Anyone know more about this teacher?

Kharmine

New member
I came across the web site of a belly dance teacher named Jodette in Sacramento who claims to be the "only authentic teacher in America," the "first teacher in America," the one who "brought Baladi and Candelabra" to the United States, etc. Jodette's Belly Dancing Academy

Which puzzles me because she says very little about her background, nothing about what makes her the "first" and the "only authentic" anything -- and I don't remember reading anything anywhere else that gives her the kind of credit she's claiming.

The web site is written in rather garbled English and doesn't provide much information about her. Several Gilded Serpent references say that she has had a dance studio in Sacramento since forever, that her last name is Johnson, that she was a child prodigy in Jordan, that she was looking for students at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire back in the day when Jamilla Salimpour's dance troupe was performing there in the '70s-- and that's about it.

I'm still piecing together belly dance history in the U.S. and would like to know where this teacher fits in. Anyone know anything more?
 

Kharmine

New member
wow that's a bit bold, huh?
Yes, that's what I thought. My teacher has been dancing since the '70s, when she learned from the legendary Dahlena, one of the pioneers of belly dance education in the United States, who is still alive and teaching.

As with many of the early teachers, Dahlena learned from Middle Eastern performers such as Liz and Lyn Gamal -- there weren't formal classes in her day so the imported performers and immigrant dancers were often sought out by those wanting to learn belly dance.

Then there's Serena Wilson and, of course, Morocco, who all learned "back in the day" in a similar way and still teach today. And perhaps a score of others.

Perhaps Jodette thinks of herself as the only authentic because-Middle-Eastern-by-birth-and-ancestry dance teacher, if she truly is from Jordan originally. But there's very little information about her, which makes me curious as I'd think she'd be better known. :think:
 

Aniseteph

New member
Hey I've heard of her I think - I downloaded a program off Radio Bastet - Vintage Belly Dance Music (vintage bellydance music, 1960's and 70's stuff) and I'm sure she was mentioned. Ooh yes, all coming back now - they played some instructional records by a Jodette.

Go here LP Cover Gallery and Track Listings - Page 12 and scroll down through the groovy 60's dancers for a picture. Must be the same one.

I'm starting to know way too much bellydanciana. :dance:
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Jodette Silhi Johnson

Could this be the teacher Aisha refers to as her teacher? I wonder...any comment Aisha?
Yasmine

Dear Yasmine,
Yes, I am very proud to say that Jodette was my first teacher. When you read her website,two things. First, in Arab culture, it is customary to exaggerate in a way that seems unacceptable to westerners much of the time. Arabs in general are quite flowery and verbose in their linguistic style. (They even exaggerate their modesty, if you can follow that!!) This goes for not only giving out compliments, but often in trying to express one's own achievements. We often don't like that very much here. Remember how mad people used to get at Mohammed Ali the boxer back when he was Cassius Clay and used to talk about how he was the Greatest??

I do not know how many times I have been told about my own dancing, "You are the only one", or heard about others "I am the only one" or "He is the only one". It does not literally mean what it says in English, but is just a term of high praise. I think I have explained this before in other areas of the site, but can't recall exactly where.

Jodette danced and/or sang under the name of Kamelia ( I forget which... I have not seen her in many years now), and in the States it made sense to her to sometimes bill herself as "The only Kamelia of Jordan". She worked on the Egyptian circuit. I guess I am so used to people speaking pidgeon English around me that I never have thought too much about it. My grandparents on one side barely spoke English, and my mother often gets her words out sideways though she has spoken English since she went to grade school, so it feels sort of normal to me.
Secondly, Jodette's English was really sketchy at the time I studied with her, and I do not really know how it is now, but in reading her site, I found that she writes about the same as when she used to speak. Parts of her classes were in English, parts in Arabic and parts in her version of English.
Her name is Jodette Silhi Johnson because she married a Texan named Johnson.
There was a time when she was really getting a LOT of flack from American dancers who were teaching and trying to discredit her because what she was teaching was so different from what they were passing off as
"authentic". She also was not always up on how to do business the American way. I have to add here that she was always very honest with me in every way. People were often dissatified with her business tactics, but usually did not have any criticism of her dancing. All one has to do is see Jodette dance to know she is the real item as it was in the 50s and 60s in Egypt. I met her in 1974. She may not always express herself in ways that are acceptable to the average American, but she knows her stuff. I think she is wonderful and I hope she is feeling well. She has to be getting up there in age now.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Kharmine

New member
Heh, I'm beginning to think one can never know enough!

I don't remember A'isha's teacher as having the last name of Johnson (got that from somewhere on The Gilded Serpent); that could just be wrong or she married a Westerner at some point and didn't use that surname professionally.

While I know publicity photos can be deceptive, the woman on the web site sure doesn't look old enough to have been a teen-ager during World War II. Heck, that would be about my mum's age, and she's in late 70s!

But Jodette of Sacramento also does look a lot like the woman on the old album covers at Radio Bastet (thanks, Aniseteph!). I didn't get the Kamelia connection until I Googled Jodette Kamelia and found this:
Legends of the Past

Unfortunately, you try to link to "Jodette's story" on the same page and you get an error message. So there's still not much info about her. I think where I saw her name on The Gilded Serpent it was about the early days of Jamilla Salimpour's troupe, Bal Anat, that performed at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in California in the 1970s. Of course, now I can't find that particular reference.

According to this web page, Jodette, also known as Kamelia of Jordan, danced with Madame Badia at her famous Cairo nightclub. The web page says that if you send money to Jodette in Sacramento, you get tapes about the "Legends of Egypt". So maybe this Jodette dropped "Kamalia" at some point but is the same one as on the old album covers.

When she came to the States or why she's thinks she's the "first" or the "only authentic teacher" I still don't know. The hunt goes on...:cool:
 

Kharmine

New member
I don't know how, but my previous post suddenly seems to have moved in the line. Oh well...

Maybe Jodette has an old picture of herself in her attic, slooowly aging as she keeps her own youthful appearance ... more power to her, whatever the reason. :clap:

It would be nice to know more about her, someone who has obviously been around since the early belly dance scene, regardless of what else she may claim. She hasn't written anything I can find (other than, possibly, instructions that came with those old albums), doesn't seem to have been interviewed at length any time recently, and has very, very little on her web site.

She'd be an excellent candidate for Salome to interview. I'd like to know more about how she learned to dance, the experience with Madame Badia's Casino (it would be great to finally read a firsthand account of what performing there was like!), other dancers she knew, how her practice of raqs sharqi evolved, and how she came to the United States -- just for a start.

She can't have been at odds with every American belly dance teacher in the early days. Maybe just on the West Coast, and the likes of Jamilla Salimpour.

Dahlena taught some of the first formal belly dance classes ever in the United States, in Chicago, and Serena in New York City. Not sure when Morocco first started teaching but she was early on, too. They all learned from actual Middle Eastern dancers. And today we have many more teachers who are able to study from authentic sources, here or abroad.

So one would think some kind friend would have convinced Jodette by now not to make claims on her web site that slight every other dance teacher in the United States. Maybe she doesn't realize that regardless of what she may have intended, that is certainly what comes across in English.
 
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Aziyade

New member
Her website has substantially changed in the past couple of years. It used to be kind of a mess, but full of interesting information. She sold around 30 compilations of old black and white movie performance footage of the Egyptian greats, and had three book-length typewritten manuscripts (in jumbled English) about her adventures. I saw one of the books but never bought it, and now I wish I had. :(

She ticked off some dancers in the area because her OLD website advertised that she had dancers for hire and only sent out the prettiest and youngest to perform -- or something to that effect. I'm glad to see she's changed that now :)
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Jodette

Dear Aziyade,
I have several of her booklets and some copies of her magazine "Binti Beledi", and she does tell about her life quite often. She states that Tahia Carioca is the one who encouraged her dance career. She started singing when she was 12. She had a great voice. I have an album on which she sings. She comes from a family of entertainers.
Jodette came to the states in 1960. She might be 80 years old by now. She was a contemproray of Jamila Salimpour, who is at least 80 if not older. Suhaila was born when Jamila was 40, and I think Suhaila is about 40 now.
Yeah, she often does try to sell things in the Egyptian way, hence we have her saying things about the "best", the "prettiest", etc. A first class western marketing expert she ain't!!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Kharmine

New member
Anyone know more about Jamila Salimpour? I understand that she was a circus performer, but she's given different stories about her ethnic background, how she learned to dance, even her husbands.

There's a whole slew of stories on The Gilded Serpent about the North Beach (San Francisco) belly dance scene in the '70s in which she and her Bal Anat company feature prominently. It's alleged that Jamila was pretty dictatorial and ruthless, particularly with students who went on to perform or teach independently without her blessing, but that she could be kind and supportive to people she liked, as well.

One gets the idea of some serious competition verging on war among belly dancers in Northern California in those days! I haven't seen the like in other parts of the country, although I'm sure it existed in one form or another.

I truly recommend the North Beach memories series, and wish there were more collections like this available: Welcome
 
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Aziyade

New member
Somewhere on these boards is a lengthy discussion about the early Bal Anat years -- and some of Jamila's students posted. You might also check Rashid's articles in Suhaila's newsletter. I'm sure the archives are on her site somewhere.

I think Jamila came from a circus family, but didn't really "get known" as a circus performer.

At the Bal Anat performance in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago we were treated to a home-made documentary (on 8mm film!) of the early days of Bal Anat and the Renn Faire scene. According to the documentary, Jamila was teaching out of her home in the early 70s. I don't know when she started, or when her students started dancing there, but by 1974 her students were officially performing at the Renn Faire.

From what I gather, Jamila was largely a self-taught dancer, who learned from watching old moves and the immigrant dancers in the clubs. I believe Suhaila said Jamila herself was dancing in the clubs in the 50s -- but don't quote me on that! She apparently took at least one dance class with Burt Balladine, and there ended up being some type of bad blood between them. She loved and adored Ibrahim Farrah and considered him her creative companion.

With most "star" type figures, there seems to be a certain amount of historical revisionism around their humble beginnings. I've heard of movie stars going to ridiculous lengths to make sure old high school photos were never published, or even "revising" their school transcripts! I don't believe Jamila did anything THAT unscrupulous, but I'm sure there's probably at least a bit of romanticism and misremembering of her early years. ;) If so, she's certainly not the only one of our "grande-dames" who's re-written her own autobiography once or twice.

As to her hostility regarding students who break off and teach, I can't speak to any specifics, but I know that Jamila put a lot of time and effort into cataloging and codifying her dance steps and terminology. If I had put that much effort into describing and naming steps and step families, it would really annoy me to have students break away and teach MY format without even making sure that what they were teaching was what I ACTUALLY TAUGHT!

I'm pretty sure there is a certain amount of annoyance on Jamila's part towards some major figures in the ATS movement, just from talking to Suhaila. If you're going to call a particular step the "Basic Egyptian" (which is a term Jamila coined) then why don't you do the step Jamila taught, instead of something else? That's a question Suhaila has posed, and it makes sense to me. It's like calling Warrior Pose in yoga "Downward Facing Dog." What???? Why change the name?

Plus, it's well known that ATS came from Jamila's format, however Carolena has never taken a class with Jamila. The farther removed you are from the source, the less accurate the information gets. Some people think Jamila is just being picky and bitchy, but I can totally see her point.

I teach Jamila Salimpour format, as I learned it from Suhaila. I think that's close enough to the source. Plus, when they do offer the Jamila certification, I'll be first in line to sign up to be "authorized" to use her name. To me, this makes perfect sense and is the right and proper thing to do.

Jamila has told Suhaila many times that she was sorry she didn't "own" the rights to her name, and that complaint has pushed Suhaila to do the certification program -- so that HER method will only be "officially" taught by someone who has actually studied with her and CONTINUES to study with her. No degredation of the signal. That's the idea anyway. From what I understand of the martial arts world, that's how it works there too. Again, to me this makes perfect sense.

I have a student right now who has had like, one year of classes and thinks she's good enough to teach. She is not. Any one on this board could watch her dance and recognize that. But even though I've told her I want her to have more training, to know more about the dance, the culture, the music, etc. -- ultimately I can't control what she does. If she wants to open a bellydance school, it's not like I can keep her from doing so. But I sure as heck won't be happy about it, and I WON'T be recommending her school. Does that make me ruthless? Or practical?

I have no idea what kind of hostility existed back then, but I can see the same arguments even here in the midwest. Students undercutting their teachers to get jobs. Undercutting other dancers. Dancers pretending to be the ultimate authority on all things , oh say Turkish -- when they're only had one 4-hour workshop on Turkish Orientale.

the more things change ...



Anyone know more about Jamila Salimpour? I understand that she was a circus performer, but she's given different stories about her ethnic background, how she learned to dance, even her husbands.

There's a whole slew of stories on The Gilded Serpent about the North Beach (San Francisco) belly dance scene in the '70s in which she and her Bal Anat company feature prominently. It's alleged that Jamila was pretty dictatorial and ruthless, particularly with students who went on to perform or teach independently without her blessing, but that she could be kind and supportive to people she liked, as well.

One gets the idea of some serious competition verging on war among belly dancers in Northern California in those days! I haven't seen the like in other parts of the country, although I'm sure it existed in one form or another.

I truly recommend the North Beach memories series, and wish there were more collections like this available: Welcome
 

sedoniaraqs

New member
Other than A'isha's praises as one of her early teachers, I have not heard many positive comments about Jodette. But I will say that the negative comments all deal with her business practices, not her actual dancing.

Apparently, she has an ongoing, terrible reputation among CA dancers of severely undercutting local prices and sending inadequately-trained students out to said undercut gigs. As in 6-week wonder types of students. And requiring that they only purchase costumes from her (comments about the costumes have not been good either).

She definitely sounds like an interesting character.

Sedonia
 

Kharmine

New member
I'm pretty sure there is a certain amount of annoyance on Jamila's part towards some major figures in the ATS movement, just from talking to Suhaila. If you're going to call a particular step the "Basic Egyptian" (which is a term Jamila coined) then why don't you do the step Jamila taught, instead of something else? That's a question Suhaila has posed, and it makes sense to me. It's like calling Warrior Pose in yoga "Downward Facing Dog." What???? Why change the name?
I understand what you're talking about, and I certainly feel for Jamila if she actually invented particular moves, gave them unique names, and then saw them used by others with no credit or different names.

But if Jamila didn't invent specific steps or moves, if they were already being used by other dancers, were common to, say, raqs sharqi or one of the older folkloric dance forms, then having the "right" to name 'em is moot, innit?

Guess I need to hunt up some Bal Anat videos, if I can find 'em...
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Jodette

Dear Sedonia and Aziyade,
Yes, she HAS got that reputation. I do not know how much is actually long standing prejudice against her and how much is real. I have only seen a few of her students dance, since she was up here in 1974 to dance at the World's Fair, and I studied with her during her time here, plus hired her for workshops.
In any of her dealings with me she was always honest. However, my mother once bought a costume from her for one of my sisters who danced and it was a mess when it finally arrived. Re her students, the one who really stands out in my mind is a girl named Hafiza who WAS quite young at the time, maybe 17, and she was a very good dancer. She came up with Jodette once. I saw others at the Fair but do not recall anyone other than a woman that Jodette had named Nefertiti, who was probably mid-20s and very lovely, and also a good dancer.
Stuff I have heard about Jamila Salimpour sometimes makes my hair curl...I might add I heard none of it from Jodette, though they were sworn enemies for many years. The person that comes to mind for me as having left Jamila's group and run into issues with J. is Nakish, who was or maybe even is a No. Cal. dancer. Rumor has it that she was the first to strike out on her own, but that might just be rumor. She was known more for her make-up than her dancing if I remember correctly...??? I know of more than one person who had arguments and break-ups with Jamila, but Nakish is one of the more famous ones. I happen to like Jamila very much, though I was happy to be there when she admitted that a lot of what she taught was not authentic, but she passed it off at the time as such. I got a lot of hostility over the years because I could easily see that much of what she was touting as "authentic" was not. What I will say in her defense is that she had guts to do what many others did not.
Re Suhaila: both her and Isabella are carrying on what in my generation was known as the "Salimpour mystique", meaning that they are building a belly dance dynasty.They do indeed change their history as they go along. Suhaila now claims that she never said she taught Egyptian dance. In the 80s I took workshops from her and can definately say for sure that she did claim she was teaching Egyptian dance. I was there when she said it. I like Suhaila alot as a person. She was really sweet to my daughter who has loved her dancing since she was a little girl. My daughter is chronically ill and has a very hard life. It meant a lot to her to see Suhaila in person and to meet her. Suhaila is such a kind person that she took quite a lot of time out of her own schedule to chat with my daughter. However, I think that she and her mother have both caused a lot of unnecessary confusion as far as the dancing goes. I know I am probably really stepping on some toes here, but if we could all only learn to be real with what we are doing and saying about the dance it would be so much better. The last time I saw Suhaila dance was about 3 years ago and she was so far into the jazz thing that it was not even recognizable to the Arab woman who went with me, as belly dance. What she did was great, as Suhaila always is, but very far removed from the soul of the dance, which is where it counts.
Regards,
A'isha

PS: After thinking about this for a few minutes, I think I would like to do an addendum. We often tend to put our favorite dancers on pedestals instead of thinking about them in terms of being human and having a few personal short comings. We need to start accepting them as human beings and getting over expecting them to be perfect. No one is, not even Suheir Zaki ( my personal dance hero along with Mouna) about whom I have heard some real zinger stuff from Arab freinds. The point is, in expecting perfection we expect too much.
 
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belly_dancer

New member
Dear Sedonia and Aziyade,
Suhaila now claims that she never said she taught Egyptian dance. In the 80s I took workshops from her and can definately say for sure that she did claim she was teaching Egyptian dance. I was there when she said it. Regards,
A'isha

PS: After thinking about this for a few minutes, I think I would like to do an addendum. We often tend to put our favorite dancers on pedestals instead of thinking about them in terms of being human and having a few personal short comings. We need to start accepting them as human beings and getting over expecting them to be perfect. No one is, not even Suheir Zaki ( my personal dance hero along with Mouna) about whom I have heard some real zinger stuff from Arab freinds. The point is, in expecting perfection we expect too much.
A'isha... thank you for your candid-ness (is that a word??)
yes, I think we do tend to "idolize" those who have opened up new worlds for us....
I feel... as a teacher.. (& I tell my students... oooh & now that I look back... my children too!!!)... "I know SOO little, & what I do know is constantly changing... but that MY JOB is that of a catalyst.... to encourage your (the students) curiousity... and for you (the student (& child!)) to research & find your OWN truth in the dance (life!)"
on the same note.... my students are ALWAYS asking me to do a video... but I am always hesitant... what I say today I may not agree with (as I find out more info. etc) tomorrow... so being "committed" to video always scares me!!! (though I better hurry up... so as to preserve on film what "youth" I have left;) ).... Suhaila (as one who has actually "committed" to video plus so much more) has done SOOOOOO much... maybe she forgets she "taught Egyptian"!!!!!
PEACE!
 

Aziyade

New member
I understand what you're talking about, and I certainly feel for Jamila if she actually invented particular moves, gave them unique names, and then saw them used by others with no credit or different names
No, she never claimed to have "invented" them -- she watched and copied and studied and was one of, if not the first in her area, to organize the steps into logical "families" and give them somewhat logical names.

"Basic Egyptian" is one of the names she gave the movement that is a step and a touch with a hip twist. She named it thus because it was one of the basic travelling steps she observed, and she called all the twist-based steps the Egyptian series --- thus, this simple step was Basic Egyptian.

What is now called "Basic Egyptian" in a tribal format is sort of what Jamila called the Pivot-Shift-Step. There are other instances where she named a step one thing and tribal renamed the same step with another of her existing names. Suhaila chalks this up to signal degredation -- the farther you were from the source, the more the message got garbled.

I have seen this phenomenon firsthand with dancers like Dina and Raqia Hassan. Bigname dancer comes to town, a few teachers go to the workshop. Those teachers go back home and teach "what they learned" only it's not QUITE the same thing. A colleague or student of theirs teaches someone else those steps and it's even farther from what Raqia ACTUALLY taught.

It becomes an issue when people start saying "I teach a Raqia/Dina Technique workshop" and they're two or three times removed from Dina's or Raqia's actual instruction.



But if Jamila didn't invent specific steps or moves, if they were already being used by other dancers, were common to, say, raqs sharqi or one of the older folkloric dance forms, then having the "right" to name 'em is moot, innit?
It's not really about the Right to Name a step. Jamila can't figure out why they changed what to her is perfectly logical terminology, and why SOME persist in saying they teach Salimpour format when it's pretty obvious they've never actually studied her format. I gather she doesn't appreciate it, and that's her right.

I can tell you this -- I like the Jamila format. It makes sense to me, and it's the perfect introduction to folkloric movements and Old-school Am Cab. Plus, it's easy to start with a basis in her format and then ease in modern Egyptian technique and styling. It works for me because it makes sense. I HAVE taken some workshops with people who Claim to be teaching Salimpour format, and frankly it's not. I don't know where they're getting their info, but it's not Salimpour format as Jamila or Suhaila is teaching it.


Guess I need to hunt up some Bal Anat videos, if I can find 'em...
Good luck! There are a few bootleg early videos of Suhaila, but very very very little outside of maybe the personal collections of original Bal Anat cast. Remember everything back then was done on 8mm or reel-to-reel, and a lot of it degraded before anybody ever thought about transferring it to videotape. Suhaila said Jamila never liked appearing on camera and they're both sorry they have so little in film footage or photos of Baby Suhaila and 70s Jamila. That "documentary" she showed us is rare indeed.

Suhaila has said they basically had to quietly "sneak out" of the house to dance at the Fair. They had to get ready in the basement, and couldn't make a big production about leaving, so that way Daddy and the rest of the family could sort of pretend that they WEREN'T going out to dance in public.

Of course, my hubby is fond of saying "Hindsight is 50-50" -- and you can always take personal history with a certain grain of salt, but I've met Arab men even today who have the attitude Suhaila's father did, so I can believe it.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Jamila, etc

Dear Aziyade,
I call my trochanter based movement, what many people call hip drops or hip lifts, Basic Egyptian. I also call all other the other movements in my 10 fundementals "Basic". It has nothing at all to do with Jamila. I do not use her method, or Suhaila's or anyone's. I had to create a method and that was the wording that best described what I saw the Egyptians using as their basic hip movement.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aziyade

New member
A'isha, unfortunately I haven't seen your video, so I don't know if what you call Basic Egyptian is the same step as what Jamila called it, but it might be. I don't know how you came up with the name -- could be independent discovery? Dunno.

I know Dahlena, Veda Sereem, Serena Wilson, Marta Schill, and Ozel Turkbas (who all had instructional "how-to bellydance" books in the 70s) never referred to the step-hip as Basic Egyptian. (Of course Ozel wouldn't, but I have to include her because I think she's so cute.)

The litmus test is usually "maya" and "Turkish drop" -- if you've ever heard the vertical hip figure 8 done from upward to downwards referred to as a Maya or Amaya or Maia or any variation of, it's a reference to Jamila's terminology. She named that step after Maya Meduar or Maya Medwar (I've seen it spelled two different ways) because it was a step Maya did a lot of.
Turkish drop was Jamila's term for something a specific Turkish dancer did that she thought was so dramatic.

What's too funny is that I was just taking a workshop with a Cairo native who used to teach in California but who moved to Kentucky (!!!) yay for us! and anyway, SHE referred to that step as a "Maya." I asked her what it meant and she said she didn't know, but that it was what she'd heard it called. I told her the origin and she thought it was funny.



Dear Aziyade,
I call my trochanter based movement, what many people call hip drops or hip lifts, Basic Egyptian. I also call all other the other movements in my 10 fundementals "Basic". It has nothing at all to do with Jamila. I do not use her method, or Suhaila's or anyone's. I had to create a method and that was the wording that best described what I saw the Egyptians using as their basic hip movement.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Movement names etc.

A'isha, unfortunately I haven't seen your video, so I don't know if what you call Basic Egyptian is the same step as what Jamila called it, but it might be. I don't know how you came up with the name -- could be independent discovery? Dunno.

I know Dahlena, Veda Sereem, Serena Wilson, Marta Schill, and Ozel Turkbas (who all had instructional "how-to bellydance" books in the 70s) never referred to the step-hip as Basic Egyptian. (Of course Ozel wouldn't, but I have to include her because I think she's so cute.)

The litmus test is usually "maya" and "Turkish drop" -- if you've ever heard the vertical hip figure 8 done from upward to downwards referred to as a Maya or Amaya or Maia or any variation of, it's a reference to Jamila's terminology. She named that step after Maya Meduar or Maya Medwar (I've seen it spelled two different ways) because it was a step Maya did a lot of.
Turkish drop was Jamila's term for something a specific Turkish dancer did that she thought was so dramatic.

What's too funny is that I was just taking a workshop with a Cairo native who used to teach in California but who moved to Kentucky (!!!) yay for us! and anyway, SHE referred to that step as a "Maya." I asked her what it meant and she said she didn't know, but that it was what she'd heard it called. I told her the origin and she thought it was funny.

Dear Aziyade,
I use the term Maya, only to tell my students that they will hear this particular sway movement called that once in a while. They will also hear it called bicycle now and again. I also name movements after dancers occasionally, when I am teaching their version of a movement, but much of the time, I refer to movements as what they are, without benefit of specific names as such. For me, Maya is a variation on a sway movement and it usually has a number ( as in Sway variation # 4, for example) or may also called be referred to as downward sway. Since I do not use Turkish drop, I never refer to it. I developed a methodology of teaching Egyptian belly dnce based movement families or concepts. Everything that the Egyptian belly dancer does is one of ten things. ( My personal opinion is that you see these same 10 movement families in both Turkish and Lebanese belly dance as well, but I do not claim expertise in either of these areas.) I feel that there are many good teaching methods out there and that mine is just one of them. Mine, of course, makes the most sense to me, but someone else's probably makes the most sense to them. I am not one of those who wants to see a universal language put into place because I think that learning in the way that we did helps us to LOOK at movement more deeply instead of just cueing off a name and missing the subtler context of dance movement. Most of the Arabs that I have studied with do not give the movements names and often not even to dances. For example, for Raqs Najdi Hadith, Leila and I came up with the name becasue it had no name. I thought the specific dance needed a name to express that it was different from Samri in general. I will not be the least bit offended when people who pass on the dance refer to it as that, nor expect credit for the name. It is MEANT to be used for that specific thing. I think that the "Name" thing is very indicative of the western mind's way of organizing life and that, to, can really affect the way the dance is done.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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