How important is it?

lizaj

New member
Take a dancer serious about her (Egyptian) style and will she get anywhere without taking lessons with Egyptian teachers either "over there" or visiting your country. I meet many dancers and teachers for whom this doesn't figure high on the agenda yet they are seemingly serious about their dancing and teaching and about standards.
Is this the same with other forms of BD: Turkish, ATS etc..I would assume so. but over to you? How much exposure have to had to "the real thing".
How good is the "cascading" of a style through your local community or do folks lock themselves away in their little comfort zone, tucked up with the odd DVD.
 

Eshta

New member
I personally think we are very lucky with the internet, with DVDs, with youtube, and with global travel becoming so easy, it becomes easier to study 'remotely' without putting foot in the "homeland".

Still, you can usually easily spot dancers who have gone to Belly Dance Mecca (usually Cairo) to learn and I know I intend to make at least an annual pilgrimage.

I also guess it depends what you are striving for. Cairo seems inappropriate if you are aiming for AmCab or ATS perfection, surely?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
How improtant?

Take a dancer serious about her (Egyptian) style and will she get anywhere without taking lessons with Egyptian teachers either "over there" or visiting your country. I meet many dancers and teachers for whom this doesn't figure high on the agenda yet they are seemingly serious about their dancing and teaching and about standards.
Is this the same with other forms of BD: Turkish, ATS etc..I would assume so. but over to you? How much exposure have to had to "the real thing".
How good is the "cascading" of a style through your local community or do folks lock themselves away in their little comfort zone, tucked up with the odd DVD.
Dear Eshta,
I am considered among Arabs to be very Egyptian in my style. Also by people like Shareen El Safy, Hallah Moustafa and some others who are experts in the style. I have studied with Egyptian dancers, but have never spent time in Egypt. I do, however, hang out with Arabs all the time, so I feel that I pick up a bit about culture and the Arab world view practically every day. I am not sure spending a few days in Egypt would be of more benefit to me that my daily life experiences, especially since I make it a point to study with the Egyptian dancers whenever possible. However, I think I am going to try to go to Egypt next year, really to visit Hallah as much as for any other reason. I have very high standards and am considered an expert in the Egyptian style. Sticking one's toe in the Nile does not necessarily make one a better dancer if it is not there inside the dancer already, and I think this goes for all styles of dance.I am not sure I understand about the "cascading of a style". Can you please explain?
Regards,
A'isha
 

janaki

New member
Yes, it is important to study with natives to understand the culture and how they interpret the music. As Aisha said it, spending few days in egypt doesn't make you a better dancer, but it will help you to observe and understand native culture. No amount of DVD, youtube clips will replace a real teacher. To dance like any natives, it takes a lot of time and hard work. In my opinion, it is just not the dance teachnique, it is about learning, their culture, customs, traditions, language and whole lot of stuff.
 

adiemus

New member
I interpreted 'cascading of style' to be like that old 'whispers' game where one thing is passed on to another to pass on to another to pass on to another. Without reference to the original, what comes out at the end is very different!!

For me travelling to Cairo is cost prohibitive (anywhere from NZ is expensive!) so I hope I can pcik up what I can via Youtube, DVD's, here - and my teacher who does attend workshops by Dr Mo and others.
 

Suheir

New member
Here comes a cookery analogy!

I remember many years ago I bought an Indian rolling pin which is much thinner than a usual rolling pin and tapers towards the ends. I read in several recipe books that one could roll out indian breads into perfect circles by rotating the dough under the rolling pin. I tried and tried so many times and just couldn't work out how to do it by the instructions in the cookery books.

It wasn't until I took a cookery course with an Indian tutor that I immediately "got" the technique when I saw her do it in front of me.
 

Kharmine

New member
I have a teacher who's been doing Egyptian styles in the United States for decades and whose dance company was honored for the authenticity of its performance by a number of Arab and Arab-American organizations. She's not Middle Eastern, but she's stuck close to the roots.

Nonetheless, If I went to Egypt it would be to learn what I can't here -- more of what my favorite vintage and current dancers project in person and up close by teachers who are very familiar with their styles.

Such as that of Nagwa Fuad -- she should be the patron saint of American Cabaret/Oriental as she really knew what to do with a big space and/or bigger, bolder movements.

Tahia Carioca's style should be studied for how to compact a lot of movement in a small space -- perfect for the more restrained style of belly dancer.

Fifi Abdo, well, for everything, including making it look so easy.

I would also want to see more baladi as performed there. I would love to see genuine ghawazee dances. I'd like to talk to the Egyptian performers - the dancers, musicians and singers about their lives and arts.

If I was hoping to be an authority on the history and cultural context of belly dance, I'd definitely go to Egypt, to other parts of the Middle East, Turkey and Greece, too -- and spend as much time as I could listening, watching and asking questions, besides taking lessons and watching performances.

IMHO, you can be a wonderful belly dance teacher without leaving your country; you can, and should, be quite knowledgeable in the history and cultural context without going abroad. But to be a true expert you have to do at least some study in the mother countries of your styles and learn what you can first hand.
 
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Maria_Aya

New member
I trully believe with all my heart, that if someone is open minded he/she will understand that what we do in West (even with what western arab's say to us) is a version of what is happening to arab lands.
My trips to Cairo was and still is an apocalipsys, and everytime i come back to greece i feel WOW i have long road to go !
More than the lessons, its the feeling of walking in the roads, speaking with people, being in fellukas on the Nile where people male and female DANCE at 4 am, being at Beduine weddings, helping for the wedding (even meaning helping to move the furniture for the new house, on a truck, and going in the Cairo roads ON the truck with tabla's and songs), watching dancers at nightclubs from high hotels, to low places (where you need protection to enter).
So for me not only we have to study with teachers from over there, but we have to travel also to be completed (and as westerns i trully believe that we can't reach the level of theirs) just because this dance that we are practising is so much tight cultural connected. With unspoken things, that we have to learn from A and they know them even being born.
And i'm not talking about the teqnical things, yes we can be greater than many in the teqnick part, and feel also, and have soul, but we will miss something.
On the other hand this is something that doesnt have to make use feel discouraged, as even in this point, this dance offer us a rare soul beauty.
I believe also that knowing the language is a great avantage for a dancer, not only the lyrics, but what is hidden behind them.
I might seem a bit harsh but cause lately saw some video's of west dancers dancing to greek tsifteteli songs, doing the most stupit things, not knowing what the songs are saying etc, i start understanding how it is for arabs, or turks. Beautiful output, but nothing to do with the real thing.

my 5 cents (of euro lol)

Maria Aya
 

lizaj

New member
I personally think we are very lucky with the internet, with DVDs, with youtube, and with global travel becoming so easy, it becomes easier to study 'remotely' without putting foot in the "homeland".

Still, you can usually easily spot dancers who have gone to Belly Dance Mecca (usually Cairo) to learn and I know I intend to make at least an annual pilgrimage.

I also guess it depends what you are striving for. Cairo seems inappropriate if you are aiming for AmCab or ATS perfection, surely?

Where did I say I'd go to Cairo to learn ATS:lol:?
I do realise I'd be popping off to San Fran or Oregan or Hawaii wherever to do that or Istanbul for Turkish..I'm not spelling out each example just the first, my dear. Not sure where I'd go for Amcab ?New York? Las Vegas?
I have to say I think DVD instruction has to be of a far better quality than most to be of much use and God help the poor student who is watching Youtube..learn from our Merseyside bellydancer of many little offerings , do you reckon?;)
Sorry I think one has to go to class and use DVD as backup and yes once you have a grounding to watch really good instruction on fim or great performances to try to get a feel for make makes that dancer good, authentic whatever.
 

lizaj

New member
I trully believe with all my heart, that if someone is open minded he/she will understand that what we do in West (even with what western arab's say to us) is a version of what is happening to arab lands.
My trips to Cairo was and still is an apocalipsys, and everytime i come back to greece i feel WOW i have long road to go !
More than the lessons, its the feeling of walking in the roads, speaking with people, being in fellukas on the Nile where people male and female DANCE at 4 am, being at Beduine weddings, helping for the wedding (even meaning helping to move the furniture for the new house, on a truck, and going in the Cairo roads ON the truck with tabla's and songs), watching dancers at nightclubs from high hotels, to low places (where you need protection to enter).
So for me not only we have to study with teachers from over there, but we have to travel also to be completed (and as westerns i trully believe that we can't reach the level of theirs) just because this dance that we are practising is so much tight cultural connected. With unspoken things, that we have to learn from A and they know them even being born.
And i'm not talking about the teqnical things, yes we can be greater than many in the teqnick part, and feel also, and have soul, but we will miss something.
On the other hand this is something that doesnt have to make use feel discouraged, as even in this point, this dance offer us a rare soul beauty.
I believe also that knowing the language is a great avantage for a dancer, not only the lyrics, but what is hidden behind them.
I might seem a bit harsh but cause lately saw some video's of west dancers dancing to greek tsifteteli songs, doing the most stupit things, not knowing what the songs are saying etc, i start understanding how it is for arabs, or turks. Beautiful output, but nothing to do with the real thing.

my 5 cents (of euro lol)

Maria Aya
I have to say I have come around to your way of thinking. To be truly in touch you do have to immerse yourself or at least have a good wash in the country and I envy dancers like yourself, Maria Aya to do so. If you are going to be an Egyptian style teacher you have first to have learnt from a local one of some quality (as I did) then you make it a mission to go to festivals where great Egyptian teachers and dancers are or at the least you own continent's top proponents of a style who themselves are "in touch". The accents and nuances of the style will constantly change over there and the dancer lucky enough to visit regularly and study over there ( as I know Tracey does...lucky c...er.. person) will be the one who brings home to us what it's all about if we don't get to Aida or Randa.
I have been to Egypt twice ( and am booked to go to Luxor again Ghawazee hunting!:lol:) and I don't go just for the dance, I am fascinated by the history and the modern world of that country so I probably waste precious dancing time rambling around Karnak, bargaining in a souk and watching the world go by from the terrace of a hotel. It's dipping your toe in a country I know
I've also been to Morocco and Tunisia and although belly dancing wasn't up to much, the folk dancing was. As Maria ,I believe gives a layer to your dance, watching and studying the world it came from.
Also as Maria says, I watched American and European much vaunted "Egyptian " style expert dancers and er...no..they weren't really..not once you've seen the likes of Randa, Dandesh and Aida etc. That isn't to say they were bad dancers but I think a lot of folks know they are good and are well informed but they sometimes rest on their laurels and their reputation
( well earned) as an expert belly dancer and don't take any opportunity they can to study with teacher or dancer dancing "over there".
I bless the opportunities I have had to study with Khaled Mahmoud, Randa Kamal, Asmahan and Sara Farouk and look forward to Aida Nour and Yasmina.
We're lucky to have dancers like Tracey, Anne and Kay up here in the frozen north of England who go regularly to Cairo and bring back the "accent" for us.
Equally learning tribal with Paulette Rees Denis, Domba and Wendy Marlett was a real eye opener and boost to the troupe I belong to..we began to get it right without going stateside.:dance:
 

lizaj

New member
Dear Eshta,
I am considered among Arabs to be very Egyptian in my style. Also by people like Shareen El Safy, Hallah Moustafa and some others who are experts in the style. I have studied with Egyptian dancers, but have never spent time in Egypt. I do, however, hang out with Arabs all the time, so I feel that I pick up a bit about culture and the Arab world view practically every day. I am not sure spending a few days in Egypt would be of more benefit to me that my daily life experiences, especially since I make it a point to study with the Egyptian dancers whenever possible. However, I think I am going to try to go to Egypt next year, really to visit Hallah as much as for any other reason. I have very high standards and am considered an expert in the Egyptian style. Sticking one's toe in the Nile does not necessarily make one a better dancer if it is not there inside the dancer already, and I think this goes for all styles of dance.I am not sure I understand about the "cascading of a style". Can you please explain?
Regards,


A'isha

I think it was I using the term.. I teach my students what I have been taught by Khaled Mahmoud who has been studying with Aida or Raqia thus cascading knowledge and technique.
Sorry it's term used quite regularly in the UK for passing down of info and tuition so what you have learnt is not from a master or the hore's mouth but from people who have and so on...I always assumed it was another term we had gained from the US!
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

I think it was I using the term.. I teach my students what I have been taught by Khaled Mahmoud who has been studying with Aida or Raqia thus cascading knowledge and technique.
Sorry it's term used quite regularly in the UK for passing down of info and tuition so what you have learnt is not from a master or the hore's mouth but from people who have and so on...I always assumed it was another term we had gained from the US!
Dear Lisaj,
Thanks, now I understand. So, it is like when I study with Fifi or Mouna, take the time to really understand what I leanred and then pass it on to my students.
As for comments about needing to travel to the countries of origin to learn the dance, I would say that many people have been to countries of origin and still not learned the dance.It can help a person to have an understanding of the people and cultures from which the dances originate if people go with a very open mind. This is not always possible. Members of the BDSS who have gone do not look the least bit Egyptian. I have lived in many different locations and what I took away with me from them does not make me any more like the people who live there, or have any more understanding of them. Just because I lived on Newfoundland for two years does not mean I understand the soul of a Newfie!! It is about acceptance a lot of the time. It never hurts to travel to countries of origin, certainly, but there are other legitimate ways to learn.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Eshta

New member
Where did I say I'd go to Cairo to learn ATS:lol:?
I do realise I'd be popping off to San Fran or Oregan or Hawaii wherever to do that or Istanbul for Turkish..I'm not spelling out each example just the first, my dear. Not sure where I'd go for Amcab ?New York? Las Vegas?
I have to say I think DVD instruction has to be of a far better quality than most to be of much use and God help the poor student who is watching Youtube..learn from our Merseyside bellydancer of many little offerings , do you reckon?;)
Sorry I think one has to go to class and use DVD as backup and yes once you have a grounding to watch really good instruction on fim or great performances to try to get a feel for make makes that dancer good, authentic whatever.
Erm, you didn't, I was just making a point that it seems a lot of dancers view Cairo (for example) as some holy grail but it will only be relevant for some dancers. For example, the Ahlan wa Sahlan festival confuses me as I get the impression that it's very much an AmCab oriented festival but held in Cairo - although having never been, i am open to corrections.

I don't personally use youtube for tuition, but it's granted me access to more clips of the legends of Egypt than my dvd allowance would ever have stretched to, or would have ever uncovered. I'm currently studying Naima Akef in depth and although my DVD collection has Aziza and the two clips from Tamra Henna, I've found so many more clips through youtube. there's a lot of sorting the wheat from the chaff, not a good place for a beginner!!

I should have been clearer, I think the key benefit to be derived from a trip to the home country is an insight into the culture, but of course the type of holiday you go on will determine whether you see that or not! My first trip to Cairo was with a highly knowledgeable man who had previously lived there and spoke the language fluently, and was keen to educate me about the culture. In those two weeks I learnt more about Egyptian culture and society than I could have done in 10 years of annual trips staying in the Hilton and visiting the pyramids every day! And in Ai'sha's case, if you are surrounded by arabs who 'let you in' and share their culture with you, you don't need to ever leave home!

Sadly, and frankly understandably, I notice that at least in London I'm treated with suspicion when I talk to arabs and ask questions, as a community they've become a lot more closed since the hatred and ignorance this war on terror has stirred up.

I suppose the cascading of an Egyptian style can theoretically work, but only if there is a solid base of accurately labelled, competent teachers who all teach a reasonably consistent style, rather than a bunch of egoists using the term "egyptian" when they really mean "lazy" and is in fact no closer to Egyptian style belly dance, or even belly dance of any kind in some cases, than it is to any other style. Guess it's like breeding pedigrees: once you let the mongrel in, it's difficult to breed it out ;)!
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Eshta,
So beautifully stated!! I'm on my way to give you some well deserved Rep!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
I suppose the cascading of an Egyptian style can theoretically work, but only if there is a solid base of accurately labelled, competent teachers who all teach a reasonably consistent style, rather than a bunch of egoists using the term "egyptian" when they really mean "lazy"
I am planning to go to Egypt, possibly this summer, lots of things depending.

I am also planning to go to Turkey.

I want to go both places for fun, but also to get a sense of what the dancing is like "in situ" -- in the culture. I'm not really sure I want to shell out a lot for Ahlan Wa Sahlan, though, especially after some of what I've been hearing about it. I think I might be better off going down to Miami and Dallas and studying with Dina and Raqia etc here, in a smaller setting.

One thing I noticed a long time ago was that two people can get something COMPLETELY different out of a workshop, and then they can go home and teach it completely differently. This is why I don't usually go to "Dina Technique" workshops with people who aren't Dina. Or why I choose to study with Suhaila herself instead of someone who has studied with her.

Years ago, Raqia Hassan taught a choreography in California at an ICMED event. I bought the video. A few years ago I was at a major workshop and the American instructor (who most people credit as being a master of Egyptian style) taught the same choreography, giving all rights and notices and such that it was Raqia's choreo.

I was surprised at how different the two choreos ended up being. I still go back and look at the American instructor's performance of it and try to analyze what she did that made it look so different from Raqia's performance. (For one, she "cleaned up" the rough edges that Raqia has on some of her movements -- but that's just Raqia!!)

Cascading information is fine in many ways, but I think the subtleties can easily be lost with each transmission. I trust Artemis Mourat to teach me Turkish Romany dance, but I'll bet I would get a lot out of going over there and learning from the source.

I know personally Flamenco in America and Flamenco in Spain have completely different "essences." It's one thing to listen to a CD here. It's quite another to sit outside in the ungodly heat, the wet streets stinking of horse manure, and listening to the old guy at the table screech out a song about living in prison, as though it were just something everybody goes through in their lives. :O
 

belly_dancer

New member
It's one thing to listen to a CD here. It's quite another to sit outside in the ungodly heat, the wet streets stinking of horse manure, and listening to the old guy at the table screech out a song about living in prison, as though it were just something everybody goes through in their lives. :O
YES..... isn't it!!!!..... one of the things I miss in LIVE music........:(
 

Kharmine

New member
...I know personally Flamenco in America and Flamenco in Spain have completely different "essences." It's one thing to listen to a CD here. It's quite another to sit outside in the ungodly heat, the wet streets stinking of horse manure, and listening to the old guy at the table screech out a song about living in prison, as though it were just something everybody goes through in their lives. :O
Oh, yes, this is so true! Any time I've heard of a serious American flamenco, whether a musician or dancer, that person has usually traveled to Spain to study and absorb culture firsthand. Sure, they can see a lotta touristy crap over there, but if they're careful, persistent and open-minded they can find the essence, the duende that may be even more elusive here.

We are born with very individual filters, and I doubt any two people could have exactly the same reactions and perceptions even while sharing the same experiences. That's why we can't rely only on other people's experiences for our knowledge.

It's vitally important to listen to and respect the experiences of others, of course, but for some things it just doesn't beat that firsthand exposure.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Is it important?

Response below. The computer will not let me do it my way!!!


Cascading information is fine in many ways, but I think the subtleties can easily be lost with each transmission. I trust Artemis Mourat to teach me Turkish Romany dance, but I'll bet I would get a lot out of going over there and learning from the source.

I know personally Flamenco in America and Flamenco in Spain have completely different "essences." It's one thing to listen to a CD here. It's quite another to sit outside in the ungodly heat, the wet streets stinking of horse manure, and listening to the old guy at the table screech out a song about living in prison, as though it were just something everybody goes through in their lives.

Dear Aziyade,
It is a very romantic notion, but chances are you aren't going to find very many upscale belly dancers sitting in the hot sun , smelling manure etc, either. They will be in their nice, cool apartments or villas, eating good food, wearing nice clothes, putting on make-up, etc. Fifi sometimes takes to the streets and it is just one reason she is loved by the people.
Regards,
A'isha
:O
 

lizaj

New member
Eshta:rather than a bunch of egoists using the term "egyptian" when they really mean "lazy" and is in fact no closer to Egyptian style belly dance, or even belly dance of any kind in some cases, than it is to any other style. Guess it's like breeding pedigrees: once you let the mongrel in, it's difficult to breed it out


Perhaps you would like to illuminate me as to the London scene, of which I know nothing. The teachers of Egyptian style I know seem to work very hard to improve what we do..and for lazy I think we usually say the Egyptian dancer make everything look effortless even though we know how hard they have worked to get to that standard. Name names for the I don't bother to attend these people's workshops.What is going on darn sarf?

and up here we find most Arab communities open and friendly although quite obviously they are wary of the backlash some Muslim communities felt after 9/11 and London bombings. In every community you get some who don't welcome intrusion, I suppose they might be fearful we might grab their men and breed ...er ...was it mongrels:lol:

You know that last sentence is : :confused:confused: like mongrels they tend to be smart and loyal and let's face it most Brits are mongrels:D
So if you apply that to the dance scene which is constantly evolving...elements which may seem alien at one time do not later on. Do we have to take the ballet infulence out of belly dance, do we lose the andalouse, do you not want to include folkloric styles? I see Turkish dancers dancing very much in an Egyptian style and Turkish elements in Egyptian style dancers, folkloric "episodes" in a danse orientale set..does it matter if it is well done?
 

lizaj

New member
mmmm Flamenco and horse sh*t

I think especially the parts of Spain we all visit these days are all rather more sophisticated and well-heeled these days. That's probably why you get the flashy touristy flamenco and no that doesn't compare to the Gypsy dancers and musicians you can be lucky enough to see in bars in Andalusia or the Sevillianas who regularly come on tour to a theatre near us.
No ,they have the something lacking in the polished theatrical or tacky light tourist display..it's called passion.
 
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