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  1. #11
    Member Samira bint Aya's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your responses. I was not aware of this school belly dance before, and your answers are very informative.

    It seems to me that many have been disappointed by her style of teaching, or philosophy, or her lack of openness as a teacher.

    Kashmir, Lizaj, Sita and Caroline, if I understand correctly, you find her style to be lacking in emotional content. Based on the (very small) experience that I have of Suraya as a dancer, I couldn’t disagree with you more!

    It is hard to put this into words, but I find her very emotionally ‘full’ and inspiring. I must add, though, that I am partial to contemporary dance…. And for quite a few months now, I have been searching for a way to integrate my love of belly dance with my equal love for contemporary dance, theatrical play and Butoh.

    I am still interested in learning more about your experiences and your thoughts, so if you have any more, keep them coming!

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samira bint Aya View Post
    Kashmir, Lizaj, Sita and Caroline, if I understand correctly, you find her style to be lacking in emotional content. Based on the (very small) experience that I have of Suraya as a dancer, I couldn’t disagree with you more!
    No so much lacking in emotional content but santitising content ie only certain emotions are allowed (and I mean allowed - around here non-compliant students were thrown out of class). No joy, no sexuality, no grunt. Take "beledi" - in Egypt it is sassy, salt of the earth (think Fifi Abdou) - it can be sad, it can be joyful, it can be cheeky, it can be vulgar, it can be alive. With Suraya it is beautful - but lifeless - here is my pure and beautiful introverted soul. Not only could I not see Suraya swishing about in a gallibaya giving Saudi gents cheek for their hypocracy while smoking and at least miming drinking, but she has the cheek to say dancers like Fifi (and probably Dina and Lucy) are doing "real" Egyptian dance.

    She also "cleaned" up the technique with certain moves "banned". No bedleh. And at least around here, no "belly dancers" allowed in class or at workshops - so they would not distract the pure ones no doubt.

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samira bint Aya View Post
    Kashmir, Lizaj, Sita and Caroline, if I understand correctly, you find her style to be lacking in emotional content. Based on the (very small) experience that I have of Suraya as a dancer, I couldn’t disagree with you more!
    In February of last year I went with a bunch of friends to watch Surayas new show... so despite everything I felt in the past, I was still open to her as a performer.

    Everything I had left was closed down that night.
    The show was called 'Oscillations' and was the most tedious, depressing, uninspiring performance I have ever experienced in my life.

    She waggled her head from side to side for 15 mins to a piece of quiet Oud music... you know, the type which hits a low note then has a long pause.

    It was all very grim, the costumes were drab, the lighting was drab and nobody wore make-up, it was all very grim.

    There were two other perfromers, one was her husband and the other was a small frail looking dancer who looked like she had stepped out of Swan Lake.

    Both were dressed exactly like her and both danced exactly like her.


    The blurb was so arty farty nobody could work it out and there was some mention of 'joy' and 'gondolas' (yes like in Venice).

    I have been on this forum for almost 1 year now and have you ever heard me talk about another dancer with such negative emotion?

    she actually makes me angry... so she does have alot of power in her performance.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline_afifi View Post
    In February of last year I went with a bunch of friends to watch Surayas new show... so despite everything I felt in the past, I was still open to her as a performer.

    Everything I had left was closed down that night.
    The show was called 'Oscillations' and was the most tedious, depressing, uninspiring performance I have ever experienced in my life.

    She waggled her head from side to side for 15 mins to a piece of quiet Oud music... you know, the type which hits a low note then has a long pause.

    It was all very grim, the costumes were drab, the lighting was drab and nobody wore make-up, it was all very grim.

    There were two other perfromers, one was her husband and the other was a small frail looking dancer who looked like she had stepped out of Swan Lake.

    Both were dressed exactly like her and both danced exactly like her.


    The blurb was so arty farty nobody could work it out and there was some mention of 'joy' and 'gondolas' (yes like in Venice).

    I have been on this forum for almost 1 year now and have you ever heard me talk about another dancer with such negative emotion?

    she actually makes me angry... so she does have alot of power in her performance.
    Phew...I wonder at what point in a dancer's career they finally go up their own arse. Disturbingly, the increasingly tedious trend of confusing self expression with self indulgence, and emotion with affectation, seems to snare even the best of them. How sad.

  5. #15
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharis View Post
    Phew...I wonder at what point in a dancer's career they finally go up their own arse. Disturbingly, the increasingly tedious trend of confusing self expression with self indulgence, and emotion with affectation, seems to snare even the best of them. How sad.
    I think generally the reasons differ but in the case of many, I believe it is about class.. and wanting to seperate themselves because of the historical associations.

    I think many Western dancers are very much guilty of the same thing.

    They see it 'reclaiming' the dance and ridding it of it's seedy image and appreciating it for it's real beauty. I have heard all of this mentioned before.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline_afifi View Post
    I think generally the reasons differ but in the case of many, I believe it is about class.. and wanting to seperate themselves because of the historical associations.

    I think many Western dancers are very much guilty of the same thing.

    They see it 'reclaiming' the dance and ridding it of it's seedy image and appreciating it for it's real beauty. I have heard all of this mentioned before.
    'Reclaiming' yes. There is of course the need to dance this dance as respectfully as possible, but then there is the Hilal Effect where it's taken so damned seriously it becomes bleached of all colour. It gets taken and analysed and picked apart to the extent that it no longer becomes what it should be...just a dance. Sometimes, I see how this is done and wonder if the people who do the picking and poking have a real life outside the dance. How many times have I seen good dancers dismissed by the so called bellydance 'elite' who believe that the best dancers must be clad in Eman and have trained with the top Egyptian teachers. It is possible to self train, and it is possible to hone your skills without having visited Cairo and purchased the latest designer costumes. There are several top notch dancers in the UK who fall into this category but who do not get the recognition because they are not performing at every haflah, showcase and show on the planet. Which just goes to illustrate how PR is often everything. But I digress...sorry.

  7. #17
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharis View Post
    'Reclaiming' yes. There is of course the need to dance this dance as respectfully as possible, but then there is the Hilal Effect where it's taken so damned seriously it becomes bleached of all colour. It gets taken and analysed and picked apart to the extent that it no longer becomes what it should be...just a dance. Sometimes, I see how this is done and wonder if the people who do the picking and poking have a real life outside the dance. How many times have I seen good dancers dismissed by the so called bellydance 'elite' who believe that the best dancers must be clad in Eman and have trained with the top Egyptian teachers. It is possible to self train, and it is possible to hone your skills without having visited Cairo and purchased the latest designer costumes. There are several top notch dancers in the UK who fall into this category but who do not get the recognition because they are not performing at every haflah, showcase and show on the planet. Which just goes to illustrate how PR is often everything. But I digress...sorry.
    Packaging and image is a big part of any 'pro' circuit.

    I wore crappy costumes for years and got gigs but things have changed now.

    You need money to get somewhere in this dance and again, most art professions are like this.

    There are a small few who can self train but a majority wont achieve what they need to do without feedback of sorts. How does a beginner sort out the what from the chaff? it takes time.

    Visiting Egypt is an important part of a persons development when doing Egyptian dance. For people in the Uk it is not so expensive to go anymore, it is cheaper than a Spanish holiday and plenty have those.

    But like you say, there are some very good dancers out there who dont have the money to spend on workshops and costumes etc.

    As for picking and poking.. an interest is an interest and sometimes people make their interest their life long study. Many professions have their experts.

    Whatever makes people happy at the end of the day, how can we judge what is too much or too little and what constitutes 'a life'.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline_afifi View Post



    As for picking and poking.. an interest is an interest and sometimes people make their interest their life long study. Many professions have their experts.

    Whatever makes people happy at the end of the day, how can we judge what is too much or too little and what constitutes 'a life'.
    This is true. And every profession does have it's experts, who generally research and write about their subject to enable others to share this knowledge. The problem with bellydance is that even if you do write about it, as with Wendy Bounaventura, you still get slated for not getting your facts right. So, just who is an 'expert' in this dance? Is it possible to be an expert? Has anybody studied it for long enough and researched it thoroughly enough? Does anyone have a degree in it or some other academical qualification that justifies being expert?

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline_afifi View Post



    Whatever makes people happy at the end of the day
    This is right. It's what makes people happy at the end of the day. So is there a need to dissect the dance and proclaim what is right and what is not right about it? Or should it just remain a dance that everybody can enjoy?

  10. #20
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    I understand the motives of the likes of Soraya Hilal and Wendy in that they wanted to bring a beautiful dance into a different light and onto a different stage. Of course by doing so they may be seen as automatically condemning those practitioners who don't follow their mission. You are seen as looking down on the girl in the restaurant and that's how ever talented, entertaining and classy she is. In the end we chose the path that suits us best..wether it be more or less sexualised.
    As to analysis and over analysis: that does depend on the way we learn I suppose. Never of fan of trying to read something into everything, I nevertheless applaud anyone who tries to make some academic discussion of oriental dance especially if it does bring a new perspective.What I don't like isthe fact that people who write about their theories or devise a code and claim to be the only way.
    I can't condemn the dancer who makes Cairo and Cairo teachers a pilgrmage nor who wishes to look her best in dancing but equally there are dancers who have for economic reasons have to wait 'til those teachers some to us ( and halleluja they now do!) and who make what costumes they can afford really work for them with home made additions or who can create her own outfits.

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