But It's Art!!!!!

Aziyade

Well-known member
belly_d says:.... OMG what does NEW AmCab look like????
Most people use Aziza of Portland/Montreal as an example of modern Am Cab. She uses some Egyptian technique (at least in her workshops) but approaches the drum solos in the more "modern" way, and doesn't dance to what we consider "typical" Am Cab music. Plus she doesn't do the 5 or 7 part routine -- but who does that anymore anyway?? I think she does a different kind of veil work -- sort of her own invention/interpretation. This and the whole idea of Westernized Egyptian creeping into Am Cab is basically what I THINK people consider to be typical Modern Am Cab. And sometimes they throw in a few tribal-inspired stylizations.



it COULD be debated that it is the only "TRUE" bellydance fusion... as it is fusing Mid East belly dance w/ Mid East belly dance (of differing regions)... so if you are fusing belly dance WITH belly dance... how come that does not = belly dance????
Yeah, I've heard that argument about it being the original fusion. I guess I don't TECHNICALLY see it as a fusion because it's all the same thing -- just in different colors. :) But it does totally make sense.

There's a lot of debate over what are the actual American parts of Am Cab -- like what did we add, versus what the natives were already doing. I know we added a lengthy veilwork section to the routine, and probably added floorwork as WE know it. The movement vocabulary seems to stem from that sort of quasi pan-Arabic Levantine maybe? style of social bellydance that untrained natives will also dance. Less "oriental" and more social. The music we've all discussed (and I'm LOVING the fact that Radio Bastet is now on iTunes.)

Am Cab could be called a melting pot dance, but with the understanding that lots of very similar cultures came together to create a nice musical STEW. Too often some of the fusionistas take this idea, but they throw things together that don't really want to be together -- or when you put them together it changes the flavor completely -- and you end up with this weird soup that's not really sweet and not really sour, but not really much of anything.

There was a clip on bhuz they were all discussing which featured a "bellydance" performance that was sort of slithery and slinky, and tried to focus heavily on the sexy aspect. But I don't think it worked all that well, because instead of seeming so "sexy" it came across as kind of sterile and stale. The inherent "sexiness" in bellydance (if you want to call it that) is just DIFFERENT from the sexiness in jazz or pole dancing or whatever. Sometimes I just wish the fusionistas would watch the old movies and see just how SEXY or empowered or whatever you want to call it - those dancers were. It's a different kind of expression of sexy. It looks different. Trying to make this dance fit what westerners or Americans think is the model for "what is sexy" -- well it just doesn't work for me.

Oh but that's another thread entirely and we've done that to death. :p
 

Aisha Azar

New member
DAnce, etc

Dear Shanazel,
"Con-fusion" is what Katie Azar used to call it!! She is from Jordan and she owned the restaurant where I was house dancer for 12 years. Taking her to belly dance shows was sometimes a study in agony. "What in heck are they doing? What are they wearing? Why? Why are they dancing to that weird music? Is that supposed to be raqs sharghi? What are those weird things she's dancing with? Why is she doing that?" All night long. I tried to explain the fusion thing to her and I got such a look with the huge beautiful dark brown eyes.
One time the whole family accompanied me when I was dancing in a show out of town. Her husband said of one dancer, thank god in Arabic, "I wish we had tomatoes and potatoes to throw at her". Tomatoes, well, okay maybe, but POTATOES??????? Jeez, have a little bit of mercy!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Shanazel,
Would SHE not be the masher if the smashed when they hit her?? Anyway, I think it would be just rude to flang a potato at the girl, though I could certainly see how she might have deserved it.This hang up of his, with hurling vegetables from the nightshade family, is just weird.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Mya

New member
this is a really interesting thread. i only read 4 pages - the first 2 and the last 2 because i'm at work. i'll read the rest of it in pieces. i don't know if anyone has said anything like this in the 16 odd pages that i haven't read but to me sometimes the difference between calling it art and it just being plain ignorance is KNOWING *duh*.
For example, one day someone saw me dancing cane to a fusion song - i think it was hakim and stevie wonder - Ah Min halawtou. Now that's not a song that i'd dance and call it it a saidi piece - EVER, but my response was that for some reason the song woke up something in me that i only feel when i watch really nice saidi performances. For that reason i might consider it a saidi-inspired piece of art.
Because i know and understand and RESPECT the dance, i might respond this way, but people who simply don't know anything and are thus ignorant won't. To them, if they want to dance with a cane in a sparkly bra and jeans to that annoying umbrella song and call it saidi it's their right as "artists".

Those however who do know and choose to go down the "art" path ought to be locked up by the bellydance police because they have no excuse.

Does that make sense to anyone else but me?

P.S. A'isha you make me dread dancing for an Arab audience. EVER.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance

this is a really interesting thread. i only read 4 pages - the first 2 and the last 2 because i'm at work. i'll read the rest of it in pieces. i don't know if anyone has said anything like this in the 16 odd pages that i haven't read but to me sometimes the difference between calling it art and it just being plain ignorance is KNOWING *duh*.
For example, one day someone saw me dancing cane to a fusion song - i think it was hakim and stevie wonder - Ah Min halawtou. Now that's not a song that i'd dance and call it it a saidi piece - EVER, but my response was that for some reason the song woke up something in me that i only feel when i watch really nice saidi performances. For that reason i might consider it a saidi-inspired piece of art.
Because i know and understand and RESPECT the dance, i might respond this way, but people who simply don't know anything and are thus ignorant won't. To them, if they want to dance with a cane in a sparkly bra and jeans to that annoying umbrella song and call it saidi it's their right as "artists".

Those however who do know and choose to go down the "art" path ought to be locked up by the bellydance police because they have no excuse.

Does that make sense to anyone else but me?

P.S. A'isha you make me dread dancing for an Arab audience. EVER.
Dear Mya,
What Arabs seem to expect is that we will do the dance to the best of our ability; not take the dance and do with it as we please. If you are being at all true to the spirit and feeling of the dances that you say you are doing, they seem to be very supportive. They tend not to like a lot of fusion because it makes no sense to them. Now. many people swear the Arabs where they live are not this way at all, but in the last 30 or so years, this has been my experience. I have been with Arabs watching some of the very best of the American cabaret dancers, and while some of the Arabs hate it, others say it isn't belly dance like they see back home, but it is nice dancing. As for heavy fusions, Goth, Tribal, "Bellynesian, etc, they are completely in the dark and just go "HUNH?????" this is just one more reason why we need to take responsibility to be very clear about what is happening on the stage.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Mya

New member
i agree completely! not enough dancers take that responsibility or even try or want to try to!
that's one reason that i'd really like to learn more about the main styles and the culture so that i can better recognise for myself when it is and when it's just not what people claim it to be. Also because if people here never learn the difference then the horribly low standards for bellydance that exist in my country will never get better.

Mya
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

i agree completely! not enough dancers take that responsibility or even try or want to try to!
that's one reason that i'd really like to learn more about the main styles and the culture so that i can better recognise for myself when it is and when it's just not what people claim it to be. Also because if people here never learn the difference then the horribly low standards for bellydance that exist in my country will never get better.

Mya

Dear Mya,
My imaginary gold sequined top hat is off to you, my Dear!!
Hugs,
A'isha
 

jenc

New member
A'isha i do agree with lots of what you said about educating people, and raising standards, only I can't see how you are ever going to reclaim the tern bellydance exclusively for MED. If you ever get a restaurant owner to advertise that he is showcasing a AmCab (or Tribal or whatever) dancer without mentioning bellydance, i will donate £1,000 to a cahrity of your choice!!!
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Jenc,
Years ago people never thought it would be possible to start defining ANY of the dances from the Middle East and the fusion forms in any terminology other than "belly dance". Look how far we have come from the days when I first started dancing and the only person that I was aware of who made the distinction was Jodette Silhi, who referred to what she was doing as Egyptian belly dance. She got a lot of flack for it, too, but now everyone is into better definition. I am at least glad that you can see my point to some extent. I think many more people agree with my position than did years ago when I first started talking about it. I seem to meet with a lot less hostility these days. I think that is partly thanks to the truly bizarre things that are now being referred to as "belly dance". I could see that it would come to this that long ago and I am not sure what drove us all to be so politically correct as to not call people on it. But.... its never too late to start a process of really defining what we are doing.
Personally, I do not expect that everyone will agree with me, but as long as my position has opened some eyes to the realties of the dance, then I feel that there will at least be clearer definitions in our future. I will keep pressing the point if for no other reason than that.
This is not a contrst for me; it is a serious matter of some preservation of the dance in authentic forms, and in some way giving our audiences a clue that there IS a difference. This does not mean that fusions forms have no value. It is only a means of clarifying to those who are not educated in the dance that they are fusion forms.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Mya

New member
i agree with A'isha, far less eloquently, but i agree nonetheless.
Jenc i don't think it's likely that the term will ever become exclusive, but perhaps people will eventually start to identify their style as fusion without feeling like they are devaluing it and in so doing clarify what bellydance is a bit more.
Just as A'isha has been able to track the change over time, perhaps so too shall we in the future!
 

jenc

New member
I very much agree that education in dance is important, but doubt how much it is possible to convey nuances to anyone who is not educated in dance, which is our major (possibly only) difference. Well I passionartely want to dance egyptian style, signed up for lessons in egyptian dance from teacher who is says she is passionate about egyptian dance, but as far as I can see from my relatively novice view, she just does not teach it. for example, in both her beginner's class, and her !advanced! class she teaches only choreography, teaches generic movements, and uses music from anywhere in the Middle East. In so far as she does teach any technique, it is all based on her personal style. In 20 weeks of beginner's in EGYPTIAN DANCE class we spent very little time doing anything else other than going over the moves for one dance to Kiss Kiss, which i believe is Turkish. She has been dancing for 8 years. There is an awful long way to go with dancers, never mind the general public.
how do I learn egyptian on my own?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

I very much agree that education in dance is important, but doubt how much it is possible to convey nuances to anyone who is not educated in dance, which is our major (possibly only) difference. Well I passionartely want to dance egyptian style, signed up for lessons in egyptian dance from teacher who is says she is passionate about egyptian dance, but as far as I can see from my relatively novice view, she just does not teach it. for example, in both her beginner's class, and her !advanced! class she teaches only choreography, teaches generic movements, and uses music from anywhere in the Middle East. In so far as she does teach any technique, it is all based on her personal style. In 20 weeks of beginner's in EGYPTIAN DANCE class we spent very little time doing anything else other than going over the moves for one dance to Kiss Kiss, which i believe is Turkish. She has been dancing for 8 years. There is an awful long way to go with dancers, never mind the general public.
how do I learn egyptian on my own?

Dear Jenc,
You can start by watching Egyptian videos to SEE what it is that makes them different.... and hopefully you will eventually believe there IS a difference, and that even the average guy on the street when seeing different styles of dance side by side, can tell there is a difference, though he or she may not be able to tell you what it is. You can also take some classes with people who are reputably Egyptian in their styling and feeling and essence, such as Shareen El Safy, Zahra Sohair, Lucy in D. C., Sahra Saida, etc. I am not sure where you live, but sometimes it is worth it to travel and study with people. If you have doubts as to anyone's credentials, ask around. Most dancers you ask should be able to give you some kind of good reference. Of all of the women mentioned above, I would study with Shareen El Safy or Lucy.
Regards,
A'isha
 
Last edited:

Mya

New member
jenc i'm in the same boat right now, and my advice is that if you know anyone at all who does actually know about egyptian style, get a little help from them now and then for guidance. look at videos, see if you can identify certain things that you feel may or may not be particularly egyptian, look at the interpretation of the music and ask your person questions if you have them.
it's no replacement for an instructor, but it's a sure way to try to help yourself in the meantime!

happy dancing!
 

Makeda Maysa

New member
Unfortunately, Lucy does not teach classes (yet - hint hint, Lucy!). However, I did take a workshop with her about how to interpret Om Kolthoum. It was the first time I'd ever found a connection to her music and I haven't lost it. What I loved was that Lucy first had us listen to the music and find a place within where we were able to connect with feeling of unrequited love (I think we were listening to "Hayart Albi"), then she had the lights lowered, had us close our eyes and dance our feelings, rather than trying to choreograph steps. And I got it! I actually found myself in tears by the end of it. Ever since, I have been a lover of the Om Kolthoum's music. I'm not sure that anyone else's teaching could have done that for me.
 

jenc

New member
Dear Jenc,
You can start by watching Egyptian videos to SEE what it is that makes them different.... and hopefully you will eventually believe there IS a difference, and that even the average guy on the street when seeing different styles of dance side by side, can tell there is a difference, though he or she may not be able to tell you what it is. You can also take some classes with people who are reputably Egyptian in their styling and feeling and essence, such as Shareen El Safy, Zahra Sohair, Lucy in D. C., Sahra Saida, etc. I am not sure where you live, but sometimes it is worth it to travel and study with people. If you have doubts as to anyone's credentials, ask around. Most dancers you ask should be able to give you some kind of good reference. Of all of the women mentioned above, I would study with Shareen El Safy or Lucy.
Regards,
A'isha
I live in the Uk so I can't take workshops with any of the people you mention. I already know what I think is the difference. Apart from a quote I had at a workshop which got me started on thinkinking how to move, "American dancers dance with the skeleton, Egyptians dance with the muscles", the thing that I love about Egyptian dancers is the playfulness, the way that they dance around the beat, not on the beat, freedom and fluidity, and definately no counting.
However, all I have so far found to watch is youtube clips. Can you recommend dvds that I might be able to get shipped to UK.
 

karena

New member
I live in the Uk so I can't take workshops with any of the people you mention. I already know what I think is the difference. Apart from a quote I had at a workshop which got me started on thinkinking how to move, "American dancers dance with the skeleton, Egyptians dance with the muscles", the thing that I love about Egyptian dancers is the playfulness, the way that they dance around the beat, not on the beat, freedom and fluidity, and definately no counting.
However, all I have so far found to watch is youtube clips. Can you recommend dvds that I might be able to get shipped to UK.
I haven't read all 216 posts on this thread, so forgive me if I am off the wall at all, but just in relation to that last bit there are frequently Egyptians coming over and teaching in the UK. So you can learn direct from them. Randa and Raqia Hassan were at Congress in Bognor last year (I learnt with them both :D), Aida Noor is at Joy this Spring, Khaleed Mahmoud is pretty much always at Joy, and that's just off the top of my head. If you're outside the loop of knowing these events in the UK, then PM me. Or ignore me if I really needed to read all 216 posts :lol:

Oh and DVDs, one of the Farida tour ones features lots of Randa (performance not teaching)
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Jenc,
If you can study with the Egyptians, do so!! You will learn a little differently from them because most of them are not professional teachers, but professional entertainers instead, so they usually do not teach by breaking down movement in the manner of western teachers. Also, I think the dance is less about perfected technical movement for them, so their attitude toward how to move is different than in the west.
Aida Nour is one of the sexiest, warmest, dancers from over there and she has a large movement vocabulary as well. I hope to study with her and Randa some day.
Great advice for you from Karena!!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Aida Nour

Dear Damariz,
I wish I could say definitely yes, but I am going to Egypt in April and Maine in September/October. I am hoping that she will eventually journey out this way. But who knows, its possible that I may come into a bazillion $$ and be able to afford every trip I have ever wanted to take.
Regards,
A'isha
 
Top