Anyone know more about this teacher?

charity

New member
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.

in regards to jodette, sounds like she put herself on this pedestal. i dont expect perfection from people but honesty- yes, its a tiny little thing.
:rolleyes:
 

Aziyade

New member
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.
Don't you knock SOHAIR ZAKI!!!!! She is PERFECT!!!!!

All those people who say otherwise are LIARS!!!!!!!

LIARS LIARS LIARS!

I will not concede that Sohair is anything other than an angel. I refuse. I worship her. She's on a pedestal and I ain't taking her down.

:D
 

Aniseteph

New member
-- 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 was told maya (the reverse vertical 8 that goes out and down) was from the Arabic for water, because it looks like water or waves on the sea. No idea if it's true though!
 

Aziyade

New member
I was told maya (the reverse vertical 8 that goes out and down) was from the Arabic for water, because it looks like water or waves on the sea. No idea if it's true though!
Wad- and Ma' are the usual Arabic root words for water, like a body of water. Mai or Mayim is Hebrew (sort of) for water, and in Sudanese dialect, the word for water sounds more like the word "maya" without the emphasis on the last "a" sound (or so I'm told). It's a stretch but maybe ...

I think this is one of those convenient coincidences, though. I've only ever heard Americans give this etymology for the word Maya. Given Jamila's habit of naming OTHER steps after people, I think her version of how it came to be is more likely.

I can't remember when Jamila's book was published, but if somebody was REALLY interested in researching it, you could look for references outside of No Cal before 1970 or so. There's an old Arabic folk song called "waiya waiya" which has to do with water, and so I guess that could pretty easily be transformed into "Maya".


A'isha, your Arabic is way better than mine -- what say you?
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Dancer, etc.

Dear Charity,
Well, first you would have to prove she has been dishonest. I hear comments constantly about the quality of stuff coming out of Egypt. I also hear that their way of doing business is quite different from ours. I, personally have not had her do or say anything that I thought was dishonest, only pretty much different from the way I would personally do it. I would never send a piece of shoddy merchandise out, but then, I have received some from companies that are indeed reputable. Again, if you take a moment to look at the cultural differences, Jodette has NOT put herself on a pedestal, she is just doing the usual cultural stuff as far as how she markets herself. Re the business end, I can not say if she is dishonest or not. I can only say that my dealings with her were very good. I can't say that I would be special to her in any way and she may not even remember me, but she still treated me very well.


Dear Aziyade,
I just called one of my Arab friends to ask and she says that MOYa or Ma' is water. Ma' is the proper term and Moya is slang. She further said that the name Maya does not mean water, and is pronounced differently than Moya. She does not know what it means in Arabic, but in Russian it means "dream or illusion", she thinks. ( Anatoliy??) The word Moya rhymes with joy and Maya rhymes with eye. She agrees that Maya would not be a name meaning water.

Regards to you both,
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.

in regards to jodette, sounds like she put herself on this pedestal. i dont expect perfection from people but honesty- yes, its a tiny little thing.
:rolleyes:
 
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Kharmine

New member
Well, have to say that as a journalist I wish that some of these dancers and dance teachers who have been around a long time and could offer so much to historical research had better reputations for veracity! :confused:

Perfection of character is not the point. Somebody once wrote a nasty book about Mother Theresa and managed to make her look like a narrow-minded opportunist. We all have different standards of what we consider acceptable behavior.

We also tend to overlook flaws more in people who are our friends and are charming and agreeable to us. That's only human.

But, IMHO, when considering someone as a teacher, business practitioner or source of important information we should look at the overall picture as objectively as possible.

I tend to stay away from people who, no matter how charming they are, don't have reputations for ethical business dealings or for telling the truth consistently even when it's not to their advantage.

Learned that lesson all too well as a fledgling journalist (although I admit I still trust people too much on many occasions). Once you've had to apologize to your boss for not challenging someone's dubious testimony, you never forget it! :(
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Maya

Dear Suhair,
Often a name or word has different meanings in different languages. For example, my dog has the human name of Una. In celtic, it means lamb. In Latin in means unity or one. In Russian it also has a meaning, but I forget what it is right now.
In Arabic there is the name Faye, which means Shade, and in Gaelic if means something else all together.
Regards,
A'isha

'Maya' is also a Sanskrit word: Dictionary of common Sanskrit spiritual words - K - M

There's a George Harrison song called 'Maya Love'.
 

Aziyade

New member
Well, have to say that as a journalist I wish that some of these dancers and dance teachers who have been around a long time and could offer so much to historical research had better reputations for veracity!
I think the problem is twofold:

1. Dancers like Jodette and Morocco and Jamila -- the grande-dames in our world -- probably never had any clue that people 40 years later would be interested in their memoirs and stories of how things used to be. So there probably wasn't much impetus to document exact dates and names and such.

2. As my hubby is fond of saying, "Hindsight is 50-50." The farther removed we are from a memory, the more likely we are to sort of "fudge" that memory into something that we maybe PREFERRED happened instead of what DID happen, or our perspective changes, so we see (at 40 years old) events as having different causes than we might have seen as a 20-year old.

For the longest time, I thought my family lived in Mexico for two years when I was a very small child. I can remember the house, the colors of the market, the dresses the women wore, and I knew I spoke baby Spanish as I was learning English. But wasn't I surprised, after finally talking to some of our family members a couple of months ago, to learn that we didn't live there for two years -- we lived there for about 3 months until my Dad found housing in Texas, just over the border, where we spent the rest of the time.

It doesn't make me a liar, does it? Because I didn't intend to lie. I honestly thought I remembered it that way. My hubby and I have "misremembered moments" in our 18 years together quite a bit. It's like the song -- "Ah yes, I remember it well."

Deliberate editing of one's resume doesn't necessarily make one a liar either, as long as you don't go too far. I keep having it pointed out to me that only VERY RECENTLY has anyone in the USA really cared about "styles" of bellydance, and staying authentic to one particular style or ethnicity.

In the 60s and 70s American dancers borrowed dance elements from everywhere in the perceived "Middle East" including what they saw in the old Egyptian movies, which was essentially them imitating us (Hollywood -- Busby Berkeley style theatre.)

Some dancers who "grew up" and spent their formative years learning this eclectic style understood it to be an "Arabic" style of dance. Or maybe they copied Egyptian movie choreography and thought "Oh I'm dancing Egyptian style." Was it? well, yes -- as they UNDERSTOOD what constituted Egyptian style.

We have a much different understanding of what is and is not Egyptian style now, but this is today, and we have the benefit of Shareen el Safy and Sahra Kent and all the lovely Egyptian teachers to come over here and say, "No, you're confused -- THIS is real Egyptian style."

I've been collected the Florida-based "Festival of the Nile" concert videos for some time. They've been doing this particular festival for around 25 years or more, so if you watch the tapes in order, you can see a progression of the dance as it was understood at that particular time. I think this it one of the coolest ways to actually "GET" how the American dancers' understanding of the dance evolved through the time -- and into the modern era where we like to catalog everything as being specifically this or that.

Jamila Salimpour has been harshly judged by some, I feel, for teaching "hokum" as true ethnic dance. But I want everyone to remember that this was the early 1970s, and the resources for learning REAL ethnic dance were scant at best. Film footage was shot on reel-to-reel 8 and 16mm film, and was expensive to process. Home moves shot at Egyptian weddings in Cairo weren't sold on ebay. You didn't have Dahlal International selling 150 different Egyptian performance videos.

Jamila used National Geographic as her main inspiration. Well, it wasn't until recently that we started to understand that NG was largely orientalist BS. (I was raised thinking NG was second only to the direct word of G_d. Of COURSE you could believe everything you read in NG! Why think otherwise?)

She also used those "scenes and types" postcards -- which again, people weren't widely aware that those photographs were completely staged until -- at least the mid 80's, when researchers started looking at them critically.

If an Algerian dancer told Jamila, "this is a step from the Ouled Nail dance" -- well, in 1972, why would Jamila assume she was lying or inaccurate in any way? She's Algerian; thus, she should know! And it's not like Jamila can call the local university Ouled Nail expert to check the source.

Besides, outside of a few actual dance and music scholars like Morocco, NOBODY CARED if it was "authentic." It was supposed to be entertainment. Caring about authenticity is a recent thing. Yes Jamila later admitted that what she taught was hokum. But how many of her former students stood up and complained "you LIED to us!!!" ? They didn't care. They just wanted to dance.

A lot of us have a different attitude today. There's a strong push to preserve the authentic, and to prevent certain region-specific dances from dying out. But other than with a few isolated individuals, this attutude was NOT prevalent in the past, or even if a person WAS interested in stalking the authentic, their resources were terribly limited.

We of the internet generation are terribly spoiled. I can see dance clips on Youtube that I NEVER would have encountered in my daily life. I can talk to actual Turkish people, and take WORKSHOPS (!!!!!!!!!!!) with real Turkish dancers!!!!! How cool is THAT????? (Thank you Paul Monty!) So of COURSE I'm going to be a snob about learning "Authentic" Turkish dance, because that option is actually AVAILABLE to me.


But back to veracity:

When I started performing, I loved old Turkish music so I decided I was going to be a "Turkish-style" dancer. The only thing remotely Turkish about my dancing back then was the music and a few movements I stole from an old Tulay Caraca video. I was Am Cab with a Turkish stage name. But as I UNDERSTOOD Turkish dance at that time, I was DOING Turkish!

It was only when I started to learn a little more about regional Egyptian styles that I began to look critically at my "Turkish" dancing and realized it wasn't quite right. Benny Hill could put on a dress and a wig and talk in a high-pitched voice, but that didn't make him a woman. I could put on a 9/8 and do the finger waggle, but it wasn't Turkish dance.

But there still exists video of me, and programs with my dance description as "Turkish" -- and I can't go back and edit that, now that I know better. I would imagine that a lot of our dancers and teachers who have "been around" for a while are trying to do a little editing themselves. I don't blame them -- they're just trying to adjust to what they NOW know about the dance, instead of being held to what they THOUGHT they knew years ago.

Good lord, this rambles on forever...!
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Jamila, dance, etc.

Dear Aziyade,
I know a lot of people who do care that they were misled by Jamila, and since then by others. Some of the people who have told me how much they had to "unlearn" in order to dance authentically are indeed VERY unhappy about it. To spend one's time, money and guts and soul to learn something, only to be told years later that it was not real has been pretty difficult for some people.

I was fortunate to have started with Jodette precisely because she understood the dance from an Arab perspective. I got from the beginning that something was just "Off" somehow in a lot of what was being represented as belly dance on the West Coast. It took me some years to put my finger on it, and I am sure that I was not alone in having this feeling.

That being said, I was fortunate to have started when I did, because the dances from the Middle East and North Africa were just being brought back at about the time I started, by people like Morocco and A'isha Ali, there was an influx of the first Arab students into the American universities, and there were more immgirants to the U.S. from Arab countreis, so I was in a prime postion to learn a lot from a lot of different sources. I took full advantage of that.

I did study with people who were teaching what was then just called "bellydance". I spent about 5 years floundering around wondering what was wrong...why I wasn't seeing it right, etc. Then the magic thing happened and I got to see a video of Sohair Zaki. I got myself in tune with what Jodette had taught me and on track, and have not looked back. I had a few things to "unlearn" myself, so I can sympathize with those who studidd and thought they were getting the real thing. I think we can give Jodette credit for being ahead of her time on that since by 1974 she was already clearly defining her dance as "Egyptian" in order to point out that she was teaching authentic dance and not "hokum". Of course, she pissed off some people. Jodette hersef was probably not any angel, either.

One of the probelms with many of those dancers from the Jamila generation was they were afraid to utter these three little words: "I don't know". Rather than admit they did not really understand what they were doing, many of them wanted to appear to be the biggest and best authority in the field, and claim that they knew all about all the dances.( I see this as a continuing trend when I see people who have been dancing less than 5 years claiming to teach about 20 different dances when they have barely had time to begin to learn one!!) It became very competitive and pretty ugly all up and down the West coast and from what Morocco has said, back East as well.

So,the dance legacy then became fraught with competition and angst and a foundation of nonsense. We see where that has led, and today we get are graced with like Sadie and Kaya, Pirate belly dance, belly dance mixed with everything and anything and its all "okay". Except that we can't get recognized by any other dance form as having legitimacy because we don't even know what we are doing ourselves much of the time. People who have tried hard to make sure they stay within the realm of reality where the dance is concerned are often considered to be nasty purists who have no right to restrict the creativity of other people. People who could care less about the dance are out there doing whatever they want in its name. Our audiences walk away about twice as confused as when they walk in, after seeing performances of "Bellynesian" and Scottish bellydance.

If those first dancers had taken the time to be real with what they were doing, I think the dance would be much more respected than it is now, and people would understand the importance of authentic dance. I think that fusions and creative endeavours within the dance would be attempted with a lot more intelleigence and knowledge if the first dancers had only put their egos aside and taken care of the dance itself. I can say that I am encouraged that people are now taking the time to at least consider that the ethnic dances as they come from countries of origin are important, and we finally are giving some thought to stopping calling it all "belly dance".

Regards,
A'isha
 
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Maria_Aya

New member
This is a great thread !!!
Love reading the history of the dance at States, doesnt have anything to say about it, cause i dont know, but love the conversation between you guys.
Kisses maria aya:)
 

charity

New member
Dear Charity,
Well, first you would have to prove she has been dishonest. I hear comments constantly about the quality of stuff coming out of Egypt. I also hear that their way of doing business is quite different from ours. I, personally have not had her do or say anything that I thought was dishonest, only pretty much different from the way I would personally do it. I would never send a piece of shoddy merchandise out, but then, I have received some from companies that are indeed reputable. Again, if you take a moment to look at the cultural differences, Jodette has NOT put herself on a pedestal, she is just doing the usual cultural stuff as far as how she markets herself. Re the business end, I can not say if she is dishonest or not. I can only say that my dealings with her were very good. I can't say that I would be special to her in any way and she may not even remember me, but she still treated me very well.

Regards to you both,
A'isha
actually i would never try to disprove/discredit her. if i believed someone/anyone had any knowledge to offer i would take it without judgement, though with a bit of reservation.

everyone has much to offer in some way, even a dancer that is not so good can help you to realize your goals or style. perhaps that is naive.

though i would hate to study for years and like mentioned above would be very upset to realize it was not in proper form/technique. i'm hoping that i can remain flexible throughout all my years of learning dance so that i do not get fixated on what may change with more experience.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

Dear Charity,
What I have found as I have traveled through this journey called "Middle Eastern Dance" is that if the same themes keep occuring over and over again within the realm of authentic dance, then it can be called the reality of the dance. For example, no matter what is worn, no matter what movements are used or not used, no matter what western enhancements there are in the dance or the music, in authentic dance, it is always clear that the style is Turkish, Egyptian or Lebanese. Each style is clearly what it is and has its own truth and spirit. This is also true of all of the folkoirc dances from various locations. In talking with natives, if we hear the same thing from 10 different, unrelated people, it probably has some validity. If not, take everything with a grain of salt until further proven. When someone says something, always, always look for further validation. There are some few things you will know are truth regardless, because after awhile you sort of grow an instinct with enough exposure. I guess this would be another case of "intelligence guided by experience". I found that after about 10 years, my knowledge base did not change at the fundamental levels, but instead has been added to. The truth of the dance is always and the essence does not change.
Regards,
A'isha
 

belly_dancer

New member
I think the problem is twofold:
(your post #29)
Good lord, this rambles on forever...!
VERY well said..... (oops! THE WHOLE POST.. not the part about rambling!!;) )
along those same lines, I am probably doing a much better job raising my last child than I did with my 1st!!! (luckily she turned out great!!) but I think we all do the best we can with the knowledge we have AT the time.. and if it weren't for the Jamilas of the world, our beloved dance would probably still be very obscure, maybe even "extinct"!
 

Kharmine

New member
Personally, it's hard for me to accept a double standard in any kind of business or education even if the people involved are charming and have done some good things.

I really don't care if it's considered part of the culture of "show biz" or of another country -- if they have corrected some of the misinformation they invented or fueled, but not all of it, they are still part of the problem, not the solution, of educating people about belly dance.

We have dancer-teachers who have pioneered positive things about belly dance and kept it alive through good times and bad without over-hyping themselves, deliberately perpetuating myths or indulging in shoddy business practices.

Unfortunately, they don't tend to get as much attention and credit as their more colorful and inventive colleagues. Maybe they don't feel they have to keep insistently honking their own horns loudly to drown out competing voices. They've taken the time and effort to learn from quality sources, they've remained honest and considerate, they feel their lives and work speak for themselves.

And IMHO, to people who care about such things, they do.
 

charity

New member
kharmine:

i can see your point especially in regards to veteran/seasoned belly dancers.

for me and my situation with teachers so far and few and as a beginner, i dont do a character analysis, i would take what i can get, i can work under/for/with the biggest bitch in the business, suck it up and take it like cake, uh yea MOSTLY but there are exceptions cause i consider the occasional cat fight for the sport of it. the fact that she may be an unsavory bitch has little/no impact on me or my studies when options are so limited.

fortunately worst case scenarion is only hypothetical. the teach i finally did find is the SHIZIT. she has a good attitude, tolerates my giggling during class, keeps me focused, etc etc.
 

Kharmine

New member
kharmine:

i can see your point especially in regards to veteran/seasoned belly dancers.

for me and my situation with teachers so far and few and as a beginner, i dont do a character analysis, i would take what i can get, i can work under/for/with the biggest bitch in the business, suck it up and take it like cake, uh yea MOSTLY but there are exceptions cause i consider the occasional cat fight for the sport of it. the fact that she may be an unsavory bitch has little/no impact on me or my studies when options are so limited.

fortunately worst case scenarion is only hypothetical. the teach i finally did find is the SHIZIT. she has a good attitude, tolerates my giggling during class, keeps me focused, etc etc.
Life is a trade-off. If one does have choices, picking someone with a good character as opposed to a dubious one is always the better bet, whether it's a dance teacher or a plumber, because you want to be sure you're going to be treated right and given correct information as much as possible.

And because the ones who have been busy building careers on misleading info, shoddy business practices and mis-education don't need any more support.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I suppose we could say that AmCab and American Oriental are the results of massive misunderstanding, misinterpretation, misrepresentation, and misguided teachers. Even so, the genre turned out to be something quite beautiful and worth perserving in its own right, though authentic Middle Eastern Style it is not.

This thread is wonderful, marvelous- Don't Stop! Don't Stop!
 

Aziyade

New member
Completely off-topic on the whole Am Cab thing

A'isha, I'd LOVE to hear from former students of our grande-dame teachers who were dissatisfied with what was being taught -- for my own interest and possibly for an article on standards. If you can send them my way, I'd be appreciative of it. No names will be mentioned.


I love Am Cab, and I don't think anybody in their right mind would accuse Alexandra King of not doing her homework. Alexandra, to me, is the quintessential American Cabaret dancer. There are others out there worth mentioning from the 70s and 80s, but Alexandra has a large movement vocabulary, she is very expressive in her movements, and I think she does honestly feel the music much like a native, and her emotional reaction to the music seems genuine. Unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of video of her, for people to look back on and say, "this was Am Cab before total Egyptianization."

I, for one, don't think American Orientale or American Nightclub or Egyptianized American is a bad thing. Jillina (outside of the BDSS thing) is one of my favorite American dancers. Although in recent years she's changed her style a bit (at least -- let's put it this way: What I'm seeing in the Superstars shows is different from what she used to do, but I understand there are specific reasons for that) Jillina's performances have NEVER failed to delight me. She reminds me in a lot of ways of the old Egyptian dancer Katie -- there was an energy in Katie that was different from the energies in Samia Gamal or later, Sohair or Nagwa Fouad.

But I think Jillina shares something in common with Rachel Brice -- they both have an elusive quality on stage that can't be imitated very well. Their students don't dance like they do. Their students don't have that raw power and energy that they do.

Is it misunderstanding on Jillina's part? Is she just confused and that's why her dancing doesn't look as Egyptian as Randa's?

Modern Egyptian bellydance music is HEAVILY influenced by western musical forms. Mohammed Abdel Wahab actually incorporated a Hoedown in one of his pieces! (My source, the video biography of Om Kalthoum -- in the chapter where she starts working with Wahab. They actually play the piece, and it's quite cool!)

Was Wahab confused? Or misguided?

Some of my first teachers told me American Cabaret was a bastard dance -- a complete misunderstanding of the REAL dance. I bought into that for a while, but now I'm seeing it from a different perspective -- it was the true thing, as they understood it. Yes, I'm sure a lot of dancers WERE confused (It's like these little white girls going around calling guys "hefe" and wondering why they're getting smacked.) and didn't bother to try and place the dance in a cultural context. But I think Am Cab originated as a product of its time. We can't apply today's mentality retroactively.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
A. O.

A'isha, I'd LOVE to hear from former students of our grande-dame teachers who were dissatisfied with what was being taught -- for my own interest and possibly for an article on standards. If you can send them my way, I'd be appreciative of it. No names will be mentioned.

Dear Aziyade,
I am used to owning what I say and do. Sometimes I just don't say and do it publicly or for the record!!


I love Am Cab, and I don't think anybody in their right mind would accuse Alexandra King of not doing her homework. Alexandra, to me, is the quintessential American Cabaret dancer. There are others out there worth mentioning from the 70s and 80s, but Alexandra has a large movement vocabulary, she is very expressive in her movements, and I think she does honestly feel the music much like a native, and her emotional reaction to the music seems genuine. Unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of video of her, for people to look back on and say, "this was Am Cab before total Egyptianization."

A'isha writes- I was in a show and took a workshop from Alexandra King about 3 years ago. Her Turkish and her Egyptian dances looked just alike in much of the movement content and all of the essence, and I DO have video. I LOVED Alexandra when I had seen her some 10 years ago doing American Oriental, so I did not go in with any prejudice. I took her workshop and found that she did not give one moment of individual attention, hardly LOOKED at the students and in general just sort of showed us what we were supposed to do; no attention, no feedback, no corrrction, no acknowledgement. I was very disappointed.

I, for one, don't think American Orientale or American Nightclub or Egyptianized American is a bad thing.

A'isha writes- Neither do I, though I think passing it off as authentic belly dance is bad. Nobody hates the dance. We just want truth in advertising.

Jillina (outside of the BDSS thing) is one of my favorite American dancers. Although in recent years she's changed her style a bit (at least -- let's put it this way: What I'm seeing in the Superstars shows is different from what she used to do, but I understand there are specific reasons for that) Jillina's performances have NEVER failed to delight me. She reminds me in a lot of ways of the old Egyptian dancer Katie -- there was an energy in Katie that was different from the energies in Samia Gamal or later, Sohair or Nagwa Fouad.

A'isha writes- Jillina's performances are not delightful to me. She claimed for too long to be doing something she is not. That is Egyptian belly dance. I also do not prefer dancers who are not emotionally attached to what they are doing and she definately has been too attached to physical technique to tune into the reality of the dance as an expression of emotion. She does not remind me of Katie either in movement or emotional essence.

But I think Jillina shares something in common with Rachel Brice -- they both have an elusive quality on stage that can't be imitated very well. Their students don't dance like they do. Their students don't have that raw power and energy that they do.

A'isha writes- For me, it is compliment when someone thinks my students do not look like me. I do not need or want clones, though Jillina might since she is fond of making a line dance out of a dance that is supposed to be a solo dance. The teacher is not supposed to create imitations of her/himself, but dancers with their own set of personal attributes to bring to the dance.

Is it misunderstanding on Jillina's part? Is she just confused and that's why her dancing doesn't look as Egyptian as Randa's?

A'isha writes- I think it is not confusion, but inability. There are very few people who will ever make a Lebanese, or Egytian or Turkish dancer. One has to look WAY beneath the element of mere movement for that, and it has to be INSIDE the dancer on some level. This why I will never make a good American Oriental or Lebanese dancer. It is not IN me. I feel it differently than I am supposed to. Jillina misled people by intimating she was doing authentic ethnic belly dance. She never has.

Modern Egyptian bellydance music is HEAVILY influenced by western musical forms. Mohammed Abdel Wahab actually incorporated a Hoedown in one of his pieces! (My source, the video biography of Om Kalthoum -- in the chapter where she starts working with Wahab. They actually play the piece, and it's quite cool!) Was Wahab confused? Or misguided?

A'isha writes- You know, that "heavily influenced by western this or that" is getting to be very tiersome. Regardless of what other influences are there, the fact always, ALWAYS remains that what these dancers and singers and musicians produced was filtered through an Egyptian or Lebanese or Turkish or Algerian or Tunisian or whatever, mind, heart, soul and cultural affiliation, and took on that essence. The reason Taco Time will never make Mexican food is because it is filtered through an American essence, in spite of many good Mexican ingredients. The same is true here.

Some of my first teachers told me American Cabaret was a bastard dance -- a complete misunderstanding of the REAL dance. I bought into that for a while, but now I'm seeing it from a different perspective -- it was the true thing, as they understood it. Yes, I'm sure a lot of dancers WERE confused (It's like these little white girls going around calling guys "hefe" and wondering why they're getting smacked.) and didn't bother to try and place the dance in a cultural context. But I think Am Cab originated as a product of its time. We can't apply today's mentality retroactively.
A'isha writes- American Oriental has its own essence, its own beauty and its own validity. However, belly dance is not an American dance. The problem with those classes many years ago and many classes still, is that students are being led to believe that what they are learning is authentic ethnic bellydance when it is not. While it was indeed a product of its time, there was STILL no need to lie about what they were doing. THAT was all ego and insecurity.

Regards,
A'isha
 
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