Teaching men bellydance

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

Dear Tarik,
Responses below

The foundation of the dance is Raks Baladi, it is the heart and sould of the Egyptian people and is the esence which gives Sharki its life.

A. writes- PART of the foundation of the dance, mainly movement families, is beledi. But... belly dance is much more sophisticated and complex than beledi ever was. It is a different dance in every way, including the way movement is used, and that has to be acknowledged, and usually is by professional dancers like Fifi. I own video where she asks the audience in very clear terms what they want to have her dance. She defines the dances and understand the differences..


In terms of terminology, people over there are not always as clinical in differentiating the two as we are. In her National Geographic interview, Lucy said with her own mouth Fil Masr Raks Isharki fil kulli bayt , "In Egypt Raks Sharki is in every house". The next scene was at a street wedding, (where the camera man deliberately focused on the two girls dancing and left the little boy on the saide out of frame, instead of showing all of them).

A. writes- Raqs sharghi being in every house can mean many things. I own that tape, too. I find that Arab people make a very clear distinction between dancing in the living room and dancing on stage. Usually they do not seem to call what they do in the living room by any particular name, but raqs sharghi is the name given to the professional dance.

Everyone I know, including Tito, Ida Nour, Fifi Abdu and others considers what he does Raks Sharki.

A. writes- Many times what they will say to someone who is not in their close circle of friends is not the same as what they say in public. I know this from some thirty years of hanging out with Arabs. They often make nice in public, but give you the real deal when they know and trust you well enough to get past the demands of polite society. So, all those public proclamations, of which I have personally heard none, do not mean much to me.


All the arabs who have since put up videos of him on youtube call him a male belly dancer. As for what is expressed, I would suggest that everyone who reads this post do some research for themselves. Look at Sohair Zaki, Fifi Abdou, Nawa Fouad, and as many Egyptian dancers as you can find and then compare what they do against what Tito does. Look for spirit, personality, complexity of musical interpritation and see if there is a jaring difference. If what he is doing is not Sharki the differences will either be very obvious, or so slight as to not merit any attention.

A. writes- That is because they think westerners think ALL Middle Eastern dance is belly dance. I can see a jarring difference. He interprets a like a male doing beledi. Yes, look at those female dancers and see that the dance is feminine in its essence and spirit, in expression through movement and in the soul of the dance itself, and then see if that is what Tito expresses through spirit, movement, etc. The difference will be pretty obvious.

Finally, the problem here, is one of perspective. You have an all or nothing dogmatic view of the situation, where as I and those who agree with me have a more inclucive view.

A. writes- Here we go again. Quit trying to make me out to be narrow in my thinking, or arrogant about it. Also don't try to pull that psychobabble you always trot out, about how I am the one making myself look like that. Do you even really understand the meaning of the word "dogmatic"? I am no more so than you in stating my opinion, which I notice you stating yours with equal fervor and I might add a little more arrogance than me, since I do not continually point out what I see as your narrow view. Pretty soon you are going to piss me off with that, and I will start telling you how I see your view and YOU, instead of discussing the subject at hand. And what I see is pretty self serving, so knock it off with that dogmatic crap unless you are looking to see in print how I see you and your view. Keep on the subject.


We are not suggesting that we do away with the solo female dance, what we are saying, is that it is okay, in addition to the traditional form, to create new ways of expressing it.
Therefore, withing the context of a performance, one would have female solo dances, male solo dances, folkloric or theatrical tabluex, duets. It will not detract or cheapen the art form, it will inject new life and vitality into it.

A. writes- What I see as the difference here is that you refer to what might be and I refer to what is. My job as a western dancer is to let the natives take the lead and show me what THEY want to do with their dance before deciding what I want to do with it. Of course, if I want to call myself a fusion dancer, than that is a different matter. Since I claim to be an Egyptian dancer, I need to follow their lead and not expect them to change to suit my needs.



In Egypt if you go to a night club, in the course of the evening they have solo oriental dances, folk dances, ensamble oriental dances, some god awful pseudo balletic horse crap done by emaciated badly trained and coordinated male dancers who also dance back up behind the solo and ensable oriental dancers, not to mention the mother of all abominations reeeeeally bad Russian fusion dancer in next to nothing. If that hasn't killed the art of Oriental dance, I can't see how the addition of male dancers and duets would.

A. writes- The addition of male dancers as belly dancers would not hurt anything and I never said it would. I am saying if they choose to do away with the feminine essence and spirit of the dance, THEN they will harm it. If they choose to do Beledi style dance, which is how I see Tito, for example, then that is a different story. If, by some chance the field is changing and a style of dance is developing that specifically address the male attitude and essence, then we will see what happens from there, but in Egypt, that day is not yet here. Men are still not generally accepted as professional dancers, and that is the reality of what is, not what I might like it to be. Re the Russian fusion... note they are FEMALES in next to nothing, fitting in quite nicely with the prevalent sharmuta image that female performers have dealt with for a very long time. There is nothing new in that. Re duets. I think I have given some pretty concise reason why duets are not amenable to raqs sharghi.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
dogmatic: "employing or characterized by assertion: making statements without argument or evidence, hence authoritative speech, magisterial, arrogant, overbearing... See also inflexible, arbitrary, firm, bias."
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dogmatic, etc.

dogmatic: "employing or characterized by assertion: making statements without argument or evidence, hence authoritative speech, magisterial, arrogant, overbearing... See also inflexible, arbitrary, firm, bias."

Dear Shanazel,
And there we have it straight from the tomes of Webster!! ( That's what I think it means, too!!)
Regards,
A'isha
 
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