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  1. #51
    Member MizzNaaa's Avatar
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    Okay, here are my two cents in.

    You know that god awful phrase "Westerners just don't dance as good as us middle easterners"? I know the reason behind it, at least the reason it's said on my end of the world (here in Egypt). It's your emphasis on choreography.

    I'm only 20, but I've been belly dancing since I was four-ish , that's almost 16 years, it's always been part of my life, and I've NEVER...EVER done a choreography. The only time I ever did a choreography was one me and my friend set up for my birthday party, we were going to do a belly dance duel, and we didn't even really 'choreograph' the moves, we basically just broke the song into segments to know which one of us gets what part. That was it! There were no moves agreed on. Every time we practiced the moves would be different.

    The thing most (in my humble opinion) western dancers I've seen/watched/talked to don't get is that Bellydance is literally all about spontaneity and improvisation. Studying the technique makes sense of course, yes you need to understand how the moves are done, but treating Bellydance as a theatrical dance and breaking it down to 1, 2, step takes away from it's magic.

    I hope to teach bellydance one day, cause I feel like I have a lot to show/tell people about our type of dance, and in my class there will be NO room for choreography until my students fully understand the technique and can easily express themselves to ACTUAL ME music by improvising.

    So, you want my opinion? Go the the class, learn from your teacher, but ALWAYS make time to just sit, listen to ME music and understand it. Look up the lyrics, ask here, I'll help with any translations I could and most importantly; improvise.

    Watch Egypt's top bellydancers; Naima Akef, Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioka, Suheir Zaki, Fifi Abdu, Badia Masabny, and watch other dancers who choreograph just to get new ideas but don't cop out and rely on choreography. So yeah, make time for improvisations and don't focus on travelling around much. Honestly, here in Cairo when we see a bellydancer moving over the dance floor too much rather than actually focusing on moving the common reaction is "She's covering up her inability to move".

    Moving around is good, but it's only a minor part of the dance, you can literally have a very successful performance by just moving in a tiny 2x2 meter dance floor because it really relies on your technique and how well you express yourself in the music. Same thing for the variety of moves, you don't have to use 9374374 different and complex bellydance moves to have a successful performance, just watch Suheir Zaki, she's mesmerizing and yet, there are very little fancy moves, it's all about the expression.
    Last edited by MizzNaaa; 12-01-2012 at 08:35 AM. Reason: Freaking typos *facepalm* How do I words? xD

  2. #52
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    MizzNaaa, your two cents is worth many, many expensive workshops. Thank you!



    Bellydance is literally all about spontaneity and improvisation.
    This!

    I never performed a choreography until I was forced to invent one for my classes three decades after I started dancing. I find them artificial and restrictive and probably right now someone is thinking, "If Shanazel says she hates choreography one more time I am going to throw something at her."

    And this:

    Watch Egypt's top bellydancers; Naima Akef, Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioka, Suheir Zaki, Fifi Abdu, Badia Masabny
    And this, too:

    you can literally have a very successful performance by just moving in a tiny 2x2 meter dance floor because it really relies on your technique and how well you express yourself in the music.
    (Sighs contentedly).

    The one time I entered a dance competition I did so as part of a duet with a student who wanted very much to compete but couldn't afford to do it unless someone shared the fee. The judge's comment that stands out in my mind years later: "Use the stage, fill it up, move across it more." Why they include BD in competitions with no BD savvy judges I will never know.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  3. #53
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MizzNaaa View Post
    Okay, here are my two cents in.

    You know that god awful phrase "Westerners just don't dance as good as us middle easterners"? I know the reason behind it, at least the reason it's said on my end of the world (here in Egypt). It's your emphasis on choreography.

    I'm only 20, but I've been belly dancing since I was four-ish , that's almost 16 years, it's always been part of my life, and I've NEVER...EVER done a choreography. The only time I ever did a choreography was one me and my friend set up for my birthday party, we were going to do a belly dance duel, and we didn't even really 'choreograph' the moves, we basically just broke the song into segments to know which one of us gets what part. That was it! There were no moves agreed on. Every time we practiced the moves would be different.

    The thing most (in my humble opinion) western dancers I've seen/watched/talked to don't get is that Bellydance is literally all about spontaneity and improvisation. Studying the technique makes sense of course, yes you need to understand how the moves are done, but treating Bellydance as a theatrical dance and breaking it down to 1, 2, step takes away from it's magic.

    I hope to teach bellydance one day, cause I feel like I have a lot to show/tell people about our type of dance, and in my class there will be NO room for choreography until my students fully understand the technique and can easily express themselves to ACTUAL ME music by improvising.

    So, you want my opinion? Go the the class, learn from your teacher, but ALWAYS make time to just sit, listen to ME music and understand it. Look up the lyrics, ask here, I'll help with any translations I could and most importantly; improvise.

    Watch Egypt's top bellydancers; Naima Akef, Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioka, Suheir Zaki, Fifi Abdu, Badia Masabny, and watch other dancers who choreograph just to get new ideas but don't cop out and rely on choreography. So yeah, make time for improvisations and don't focus on travelling around much. Honestly, here in Cairo when we see a bellydancer moving over the dance floor too much rather than actually focusing on moving the common reaction is "She's covering up her inability to move".

    Moving around is good, but it's only a minor part of the dance, you can literally have a very successful performance by just moving in a tiny 2x2 meter dance floor because it really relies on your technique and how well you express yourself in the music. Same thing for the variety of moves, you don't have to use 9374374 different and complex bellydance moves to have a successful performance, just watch Suheir Zaki, she's mesmerizing and yet, there are very little fancy moves, it's all about the expression.
    MizzNaaa, may I please, please, PLEASE quote your entire reply on Facebook? I love my teacher, but everything you have explained here is the opposite of what she teaches, and when we have "improv" time at the end of class, it's almost never to real ME music, and she gets on to us if we don't "use the stage." The class is so big, and our studio is always so small, that we end up bumping into each other. She's not the only teacher in my state that teaches this typical "American bellydance," pretty much all of them in my area do. -_- I don't know of a single teacher here in Oklahoma who teaches REAL Egyptian style. And if I have to dance ONE MORE TIME to Shakira or Christina Auguleira, I'M GONNA SCREAM MY COINS OFF!!!!

  4. #54
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    And yeah, my teacher is on Facebook... >.>;;;

    EDIT: Would someone please rep MizzNaaa for me? I have to spread the love before I can again.
    Last edited by Farasha Hanem; 12-01-2012 at 11:46 AM.

  5. #55
    Senior Member Erik's Avatar
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    42nd Street Trailer (1933) - YouTube

    Giant apes kidnapping beautiful women and climbing up skyscrapers may have become passé since 1933, but in the West we will NEVER let go of our beloved choreography.

    EDIT --- To Farasha Hanem: You may consider her repped.
    Last edited by Erik; 12-01-2012 at 11:58 AM.

  6. #56
    Member MizzNaaa's Avatar
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    Aww Ferasha, of course, quote away

  7. #57
    Member MizzNaaa's Avatar
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    Okay somebody clarify this for me...your teachers TEACH you to dance on Christina Aguilera and Shakira songs?! Seriously? Are you absolutely serious?

  8. #58
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Farasha, I feel your pain about those music choices. How anyone can really belly dance to those is beyond me. It must be so frustrating.

    As for our choreography fixation - not choreographing is SCARY, that's why people are so attached to it IMO. That and the fact we learn in classes and do class dances that are inevitably choreographed. It's easy to get a mindset that the same process but on your own is what solo belly dance is about. For me it takes some nerve to step off that path and trust that your technique won't disappear, that you'll "do enough" to keep the audience's attention, that you will be able to get yourself out of any holes you dig yourself into.

    Every time I start choreographing another solo to death, all this goes through my head:
    "Just know your music, go with it and move, you know you can, and it looks and feels better."
    "But who are you to think you can do that? You owe it to them to plan it all out and practise to perfection. And you know that "improv's better" is an excuse because you are too much of a lightweight to put in the hours of rehearsal to do that 3 mins properly. "
    "The more you angst and micromanage it the more likely you are to get up there and go blank and have to wing it anyway."
    "Ha, more excuses..."
    "What's the worst that could happen? let's try improv as an experiment and just see what happens."

    Aaargh.

  9. #59
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    HUGSHUGSHUGS!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by MizzNaaa View Post
    Okay somebody clarify this for me...your teachers TEACH you to dance on Christina Aguilera and Shakira songs?! Seriously? Are you absolutely serious?
    Seriously. -_- And she doesn't like Hakim! :'(

    Like I said, I love my teacher (she's 27, a year older than my own daughter), and I love my troupe sisters. I love the ladies I've met in the bellydance circles in Oklahoma (WHY don't I have any dance brothers in this state???). But there is really so little of the ME culture here. Ohhh, surrrrrrrrre, we eat hummus and taboli, we may listen to Westernized club-mix versions of Enta Omri, and we might get to dance to live drummers every now and then at the Ren Faire. Wheeeeeeee. -_- We do have a few dance routines that are supposed to be Egyptian-style, and use songs like "Mastika" in those routines, but they're still choreographed. Plus we have all this weirdness going on concerning bellydance ("Bellydance is thoooooooousands of years old, danced by temple priestesses. It is a dance BY women, FOR women, and helps them find their inner goddess," yada yada yada). -_-

    I know, I'm venting again, sorry. Sure, I want to have fun bellydancing, but when I study a subject, I take it seriously. I want to learn the truth, and I want to learn it properly---I don't want some watered-down version of whatever it is I'm studying.

    Someone said something about stepping out to do solos? Maybe that's our big problem with dancing in a troupe---maybe we have a herd mentality (YES, I'm from Oklahoma, so I'm going to use that expression), and so we've somehow trapped ourselves into "needing" choreography in order to dance in a group?

    I'm sorry if I've offended anyone with my venting, or with any of the things I've said. It's just very frustrating when you hunger for a steak dinner and only get pablum. -_-
    Last edited by Farasha Hanem; 12-01-2012 at 06:32 PM.

  10. #60
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Farasha, maybe the problem is that your teacher either:

    1) Doesn't have any ME music
    2) Doesn't know how to dance to ME music
    or (and this is most likely)
    3) She's tried it before and haemhorraged students as a result

    I know it sounds odd, but the second is incredibly common, and is compounded by the first.

    I know you're incredibly frustrated, but why not arrange to go for coffee with your teacher & ask her why you don't dance to ME music in class. You might well find that she's had very poor response to that in the classes. If so, perhaps you can ask her to run a second class that does use ME music exclusively. If she has so many in the first class, a second class with a lower turn-out shouldn't be a financial hardship to her and (if I am correct) she can start teaching what she loves while having her income provided by what brings the money in.
    Last edited by Darshiva; 12-01-2012 at 08:23 PM. Reason: REALLY lost my train of thought... Finally, it makes sense!
    Bellydance in Kyabram!
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