Egyptian ... that's NOT.

Aisha Azar

New member
Egyptian, etc.

Dear Ludy and Teela,
One of my most intense and consistent points is that everything is indeed not "belly dance" and should not be called by that name. I want to thank you also, because you are very good examples of why we need to start being much more clear in our explanations to students and to general audiences as to exactly what is going on in classes and in performances.
I am happy that I was able to help and I hope that you will carry on in this tradition of clarity in definition of the various dance styles. I think it is a growing movement and every time someone walks away less confused, it proves to be a concept of value.
You have both made me feel that what I am striving for IS important and does a service to the dance community.
With respect,
A'isha
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Re: the film clip earlier. I am an old style American cabaret dancer, and have never been quite clear on whether American Oriental is a new name for an old style, or is a new style in itself. I suspect the latter- there are some things going on in modern American belly dance that have little to do with anything I learned over the years. That's not bad, necessarily, but it has added to the variety and confusion that surrounds all the dance genres that have roots (however shallow and far away) in middle eastern belly dance.

I do have to say I don't view this particular dance clip as representative of American cabaret- all those high kicks and arabesques and latin moves are far too prevalent in this dance for it to be good old AmCab.
 

teela

New member
Thanks to all. I have spent the past few years trying to learn more about Egyptian style, searching for DVD's I could buy that would help me learn more and figure out where I'm heading. I've watched performance DVD's and seen some things i couldn't figure out why they were called bellydance which lead to a discussion on it on other groups. Back to the point. I will just keep on doing it.
 

TribalDancer

New member
Aisha, if I can add (in the least ass-kissing way I can manage), as a Tribal Bellydancer, I do definitely feel that what you do is a tremendous service to the bellydance community.

We don't agree. You don't even think that what I do is bellydance. But I do feel that your level of integrity, articulate-ness, and passion for what you do can only benefit the art form in the long run, no matter how our personal "agendas" may diverge.

I always enjoy your posts. Even when I "hate" them. LOL
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Egyptian etc.

Dear Tribal Dancer,
You and I have a long history of disagreement, but I feel that through it all, we both have a deep respect for the other. While I many not consider what you do to be belly dance, I do consider it to be a true and wonderful dance form in its own right, requiring its own set of skills, its own guidelines and bondaries, and its own mystique. I also love that you are able to inform us that what is considered to be tribal is not always so, and to educate us about what we are seeing under this title. I see integrity in what you present also, and I appreciate that very much!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Ludmilla

New member
BEst Thread ever (and that's hard to say because I've been so blown away by many others), and just feel this is at the root of so much misunderstanding and confusion (esp for the student which is what seems the most of concern, to me at least) -- Shanazel - good comments --
A'isha -- I meant it -- forever gratitude!! Thanks again -- Ludy (Wouldn't it be good if maybe there were simply other labels used -- as there are already, some -- for different BD styles.) Anyway -- what's in a name? To h---w/ it, I'm gonna keep on dancin' and be aware of the terminology problems but not get too hung up --
BTW, teela -- if some other experts can comment.....dare I suggest that to me (and I am FAR from expert - but do love perf DVD's) Serena Ramzy (Visual MElodies) was perhaps the first dancer where I could say - ah, that to me looks like a modern Egyptian style dancer (that has a good-quality enough DVD to really see th e dance steps) -- If any of our experts can let you know if this is really Egyptian style or not, then I just want to mention I think it's a really good DVD you might want to check out. (and pls let me know if you find any others...) --
 

teela

New member
I have that DVD in my collection. I also have some workshops by Raqia Hassan, Mona El Said, Dina, Dr Mo geddawi and Farida Fahmy. <grins> Also have one DVD by astryd out of oregon, a couple by nourhan sharif and a set by keti out of australia. Sorry don't have all the names down fully because i'm not close to my DVD's. Just sent off for the set by Aisha and got a nice couple by dahlena. I'm working on having a nice collection.
 

sedoniaraqs

New member
Dear Yasmine,

To get back to discussing the issue, I looked at the video clip of Saida, I think she is a fabulous dancer, too. Do I think she is a fabulous belly dancer? No. Do I think she is an amazing and beautiful fusion dancer? Yes! I would call her style American Oriental, no matter where she is from. This style has traveled the world, nearly as I can tell. Good fusion is a wonderful thing and I have always said so.
A'isha, I have not been able to keep up with these discussion boards much lately, and I'm sure I have missed your explanation of why you use the term "American Oriental" but not "American belly dance".

Although I can see the difference between Egyptian style and other things, I have never been very satisfied with the labels people put on the "other things". Not that I have any better suggestions. In the Saida video I immediately saw the Latin attitude and posture, along with movements that draw from Latin ballroom and possibly other dances. So if "American" means "Latin American" I suppose American Oriental is O.K., but Saida's dancing to me looks totally different from what I would call American (as in United States of) style.

Similarly, what do you call the Canadian, German, British, or Japanese dancer who brings her own culture's attitude and possibly movement into the dance? Westernized Oriental (or Westernized belly dance)? This would cover the N and S. Americans and Europeans, but not the Japanese (and Japanese Oriental loses its meaning for other reasons).

I find the explanation that American Oriental has travelled the globe to be unsatisfying to me. I can pick a Russian dancer out from an American any day -- not just by style but attitude/essence/whatever you want to call it. Whatever it is comes from Russia, not the US. The ways in which an American dancer is "not Egyptian" are different from the ways a Japanese or Russian dancer are "not Egyptian".

Again, I don't have any better suggestions, it just seems like an ongoing issue that never gets fully resolved.

Sedonia
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Egyptian etc.

Dear Sedonia,
Perhaps a better name would be "Western Oriental", but what I have noticed is that this style, which may have overtones of whatever county the dancer hails from, it still seems to follow the American pattern of doing the dance and remains western in its essence, as opposed to Middle Eastern. I think "American Oriental" covers it quite nicely, just as Raqs Sharghi covers what we see Fifi, Randa, Dina, Nagwa and a host of other dancers doing, even though they are all quite different. That thread of Egyptian-ness that runs through each one is what I am referring to as opposed to the individual movement or accent . Even in the Japanese dancers that I have seen, there still tends to be that "westernized' approach to the dance. I think it has to do with the way that people think about the dance as opposed to responding viscerally...??? The first time I saw Victktoria Shershnyova (my spelling amy be off a bit here), I was surprised to hear she had been dancing in Egypt...she looked SO much like the American cabaret dancers from the
1970s!! I have also seen that same "Latin attitude" in many dancers lately in clips from the U.S. and Europe. I see it crop up occasionally in what Randa does, but her overall effect is still Egyptian. I have no issue with calling that basic style "Western Oriental" or "American Oriental". The main point is to differentiate it from Middle Eastern belly dance, which is where the confusion seems to come in for students and audiences.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Maria_Aya

New member
... well after a week at Egypt (again, its an addiction lol) what I feel is that no-one cares about teqnick. They care about the feeling for the dance and this is something unique to get. Yes we cant dance Waltz and pretend that its arabic dance, but goes beyond what we do, its how we express music and more of all its HAVING FUN !!!!
Maria Aya (this was a short note lol)
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Egyptian, etc.

Dear Aya,
Yes!! Egyptian dancers definately dance with their hearts as much if not more more than their heads.
Love,
A'isha
 
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