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  1. #1
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Default Good for a hafla but not for the general public?

    Once in a while, we'll talk about types of belly dance performances that are "good for a hafla but not for the general public".

    Examples I often hear mentioned in this vein:

    • Performance by beginning students
    • Performances by newcomers to soloing
    • Dance of the seven veils
    • Fusion of belly dance with burlesque


    Now, one thing that occurs to me is that maybe certain dance types shouldn't be performed even at a 'belly dance" hafla. Why? Because a lot of the people who go to haflas are beginning students, their friends, their families, etc. I would consider a beginning student to be "general public" because they are new enough to our dance to not yet have much knowledge of what we're all about.

    On my list above, I'm thinking that of course belly dance performances by beginning students and new soloists are appropriate to haflas. But some of the fusions? I'm thinking that even a normal belly dance hafla isn't really a good place for those. A beginner who doesn't yet have enough experience with our dance to know what is belly dance vs what is not could be very confused by fusions.

    I think it's better if fusion performances are done at a theme event whose entire purpose is to allow for fusion and experimentation. And I think such a theme event shouldn't be called "belly dance", but rather "performance art" or "world dance fusion".

    What do others think?

  2. #2
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Well, you certainly have a point, but I don't think haflas should always play to the lowest level of expertise, either. Hairs can be split to the point where nothing of the original hair remains, and sometimes we are in danger of doing this in our fervor to keep belly dance "pure" or "authentic" or whatever term is currently preferred. Beginners are going to get confused, no matter what, and explanations in one venue are likely as valuable as explanations in another.

  3. #3
    Member SmilingMarie's Avatar
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    Shira, what an interesting topic. Shanazel - I think I agree with you.
    At the haflas I have a hand in arranging I always make sure that all participants in the show inform organizers of what they will be performing (also to avoid that twp performers use the same music etc) AND that this is somehow conveyed to the audience. Ie if the audience will be treated to a soulful Oum Kalthoum they should know (and maybe even be treated to a summary of the lyrics). If a beginner troupe is on I know that they (the troupe) often prefer the audience to know that they are indeed beginners (maybe to lower expectations and with it the nerves of the dancers). Likewise, if a fusion number is coming up, this should be properly introduced.

    A very embarrasing example comes to mind at a large bellydance show I attended (open to all levels). Participants were not screened or introduced and all of the sudden a group of ladies performing what can only be described as 'sexual dancing' took to the stage much to the shock and horror of the audience (well - this is my point of view, of course!)... With no introduction nobody knew what to think (can't imagine what ppl new to bellydance and their poor families mustn't have thought). I think the organizer might have started asking participants what they will perform (I hope so!)

  4. #4
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    Oh Shira that would be lovely but I'm afraid our local haflas would be very short indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Think you know my opiniuon on DOTSV, Shira from discussion on Bhuz.

    But to answer your question. I think that what goes on at a hafla is very different concern to what is put before the GP.
    Haflas are for the community to have fun together and for dancers of all experiences to show off what they have learnt/been practising.
    Even so I think that dancer/students/teachers should do their best at haflas to be entertaining and tasteful. Their audience albeit dancers hae paid and can be discerning!

    Comedy is best left to the skilled.

    We are performing a dance that belongs to another culture and if we are dancing for an outside audience we have to be careful not to misrepresent it but I do not like to see it taken too far from its' origins be tht Cairo or San Francisco in whatever setting.
    You can still have fun and be serious about the quality of your dance and presentation.

    I was at a hafla recently where I was asked about my music..."It sounds like it was from an old foreign film!" Yes it was from the Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema! I was an oddity. I think one other teacher danced to a more tradtional track.This wasn't a concern as everyone did well rehearsed and entertaining fusions and were well costumed. But put acts like that before the untutored eye and you aught to do a lot of explaining.

    Another problem I think is the tendancy to jump on the novelty, the latest prop. instead of trying to put on a neat and joyous piece of bellydance.

    I also dislike to see people adopt a costume style and not match that to music or steps. For eg. Tribal costuming is very appealing to many students so we don the Kuchi and tassels and gulp...I see no ATS in any shape or form. Thinking back a few years I remember seeing a troupe wearing Indian dresses dancing a few tribal steps (badly) to Mohammed Abdel Wahab!
    I think teachers should hae a sense of responsibilty to the culture and encourage their solo dancers to feel the same way but in the end it's difficult to straightjacket students.

    More and more we are exposed to good practise and we should be endeavouring to raise standards in whatever setting.

    At the another hafla I attended I mentioned to another dancer I needed to freshen up and lay on another layer of slap (make-up to you foreigners0 "Oh I never bother with that" was the reply. Er you should bother..at a hafla if you chose to perform you are not just a partygoer but an entertainer.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    But to answer your question. I think that what goes on at a hafla is very different concern to what is put before the GP.
    I completely agree! Yes, I agree there should be more freedom in what we do at haflas than in what we do for the public.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    Haflas are for the community to have fun together and for dancers of all experiences to show off what they have learnt/been practising.
    Even so I think that dancer/students/teachers should do their best at haflas to be entertaining and tasteful. Their audience albeit dancers hae paid and can be discerning!
    I actually do think there's room for fusions at haflas, despite what I said in my original post. But I think that fusions that come across as sexually aggressive or otherwise envelope-pushing might not be the best choice even for a hafla, due to the fact that even haflas have beginning students, friends, and families in attendance.

    I have heard tales of people who took family members with them to haflas and when highly-sexualized burlesque/belly dance acts came on it destroyed all the work they had done to educate their families that belly dance is not about titillation.

  7. #7
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Sexually aggressive fusion. Yeah, that could spoil the evening for a lot of people, for sure.

    I went to a hafla once wherein a dancer performed in an extremely aggressive- to the point of being threatening- manner. I found myself actually trying to move my chair backwards during the dance when she glared at me. Later I made a point of going over to meet her and discovered her to be a friendly, somewhat shy individual who obviously had no idea how her dance persona came across. What was actually stage fright looked like hostility.

  8. #8
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    I gave this alot of thought. I think if everyone is aware of the types of things that are being presented at the Hafla, then there isn't a problem with having various types of fusion, ATS, etc. However, I believe that the night should be advertised as a fusion, experimental, or world dance rather than a belly dance hafla. I have been at shows that were associated with workshops where people got upset over the numbers that ended up in the viewers area of discomfort either due to music or dance or whatever. I just think in the Hafla's I've been too recently, there is such a swing from the more traditional dance to fusion and the spirit of belly dance is getting lost.

  9. #9
    Moderator Safran's Avatar
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    Hmm, when I first read the title of the thread it was more about that haflas are a more accepting environment for different things. As the majority of the audience alreayd takes some interest in dance, you shouldn't worried they'll get bored through your very emotional piece on OK or some no-sequins-no-flash folcloric dance.

    I do understand your point, Shira, because the dancer-events are the place you come see your local/regional idols and get an idea of the latest trends. However, it is up to the organisers of these events to ensure the quality of their event by selection at first (that also assumes they know the dance community they operate in). And then making sure they communicate what the performers are doing to the audience.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    difficult question. I guess I stand by the old viewpoint that almost anything goes as long as it has the "right" introduction. If the performers have been careful enough to research and "correctly" name heir style then I would assume they have thought it through and taken an active and aware choice of performance.
    I'm going to a recital this weekend where there will be performed some kind of group gothic fusion with dog leashes and whips (? maybe, can't remember now actually) and young girls crawling around on the floor. Interesting to see how it will be presented and how it will be recieved.
    immer glimmer

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