But It's Art!!!!!

Aisha Azar

New member
Art

Dear Stacy,
Actually, we see that all the time in Egyptian belly dance. The difference is that because of their own ethnocentricty and cultural background, because they are Egyptian, they end up using the different influences in a very Egyptian way, just as Americans have taken some Egyptian influences and generally use them in a very western way. I think this might be referred to as filtering, if I remember from sociology class, but don't quote me on that because I am not totally sure. The dance continues to evolve in Egypt and still retains that fundamental Egyptianness. For the most part, Egyptians would have as hard a time working around that as westerners usually have working around their own cultures. Occasionally there is the individual who somehow is really deep down sympatico with another culture, but it does not happen very often.
BTW this is a really well thought out question and I appreciate it!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Art

Dear Aziyade,
I think we had discussed Ardah earlier in this thread. I subscribe to a magazine sent out by Saudi Aramco and in this month's mag, there is an article about Saudi music. Ardah is described in the article as "one of Saudi Arabia's best known song and dance traditions". (Saudi Aramco, Mar/Apr, 2000, p. 4). The article is written by Kay Hardy Campbell.
Though this magazine can sometimes be considered a marketing tool and propaganda for the Arab countries, it is also full of great stuff.
For those of you who want to subscribe, and it is FREE, the subscription address is

Loading Saudi Aramco .....

BTW, back issues from 1960 forward can be downloaded and read and there is an annual index so that you can find dance info or other great things. I have subscribed since the early 80s and I LOVE this mag.
Regards,
A'isha
 

cathy

New member
book

[QUOTE
But I have observed a grand dame in the belly dance scene who is justifiably authoritative because she truly is knowledgeable and intelligent do just that, several times. The highhanded, sarcastic and condescending tone she takes on with some poor bastard whose only sin is to pose a naive question or naively repeat some misinformation makes me grit my teeth.

I wish she'd write a book. Failing that, I wish she'd colloborate with other knowledgeable people into writing the kind of FAQ for a web site such as this one that we can use it to help combat the kind of fluff-bunny misinformation and self-serving lies that float around now.[/QUOTE]

Hi Kharmine,

I'm not sure who you are referring to here. But Morocco is definitely working on a manuscript about oriental dance. Cathy
 

Kharmine

New member
[QUOTE
But I have observed a grand dame in the belly dance scene ...
Let's just say it's not someone who is a regular participant on this forum. :)

And I'm glad to hear Morocco is finally writing that book. She's a national treasure to the belly dance community, even though not everyone agrees with her all the time, and a book would be a significant contribution.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
You know what I'd love to see?

A conference with all in one room:

Serena Wilson
Jamila Salimpour
Sausan
Morocco
Donna Carlton
and Wendy Buonaventura

oh, and Carolena, just for fun.


Wouldn't that be fun? Watch the fur just FLY!!!
 

Aniseteph

New member
I've got one of Wendy Buonaventura's books, and in four places (I just counted in the interests of journalistic accuracy!) she refers to Botox as "a deadly virus". (OK, 3 deadlies and one just plain virus). This really spoilt the whole book for me - made me doubt everything else she says, which is a shame because it was very interesting. So I just can't take anything else she says without a substantial pinch of salt.

(this has been bugging me since I read the book. I feel better now! :cool: )
 

Suheir

New member
You know what I'd love to see?

A conference with all in one room:

Serena Wilson
Jamila Salimpour
Sausan
Morocco
Donna Carlton
and Wendy Buonaventura

oh, and Carolena, just for fun.


Wouldn't that be fun? Watch the fur just FLY!!!
Heh! You're evil! They'd have to have a male troupe as entertainment over lunch - Wendy'd turn purple and explode.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Art

Dear Aniseteph,
Bounaventurea does make some other mistakes in her book, such as referring to beledi in one place as "Dance of the people". However, we all occasionally get our "facts" mixed up. This does not mean that everything she says is garbage; just that we have to use our senses a little bit nore sharply in order to pull out of the book what might not have the ring of truth to it. Some of her info is right on, but some is not. I would be willing to bet this is true of any of the books we mention. The problem with Wendy B. for me is that many of her mistakes are so very obvious that it makes me really feel the need to further research her info if I can not verify it with my own experiences.
There is also, as Aziyade points out, a lot of discrepacny between what one "expert" and another says, but when really obvious mistakes are made...well....
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
We talk a lot about "objective journalism" these days, but for non-fiction book authors, it's almost as if they're not held to the essence of that standard.

Like a lot of writers, Wendy has an extremely specific axe to grind, and it shows in her book. She's a Hilal student, with the associated mentality. As long as the reader recognizes that, you can see where she's coming from, and you can see where she twists things a tad to fit her own paradigm.

I just get so frustrated when people quote her book like it's the inspired word of G_d on the subject of bellydance history.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Art, etc.

Dear Aziyade,
As IF there could be anything written, or any kind of research carried out that is not subjective on some level...even in math, where it would seem that occasionally 2+2 can equal something other than 4!! But, I do think that at the time of the Fair, subjective journalism was the order of the day.
I know that some dancers do seem to pick out books, or teachers, or some other iconoclastic model as their sort of Oracle at Delphi, and I agree it is a bad idea. There is too much to know and no one source knows it all.
Regards,
A'isha


We talk a lot about "objective journalism" these days, but for non-fiction book authors, it's almost as if they're not held to the essence of that standard.

Like a lot of writers, Wendy has an extremely specific axe to grind, and it shows in her book. She's a Hilal student, with the associated mentality. As long as the reader recognizes that, you can see where she's coming from, and you can see where she twists things a tad to fit her own paradigm.

I just get so frustrated when people quote her book like it's the inspired word of G_d on the subject of bellydance history.
 

mauraz

New member
hi there!

Ayizade, I will never flame you for your opinion and I'm the one who started the original thread on tribe about separating belly dance from dependence on mid-eastern music! Absolutely essential that people be able to critique what is going on without repercussions, instead of having to pat folks on the back and say 'nice job, lovely, beautemous' in order to keep the peace. As far as the tribe post goes, my original and most urgent concern, which is the uneven balance of power between thousands of belly dancers and dozens of restaurants and musicians, and the abuse that results, got lost in the pileup, I think. But it doesn't really matter. Ruric dances no matter what words rage anywhere, and I know you do too. Does ruric do middle-eastern dance? No. Does she belly dance? Guess it depends on how you define it. You see her perform once a year, at the MEDSOK concert, when she usually does something very cirque-de-Rurique with swords or veils, so you might be surprised if you came to a show... But in any event, I am very glad that she is now taking private lessons from Nashwa in Lexington as well.

Keep up the opinionated and well-articulated good work!
 
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mauraz

New member
you must share...

Morocco's weeklongs always end in a student concert. The first time we attended one I asked Morocco, with some trepidation, if it was okay if Ruric did a veil dance. (Ruric was afraid to ask.) Morocco replied, with great spirit - 'she can dance in boots to banjo, just don't call it mid-eastern dance if it is not!' So Ruric did do a veil dance, and Morocco and Ruric both enjoyed the entire concert immensely, and Ruric returns for her third week-long this summer. So no, you cannot have the word 'belly dance' all for yourself! You can have the term 'middle-eastern dance' for yourself, but you are going to have to share the word 'belly dance.' Besides, I've been told over and over again that the word is an American invention - a translation of the French 'danse du ventre' (sp?) which was a ridiculous label in the first place -- you don't want it...heh heh....
 
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mauraz

New member
First time for everything!

The dancer's mosvements were mostly insipid against the piano...
A'isha
Hoo, hoo! I've heard ruric's dancing described as a lot of things, but this is the first time I've heard 'insipid' used ! Usually the complaints are of radiation burn! Actually, I was there at that concert, and the performance was not insipid at all. The video shows all the defects, but I remember being spell-bound from the back of the room. But the video link is somewhat out of context. I was in the middle of a discussion with someone who was worried that dancing to American music meant no improvisation and that dancing to American music was the 'easy' way out. The video was posted as a demonstration of 1) Ruric doesn't advocate choreographed dancing and 2) it is damned difficult to belly dance appropriately to non-belly dance music... and from some of the remarks on this board, I take it others agree. :) But Ruric is determined to go forward with this, as is UT Gret, the band she performs with. She spends every spare penny she has on lessons and workshops (shoes and dental care are a distant third and fourth expense) and she is very upfront with her teachers as to what she is trying to accomplish. Oh! Ayizade! That was not a 'restaurant' by the way - that was the Jazz Factory, one of the few venues in town that showcases the artists, not the menu or the bar. Al Sur performs there, as does George Wakim, as do nationally-known jazz bands, and the 'entertainment' is always the focus of the experience.

Aisha, we have two of your videos. You don't need me to tell you that your dancing is melt-in-the-mouth delicious, but I shall say it anyway. And no radiation burns or insipidness anywhere! It would probably surprise you to hear that you are one of Ruric's dance idols... Nashwa may be able to nudge her over a bit towards the MED side.. maybe...
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Ruric

Dear Mauraz,
Thank you for the compliment. If Ruric really feels that I am one of her idols, will you please convey to her that in order to capture the spirit of belly dance, it really is necessary to use Middle Eastern music. Otherwise she is doing something else. If she WANTS to do something else, perhaps a different costume or something, in order to not confuse her audience, or an announcement saying that she is doing fusion??? I saw a lot of potential in that video, but I stand by my statement about the insipidness of the piano interpretation. Perhaps in person it was different... but I am not sure that video sucks all the animation out of the dance.
Regards,
A'isha

PS: Maybe because I am a teacher and have been for so many years, when I look at a dancer, I have different things that I look for in performance. I sometimes seem critical, I am sure, but I am also as quick to point out what is good and right when I see it. For me, in the end it is about the dance, and my job is to help people to be the best dancers they can be.
 
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Aziyade

Well-known member
HI MAURA!!!!! (waves from the other side of the river!)

Ayizade, I will never flame you for your opinion and I'm the one who started the original thread on tribe about separating belly dance from dependence on mid-eastern music!
I think bellydance should not be separated from Middle Eastern music, because I think the music drives the dance and the music (and the dancer's emotional response to it) is what separates bellydance from being breakdance, or hiphop, or ballet, or samba, or whathaveyou. I think I said as much on tribe, but I stand by my belief that the music drives the emotional response. That's my o-pin-yun, for all THAT'S worth. LOL ;)

I've danced to techno and to Goth music. IT WAS HARD!!!! The Goth thing was at least a little easier because I had an emotional connection with the music. I had nothing with the techno. Like I said on tribe, it felt more like an exercise routine than a dance. But going back to the first post here, I had some people tell me that it didn't work. They didn't like it. I didn't like it either. It wasn't ART -- it was an experiment and it failed. I learned from it. I didn't hide behind the "Oh you just didn't UNDERSTAND MY ART!" excuse.

OH I'm not saying Ruric has ever done that -- it's just the topic of the original post.


Ruric dances no matter what words rage anywhere, and I know you do too.
Yep. I've had a couple of people tell me I have no business being on stage. (Either because I'm talentless or fat or whatever -- fill in the blank). I don't care. I've been told I'm not Egyptian enough and that I dance with an accent. Oh well.


Does ruric do middle-eastern dance? No. Does she belly dance? Guess it depends on how you define it.
Of course she does bellydance! The only debate-able thing was related to THAT particular clip -- was it bellydance or something else?

Maura, you KNOW I love Ruric and I love watching her dance. The piano piece was interesting, intellectually -- and knowing that it was actually performed in a jazz club helps me to make more sense of the performance and put it into context. It's just not my favorite dance I've seen Ruric do. In my little world, I didn't like the jazz fusion.

But so what? That's just my opinion. Plus, I'm prejudiced. I don't like jazz piano. I don't like trumpets in Middle Eastern music, so a lot of Hossam Ramzy's work turns me off. Do you think he gives a fig about my opinion?


You see her perform once a year, at the MEDSOK concert, when she usually does something very cirque-de-Rurique with swords or veils, so you might be surprised if you came to a show...
Um, I like the Cirque du Rurique :) It was her sword dancing that actually inspired me to do something more with mine that just hang it on the wall. I've talked to her about me coming over and doing some private lessons with her, and she's amenable to that. Ruric has an American Cabaret SENSABILITY that's very close to mine, I think. I like the music she USUALLY dances to (LOL) and her interpretation of it.

I think Nashwa will probably help her to access her inner "middle eastern woman" :D and that would be fantastic to see! But too -- Ruric is young, both as a woman and a dancer. She has a lifetime of experiences awaiting to really help her open up into the dancer and woman that she is. Heck, I'm pushing 40 and I still don't know who I am, but I get closer every year. (grin)

Ultimately it gets down to this: I didn't like her jazz fusion. Does that matter to her? SHOULD it matter to her, that some Hoosier housewife didn't care for it. But Ruric has never been one to say "Oh you just don't understand my ART, Amanda, you idiot" -- THAT'S what separates her from the fusion or experimental performers I first complained about.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Ruric

Dear Group,
For some reason, the name Ruric is bringing up some sort of half formed memory of English literature or some other similar thing...??? Does anyone have any idea why?? I seem to remember a Shakespearean character named Ruric, or may in Beowolf or a Berserker epic or something...???
I do not think that video had an ounce of belly dance in it. Belly dance is more than movement, it is a specific dance essence and spirit. That spirit and essence was not present in that dance. That does not mean it was awful or not dance or art. It merely means that it was not belly dance. While I do not feel particularly qualified to say if it was good jazz fusion, I do know my way around belly dance. God, I am such a nag.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
It brought vague memories of Beowulf to me, though the main names I actually remember from that work are Hrothgar and Grendal. I finally decided Ruric actually reminds me of Wagner's Ring series and the evil little fellow Aluric, which I probably misspelled, though I can hum his theme music.;)
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Ruric

Dear Shanazel,
I got so curious that I looked it up in my handy dandy dictionary. It seems there is a "Scandinavian Chief" ( Berserker???) who was named Rurik who lived about 880 AD and is considerd to be the founder of the first Russian Dynasty.
Well, we were at least somewhat in the same neighborhood!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Oh, my goodness, first I read that as "Scandanavian CHEF." I could just see this wild eyed berserker slicing the lutefisk at a smorgasbord...

Thanks for the information, A'isha.
 
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