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  1. #71
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    Ironic, yes; facetious, probably; gently mocking, sure; sarcastic- MOI?


    Same idiocy, different century. Womanly is not enough- we gotta be goddess-like.

    Dear Shanazel,
    My favorite quote about wo,en and divinity comes from Fran Lebowitz, queen of sarcastic repartee!! She write:

    "Always a godmother, never a God."

    Regards,
    A'isha

  2. #72
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charity View Post

    uh shanazel dont you know that space travel is a very tiny phone booth, at most you can fit TWO people... HEL-LO.
    Nope, not a clue did I have. I haven't seen a phone in a real booth in so long that I forgot they existed. Do people still see how many goldfish they can stuff in one (or am I mixing my collegiate metaphors again?)

    No one has ever even declared me a godmother, though my daughter can occasionally be heard to exclaim, "God, Mother!"

  3. #73
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    My question when people start talking vaguely about "the Goddess" is -- which female divinity are we referring to? Hera? Isis? Kali? Kwan Yin? There's a pretty good variety to choose from. I've heard some Wiccans refer to "the Lady" but they're not unified on who the Goddess is, either.

    I even know a few feminist Christians who refer to the Almighty as "Mother" -- God having no gender, so why refer to Him/Her specifically in the patriarchal sense?

    Back when I was taking feminist studies in college, the buzz was all about how there was supposedly a matriarchal prehistory, centered around the worship of a female god, that had been covered up by succeeding patriarchal societies. I'm sorry to say the evidence for such theories is mostly wishful thinking.

    I think there are a lot of very sincere and intelligent people who are followers of a specific goddess out there -- but the popular "Goddess" mythology I hear a lot of these days seems to be a modern make-it-up-as-you-go-along fusion of various beliefs.

  4. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    Dear Shanazel,
    The thing that constantly amazes me about any kind of Goddess movement is that it implies that there is nothing sacred or sublime about being human. There is nothing that celebrates our humanity more than belly dance. It is distinctly human among dances, even, as it does not strive to make humans better than we are, but revels in the very stuff that makes us human. What could be more important? Many concepts that are put on the stage seem to be about making people larger than life. But belly dance, on the stage and up close, is just the opposite. It is a totally human interaction. The authentic ethnic belly dancer does not try to cover the stage. She/he stays in her/his human shell and centers there, moving in and out of emotions that are all human, as large as life, but not larger, recognized by the audience because human universally feel the same things, though we may think differently about them. Belly dance is not about perfecting the human being in any way, but instead about expressing what and who humans are.
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Dear A'isha,

    I really like what you say here. I love the idea of a dance that celebrates humanity as it really is rather than striving to make us better than we are. I like "as large as life but not larger." Sometimes I feel though that many do see this dance as being about if not perfecting the human being (or should I say female), then idealizing and emphasizing certain qualities over others. Qualities that I do not disagree are real and vital, but I am uncomfortable with them being overemphasized or exaggerated in nature or importance--because overemphasizing them makes me feel less human.

    Regards, Cathy

  5. #75
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathy View Post
    Dear A'isha,

    I really like what you say here. I love the idea of a dance that celebrates humanity as it really is rather than striving to make us better than we are. I like "as large as life but not larger." Sometimes I feel though that many do see this dance as being about if not perfecting the human being (or should I say female), then idealizing and emphasizing certain qualities over others. Qualities that I do not disagree are real and vital, but I am uncomfortable with them being overemphasized or exaggerated in nature or importance--because overemphasizing them makes me feel less human.

    Regards, Cathy

    Dear Cathy,
    It is when people begin to decide that this or that quality of the dance can be ignore, removed, or somehow drastically altered, that the dance begins to become something else, as in "Goddess", or whatever. We all dance who we are. Our personal qualities manifest when we express the music as we hear and feel it and that is all good in the right cultural context. So we get Randa who is more playful, precise and charming, Suheir, who is more adamant and strong in her interpretation, and Mouna who is more sultry and steamy, and Fifi who is more aggressive and raunchy, and Lucy who is more busy and dainty, etc. Each dancer brings her own self to the music while still honoring the basic precepts of cultural essence. If something makes you feel "less human", then it is probably something that is not within you to express, but something you might realize comes from outside of yourself and will not work for you as a dancer. In my case, cuteness does not work. I am simply not a cute person, so I could not dance cute to save my life if I want to be true to myself and true to the dance. Others do cute really well and they look great doing it. I wish I could express cute, but it just is not in me.
    Some people say they are acting when they dance and that it is theatre. I feel the opposite about it. There is never a time in our lives when we are more who we REALLY are than when we dance. We have nothing to hide behind and we have no choice because we all absolutely dance who we are. Some people are belly dancers, some are not. Some people will be better goddess dancers, some will be better at Debke or whatever. Other forms of dance may be about acting or putting on a persona, but.... when we belly dance, we dance who we are. There is no choice in the matter.
    Regards,
    A'isha

  6. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    Dear Cathy,
    It is when people begin to decide that this or that quality of the dance can be ignore, removed, or somehow drastically altered, that the dance begins to become something else, as in "Goddess", or whatever. We all dance who we are. Our personal qualities manifest when we express the music as we hear and feel it and that is all good in the right cultural context. So we get Randa who is more playful, precise and charming, Suheir, who is more adamant and strong in her interpretation, and Mouna who is more sultry and steamy, and Fifi who is more aggressive and raunchy, and Lucy who is more busy and dainty, etc. Each dancer brings her own self to the music while still honoring the basic precepts of cultural essence. If something makes you feel "less human", then it is probably something that is not within you to express, but something you might realize comes from outside of yourself and will not work for you as a dancer. In my case, cuteness does not work. I am simply not a cute person, so I could not dance cute to save my life if I want to be true to myself and true to the dance. Others do cute really well and they look great doing it. I wish I could express cute, but it just is not in me.
    Some people say they are acting when they dance and that it is theatre. I feel the opposite about it. There is never a time in our lives when we are more who we REALLY are than when we dance. We have nothing to hide behind and we have no choice because we all absolutely dance who we are. Some people are belly dancers, some are not. Some people will be better goddess dancers, some will be better at Debke or whatever. Other forms of dance may be about acting or putting on a persona, but.... when we belly dance, we dance who we are. There is no choice in the matter.
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Dear A'isha,

    I agree with what you say here. Personally I am interested in the authentic dance and not offshoots (Goddess, goth, or others) and do not wish to ignore, remove, or alter aspects of the dance for my own purposes or agenda. It is complex enough that I do not foresee the need to go beyond its parameters to express myself. I agree with what you say that we dance who we are and so our personalities are expressed (cute, playful, sultry, etc.) though the dance. I think all humans feel and express "sexy" at times and all women by definition express "feminine" but maybe emphasizing those qualities is just not me.

    Very interesting what you say about some people see dance as theater vs. just the opposite, being totally real and open, revealed as oneself. As someone who has only just started performing, I have been thinking about this a lot, and was talking to an actor about performance of all kinds and how much genuine performance is completely honest and exposed vs. totally put on or "playing a role." I mentioned to him that some people see "dance names" as "stage names" or a sign that we are putting on an act, so to speak. He told me that he didn't see any contradiction between these. To him, method acting is the "personal" method and getting into the part through focussing on the script is the "traditional" method, but he said that they are really two ways of getting at the same thing. He seemed to indicate that "dance names" and other staging devices (the stage itself, the costume, make-up, or in the case of theater, dialog, character names, etc.) are just signs and symbols that separate performance from everyday and allow us to become more real and open, as it were, to the audience who does not know us personally.

    Sorry if I am hijacking this thread too much.

    Regards, Cathy

  7. #77
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Dear Cathy,
    Responses below in context.


    Quote Originally Posted by cathy View Post
    Dear A'isha,

    I agree with what you say here. Personally I am interested in the authentic dance and not offshoots (Goddess, goth, or others) and do not wish to ignore, remove, or alter aspects of the dance for my own purposes or agenda.


    A. writes- I have no issues with these off-shoots and sometimes enjoy them very much. My issue is with referring to them as "belly dance". I am mostly interested in performing authentic ethnic belly dance for myself, but I also occasionally like to do an American Oriental style veil dance or interpret a fusion piece of music. ( May favorite is a version of Zourouni, in which Georges Lammam plays violin with the world music group, Ancient Future.) However, I do not EVER lead my audience to believe that fusion is belly dance. I explain to them that what is being performed is inspired by Middle Eastern and other influences and that the result is my own creation.


    It is complex enough that I do not foresee the need to go beyond its parameters to express myself.

    A. writes- I feel the same. A person could and should spend a lifetime learning to understand authentic belly dance if they want to lay claim to being a belly dancer.




    I agree with what you say that we dance who we are and so our personalities are expressed (cute, playful, sultry, etc.) though the dance. I think all humans feel and express "sexy" at times and all women by definition express "feminine" but maybe emphasizing those qualities is just not me.

    A. writes- Sexuality is an inherent quality in the dance. This does not mean "acting sexy", but it does mean honoring that femininity. ( I know you and your teachers disagree and do not want to argue the point again as I have said all I can say. I stand by my statement here.) For some, they believe that men can only do this by appearing to be gay. They confuse homosexuality with femininity, which is way off base. Gay men are not feminine, they are gay. There is a world of difference. I have to add here that "emphasizing" sexuality or cuteness or emotional intensity is not the point. The point is to respond naturally to the music, the mood, the feelings in your own heart and soul and body. THAT is the power of this dance, and what is truly sexy about it. Being real and responding, and letting people observe the soul of another human being. We all spend a lot of time hiding and the magic of this dance on the most in depth level is the revealing of the human soul, and allowing other people to be sort of voyeurs, observing instead of having to act on the result of the dance. The audience are invited to see the dancer being who she/he really is. I realize that there are those who will say I am reading too much into it, but after 33 years of really trying to see what the true seduction of this dance is about, that is my conclusion. And yes, its feminine nature plays a strong part it that.

    Very interesting what you say about some people see dance as theater vs. just the opposite, being totally real and open, revealed as oneself. As someone who has only just started performing, I have been thinking about this a lot, and was talking to an actor about performance of all kinds and how much genuine performance is completely honest and exposed vs. totally put on or "playing a role." I mentioned to him that some people see "dance names" as "stage names" or a sign that we are putting on an act, so to speak. He told me that he didn't see any contradiction between these.

    A.writes- Stage names are taken for many reasons. They are not a persona, they are an intimate part of who the person is. When the name is wrong, it is immediately evident. ( You might ask Tarik about this since I THINK he did a name change some years ago.)



    To him, method acting is the "personal" method and getting into the part through focussing on the script is the "traditional" method, but he said that they are really two ways of getting at the same thing. He seemed to indicate that "dance names" and other staging devices (the stage itself, the costume, make-up, or in the case of theater, dialog, character names, etc.) are just signs and symbols that separate performance from everyday and allow us to become more real and open, as it were, to the audience who does not know us personally.

    A writes- My take on the trappings of the dance is this. We wear make-up so people can see our faces. We use lighting to better enhance what the audience is trying to see. The costume is meant to not only let the people know that we are dancers, ( or enhance the character, if you will) but also to enhance the movements of the dance. The fact is, I am not "dressing up" like a belly dancer. I AM a belly dancer who is utilizing the tools of my trade to do the dance justice and to help the audience appreciate it to the fullest extent.

    I should add here that I spent 7 years working in a university theatre as costume designer and shop supervisor. I understand costuming from a very hands on point of view. For actors, the costume is all about helping to create a character, put the character into a time period, culture, and to assist the actor to become the character. For belly dance, since there is no "character" to become, we use our tools in a different way.... to enhance what we are, not who we want to be. I hope that makes sense.

    Sorry if I am hijacking this thread too much.

    A. writes- Your posts are always worth pondering, even when we do not agree.
    Regards,
    A'isha

    Regards, Cathy

  8. #78
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    Dear A'isha,

    As you know I don't use the term "belly dance" for any forms or varieties so I get to sidestep the debate over whether fusion or other offshoots are properly included under that term. I have no issue with the offshoots either, they are just not what I am studying and enchanted by.

    I like your comment "stage names are not a persona, they are an intimate part of who the person is." But I have read some comments by others on this forum and bhuz to the effect "I could never get out there and dance...to find the courage to perform I must transform myself into the mysterious Delilah" or whatever as if they are hiding behind an alternate identity or fantasy self.

    I agree with you when you say "The fact is, I am not "dressing up" like a belly dancer. I AM a belly dancer who is utilizing the tools of my trade to do the dance justice and to help the audience appreciate it to the fullest extent."

    and

    "For belly dance, since there is no "character" to become, we use our tools in a different way.... to enhance what we are, not who we want to be. I hope that makes sense."

    I like this idea. I think you are saying you are not enacting a fantasy for yourself or the audience. You are being yourself, and you and the dance are grounded in reality. (And I have to add a certain kind of music and culture.)

    And thanks for saying "Your posts are always worth pondering, even when we do not agree." I feel the same about yours!

    Regards, Cathy

  9. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    We all dance who we are. Our personal qualities manifest when we express the music as we hear and feel it and that is all good in the right cultural context.

    this is a point i have always wanted to try to convey but could not articulate without straying much from point. very nice.


    If something makes you feel "less human", then it is probably something that is not within you to express, but something you might realize comes from outside of yourself and will not work for you as a dancer.

    thank you, much much agreed

    Some people say they are acting when they dance and that it is theatre. I feel the opposite about it. There is never a time in our lives when we are more who we REALLY are than when we dance. We have nothing to hide behind and we have no choice because we all absolutely dance who we are.

    A'isha

    is it ok if i print some of these, the last 4 or so, off for my bd book. YES i have one, scraps, notes, how to's, stretches, asana's, isolations, chombos, attempted choreos that stink...i will of course keep them complete and intact and clearly labeled as a'isha quotes. i already printed janaki's how to's on shimmy. hope that is ok. nobody really discussed this?

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    Dear A'isha,

    I also agree with you when you write "The point is to respond naturally to the music, the mood, the feelings in your own heart and soul and body. THAT is the power of this dance"
    and
    "Being real and responding, and letting people observe the soul of another human being. We all spend a lot of time hiding and the magic of this dance on the most in-depth level is the revealing of the human soul"

    I don't think you are reading too much into it at all. I have seen all this and totally agree that this is possible, at least for a few dancers, to transmit all this, and for some to receive.

    but I am not too sure what you meant by this:

    "observing instead of having to act on the result of the dance."

    What would "act on the result" mean?

    Thanks, Cathy

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