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Thread: Classic revival

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    She is a modern dancer trying to recreate a style from the past, so one might expect some tics to creep in, like the splits at the end. (What is it about some dancers and splits?)
    I don't think splits were uncommon in floorwork back then. IIRC, Naima Akef used to do them, so it wasn't just an AmCab thing. I'm picturing that fantasy sequence where Naima dances to "Lamma bada yatathanna," but that clip doesn't seem to be online anymore to confirm.

    Oh, wait, a few of my rusty brain gears started turning, and I remembered Lynette had a shamadan clip on GS...

    http://www.gildedserpent.com/art43/g...ance3candl.htm



    So splits...not everybody did them; in the wrong context, they could look somewhat trashy and inappropriate (that's true of a lot of footwork moves); but within the realm of authentic dance vocabulary.

    I don't watch a lot of old Turkish videos, but I sort of feel they did the splits, too. Anybody know of a vintage Turkish example of a native dancer doing the splits?

    Don't believe I ever saw anyone point an index finger to this extent. Can't recall anyone shooting an audience at all.
    Somebody please hunt down a clip from that Nourhan Sharif choreography video where she starts shooting Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew! from her hips like a kid with cap guns. Am I misremembering or did that really happen?

    Zils are interesting. There was a time when if a dancer didn't play zils during a performance, it was assumed it was because she didn't know how, resulting in a certain amount of thinly veiled sneering in some circles.
    Cymbals are--still are--part of the basic skill set. I don't care if you (general "you," not present company) don't want to play cymbals at every performance, but if you're out there, calling yourself a professional, and expecting customers to pay for your experience as a performer and students to pay for your expertise as a teacher, but you can't play cymbals (or can barely play a rudimentary gallop), put on the dunce cap and go stand in the corner, because NO.

    Sorry, what were you saying about "thinly veiled sneering"?

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbeau View Post
    That was the style that a lot of dancers of a certain age fell in love with, because that was what you saw on TV and in movies back then.
    I must not be that age then because I never saw them in TV and movies. My earliest experience with BD was at a somewhat local Renaissance Faire. They were there every year.

  3. #13
    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    Oh man, that Shemadan clip is enough to make me quit! Wow O wow!

  4. #14
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    My dear, that wasn't the least bit veiled.

    Not only did I resignedly take my zils to performances, I occasionally plopped a dark brown wig on my blond head because owners of certain venues thought belly dancers should be brunette.

    1995 is hardly "golden era" so won't accept the evidence of Nadia Hamdi's splits as indicative of splits as legitimate BD vocabulary, but find me a video of Naima Akef indulging in those tactics, and I'll rethink my stance, albeit reluctantly, and at least place splits in the "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" category.

    I once saw a dancer (career roughly 1960-1980) flip a couple of musicians off, so perhaps I will add that particular pointing gesture to "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" as well.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ariadne View Post
    I must not be that age then because I never saw them in TV and movies. My earliest experience with BD was at a somewhat local Renaissance Faire. They were there every year.
    Depends on when/where you lived and what media you consumed, I suppose. The earliest recollections I have were the dancing harem girls on "The Monkees" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," and then a bit later, that Miss America contestant who belly danced for her talent portion. We had local dancers, but I was at least in middle school before I saw one in person, and it would have been a dance class performing at a multicultural festival, not a pro doing a full set to live music. We may have had a Mediterranean restaurant or club in town with live music and dancers, but I came from a family of extremely non-adventurous eaters (my grandmother didn't even cook with garlic), so that wasn't going to be an option for me growing up. I have no clue what was on the local RenFaire circuit 40-50 years ago, but I'm sure my family wouldn't have been down for that, either. Apparently Huey Lewis was wrong. It was not hip to be square.

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    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    Was there even such a thing as a "RennFaire circuit" 40 or 50 years ago? I only heard of SCA and RennFaires maybe 25 years ago or so - I guess I don't get out enough.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    1995 is hardly "golden era" so won't accept the evidence of Nadia Hamdi's splits as indicative of splits as legitimate BD vocabulary, but find me a video of Naima Akef indulging in those tactics, and I'll rethink my stance, albeit reluctantly, and at least place splits in the "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" category.
    Here's the link to the article that went with the video again, in case it got lost in the text of my previous post.

    http://www.gildedserpent.com/art43/g...ance3candl.htm

    The article explains that the clip was filmed at the end of Nadia's career, and in terms of her formal training, Nadia was two degrees of separation from the originators of dancing with a shamadan via her grandmother. The article calls Nadia "the last of the Mohamed Ali Street dancers."

    Here are the relevant parts:

    "Zouba el Kloubatiyya was the first dancer to use a klob (candle lantern) balanced on her head during a zeffa, the Egyptian wedding procession. Shafia el Koptia, “The Coptic Christian”, not to be outdone, used the Shamadan (candelabra) as well. Shafia, taught Nadia Hamdi's grandmother and aunt. Nezla el Adel, (a contemporary of Shafia) is still alive today and occasionally teaches and performs. She is in her 90s. Nadia Hamdi is Egypt's recent diva of Shamadan and is the only dancer who was taught from the original line of Egyptian Shamadan dancers. Nadia was exposed to the teachings of Zouba as a child and then more formally trained by her grandmother. "

    "The [shamadan dance] style is very earthy and includes great 'tricks' like the splits, stomach work while on the floor, rolling over full length on the floor and posturing -- complete with quivering buttocks, and various other individual talents."

    "In using the Shamadan for cabaret, there is a great deal more freedom of style and improvisation upon the traditional. It becomes more sensual than the Mohamed Ali Street style, which is fun loving with a smattering of 'look what I can do' attitude, and the traditionally elegant theater presentation. The floor work section becomes more 'Oriental' and the tricks are seldom seen--beyond a split, stomach rolls, and raised hip twists."

    There's a link in the article to a story about finding Nadia after she made the Hajj and renounced her performing past, but this article by Aunt Rocky is probably a more informative read.

    http://thebestofhabibi.com/vol-15-no...6/nadia-hamdi/

    "Speaking of those times [the era of the first shamadan dancers], Nadia says: 'It was wonderful to have had the opportunity to watch all those dancers, to observe their different styles, to learn something different from each one, every time, no matter how often I saw the same dancer. My favorite was Zouba el Klobatiyya, one of the most famous candelabrum dancers of all times. She wore a klop that, to my child’s eyes, was as tall as the sky. Oh, how it dazzled my eyes – and her costume! I still remember her charm and originality of style. In the last thirty years, different and new fads and styles have come and gone, but I still think that for the most part, the traditional dances were the most difficult, the most beautiful, the best — the "Golden Age" of raks sharki.'"

    To me, that implies Nadia aspired to having her style be consistent with what she's calling the "Golden Era," but if you asked many of today's students of MED, they would consider that period she's describing somewhat pre-Golden Age. At least one argument broke out on Bhuz back in the day about whether to group Souheir Zaki with Naima Akef, Tahia Karioka, and Samia Gamal (whose styles are similar to hers) or with Nagwa Fouad, Mona Said, and Fifi Abdo (who were closer in time in terms of being performing contemporaries). And some dancers considered anything pre-Dina "Golden Age."

    Personally, I feel comfortable calling Nadia Hamdi "Golden Era" even though she worked later than many of the dancers we traditionally associate with that period, but I was in the camp that wanted to pull the timeline forward to include Souheir Zaki, so I'm not a chronological purist.

    I once saw a dancer (career roughly 1960-1980) flip a couple of musicians off, so perhaps I will add that particular pointing gesture to "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" as well.
    Now that I think of it, I feel like I've seen Egyptian dancers point at the audience while doing that gun style of finger snapping, but I can't place where I've seen it. Fifi? Maybe Dina when she was really young? Not that that has anything to do with flipping the band off...

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zorba View Post
    Was there even such a thing as a "RennFaire circuit" 40 or 50 years ago? I only heard of SCA and RennFaires maybe 25 years ago or so - I guess I don't get out enough.
    Our local RenFaire in Ohio is only 30 years old, but according to Wikipedia, SCA was founded in the Berkeley in 1966. Jamila and Bal Anat were doing some sort of outdoor festival gigs around that time, because videos are floating around of some of those old shows.

    I'm not a Salimpourist? Salimpourian? Salimpourite?, but a quick trip to the mothership web site yields "The creation of the dance troupe Bal-Anat evolved in 1968, when the opportunity to perform in an outdoor theme festival called The Renaissance Pleasure Faire challenged the imagination of American Belly Dance pioneer, Jamila Salimpour, to create a variety show which one might see at an Arabian Festival or Souk."

    ...so 51 years ago, apparently.

  9. #19
    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    And that was exactly where I first saw Bal Anat - and John Compton's Hahbi 'Ru.

  10. #20
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    Oh my stars! This is right up my alley and something that is not seen too much anymore (although I stay more with vintage). But I get you on some of the cutesy stuff. Some dancers think they have to be cute and/or have to be moving all the time so they do the hair thang.

    I have mixed feelings on splits. They can make an impressive dramatic ending but I think acrobatics should be left for gymnastics.

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