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  1. #1
    Member Suhad's Avatar
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    Default Video/DVD recommendations

    I was wondering what your recommendations would be, if you had to make them, for videos that portray ME dancing that one would identify as "authentic".

    I recently did a private party, and although I made good money, I really felt like I did the dance a disservice due to my crappy performance. (it wasn't my bellygram, it was a private shindig for about 300 people) I was advertised to the clients as doing ME pop and sword by the booking agent, so that is what I did, but I find that dancing to only ME pop is VERY difficult as it doesn't change tempo or rhythm...I don't think I will do that again.

    I never thought I would reach the point in my dance life where I thought ME/Egyptian stuff was actually EASIER to dance to because it changes rhythm/mood/tempo etc. (!!!)

    I've been looking into the Hadia system, and the Zahra Zuhair, and possibly the Shareen El Safy stuff. I was even looking at the Sauzzon (I know I spelled that wrong, sorry) video/workbook stuff. Do any of you have recommendations regarding any of these?

    I am also planning to take privates both from my instructor (which I do whenever our schedules mesh) and a ME drummer who played for Nadia Gamal; he does lessons for dancers as well and the dancers I know who have taken privates from him are definitely great dancers!

    Aisha, I know you have a DVD out, but I was thinking it was aimed more at beginners; I am seriously looking for something that will challenge an intermediate or advanced dancer and still be true to the culture. If you think your video might fit the bill, please say so!!!

    Do I simply need to watch/try to dance with more ME clips?

    Help! I'm very disheartened by my performance at this event!!!!
    Last edited by Suhad; 04-03-2007 at 07:38 AM.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    Have you looked into Aisha Ali's dvds? Belly Dance with Aisha Ali

    She's a veteran Oriental dancer in Southern California who has done personal ethnographic research into the dances of Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa. Her dvds features some very folkloric stuff, as well as classic raks sharki, and she's careful to distinguish between the various styles, their dancers and histories.

    Got two of her dvds: Vol. I Egyptian Dances and Dances of Egypt. I find her very refreshing -- low ego emissions.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sedoniaraqs's Avatar
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    I have about 4 of Shareen el Safy's instructional videos and I highly recommend them if you are interested in the Egyptian style. They are definitely at the intermediate to advanced levels.

    Yasmina Ramzy has some videos out that specifically teach how to put together professional shows. I haven't seen them but have heard some good reviews.

    Best thing is to get videos of the "native" dancers, with the caveat that yes, there are some bad dancers over there. But studying vids of Fifi, Sohair, Samia, Mona, Dina, Dandash, Lucy, etc. will teach you about Egyptian.

    When you say "pop" music, do you mean Arabic pop? Because an ethnic audience will probably expect you to dance to some pop music, just not ALL pop music.

    Sedonia


    Quote Originally Posted by Suhad View Post
    I was wondering what your recommendations would be, if you had to make them, for videos that portray ME dancing that one would identify as "authentic".

    I recently did a private party, and although I made good money, I really felt like I did the dance a disservice due to my crappy performance. (it wasn't my bellygram, it was a private shindig for about 300 people) I was advertised to the clients as doing ME pop and sword by the booking agent, so that is what I did, but I find that dancing to only ME pop is VERY difficult as it doesn't change tempo or rhythm...I don't think I will do that again.

    I never thought I would reach the point in my dance life where I thought ME/Egyptian stuff was actually EASIER to dance to because it changes rhythm/mood/tempo etc. (!!!)

    I've been looking into the Hadia system, and the Zahra Zuhair, and possibly the Shareen El Safy stuff. I was even looking at the Sauzzon (I know I spelled that wrong, sorry) video/workbook stuff. Do any of you have recommendations regarding any of these?

    I am also planning to take privates both from my instructor (which I do whenever our schedules mesh) and a ME drummer who played for Nadia Gamal; he does lessons for dancers as well and the dancers I know who have taken privates from him are definitely great dancers!

    Aisha, I know you have a DVD out, but I was thinking it was aimed more at beginners; I am seriously looking for something that will challenge an intermediate or advanced dancer and still be true to the culture. If you think your video might fit the bill, please say so!!!

    Do I simply need to watch/try to dance with more ME clips?

    Help! I'm very disheartened by my performance at this event!!!!
    Last edited by sedoniaraqs; 04-04-2007 at 01:44 PM.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Dvd

    Dear Suhad,
    Responses below in context so I don't get confused!


    Quote Originally Posted by Suhad View Post
    I was wondering what your recommendations would be, if you had to make them, for videos that portray ME dancing that one would identify as "authentic".

    A'isha writes- Get any videos of authentic ethnic dancers in the style that you are interested in learning. Each authentic style has its own distinct flavor and you may find that one is more suited to you than another. ( I am a very poor Lebanese dancer and am just now really delving into Turkish, but have studied Egyptian for many years because it was the style that came the most naturally to my body and brain.)

    I recently did a private party, and although I made good money, I really felt like I did the dance a disservice due to my crappy performance. (it wasn't my bellygram, it was a private shindig for about 300 people) I was advertised to the clients as doing ME pop and sword by the booking agent, so that is what I did, but I find that dancing to only ME pop is VERY difficult as it doesn't change tempo or rhythm...I don't think I will do that again.

    A'isha writes- If possible, try to write your own blurbs and give them to whoever is doing the advertising. I have found this cuts down on a lot of misunderstandings.

    I never thought I would reach the point in my dance life where I thought ME/Egyptian stuff was actually EASIER to dance to because it changes rhythm/mood/tempo etc. (!!!)

    A'isha writes- I LOVE it!! I can identify with that completely. I love the complexity and fullness of a great piece of Egyptian dance music, too!!

    I've been looking into the Hadia system, and the Zahra Zuhair, and possibly the Shareen El Safy stuff. I was even looking at the Sauzzon (I know I spelled that wrong, sorry) video/workbook stuff. Do any of you have recommendations regarding any of these?

    A'isha writes- Well..... Hadia is not THAT Egyptian in her styling, though I would bet she can teach it. ( No flaming, please. I LIKE Hadia. She has even stayed at my house before on her way from here to there.) I would recommend both Shareen El Safy and Zahra Sohair for Egyptian

    I am also planning to take privates both from my instructor (which I do whenever our schedules mesh) and a ME drummer who played for Nadia Gamal; he does lessons for dancers as well and the dancers I know who have taken privates from him are definitely great dancers!

    A'isha writes- Studying with people you have confidence in is really important!!

    Aisha, I know you have a DVD out, but I was thinking it was aimed more at beginners; I am seriously looking for something that will challenge an intermediate or advanced dancer and still be true to the culture. If you think your video might fit the bill, please say so!!!

    A'isha writes- My DVD is geared to beginners, and actually,teachers. It's purpose is to give a firm foundaton in the 10 basic movements that make up the roots of all Egyptian belly dance movement. (And, I suspect Lebanese and Turkish styles, too, though, since these are not my areas of expertise, I don't want to press that theory!) If you feel that you have a clear understanding of how to move on a basic level, then you will more than likely need something more advanced.

    Do I simply need to watch/try to dance with more ME clips?

    A'isha writes- ALWAYS!!!

    Help! I'm very disheartened by my performance at this event!!!!
    A'isha writes- I do want to add an encouraging word. Often when we feel the most frustrated with our dancing, this is when we can learn the most. After about 10 years of dancing, I began to see a pattern where I would begin to feel dissatisfied with my dancing and then get pretty depressed about it. When I would come out on the other side of it all, I would find that I had somehow also learned some skills to help me be a better dancer. This still happens to me on a fairly regular basis still. I see now that it is my unconscious brain telling me that I am noticing something new about the dance that I have not yet been able to actually grasp on a conscious level. ... Might something similar be happening to you?

    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 04-04-2007 at 02:09 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Delilah's Bellydance workshop series

    Hello Everyone!

    What is the opinion about Delilah's Bellydancing Workshop Series? I saw a brief demonstration and it looks to be promising to practice with.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edavis2 View Post
    Hello Everyone!

    What is the opinion about Delilah's Bellydancing Workshop Series? I saw a brief demonstration and it looks to be promising to practice with.
    Hi edavis2, I have Delilah's videos too. She crammed in a lot of moves and infomation including rhythm section and veil. Because it has so much info she only touches on each move briefly and she recommends that you rewind back to the section if you didn't catch what she was doing. There are times when it hard to see her feet,(for me I need to see the dancer's feet and weight placement),so I spent lot of time rewinding back to each section. Overall it is a good video series highlighting American Oriental style dance.

    Yasmine

  7. #7
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    I enjoyed the videos...Yasmine is right there is def a lot of info and she moves pretty fast...I think I might suggest something else for an absolute beginner or if there is something very specific you want to work on but that's just me and I don't know that I know what I'm talking about . I am glad to have it in my collection.
    Last edited by sstacy123; 05-06-2007 at 05:07 PM.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    If you want modern Egyptian and modern Theatrical Egyptian, and you can learn by watching, the Little Egypt workshop videos can be great.

    Video Links


    Delilah has only a few movements in her repertoire that I don't particularly care for, (out of dozens) and I think at least the first 2 volumes are well worth the money.

    What I noticed about her videos was that she has an ability to redefine some of the movements I've seen that I've now learned are 80-'s style Egyptian. I have no idea where Delilah learned how to dance, or even if she HAD any Egyptian training at all, but oddly enough there's a certain amount of cross-over in what she teaches and what Shareen teaches on her older technique series, even if she calls it something else. I'm sure people will disagree with me on this assessment, but when I brought it to the attention of some other Egyptophile dancers, they too noticed it.

    Delilah's teaching vocabulary focuses on shapes and forms, as opposed to Shareen's vocabulary which focuses (to me) more on the muscular push and pull, so if you're familiar with Egyptian technique, you might give Delilah's vids a try to see if anything is recognizable. Like I said, her TEACHING STYLE takes a totally different approach, and I wouldn't call Delilah's dancing in any way "Egyptian" but it's funny to compare and contrast the same movements taught with different "goals" so to speak.

    I have no idea what Delilah's new DVDs are like -- I think she has 2 new combination DVDs. And I haven't seen her dance in the post-Steven-Flynn era, so I can't speak to the dancer/teacher she is today, just back when she made those first videos.


    One caveat about the authenticity thing -- I have been stalking this since I was a baby dancer, and I'm finding a weird response from Arabs I've met.

    - For a scant few, you can't be authentic at all, because you're American.

    - For a few, you're only authentic if you dance like (insert the name of some particular dancer from the past)

    - For a lot, and I dare say it's the attitude of the majority of the Arabs I've met, if you don't do any obvious bone-head things like dancing to the call to prayer, and you don't crawl around like a cat in heat, they welcome it and will enjoy what you're doing -- if your approach is genuine.

    One old Egyptian guy told me, "We love good shows! If you have fun, we have fun." He was singing along with the song that Shabnam Pena was dancing to at the MEDINA competition one year in St. Louis -- (it was the farthest thing from an "Egyptian" performance, but it was truly astounding.) I thought he would be offended. Nope. He loved it. The audience that was there (from the local Egyptian society) had a GREAT time. They blogged about it later.

    RASI is an Atlanta-based Arab social group, and they get together and go to bellydance shows. One of their members blogs about the performances she reviews. She enjoys Tribal, Tribal Fusion if she likes the music, Am Cab, and of course Egyptian style performances. There have been some performers she hasn't liked, and when I was at one of the same shows, those were the performances I didn't like either. I was surprised when she liked one particularly bizarre Tribal Fusion number. She's Arab -- isn't she supposed to hate that stuff?

    There isn't one particular Arab or Turkish sensibility. We can't say ALL Arabs like this or don't like this and I don't think we can REALLY assume that there is one particular "authentic" approach to Middle Eastern dance (in all its varieties), other than HONESTY.

    I've been told this now time and time again by Lebanese, Egyptians and Turkish people:
    If you have an HONEST emotional reaction to your music, THAT's what they look for.

    I think that's a wonderful thing to keep in mind.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    You know, the more I read through this board, the more I think that we are all really approaching the idea of

    AUTHENTICITY

    from different viewpoints.

    To me, authenticity is honesty. (Sort of.) It's being true to what the music wants to be danced to. It's having a genuine emotional response to the music, and not one you're told you're SUPPOSED to have.

    Does that make any sense?

    I think this is really the same thing that A'isha is talking about when she speaks of the "essence." We've narrowed down that the "Egyptian-ness" of a dance is more than just movement. So what's the rest? Is part of it our approach to dance? or to movement? Is part of it how we hear the music?

    Is that why natives have an easier time dancing "authentically" -- because they're hearing the music a little differently than us? Didn't we come to that conclusion at some point?

    Does this make sense? Is it consistent with what anyone else thinks?

    edited to add:

    I don't mean an "I just gotta be me" attitude. Because I think there's honest Turkish dancing and honest Egyptian dancing, and they don't look the same. Maybe I need to delete this whole spin-off...
    Last edited by Aziyade; 05-07-2007 at 07:02 PM.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Dear Aziyade,
    More in context


    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    You know, the more I read through this board, the more I think that we are all really approaching the idea of

    AUTHENTICITY

    from different viewpoints.

    A'isha writes-.... I know I seem to be approaching it from a different enough viewpoint that people hardly read what I say before they decide I don't like American Oriental or anything else tht is not authentic belly dance. they are incorrect, but once I dare say that thier dance forms need to be more clarified as to what they are, its over for me.

    To me, authenticity is honesty. (Sort of.) It's being true to what the music wants to be danced to. It's having a genuine emotional response to the music, and not one you're told you're SUPPOSED to have.

    Does that make any sense?

    A'isha writes- Yes, but within certain cultural contexts. You are indeed SUPPOSED to respond to music in certain ways. For example it is wrong to use a funeral dirge or a call to prayer to belly dance.

    I think this is really the same thing that A'isha is talking about when she speaks of the "essence." We've narrowed down that the "Egyptian-ness" of a dance is more than just movement. So what's the rest? Is part of it our approach to dance? or to movement? Is part of it how we hear the music?


    A'isha writes- Yes, yes and yes, but also more than just those things.

    Is that why natives have an easier time dancing "authentically" -- because they're hearing the music a little differently than us? Didn't we come to that conclusion at some point?

    A'isha writes- Not all natives are natural belly dancers either. But, yes, I believe that they mostly do hear music differently and respond to it differently...within their own cultural context. Some few people who are not native to a culture occasionally find that they are so in sync with that culture on some level that they do "get it"...often without even being aware, because what is inherent in them is not that easy for them to pick up on.

    Does this make sense? Is it consistent with what anyone else thinks?

    A'isha writes- I think I may still see authenticity differenty than you do, but I do agree that American Oriental dance is an Authentically American dance. It is just not belly dance, which is not an authentically American dance.

    edited to add:

    I don't mean an "I just gotta be me" attitude. Because I think there's honest Turkish dancing and honest Egyptian dancing, and they don't look the same. Maybe I need to delete this whole spin-off...
    A'isha writes- If you are aware that there IS an Egyptian or a Turkish style, and that they are different from each other and from other styles, what do you think about that? How do they differ? Where is the meat of that difference for you? How might it be if you were an uneducated audience member thinking you are seeing something from the Middle East and what you are really seeing has no reality in that thought? I believe our audiences deserve to hear the truth about what they are seeing.

    Regards,
    A'isha

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