Culturally insensitive?

Bellydance Oz

New member
I'm dancing with a new troupe, and have done three performances with them now.

There are often Middle Eastern people in our audience and generally they seem to enjoy our performances - except for one dance. It's to "Salaam Aleikum" by Hakim. As soon as we start dancing it, the smiles disappear.

I can't see anything in the movements that might offend. We all wear cabaret costume with a body stocking, so no tummies exposed (and anyway, they seem to like our other dances). I had a horrible thought that salaam aleikum might mean something like "God be with you", but I checked and it's "Peace be with you", so we're not offending religious sensibilities. Any ideas?
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
yea, I understand... You'll just have to "plan to pounce" next time...

I'd like to know what the problem is...
 

Greek Bonfire

Active member
Maybe they just don't like Hakim's music in general. The audience members there may have had other preferences. He's more pop than traditional. Did you ever find out anything more?
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Oh, I missed that its a Hakim song - as I personally DETEST Hakim for the most part, I can understand... (!!)
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
One translation I read indicated the song is sung by an Arab man to a Jewish woman. Since I don't know Arabic, can't say first hand if this is accurate but if so might explain audience reaction.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I don't know if it will help at all but I found an article that discusses it back in 2004 http://www.sfgate.com/music/article/Thanks-to-him-we-may-soon-be-shaking-to-sha-bi-2721315.php

Hakim, who is 42, got a relatively late start in music. His first record deal came in 1992, though he performed for 10 years before that in settings that ranged from street corners to small clubs. Sha'bi music sprang up in Egypt in the late 1970s, at a time when the orchestral traditions of Oum Kalthoum had been dominant. Because it's music of the street, sha'bi is looked down upon by some elements of Egyptian society. On his previous album, Hakim did a song called "El salaam aleikum," which refers to the Arabic greeting "peace be upon you" that Muslims give upon meeting another person. Members of the Egyptian Senate said that the song was not reverential enough to the saying, but "El salaam aleikum" became a huge hit in the Arab world.


"There were some people who misunderstood the song and wanted to twist the meaning of the song," Hakim says in words that are translated by his wife, Jihane Odabachi. " 'Salaam aleikum' is a greeting, and I wanted to remind people of the meaning behind the greeting. It doesn't just mean 'hello' -- it's much more important; it's about giving peace."



When Brown first heard the song, he liked it so much he wanted to rerecord it with Hakim for "El Yomen Dol." But Hakim believed the song was already too popular to rerecord, so he and Brown settled on "Lela," which means "night" in Arabic.
Maybe the choreography just doesn't match the meaning of the song?
 

Aniseteph

New member
It sounds like asking is going to be the only option. I don't like that song but it's not enough to wipe the smile off my face at an event (I hope).

What other songs are in your set?
 

Roshanna

New member
Maybe they just don't like Hakim's music in general. The audience members there may have had other preferences. He's more pop than traditional. Did you ever find out anything more?
My first thought was that the song is well over a decade old, so it's not a classic, but it's not recent or cool either. 13 years is a long time in pop music, and styles have changed a lot in Egyptian shaabi since then, so it could be that audiences just find it embarrassingly dated.
 

Bellydance Oz

New member
Hi all and thanks for all the replies, which I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't aware of all this time!

I never did find out what the problem was, but I think there are some good points there. I was relatively new to the troupe at the time, and I've discovered all their choreographies are 10-15 years old. Yes, they have been presenting exactly the same show for that length of time! So perhaps the age of the song is an issue.

The choreography doesn't reflect the words in any way. Combine that with the idea that it's "not reverential" enough and that could be the issue. It is a Muslim saying after all, and there we are on stage in a bedlah - even if our tummies are covered, our faces and hair aren't and we're showing a lot of cleavage.

It's not an issue any more, though, because I've decided to step away from that school for various reasons - but I think I'll start a new thread for that.
 

MizzNaaa

New member
I know this is like 5 months too late, but I HIGHLY doubt (As a native Egyptian) that people are offended by the traditional Muslim greeting. I think the issue is that the song is old, but not old enough for people to be nostalgic about it, so people just probably think it's embarrassingly outdated, if that makes any sense?

Like if your troupe used on of Hakim's old songs, and I mean OLD like "Nar" or something, it's like an 80s - early 90s song? people probably would be nostalgic enough to like hearing it, but Alsalmu Alaikom was one of his later songs when he was considered not as good as he used to be. So your issue probably lies there. Personally, I don't like the song and if I was in a wedding or event or whatever and found foreign bellydancers dancing to it I'd just be like "Meh" and wait until they're done and hope they have something better.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Well, I hope you'll contribute more often. I so miss all the lovely folks who used to come around regularly.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Double ditto!

I know I'm guilty of not being around much either right now but I miss a whole lot of people including you.
 

Greek Bonfire

Active member
After reading this thread again, I am still baffled about the reaction of the audience. I can only think that some prefer those who are not "native" of the culture should not be performing to their countrypeople's music. I know for a fact that many are very sensitive about how, who and what performs to Om Kalthoum.
 
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