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  1. #1
    Member Samira bint Aya's Avatar
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    Default I just discovered Suraya Hilal!

    Last week I found a dancer in my town who teaches Raqs Sharki according to the Hilal method. I did not know what it was but I popped into one of her classes and I was truly blown away!

    It is quite a unique style. I find it both sophisticated and visceral at the same time. Both theatrical and internal. I feel quite drawn to it.



    What do you guys think of her style?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Well, you did ask ... I find that many Hilal style teachers have good idea of body work (or it could be just the ones I have run across). I find some of Hilal's work very good theatre and beautiful modern dance. I find little of it "belly dance" and practically none "Middle Eastern Dance". In particular she has totally redefined "beledi" to be lifeless and souless movement. I now duck because it seems it is almost a cult and I expect to now be attacked by angry followers

  3. #3
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Well, you did ask ... I find that many Hilal style teachers have good idea of body work (or it could be just the ones I have run across). I find some of Hilal's work very good theatre and beautiful modern dance. I find little of it "belly dance" and practically none "Middle Eastern Dance". In particular she has totally redefined "beledi" to be lifeless and souless movement. I now duck because it seems it is almost a cult and I expect to now be attacked by angry followers
    Fear not even those who admire her intentions and dedication and sense of theatre ,will say that somewhere along the line the "joy" gene was extracted!

  4. #4
    Member Samira bint Aya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Well, you did ask ... I find that many Hilal style teachers have good idea of body work (or it could be just the ones I have run across). I find some of Hilal's work very good theatre and beautiful modern dance.
    Actually, perhaps this is why I like her so much. I am part of a lay acting group, and we take theatrical movement, contact and Butoh classes, which is kind of an acquired taste… With her style I may have found a way to combine the theatrical with the more oriental.
    What I like about contact and Butoh is that the emphasis is on making movements organic and very internal.
    This is what really inspires me to Hilal’s work (or at least to how our local instructor teaches her) the “organicity”. How the movements are really felt and come from within.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    I like her work very much.
    I just dont consider it bellydance.
    continue the great work ya Samiraaaaaaaaa xoxoxo kisses

  6. #6
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    I find her a really good teacher and a very strong dancer. I've been to a few of her workshops, many years ago, and learned a lot from her. Her dancing is very stylised, so there is a danger of students ending up dancing just like her if they don't 'take' from other teachers...but this is a problem that applies to anyone who goes to just one teacher all their dance life. Love her or hate her, no one can deny her skill and expertise.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Sita's Avatar
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    I think my feelings are pretty much in line with everyone else who has posted. I don't think I've come across her before (or at least don't remember it) but based on this piece alone:
    as a belly dance performance: I don't like it and particulalry find it emotionally lacking...
    however as a piece of contemporary dance it really interests me: the shapes and use of the veil was beautiful - also the lack of emotion within that contempoary context is not a problem at all.

    Based on this piece I would honestly go to see her perform live I just don't & wouldn't consider it belly dance. Thank you for posting it.

    Sita

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Technically very good but I have a problem with the whole Kit and caboodle that is the Raqs Starchy society and Suraya Hilal and her 'Spirit of the Heartless'.

    Sorry but there it is...

  9. #9
    Member Andrea Deagon's Avatar
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    Big Grin

    The first time I saw her (I have only ever seen her on video) I was blown away, because the fusion piece she presented was haunting and beautiful. I also thought her beledi was quite powerful, but the affect question may have been minimized as some elements of a dance tend to be on video. I didn't see her being particularly expressive or happy, but there was a concentration and archetypal quality that made up for it. Again, a fusion piece, despite its traditional structure.

    I think in the US we are not as aware of the rabid fandom and controversy that is part of her scene in England. I taught at a festival in England some years ago and my piece was listed in the program as raqs sharqi. I did not realize that (at the time, at least) Suraya Hilal (or her followers) had co-opted the term and people were expecting to see something in that style. I ended up explaining many times in conversations for the rest of the festival that raqs sharqi was just the name of the dance, not any one franchise of it. I had some students ask me things like, "I noticed you danced a lot on the balls of your feet. I thought it was only traditional to dance flat-footed. Is it OK to dance on the ball?" I told them that if you eliminate that element of technique, you eliminate half the work of most of the Egyptian dancers who have performed in the past 40 years. They were surprised. (Now with video increasingly available, and since you can find anything on Youtube, I think dancers develop a well-rounded idea of the vast variations in style out there.)

    My impression was that some of the students (they were most likely students of her students) were being taught to exclude and reject a lot of the elements of belly dance that give it verve and life. To give a trivial but telling example, I was told that she insisted that students in her classes wear their hair up. Well, good lord, me and my hair have a great relationship and if it isn't hanging on my shoulders I don't know if I could dance!

    I did see one of her students perform and it was like "Suraya light" so I think she may be cloning as much as teaching ... It is natural for students to dance in a similar style to their main teacher, but at some point there needs to be that push for them to leave the nest and find both outside influences and inner vision.

    Having said that, I still think she is a wonderful dancer; her technique really amazes me, and I am glad her artistic vision is out there.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea Deagon View Post
    The first time I saw her (I have only ever seen her on video) I was blown away, because the fusion piece she presented was haunting and beautiful. I also thought her beledi was quite powerful, but the affect question may have been minimized as some elements of a dance tend to be on video. I didn't see her being particularly expressive or happy, but there was a concentration and archetypal quality that made up for it. Again, a fusion piece, despite its traditional structure.
    Yes the same thing happend to me.

    I think in the US we are not as aware of the rabid fandom and controversy that is part of her scene in England. I taught at a festival in England some years ago and my piece was listed in the program as raqs sharqi. I did not realize that (at the time, at least) Suraya Hilal (or her followers) had co-opted the term and people were expecting to see something in that style. I ended up explaining many times in conversations for the rest of the festival that raqs sharqi was just the name of the dance, not any one franchise of it. I had some students ask me things like, "I noticed you danced a lot on the balls of your feet. I thought it was only traditional to dance flat-footed. Is it OK to dance on the ball?" I told them that if you eliminate that element of technique, you eliminate half the work of most of the Egyptian dancers who have performed in the past 40 years. They were surprised. (Now with video increasingly available, and since you can find anything on Youtube, I think dancers develop a well-rounded idea of the vast variations in style out there.)
    Yes. This has calmed down alot now since she spectacularly split from her students and formed Hilal Arts. It weakend the 'cause'. It was like some bizare cult.


    My impression was that some of the students (they were most likely students of her students) were being taught to exclude and reject a lot of the elements of belly dance that give it verve and life. To give a trivial but telling example, I was told that she insisted that students in her classes wear their hair up. Well, good lord, me and my hair have a great relationship and if it isn't hanging on my shoulders I don't know if I could dance!
    That was only one small part of it I can assure you. I started my earliest dance days with this organisation.


    I did see one of her students perform and it was like "Suraya light" so I think she may be cloning as much as teaching
    Cloning is exactly what it is... it still gives me the shivers.

    ... It is natural for students to dance in a similar style to their main teacher, but at some point there needs to be that push for them to leave the nest and find both outside influences and inner vision.
    Yes but perhaps not verbally beaten into it.



    Having said that, I still think she is a wonderful dancer; her technique really amazes me, and I am glad her artistic vision is out there.
    me too. I just think she should come with some sort of health warning.

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