How important is it?

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Of course back then we expected to be offered rides in pony carts and carriages with a four-in-hand.
 

LeylaLanty

New member
:clap::clap::clap::clap: Well said, Maria_Aya!

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
 

LeylaLanty

New member
For me, I'm torn right now between thinking I should go on one of the dance tours, or go and just SEE the place itself.
... ... ...
Every place is like that. Travel writers call it "local color" but the more you experience it, the more you understand the local culture. I don't know how much more about flamenco rhythms I was able to absorb, but something about that experience made the whole idea of flamenco BIGGER and more grand for me. That's what I would hope to capture by going to Egypt. I'm just wondering if going on a regular tour would give me the same feeling as AWS.

There's another festival there too, isn't there? Aida Nour organizes it? Or am I confused?
The last question, no it's not Aida Nour, although she participates in it. It's put on by the Nile Group. There's also one put on by Safti Craft. I have no experience with those festivals. I have been going to Egypt annually for the last for 14 years and to AWS for the last 6 years and
now teach at AWS.

I've done both - just gone and seen the country and gone on a dance tour to Egypt. If it's your first time in Egypt, unless someone really knowledgeable tells you in very detailed fashion before you go how to see dancers, teachers, etc., ALL you will see will be what's in the tour guide books - ancient sights, museums, etc., which I agree you must see and are DEFINITELY worthwhile, and you'll get some street experience as others have described. You'll probably be able to find a couple of dance shows if your hotel's concierge helps you.

If you go with a dance tour, the VERY time-consuming jobs of finding your way around, reserving hotel spaces, finding a tour bus because it's the best thing, finding out of the way places to see, finding the dance teachers and arranging for lessons, and going to AWS where the dancing is all gathered together for you in one place, your first visit will be much more rewarding than an unguided trip. That's just reality. Egypt is NOT an easy place for the lone tourist, especially a young female.

If you have a month or more to go to Egypt, find places, poke around on the street, visit museums, make all the phone calls, etc., then going on your own would most likely be difficult but do-able (been, there, done that, now am knowledgeable and have a great time on my own;)).

If it's your first time and you only have 2 or 3 weeks' vacation and money, then I highly recommend either going with a dance tour, or going to AWS where you can find a wealth of dancers, classes, activities, parties every night with GREAT live music. From there you can find people to visit the nightclubs, etc., to have a wider exposure than the festival.
 
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Kharmine

New member
I'm wondering about the security issue -- apart from dressing ultra-modestly and following the local customs and so forth, how do foreign women manage not to stand out and become a target for the violent zealots? Especially belly dancers?
 

Kashmir

New member
I'm wondering about the security issue -- apart from dressing ultra-modestly and following the local customs and so forth, how do foreign women manage not to stand out and become a target for the violent zealots? Especially belly dancers?
For a start - don't tell any one you are a dancer!

I quickly found lowering my eyes helped me fade a little into the background - I'm still obviously European but I was bothered less than some of the women I travelled with. Also, no screaming across to your mates :rolleyes: Mind you none of us had trouble with zealots - just street vendors. (But we also were not American and were travelling with an Egyptian man)

Here's some of the tips I give friends going over there (4 years old already - must get back - but I suspect not that much has changed) Tips on Travel
 

LeylaLanty

New member
For a start - don't tell any one you are a dancer!

I quickly found lowering my eyes helped me fade a little into the background - I'm still obviously European but I was bothered less than some of the women I travelled with. Also, no screaming across to your mates :rolleyes: Mind you none of us had trouble with zealots - just street vendors. (But we also were not American and were travelling with an Egyptian man)

Here's some of the tips I give friends going over there (4 years old already - must get back - but I suspect not that much has changed) Tips on Travel
Yes, don't tell ANYone you're a belly dancer - bad thing to do!!! The only people you discuss dancing with are dance teachers, other dancers, musicians, not the general public. Everything is the link above "Tips on Travel" is excellent advice. Also click through on Meissoun's page in the last paragraph of the article.

The dress code - long loose skirts or straight leg pants with loose fitting tops with at least the upper arms covered. Loose fitting long dresses with upper arms covered, waistline belted if you like, are ok too, This is not a problem in the summer time when anything tight will be HOT and uncomfortable. V-necks are ok as long as NO CLEAVAGE shows! If you like, you can cover your hair to protect it from the sun and pollution, but no need to wear the muslim hijab which covers hair and neck too.
 

lizaj

New member
Yes, don't tell ANYone you're a belly dancer - bad thing to do!!! The only people you discuss dancing with are dance teachers, other dancers, musicians, not the general public. Everything is the link above "Tips on Travel" is excellent advice. Also click through on Meissoun's page in the last paragraph of the article.

The dress code - long loose skirts or straight leg pants with loose fitting tops with at least the upper arms covered. Loose fitting long dresses with upper arms covered, waistline belted if you like, are ok too, This is not a problem in the summer time when anything tight will be HOT and uncomfortable. V-necks are ok as long as NO CLEAVAGE shows! If you like, you can cover your hair to protect it from the sun and pollution, but no need to wear the muslim hijab which covers hair and neck too.

I copied this from a Bhuz discussion about my scary experience with a loud bellydancer in Luxor this year.

"I told this tale before on Bhuz but this Feb I was in Luxor airport, having a sit down as him indoors awaited the luggage when this vision of loveliness (NOT!) charged up to me shouting " hello Liz J...,belly dancer extraordianaire ..are you here to strut your stuff? have you brought your costumes. I have and wait 'til I get to that boat and show them what I can do"
She was wearing (I kid you not) a hipscarf tied around her head, huge earings and necklace, a wrap-over dress which didn't quite do its' job, sparkly cropped leggings, mules and anklets and of course, a hip scarf. Ever wished the earth might swallow you up? or preferably someone else!
Ignorant of the fact that belly dancers are not always the top of everyone's family party list in Egypt, that most Egyptian ladies DON'T dress like that, that Islam dictates modesty in a woman's dress and demeanour, that Luxor is really all about very grand monuments and not belly dancing.
The travellers sitting with me were embarassed and appauled by her behaviour and (thank goodness) felt my total cringing antipathy to this stupid c**
To tell the truth I didn't know her from Eve, she had seen me on stage at home but her face is etched on my memory and should I ever meet her here I shall have recovered my shattered wits and tell her what I think of her stupidity."

Yes I wait until I meet musicians, dancers and costumiers before the dark secret of my belly dancing is out. I did dance with the dancer on the boat and our Egyptologist asked me to start 'em all off at the party night and I agreed as there was NO professional dancer at these nights ( you don't kick the pro off her spot!)

And again a good few years ago I was buying dance music in Tunisia and the vendor sidled up( getting rather too close),,,ooo madam is belly dancer. He stepped back and bowed slightly when I said ( lying I confess)" I only dance with ladies at parties"
Caution and discretion and modesty in clothing : I wear long loose skirt or trouser and kaftan type top and I wear a hat or head scarf , not for religious reasons but to stop the naturally(???:lol:;) bleached blonde hair from going white :shok:in the sun .
And I have found no problems in attitude in either Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco to this big blousy Western blonde.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
I was just watching the opening video of Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2001 last night, and Iit made me SOOOOO want to go. There in the audience, looking radiant as a star, was my hero -- Sohair Zaki!!!!!

I would simply fall over dead if she showed up at the AWS I went to, I just know it.

Thinking now I want to go with Morocco. I wanted to do it this next year (2008) but I heard that tour was already sold out! I guess that's good -- maybe in 2009 we'll have a new president and I'll have more $$ to spend.
 

sstacy123

New member
Well since I just returned from my first trip to Egypt I have to post...(just discovered this thread today)

I'm not arguing whether or not going to the land of the dance is necessary just my personal experience.

I debated between a dance tour or just seeing the country myself...I ended up just doing a tour of the country because it was a place I always wanted to go even before I became interested in the dance. I didn't get in with the people as much as I'd like but I do find that the exposure I did have has changed me in a way I can't put into words. Whether this change has translated into my dance I don't know...I hope so, but I am a young student and for now my style is my teacher's style. Prior to this trip I've really had very little contact with Arabs.

I guess it depends on where in Egypt you travel but on my tour I dressed more conservative than my tourmates in shorts/capris/tanks and it didn't seem to make a difference in the attention we got.

I wouldn't worry about not standing out because you're going to whether you like it or not. They are going to be calling you, just don't look at them and keep walking...I tried to stay with the group but did wonder off solo a couple of times. I really felt quite safe there...though I didn't appreciate the smooch I got by one of the shopkeepers, it is kind of funny.

I did tell three Egyptians that I was a dancer and whether they thought poorly of me because of it I don't know, they kept that to themselves. I'm still talking to one of them via email.
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Dress in Egypt

Dear Gang,
From what I hear from my friends, in the bigger cities in Egypt, you can now see young Egyptian women wearing very tight jeans and tees, and hijab all at once!!
However, in the cities there are neighborhoods where it is best to dress conservatively.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Kharmine

New member
Well since I just returned from my first trip to Egypt I have to post...(just discovered this thread today)...
Hey, I wanna know from people who visit and live in Egypt, Turkey and Greece!

I wanna know what worked for them, and what to watch out for. I wanna know if a tour is great or if it sucks. When it's OK to get off the beaten path, and when it's a better idea to stay on it. What's been over-hyped and what's been overlooked.

I'm sure I'll make enough mistakes on my own even with good advice, but I'd like to avoid the worst if I can!
 

Outi

New member
I have some articles about Egypt in my website Outi of Cairo
There will be more time to time. Those are not really travelling stuff, as this kind of information is easily found in many places. Lonely Planet is a great traveling guide, both the Cairo and Egypt - depending where you are going to go.

I just returned today from my trip to Siwa. It was great and I learned a lot about different kind of Egyptians. I will write about it more later.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

Dear Outi,
Thanks for sharing your info. You are one of the dancers who actually lives in Egypt and your perspective will be very different from that of the occasional visitor. I am hoping to come to stay with Hallah for a bit next Spring and I look forward to meeting you if you still live nearby.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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