The more i think about it, the more i wonder if the overt jazz influence was what people were annoyed with? the older stuff, although defiantly having a western influence, was more centered around all the ME styles with a heavy Turkish influence, therefore being more grounded in belly dance traditions? im just thinking out loud here
Depending on the dancer, older AmCab could have had elements of modern ballet/contemporary dance/whatever-we're-calling-what-followed-in-the-path-of-people-like-Ruth-St.-Denis-and-Isadora-Duncan, too. To the point of people disclosing their feelings about floorwork, can I admit that I didn't get that part where Elena was pulling herself across the floor by her elbows about halfway through over here http://bellydanceforums.net/threads/elena-lentini-1991.20161/ ? That looked like something you'd see in a really modern interpretive ballet to me.
We can also see people dancing from that country as well, not just teachers, but people actually from that culture. That's a MAJOR leg up. It also comes with its own downfalls, like people believing that Russian / Ukrainian dancers ARE dancing ME styles when they are not, simply due to the plethora of them online. i find alot of Chinese dancers dance the Russian styles and i rarely see them dancing Egyptian or Turkish. also, we can understand the cultural aspects better, again, meaning we can see that we have lack of dancers from the ME regions to learn from, due to the change in their culture. We have a better understanding of this, but its a double edged sword.
Many of those popular Eastern European dancers are working in the ME, and (the few) native dancers look at Alla Kushnir or Johara or whoever is pulling in the best gigs in Cairo these days, and they feel pressure to copy what they do. Almost everybody is cross pollinating with everybody else.
Then there is the whole can of worms about what we're supposed to do with the reality that a lot of what's al raqs al nas or sha'abi now is hip hop. I don't mean we're supposed to try to stop that--it's their culture and if that's how they want to dance, we don't have any authority to prevent them--but do we keep doing the old stuff (basically appointing ourselves as custodians of their dying dance traditions), or do we get on board with their new direction? Or some of both?
Can i also point out that the flip side to this is that other world folkloric dances have been very "westernized" (ie ballroom) which gives them respect as WE see it...
Mahmoud Reda never made any secret of being inspired by Gene Kelly, so anybody who wants to claim that what the Reda Troupe did was "real folklore" missed some critical information. I'm not sure part of why some of these older AmCab dance traditions drifted into disuse wasn't because the enthusiasm for "dance purity" got so tangled up in the Reda influence that it painted a lot of dance students out of the picture.
Unless you're from Egypt, and often even if you are, you probably need some Reda training for "street cred" as an Egyptian-style expert. If we're being honest, it is really hard to be successful at the Reda style without having ballet training. And if we're really being honest, we'll concede that a lot of our students wanted to be dancers when they were younger, but for whatever reasons, didn't end up performing the lead in "Swan Lake," so they signed up for a rec belly dance class years later instead.
I'm not trying to disrespect anybody. The BD community prides itself on being a haven for the souls who yearn to dance and missed their chance or weren't welcomed by another dance style earlier in life. I'm just wondering if sometimes students don't find themselves thinking, "I look like a clod trying to do this fancy, Reda Egyptian ballet junk, so I'll just do something easier. Pass me those fan veils and a Loreena McKennitt record." (Not that it's easy to be good at fans and "Marco Polo," but the learning curve is less complicated than learning all the pieces that go into doing something as specific as Reda style. And I'm not saying fusion is always easy. Good fusion can take years of training to lay the groundwork and clever artistic insight.)