Classic revival

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Really nice revival despite a couple of elements that irritate me (pointing index finger to shoot the audience, and oh, my dear stars, leave your hair alone).

[video=youtube;4INIYn5Jcqc]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4INIYn5Jcqc&feature=share[/video]
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Love it! I don't have a problem with the "finger gun" - now if she had pulled out a .38 snubbie, that would be a bit over the top. Hair messing with was over done - do it once, TWICE tops if totally different the second time - but it was at least three times here. That type of skirt always terrifies me, but she was able to pull it off and more power to her! - but "Slit all the way to the armpit" seems like a recipe for an un-recoverable costume malfunction!
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Now that is the kind of dancing that made me fall in love with BD!

Love it, love it, love it!

It's nice to see someone is still dancing in the old style. However did you find the video?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I was cruising; typed in classic belly dance, I think. She had a couple of classic routines. Also had her version of Deborah Paget's snake dance from an old movie that was kind of a hoot.

Zorba, it was the repeated index finger pointing throughout the dance, and not just the shoot the audience motion that bugged me. Felt like Saturday Night Fever had sneaked up on her. Costume was classic, too, wasn't it? Shades of Serena. I never had the nerve to try and pull something like that off. Oh. Take it back. I had a violet skirt that was a single quarter circle in front and half circle behind due to lack of fabric. I wore it to perform once and felt totally exposed. I think I blushed through the entire dance. Only wore it afterward over a full chiffon skirt made of a ton of concealing fabric. :)
 

Tourbeau

Member
That was the style that a lot of dancers of a certain age fell in love with, because that was what you saw on TV and in movies back then. Her performance had a few tics (depending on whether your pet peeve is the pointing, the hair play, or my vote--that the arms got a little too modern, aggressive, and windmill-y at times), and one could argue that a dancer of that era probably would have played cymbals for part of the performance, but otherwise, it was a lovely recreation of the era.

But was it just me, or was something a little too something in the drum solo at the end? I can't quite place what seems off about it, but there were sections that sort of broke the retro spell for me. I think maybe it was too much dramatic posing. Dancers back in the day certainly worked with prerecorded music and could have mapped out a choreography with that many big accents, but a lot of older dancers improvised, even when using records, and a lot worked with live drummers who, well, I suspect a few of them were jerky enough (especially the ones who favored dancers who weren't you) that they would have held back occasionally just so the dancer would have looked foolish going for a full-out body-wave accent, only to have the drumming go DUM-A-DUM-A-DUM-A-DUM-A...tek, so maybe dancers were a bit more restrained, just in case the drummer zigged when they thought he was going to zag. (I hear it was a time of ego and nepotism and competition, and not all musicians and dancers worked in blissful symbiosis....) Dunno, maybe it's just me.

It was a very enjoyable performance regardless.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
She is a modern dancer trying to recreate a style from the past, so one might expect some tics to creep in, like the splits at the end. (What is it about some dancers and splits?) Full disclosure: I learned to dance in the seventies, but I learned from dancers who weren't meeting a producer's idea of a dancer. Don't believe I ever saw anyone point an index finger to this extent. Can't recall anyone shooting an audience at all. ;)

I see what you mean about the drum solo. My ten cents worth is that the pop movements were overdone in a way that is fairly common now but in an earlier era would've bordered on burlesque. We were taught small, controlled, and subtle was desirable; one of my teachers went as far as to say, "If it ain't for sale, don't touch it," and that went for hair as well as boobs. That restraint meant that if someone did lift her hair once in an evening, the movement was imbued with significance it wouldn't have otherwise have. The first time I saw a live belly dancer, she paused at one point to take off her pink ballet slippers and casually toss them aside. It was one of the most sensual things I ever saw; half the men in the audience and a good number of women almost fell off their chairs.

That being said, there were plenty of dancers who eschewed being, shall we say, lady-like back when, and who were also very popular.

Zils are interesting. There was a time when if a dancer didn't play zils during a performance, it was assumed it was because she didn't know how, resulting in a certain amount of thinly veiled sneering in some circles. I could play, but I never learned to like to dance with them. (Off later to find a great video of a zil-playing dancer.)
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Here ya go, Celina, "The Killer Ziller":
[video=youtube;SjzrSQecf3E]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjzrSQecf3E[/video]
She plays Zills like I do - but better!
 
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Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Zils are interesting. There was a time when if a dancer didn't play zils during a performance, it was assumed it was because she didn't know how, resulting in a certain amount of thinly veiled sneering in some circles.
This is one of the very few times I'll toot my own horn...

I arrived in Florida just in time for the annual big "Spring Hafla" in 2017. There were exactly two dancers in the show that played Zills, myself and "Tambil", an old skool Turkish dancer who is just wonderful! I guess my zilling amazed and "blew people away" as the saying goes as I got TONS of comments. By the time of the Fall show, just about everybody was playing Zills - some better than others.

Which was a good thing as far as I'm concerned, I'm tired of being one of two Zillists in a show - myself and the headliner! Zills for everybody!!
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Thanx Shanazel - Zilling is one of the few things I actually think I'm decent at! That and veils. At least, people keep telling me that, so I'll go with it!
 

Tourbeau

Member
She is a modern dancer trying to recreate a style from the past, so one might expect some tics to creep in, like the splits at the end. (What is it about some dancers and splits?)
I don't think splits were uncommon in floorwork back then. IIRC, Naima Akef used to do them, so it wasn't just an AmCab thing. I'm picturing that fantasy sequence where Naima dances to "Lamma bada yatathanna," but that clip doesn't seem to be online anymore to confirm.

Oh, wait, a few of my rusty brain gears started turning, and I remembered Lynette had a shamadan clip on GS...

http://www.gildedserpent.com/art43/gamilaniledance3candl.htm

[video=youtube;p5ZRxcb9uuI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5ZRxcb9uuI&feature=share[/video]

So splits...not everybody did them; in the wrong context, they could look somewhat trashy and inappropriate (that's true of a lot of footwork moves); but within the realm of authentic dance vocabulary.

I don't watch a lot of old Turkish videos, but I sort of feel they did the splits, too. Anybody know of a vintage Turkish example of a native dancer doing the splits?

Don't believe I ever saw anyone point an index finger to this extent. Can't recall anyone shooting an audience at all. ;)
Somebody please hunt down a clip from that Nourhan Sharif choreography video where she starts shooting Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew! from her hips like a kid with cap guns. Am I misremembering or did that really happen?

Zils are interesting. There was a time when if a dancer didn't play zils during a performance, it was assumed it was because she didn't know how, resulting in a certain amount of thinly veiled sneering in some circles.
Cymbals are--still are--part of the basic skill set. I don't care if you (general "you," not present company) don't want to play cymbals at every performance, but if you're out there, calling yourself a professional, and expecting customers to pay for your experience as a performer and students to pay for your expertise as a teacher, but you can't play cymbals (or can barely play a rudimentary gallop), put on the dunce cap and go stand in the corner, because NO.

Sorry, what were you saying about "thinly veiled sneering"?
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
That was the style that a lot of dancers of a certain age fell in love with, because that was what you saw on TV and in movies back then.
I must not be that age then because I never saw them in TV and movies. My earliest experience with BD was at a somewhat local Renaissance Faire. They were there every year.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
My dear, that wasn't the least bit veiled. :lol:

Not only did I resignedly take my zils to performances, I occasionally plopped a dark brown wig on my blond head because owners of certain venues thought belly dancers should be brunette.

1995 is hardly "golden era" so won't accept the evidence of Nadia Hamdi's splits as indicative of splits as legitimate BD vocabulary, but find me a video of Naima Akef indulging in those tactics, and I'll rethink my stance, albeit reluctantly, and at least place splits in the "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" category.

I once saw a dancer (career roughly 1960-1980) flip a couple of musicians off, so perhaps I will add that particular pointing gesture to "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" as well. ;)
 

Tourbeau

Member
I must not be that age then because I never saw them in TV and movies. My earliest experience with BD was at a somewhat local Renaissance Faire. They were there every year.
Depends on when/where you lived and what media you consumed, I suppose. The earliest recollections I have were the dancing harem girls on "The Monkees" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," and then a bit later, that Miss America contestant who belly danced for her talent portion. We had local dancers, but I was at least in middle school before I saw one in person, and it would have been a dance class performing at a multicultural festival, not a pro doing a full set to live music. We may have had a Mediterranean restaurant or club in town with live music and dancers, but I came from a family of extremely non-adventurous eaters (my grandmother didn't even cook with garlic), so that wasn't going to be an option for me growing up. I have no clue what was on the local RenFaire circuit 40-50 years ago, but I'm sure my family wouldn't have been down for that, either. Apparently Huey Lewis was wrong. It was not hip to be square.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Was there even such a thing as a "RennFaire circuit" 40 or 50 years ago? I only heard of SCA and RennFaires maybe 25 years ago or so - I guess I don't get out enough.
 

Tourbeau

Member
1995 is hardly "golden era" so won't accept the evidence of Nadia Hamdi's splits as indicative of splits as legitimate BD vocabulary, but find me a video of Naima Akef indulging in those tactics, and I'll rethink my stance, albeit reluctantly, and at least place splits in the "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" category.
Here's the link to the article that went with the video again, in case it got lost in the text of my previous post.

http://www.gildedserpent.com/art43/gamilaniledance3candl.htm

The article explains that the clip was filmed at the end of Nadia's career, and in terms of her formal training, Nadia was two degrees of separation from the originators of dancing with a shamadan via her grandmother. The article calls Nadia "the last of the Mohamed Ali Street dancers."

Here are the relevant parts:

"Zouba el Kloubatiyya was the first dancer to use a klob (candle lantern) balanced on her head during a zeffa, the Egyptian wedding procession. Shafia el Koptia, “The Coptic Christian”, not to be outdone, used the Shamadan (candelabra) as well. Shafia, taught Nadia Hamdi's grandmother and aunt. Nezla el Adel, (a contemporary of Shafia) is still alive today and occasionally teaches and performs. She is in her 90s. Nadia Hamdi is Egypt's recent diva of Shamadan and is the only dancer who was taught from the original line of Egyptian Shamadan dancers. Nadia was exposed to the teachings of Zouba as a child and then more formally trained by her grandmother. "

"The [shamadan dance] style is very earthy and includes great 'tricks' like the splits, stomach work while on the floor, rolling over full length on the floor and posturing -- complete with quivering buttocks, and various other individual talents."

"In using the Shamadan for cabaret, there is a great deal more freedom of style and improvisation upon the traditional. It becomes more sensual than the Mohamed Ali Street style, which is fun loving with a smattering of 'look what I can do' attitude, and the traditionally elegant theater presentation. The floor work section becomes more 'Oriental' and the tricks are seldom seen--beyond a split, stomach rolls, and raised hip twists."

There's a link in the article to a story about finding Nadia after she made the Hajj and renounced her performing past, but this article by Aunt Rocky is probably a more informative read.

http://thebestofhabibi.com/vol-15-no-2-spring-1996/nadia-hamdi/

"Speaking of those times [the era of the first shamadan dancers], Nadia says: 'It was wonderful to have had the opportunity to watch all those dancers, to observe their different styles, to learn something different from each one, every time, no matter how often I saw the same dancer. My favorite was Zouba el Klobatiyya, one of the most famous candelabrum dancers of all times. She wore a klop that, to my child’s eyes, was as tall as the sky. Oh, how it dazzled my eyes – and her costume! I still remember her charm and originality of style. In the last thirty years, different and new fads and styles have come and gone, but I still think that for the most part, the traditional dances were the most difficult, the most beautiful, the best — the "Golden Age" of raks sharki.'"

To me, that implies Nadia aspired to having her style be consistent with what she's calling the "Golden Era," but if you asked many of today's students of MED, they would consider that period she's describing somewhat pre-Golden Age. At least one argument broke out on Bhuz back in the day about whether to group Souheir Zaki with Naima Akef, Tahia Karioka, and Samia Gamal (whose styles are similar to hers) or with Nagwa Fouad, Mona Said, and Fifi Abdo (who were closer in time in terms of being performing contemporaries). And some dancers considered anything pre-Dina "Golden Age."

Personally, I feel comfortable calling Nadia Hamdi "Golden Era" even though she worked later than many of the dancers we traditionally associate with that period, but I was in the camp that wanted to pull the timeline forward to include Souheir Zaki, so I'm not a chronological purist.

I once saw a dancer (career roughly 1960-1980) flip a couple of musicians off, so perhaps I will add that particular pointing gesture to "legitimate but vulgar vocabulary" as well. ;)
Now that I think of it, I feel like I've seen Egyptian dancers point at the audience while doing that gun style of finger snapping, but I can't place where I've seen it. Fifi? Maybe Dina when she was really young? Not that that has anything to do with flipping the band off...
 

Tourbeau

Member
Was there even such a thing as a "RennFaire circuit" 40 or 50 years ago? I only heard of SCA and RennFaires maybe 25 years ago or so - I guess I don't get out enough.
Our local RenFaire in Ohio is only 30 years old, but according to Wikipedia, SCA was founded in the Berkeley in 1966. Jamila and Bal Anat were doing some sort of outdoor festival gigs around that time, because videos are floating around of some of those old shows.

I'm not a Salimpourist? Salimpourian? Salimpourite?, but a quick trip to the mothership web site yields "The creation of the dance troupe Bal-Anat evolved in 1968, when the opportunity to perform in an outdoor theme festival called The Renaissance Pleasure Faire challenged the imagination of American Belly Dance pioneer, Jamila Salimpour, to create a variety show which one might see at an Arabian Festival or Souk."

...so 51 years ago, apparently.
 

Greek Bonfire

Active member
Oh my stars! This is right up my alley and something that is not seen too much anymore (although I stay more with vintage). But I get you on some of the cutesy stuff. Some dancers think they have to be cute and/or have to be moving all the time so they do the hair thang.

I have mixed feelings on splits. They can make an impressive dramatic ending but I think acrobatics should be left for gymnastics.
 
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