoy seeing in dance - not just belly dance but also in tribal fusion, ATS, the such...it's all so technique focused in lieu of connecting with the music (I have nothing against super duper technique...but it should never get in the way of other things) and westernized that...well...it doesn't touch my soul the way my other favorite dancers do.

  7. #57
    V.I.P. PracticalDancer's Avatar
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    I, too, am going to have to be very careful how I speak to this, because I have a Good Friend ("GF") who I dance with regularly and who is also a loyal Suhaila student.

    When I talk with GF about why she goes to such lengths to study with Suhaila, why so many of her solos are Suhaila numbers, and her overall dance influences, she keeps stating that Suhaila (and her mother) are geniuses. GF raves about the techniques, and embodies them in her dance. One thing GF has in common with those here who profess admiration for Suhaila is athleticism. GF is VERY athletic. Side note -- I find it interesting to see Suhaila perform these numbers, b/c I have seen GF perform them to the letter: hair fluffs, wrist flourishes, and all. Things that I thought were GF's "dance mannerisms" are really, it turns out, Suhaila's.

    So, as I think about why GF likes this style . . . and, I have to say with a heavy heart, why I do not (ducks for flying objects) is that it is NOT that Suhaila is "anti-aesthetics." Rather, I believe she may just be tuning into a different aesthetic, one that focuses on a love of precision and ability. I have never heard a Suhaila student refer to the material as "easy" -- have you? The mere concept of "leveling" in coursework indicates an appreciation of advancing in complexity, differentiating in skill, and therefore, narrowing the field. This penchant for precision may cause her students to copy to the extreme, down the the mannerism that would normally be attributable only to the individual dancer her/himself.

    Those who know me well know that I am extremely analytical and ask numerous technical questions of my instructors as I study. They know that I have to understand the movement at a high level of detail in order to master it. But, when I perform, they know that I am all about the moment and the interaction with my audience. Therefore, they may wonder why I do not subscribe to Suhaila's approach -- if I appreciate technique, I should want a teacher that drills into it, right? Sadly, not necessarily. Rather, for me the aesthetic is the emotional quality of the performance -- can the audience feel how the dancer feels up there? For me, that is my challenge because it is so contrary to how I study.

    It is not that one approach contains an aesthetic appreciation and the other does not -- it is that they appreciate different aesthetic aspects: precision of complex motion in comparison to expression of emotional feeling. Movement or Moment?

    As my grandmother used to say, "to each his own (said the old lady as she kissed the cow)."

    Highest regards,

    Anala

  8. #58
    Member MissVega's Avatar
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    .....I’m surprised no one has noticed/mentioned that she is using reggae/dancehall yet the dance is pretty much lacking in any reggae or dancehall dance. I also have to question if she can understand the lyrics or bothered to look them up... because the open legged/bouncing chest shimmy at 2:39 happened just as he sang “Can’t go release your sperms in war”................*facepalm*... lol awkward....

    Honestly, I’m ALL for creative and stepping out of the box in dance, taking chances, trying something new etc. Hell that is what it is all about... BUT what you take to stage, especially at a venue like Rakkasah where people ARE paying to get in and watch DOES matter. This should NOT have gone to a stage in my opinion. Student recital? Sure, fine. Hafla... I suppose although even at a hafla I wouldn’t be able to wipe the “WTF?” expression off of my face.

    Yah great she didn’t want to use a traditional bellydance song, so no traditional movement. But she completely didn’t seem to care that she used a Caribbean song and danced without any Caribbean movement really. I think there was a half-assed attempt at Willy bounce somewhere in there. I would say 95% percent of that performance they were behind the beat. If she was trying to match her choreography to the lyrics (which it did seem like at parts) but overall it didn’t make much sense to me. The only reason I watched the whole clip was I was waiting to see when the dancehall/reggae dancing would come in.......even just a hint of it to come in. There is a lot of talk in bellydance about not misrepresenting the culture or dance... but other cultures and their dances and music matter as well.

    I would like to see that if she wants to use that music, she at least bothers to properly learn a Caribbean move or two, or at least if she isn’t going to use any Caribbean movement, at least stay on the beat. I didn’t see any super technique in that video/performance, nor did I see a connection to the music so what was the point? Was I entertained? No.

    There was NO reggae or dancehall technique in that. Did she say it was reggae or dancehall? No, she didn’t. But By using that music she did associate herself with it, so most audiences familiar with that genre of music and dance would expect to see some. Now I will be the first to admit that dancehall is pretty open to new movement/interpretations and fusion with other dance genres, so long as the dancer/dancers are on the beat and with the music. That was not happening here.

    A good example of reggae/dancehall technique/musicality : The blonde girl who comes in at 1:14... she is AWESOME!
    YouTube - Only top dance battle - Dancehall final!

    And in case anyone is curious, the lyrics to the song she used, Confrontation.
    DAMIAN MARLEY LYRICS - Confrontation
    Last edited by MissVega; 10-07-2010 at 04:53 PM.

  9. #59
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    Awesome post Anala. I guess when I was talking about aesthetics, I was being pretty limited by what I meant by aesthetics and that would be the conventional view of things being beautiful in the pre-modern art era kind of way...if that makes sense! Yes, precision and ability is what she's aiming for in terms of her own version of aesthetics but that doesn't translate visually to me because while I know it's hard (as I said before...I've been taught by a Suhaila student for years) I believe that most of it doesn't look like it is to the untrained eye and it's not...well...I'm lost for words. It's just not as visually appealing. This is one of the reasons why my teacher's Suhaila drum solo that she performed last year was received rather poorly by the GP and dancers that weren't familiar with Suhaila's style.

  10. #60
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    Very informative MissVega!! What would we do without you on this forum? I'm blown away by what you wrote! Oh man......awkward......“Can’t go release your sperms in war”.....awkward...

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