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  1. #11
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Habiba, can I ask what country you are from? In some regions or countries, people do more work on demi-pointe than in others, even if they all might say they are doing "Egyptian style." This is because in different countries, there are different influential dancers, different pioneer dancers, and these dancers focus on different aspects of Egyptian style, and everyone else is influenced by their interpretation. It's not "wrong" but it's also not exactly complete. And then of course there is innovation, so the dance evolves differently in different places.

    Personally from what I've seen, Egyptian dancers (those actually from Egypt or living and working in Egypt for a long time) generally dance flat-footed unless traveling, or for some specific moves. Since there can be a fair amount of traveling though, they might be in demi for a lot of the time. But when doing moves where they are standing still, they mostly do them flat-footed.

    There are some Egyptian dancers (Dina comes to mind) who don't even use a lot of demi when traveling. I mean, it depends on what video of her you're watching, I've seen some old videos of her doing a lot of traveling on demi but her recent work, where I can see the feet, is very flat.

    So personally, what I do for myself is demi when traveling but flat when standing still. I like to be rooted and grounded and balanced. But also, I believe that in order to stand properly on demi-pointe, one must have a lot of training to develop the feet and legs to be strong and flexible enough. This isn't something any person just off the street can do. Sure, everyone can "go on their tippy toes" but most people will not have the correct weight placement, the right amount of arch, and enough strength and endurance to be able to dance on demi for extended periods of time, if for any time at all.

    I've developed my own feet enough to be able to travel on demi, but not enough to do EVERYTHING on demi. Until recently I did not even think it was possible or necessary to be on demi all or most of the time, but I may be revisiting that idea after paying closer attention to certain dancers I really like (none Egyptian, I must note). I don't remember ever seeing anyone do everything on demi as your teacher describes, but so often in videos we can't see the feet, or don't pay attention.

    Here's a dancer who does a LOT of work on demi:
    Apresentação Kahina Workshop.wmv - YouTube

    If you pay attention to the feet, you see she is in demi a lot of the time, but still, not always. A lot of times she is on one flat foot, the other one on the ball, or alternating that. When she shimmies in one place, she is flat-footed or alternating flat-ball to layer other movements in. There are times where it kind of looks like she might be going up onto demi during a shimmy but doesn't fully... in this video she never really shimmies in place long enough to analyze that. But even when she is flat, her weight is placed very forward on her feet, as you can see sometimes her heel/s bounce up and down with the shimmy. I am not sure whether or not this is intentional though, as when I took a private class with her (around a year before this video was posted), she specifically checked my heels to see if they were bouncing up and down, which she said would be wrong. But either way, at least in this video, I never see her go up on a full demi for a regular non-traveling shimmy, and this is someone who does the large majority of her dancing on demi-pointe.

  2. #12
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    Thank you ever so much for your thoughtful replies. I am writing from work (lunchtime) on my iPhone so I will keep this brief.

    The photo posted by Gisela is the stance we must use whilst dancing in one spot - so one leg bent with foot pointed (resting on the ball) and the other leg straight with flat foot. I can understand if we were layering or doing certain hip work but it's limiting when I just want to do a straight leg Egyptian shimmy.

    I am in Asia and unfortunately access to Egyptian style teachers is very limited. I like my teacher a lot but I feel I'm doing one thing in class and another during my practice sessions.

    Her reasoning seems to be that she wants her girls to look graceful and sweet. I understand that, but it's hampering technique. The other students don't seem to question it at all - only one other girl who has a similar background to me in the dance.

    I'll post more in response to some of your questions this evening. But I do want to thank you for your input.

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Habiba View Post
    The photo posted by Gisela is the stance we must use whilst dancing in one spot - so one leg bent with foot pointed (resting on the ball) and the other leg straight with flat foot. I can understand if we were layering or doing certain hip work but it's limiting when I just want to do a straight leg Egyptian shimmy.
    Does she want you to stay in this stance for every single movement that you do when standing still? This stance is very commonly used for certain movements (hip drops for example), but we certainly don't use them all the time when standing still.

    Also, I wouldn't call the position in that photo demi-pointe... because all your weight isn't on a foot or two feet which are on demi-pointe. You have a lot or maybe even all of your weight on the foot that is flat. If I had to call it something, it'd call it "flat-ball" because one foot is flat and the other is on the ball.
    Last edited by Yame; 01-16-2012 at 04:39 PM.

  4. #14
    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    The "flat-ball" position IMO would be rather awkward to stand in for shimmies all the time. There is a shimmy which is flat foot on one side and the other foot is semi ball, and you are pushing down in the ball of the slightly raised foot, you only do that type of shimmy which is more a one hip shimmy for a few counts then you shift your weight to the other side, but the feet are placed side by side not one slightly in front as you would do for hip drops. You could shift the slightly raised foot slightly forward, then move it back slightly behind as well, but it still is aimed at being a one hip shimmy.
    ~Mosaic

    PS: I should have added that I think these shimmies are more Lebanese as the teacher I learnt them from is Lebanese and even though she teaches Egyptian she does slip in the odd Lebanese style movement, mainly so we know them and can use such movements if we felt inclined to do so and we also do shimmy drills so variety is the name of the game for those.
    Last edited by Mosaic; 01-16-2012 at 10:20 AM. Reason: Addition
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    Does she want you to stay in this stance for every single movement that you do when standing still? This stance is very commonly used for certain movements (hip drops for example), but we certainly don't use them all the time when standing still.

    Also, I wouldn't call the position in that photo demi-pointe... because all your weight isn't on a foot or two feet which are on demi-pointe. You have a lot of maybe even all of your weight on the foot that is flat. If I had to call it something, it'd call it "flat-ball" because one foot is flat and the other is on the ball.
    Yes, basically when standing in one spot we must always stand "flat-ball". My teacher has corrected me numerous times over this so I just decided to give-in (during class time that is!).

    And thank you for giving me the correct term btw!!

  6. #16
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Habiba, there is no one correct term for ANYTHING in this dance (including the name of the dance!) For example, I use 'ball-flat' to describe a footwork pattern and 'classical' for the posture you are required to use at all times in your class.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mosaic View Post
    The "flat-ball" position IMO would be rather awkward to stand in for shimmies all the time.
    Yes, it really is! It just doesn't look right and feels even worse so when executing.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farasha Hanem View Post
    I don't know your teacher, but if this is a hard, fast rule with her, I think I might find someone else, but that's just me. Because I don't know her, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her professionalism, and knowledge of Egyptian style, but if she is unbudging on the shimmy-on-demi issue, that would send off alarm bells in me if I knew differently, as you do. Be it teacher or student, a dancer has to be open to continual education, but especially if she is a teacher who's responsible for bringing up new dancers. If a teacher discovers that she's mistaken about something, she should be willing to to admit it and correct any mistakes in her opinion, teaching method, practice, whatever. That's just my opinion.
    I have a number of issues with my teacher but when all is said and done, she's the best teacher we have here and I have learnt so much from her in terms of style and grace. Her dancing is ever so lovely and I have developed a love of Egyptian style through her which I'm grateful for. However, teaching solid technique is not her strong suit and some of her technique I disagree with. That is why I am going to Cairo again (I just went in November) so I can study like crazy and try to make up for what I am missing out on here.

  9. #19
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    In my opinion no one is perfect. She loves her style and she has a fix image in her mind of what belly dancing should be. I think learning from various teachers is a great idea.

    Next thing you know you will have your own little twist and turns

    And if you ever decide to teach you will learn from others mistakes while keeping an open mind.

  10. #20
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Habiba View Post
    Yes, basically when standing in one spot we must always stand "flat-ball". My teacher has corrected me numerous times over this so I just decided to give-in (during class time that is!).

    And thank you for giving me the correct term btw!!
    As Darshiva said this is not "the correct term," it's just a term that I think describes the position better. I'd also use "flat-ball" to describe certain footwork, but you would be able to tell by context.

    Egyptian dancers do use that stance a lot when standing still, but not always. So I'd say, do it your teacher's way in her class, but when practicing on your own do it the way that feels more comfortable to you.

    Here is a video of Dina I really like:
    Dina's workshop, Minneapolis, 2006 - YouTube
    You can see that she uses that stance to do certain moves that other dancers might do on two flat feet. It gives an interesting sort of dynamic. It's certainly a pretty pose, more interesting than standing with the weight evenly distributed on both feet. But I've never seen any dancer use it all the time, because well, it gets old after a while. If it's the only stance you use when standing still, then it's not interesting anymore.

    I haven't seen your teacher teach, I don't know how she dances or teaches so I'm not going to say you should find a new teacher over this. I don't know if it's necessarily a deal-breaker.

    BUT, make sure your teacher is switching up the feet/legs in class, otherwise your dancing will become asymmetrical (one leg and hip will be way dominant over the other, probably the one that is "up" all the time). It's normal to have a dominant side, but you don't want to practice one side more than the other. So if this is an issue with this current teacher, you need to make sure to compensate for it by practicing the other side when you are at home (or find a new teacher). Otherwise, as I said I'm not so sure this should be a deal-breaker.

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