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  1. #11
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    When I think of the old, classic black & white movies of almost any country, everyone seems so much classier and more glamorous than today.

    Maybe because more modern color movies put an emphasis on "realism" (which is still rather a fantasy in many ways). Maybe because there was more attention to fashion and a polished look, as opposed to cultivating that "just-fell-outta-bed" appearance that is so familiar now.

    In the old days, everything was carefully lighted and staged to help the look of glamour, the dancer's look carefully created (even if it sometimes looks kinda silly to us today). And, come to think of it, there was far less revealed in those costumes -- sexy, maybe but always a hint of mystery rather than letting it all hang out, as it were.

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamilla Rasa View Post
    I think the beauty in the "old Style" was because it was "natural" not many of the dancers were "trained" by todays standards. They simply danced, they danced the way their body wanted to move. Of course there are exceptions to this, any time you have a group of dancers together, you have to have some sort of choreography planned or it is a train wreck...in the old films, the trained dancers were of the classic arts, such as ballet and some jazz (remember Jazz was new too, it made its big debute in the late 40's and 50's)....so the back ground dancers were going to be given choreography that would be more ballet and make it work with Raqs Sharki. Years ago there was no terminology for our dance style, it wasn't called a figure 8 or an amaya, it was simply "look-see-do" teaching style. Suhaila (and a couple others like Sahreen El Safi and Delilah) was the pioneer in giving terminology to our dance in the past 25 years, up until then nothing.
    I think Raven was referring to the Egyptian dancers, but I could be wrong. I assumed that, and built my response around it.

    Even in the old B&W Egyptian movies, there was always choreography. The "chorus line" in the back behind Farid and Samia was doing some kind of lame choreography, but when you watch those movies nowadays, you kind of look at them as set dressing. Whether they were doing ballet or Sharqi doesn't really matter. They weren't there as dancers. I get the impression from some movies that these girls were the "Chorus," literally, since they seem to do a lot of singing.

    I have to make a point about the history of terminology, though.

    Jamila (not Suhaila) Salimpour is usually considered the first one to PUBLISH her verbal descriptions. There's no copyright date on mine, but Suhaila has said the terms started to be used in the late 50s and early 60s, although I don't think the book was printed and sold until maybe the 70s or the 80s. I could be wrong on that, though. It may have been in circulation earlier.

    In the 70s we had quite a lot of books teaching bellydance, and Dahlena's, Burt Balladine's, and Serena Wilson's were probably the most popular. I have a couple of booklets I've collected from the early 70s by lesser-known authors. The descriptions used in the 70s seem to be mostly descriptions of the moves themselves, so you get such long-winded names as "Counterclockwise pencil turn with classic arms and hip pivot in releve."
    LOL

    Jamila was unusual/famous however you want to think of it, in that she often named some of her steps based on the dancers she saw doing the step first, or the dancer who used that step a lot. That's how we ended up with the "MAYA" (not amaya or mayan or mayim, as I've seen!) -- it was named after Maya Meduar. Ahmed's shimmy was named after Ahmed Jarjour.

    Shareen el Safy told me the reason she attributed "names" to her steps was because when she brought Raqs Sharqi instruction to California, people had never seen it and thought she was batty. She associated big star names with the steps to lend credibility to them

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamilla Rasa View Post
    I come from the school of not over doing it. I personally enjoy seeing someone dance with a simple clean style, that dances with confidence, sharpness and inner beauty to balance the dance, as compared to one who runs through the few minute song that over layers or trys to fit everything they know into one dance. I truly enjoy the old style dancers for the most part, until they get too ballet or jazzy for me. That is just my personal taste.
    I'm right there with you! That's why I'm so crazy about Sohair. To me she's the epitome of clean and relaxed style. A real LADY! But I wouldn't say that the golden age or even the modern dancers don't have clean styles -- I just think they have something different about them. Something I obviously can't articulate

    As far as the AMERICAN dancers, I really like the old-school American Cabaret, as done by like Jeanaeni (spelling?) and Alexandra King. Alexandra still mesmerizes me. I used to think these dancers were so fantastic because they had a smaller movement vocabulary and could really focus on just the feeling, but Alexandra throws in movements from a bunch of folk/ethnic dances too, so I guess that theory is out the window. LOL!

    I also think that todays dancers are much more prepared to be on stage and dance in public, they are trained in not only the classics but Raqs Sharki as well, which makes for a wonderful new powerful group of dancers out there.
    Hey, you know maybe you just hit the nail on the head for me ---

    Today's dancers train for the STAGE. The generation before trained for the nightclub and restaurant. Supposing there might be a significant and substantial difference there .....

    Big stage means bigger, more dramatic movements. More limb extension, fussy arm and leg work. Smaller stage, more up close, means smaller more subtle movements and a ...

    no, never mind. I don't think that applies. My fave concerts of Sohair are those huge outdoor open air things, with like a gazillion people there. I don't know ... still ... ???

    I think the only thing that most of the younger dancers lack today is "feelings" for the dance they are doing,
    See, I would argue and say that the thing most YOUNGER American dancers lack today is any kind of cultural education about the dance they do.

    You know, I love Neon, but I could just strangle her in some ways. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a potential student say, "I don't need classes. I have a video" (with the implied, "That will turn me into an instant bellydancer!")!!!

    Oh but don't get us started on THAT again. I had to listen this weekend while a "professional dancer" expounding on the different styles of bellydance mangled the difference between Saidi and Saudi Arabia.


    I think todays dancers are brilliant and talented and have brought Raqs Sharki up to a level it has never experienced before. I also think it would be difficult to recapture the old style dances mostly because it was danced from within and was very indivualized, it couldn't be taught the "style" of dance Zohar Zaki did, she had her own style....a style that started from the inside and worked it's way out to her dance.
    Are you talking about the modern Egyptians, or the Americans? Because I can't see Dina and Randa and even Aida and her friends or Raqia and her friends REALLY doing all that much to "bring it up" to a different level. I mean, it's definitely more commercial and I guess becoming more and more accepted, but is it being elevated? Don't Arabs still talk about Fifi and Sohair and heck even Naima Akef as being the pinnacle of Egyptian civilization? The ones around here sure do!

    As far as Americans go, we've pretty sucessfully "Egyptified" what might have been considered American Cabaret dance, and of course we've invented the phenomenon of American Tribal -- WHICH, and this cracks me up -- is being taught at Ahlan Wa Sahlan (!!!) as well as in Germany, Australia, and probably on every latitude on the planet by now. I think Tribal Fusion is still too new to be able to notice it having any major change on modern theatrical dance, but it IS creeping into modern dance (or modern dance crept into ATS -- I'm never really sure which is the chicken and which is the egg there.)

    I'd argue that Sohair's "style" is the Egyptian-ness of Egyptian dance, and it CAN be taught -- it IS being taught. This essence and this APPROACH to the dance is what we've argued about on this board for so long. It's what makes Raqs Sharqi really Raqs Sharqi and not Beladi or Americanized Egyptian or Egyptianized American or Turkish!

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Aw, you make me blush


    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    Dear Aziyade,
    I have never seen a time when you don't have a point of view worth reading. And you present your views with grace and style!
    Regards,
    A'isha

  4. #14
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharmine View Post
    When I think of the old, classic black & white movies of almost any country, everyone seems so much classier and more glamorous than today.

    You know I may go to hell for saying this, but wouldn't it be cool to see some of the old movies colorized? Like Lady Genie?

  5. #15
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    You know I may go to hell for saying this, but wouldn't it be cool to see some of the old movies colorized? Like Lady Genie?
    A, I never make that judgment about anyone (in some folks' case, it would be redundant to wish it!)

    If the colorizing was done well, I wouldn't mind. I have that movie in my collection, and as it's a fantasy I think it would look great. But there are some movies where the lighting and makeup was done very particularly for b&w film and something then definitely seems to get lost when color is added.

  6. #16
    Member Ravenhairedbellydancer's Avatar
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    This is so fascinating to me becuz I couldnt figure out what the heck was "wrong" with me LOL , that when Id watch a modern dancer id get such a different feeling than watching one of the black and white dancers and Im positive it wasnt simply clothing styles etc, it was the movement of their bodies and the attitude which they danced with. Watching Suheir Zaki for the first time ( who I now adore) was what pushed me to ask this question, then i watched a number of black and white age dancers and a few of todays. I cant imagine Dina dancing in an old film..

  7. #17
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    The older dancers seemed more focused on torso movements and expressing personality. And the music they used was everyday music to them, so they seem more connected.

    Newer American dancers, at least, are a lot more athletic but seem to have less emphasis on personal expression. There is also more limb orientation and more moving around and spinning. More flash.

    The fusion-style dancers I've seen seem less connected to the music and the modern techno music they use is less textured. Many are very fit and athletic and even fluid but the musicality is missing.

  8. #18
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    I really need to work on my spelling! lol

  9. #19
    V.I.P. Reen.Blom's Avatar
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    This all is simply enchanting! This is a great topic! I really cant imagine most modern dancers in those old movies!

  10. #20
    Premium Member sausanacademy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    You know I may go to hell for saying this, but wouldn't it be cool to see some of the old movies colorized? Like Lady Genie?
    Many of them are.
    Like Love in Karnak with the Mahmoud Reda Dance Troupe and Amir Al Dehaa with Na'eema Akef and a lot lot more.

    -Sausan

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