what do you consider to be damaging to the future of Middle Eastern dance?

Mariles

New member
:( I think the combination of bad and invented fusions with bad teachers and performers is very bad for the dance. Bad teachers go out and teach their students bad tecnique and bad music interpretation which creates a cicle, those students will teach others in a wrong way. When they preform to people who dont have knowladge about this dance, that will bring more and more ignorance to it. And people with none experience start to call themselves "bellydancers", when in the reality they only know a few moves.
And why does everybody has to call bellydance to every dance that moves the belly or the hips? There are a lot of videos that dont have bellydance on it, but the title is "Bellydance"...
One thing I really dont like is the "remixed" musics. Eternal songs like Enta Omri remixed with techno beats?! Why?? It looks horrible. I see a huge amount of bellydance cds with these beats, that just ruins the music.

I think it's the combination of all tis that damages middle eastern dance.
 

lizaj

New member
:( I think the combination of bad and invented fusions with bad teachers and performers is very bad for the dance. Bad teachers go out and teach their students bad tecnique and bad music interpretation which creates a cicle, those students will teach others in a wrong way. When they preform to people who dont have knowladge about this dance, that will bring more and more ignorance to it. And people with none experience start to call themselves "bellydancers", when in the reality they only know a few moves.
And why does everybody has to call bellydance to every dance that moves the belly or the hips? There are a lot of videos that dont have bellydance on it, but the title is "Bellydance"...
One thing I really dont like is the "remixed" musics. Eternal songs like Enta Omri remixed with techno beats?! Why?? It looks horrible. I see a huge amount of bellydance cds with these beats, that just ruins the music.

I think it's the combination of all tis that damages middle eastern dance.
Looks like it's an international problem
this bad teaching lark and deluded dancer!:(
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
Yes, it is a combination of many factors.
Bad teaching is high on the list, but who decides who is good or bad?

On the open stage at Raqs B perhaps 10% of the dancing was to MED music.
How can this not be a threat whether good or bad? I love good fusion but the popularity over MED dance is frightening.

Are people truly bored with MED dance and music? I believe so

After going to x amount of classes do they decide it does not suit them or their personality so the take what they want and add it to some Judas Priest?

One class I went to years ago when I first started, had us gyrating to Jimi Hendrix... the same rubbish teacher is still teaching the same choreography to students 15 years later.

I experiment with dance and drama and I do love good fusion but it is over taking everything now. MED is now diluted in the UK and good practitioners are few and far between.

You watch some people do fusion and you just know they have never ever learned the fusion they are doing and are making it up from a video.
What is that about? boredom, money, inventiveness??...
 

Suheir

New member
Yes, it is a combination of many factors.
Bad teaching is high on the list, but who decides who is good or bad?
Unfortunately, it seems that an awful lot of students are so undiscerning that they're incapable of seeing through teachers with awful posture, who can't execute basic movements, who are ignorant of the background and culture, even when they're subsequently exposed to the "real" thing.

It appears to be very easy to pull the wool over people's eyes if you have aggressive marketing and brainwashed acolytes to spread the word.

Are people truly bored with MED dance and music? I believe so
When there is so much variety? If people are so scared of Middle Eastern culture that they have to dance to Shakira and will only go to workshops with teachers who speak perfect English I'd suggest they'd be better off with ballroom dancing.

One class I went to years ago when I first started, had us gyrating to Jimi Hendrix... the same rubbish teacher is still teaching the same choreography to students 15 years later.
A couple of teachers in the last MADN *professionals* showcase I went to were still doing exactly the same things I'd seen them perform 7 years previously. Students of one of the teachers were sitting next to me in the audience and gushing over how wonderful their teacher was. :rolleyes:
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
MED should have an education beyond the dance moves in my opinion.
Culture is integral to the dance and every teacher should have a little grounding at least in this. There really is no exuse these days.

At Ahlan I was surprised to see people leaving the grounds of the Mena house in peak hour wearing little or no clothing, some in belly dance attire and walking the streets back to their various hotels and some stopping of at a restaurant for a bite to eat. Do people not pack their brains with their under wear etc.

I am amazes me that festivals like these dont have serious security risks.
It only takes one unbalanced individual to take offence and the whole thing could escalate into something very nasty which could potentially put everyone at risk.
 

Suheir

New member
At Ahlan I was surprised to see people leaving the grounds of the Mena house in peak hour wearing little or no clothing, some in belly dance attire and walking the streets back to their various hotels and some stopping of at a restaurant for a bite to eat. Do people not pack their brains with their under wear etc.
:shok: I remember reading belly dance students on a message board saying that they refused to cover their heads when visiting a mosque in Cairo - really, if you have no respect for other people's religions or culture, why should you expect them to have any respect for you?
 

Mya

New member
:shok: I remember reading belly dance students on a message board saying that they refused to cover their heads when visiting a mosque in Cairo - really, if you have no respect for other people's religions or culture, why should you expect them to have any respect for you?
That's appalling - i am not by any stretch of the imagination a religous person but i detest that kind of behaviour and i have gone to the mosque here more than once with my muslim cousins as i find it an interesting way to get insight into a bit of he culture of the religion and perhaps by extension a slightly better understanding of why certain attitudes exist in general and to the dance in specific. Never once did it occur to me to go in low rise jeans and a crop top and walk in with my stilettos on - it really upsets me when people dont' respect other people's beliefs just because they're different to their own.
 
Yes American cabaret is fusion of many different styles of Oriental dance that was originally taught by first generationArabic/Greek/Turkish/Armenian/Persian immigrants to America. It is not a fusion of Western style dances (i.e jazz, modern, hip-hop,ballet) nor a fusion of music and movements from multiple distinct cultures (i.e Indian dance, with samba and few hip drops thrown in). Of course this is my opinion, and as such it is subject to scrutiny.

What I think is damaging to Middle Eastern dance are the following:

Students who to begin to teach far to soon. The information becomes more diluted with each generation.

Fundamental religious attacks on the dance in the countries of origin. The suppression of creative spirit will have much wider negative impact than bad fusion....because without it how would we tell the difference?

Professional dancers undercutting each other or worse yet performing for little to no pay just for exposure. Whatever one might think of Dina, at least she gets paid and then she exposes herself!

The least damaging..overpriced costumes...c'mon who needs a Sahar Okasha costume that sells for grand!! Ok my personal rant:rolleyes:
I'm going to bed
Yasmine
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Defnition

Dear Jane,

The dances of the Middle East have names, but they don't get used very often. All the torso based dances of the ME get lumped together as "Belly Dance"

My definition inspired by A'isha: a solo improvisational dance style rooted in Middle Eastern social dances, characterized by isolations, undulations, and rhythmic shaking of the torso and hips which visually interprets secular Middle Eastern music based in the maqam system.

I always ask "What's Middle Eastern about it?"

I also think fusion leads to Confusion for both dancers and the public. Joe Blow sees a dancer with something around the hips, they think "belly dancer" no matter what.

If it doesn't have Middle Eastern music and movement vocabulary it isn't belly dance. You can do ME movement to Indian music, but it's NOT "belly dance". Hip-Hop to Om K. is not "belly dance" either.

Fusion is the blending of two dance forms. When you take a little of this, a little of that, taken to extremes it either becomes a muddle or a new dance form. The problem comes from "bad" fusion: Poorly executed, insensitive cultural blending, or just plain ignorance.

New dance forms deserve new names! If they are good, they will stand on their own merit. I like "global fusion" or "world fusion".




Actually, many of the dances of the Middle East do not have names. We have given them labels in order to more clearly teach them and define them for our own uses. I agree that new forms need new names and this is one of the things I have harped on for many years.


This is my definition of belly dance, quoted from my class literature. I believe that it goes for all 3 major styles, (Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese).

"Belly dance is an authentic ethnic dance in movement and spirit. The dance and dancer are the physical manifestation of and visual compliment to the exotic music they accompany. Like ballet, the dance has precise movements based on root concepts. the dancer enjoys a full range of personal expression within the dance."


You might note that the very first claim in my literature is that belly dance is an ethnic dance!!!!!!!

I have been watching this thread with great interest and the thing that amazes me is that 10 years ago practically no one saw fusion as a problem at all. I got raked over the coals quite frequently for mentioning that it was one. Now it seems to be recognized the main problem, along with bad teaching. We need to be more far sighted and try to follow a thought process that sees us through to the result of any new element in the dance world!

I see layers of problems:

*Us not paying attention and monitoring and calling people on bulls--t when that is what they are doing. We are not taking responsibility for our own dance. We are so busy being politically correct that we are missing the larger picture.

* Poor teaching is resulting in a watering down and homogenizing of cultural, movement and essence elements of the dance. Consistently dancing to pop music instead of recognizing it as ONE element in a larger performance is detrimental to the quality of dance. If its shaabi, say so. Do not mistake it for belly dance.

* CULTURAL ELEMENTS are necessary for the dance to be belly dance. Otherwise it is something else and should be labeled as what it is. We need to clearly define our dance offering for the public and for our students.

* I agree so very much with whoever it was that stated we need to see more folkloric dance. My company consistently presents a variety of dances, in their proper costumes, with their proper music. In any given show we might have 4 belly dancers out of some 12-15 dances. Everything else is either a folkloric dance, an Egyptian style skit, or some other cultural offering. We present a very small mattering of fusion. We also clearly, concisely tell the audience what they are seeing so that they recognize that there are many different dances being presented. EVERY show that we do is narrated by an announcer who has that job only. She does not dance. I do not outright brag about my company very often, but when she came up to work with us, Ahava was very much impressed by our show and said that she was not seeing anything nearly as good in California! I felt very proud and happy that she was able to see the value in what we present.

* We seem reluctant to really praise other dancers, and there are those who really, REALLY deserve to be out there a lot more than they are. People seem to confuse having a big name with having a quality product to offer and that is simply not the case.


..... I hope I'm done now.....My coffee cup is dangerously low on fuel!
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Makeda Maysa

New member
* We seem reluctant to really praise other dancers, and there are those who really, REALLY deserve to be out there a lot more than they are. People seem to confuse having a big name with having a quality product to offer and that is simply not the case.
:clap: I just want to co-sign this point, A'isha. I think it is imperative that we not be so worried about our own bottom line and/or jealous for space in the community that we fail to see each other's good works and offer praise where praise is due. It is gratifying beyond measure to know that one has the support and respect of fellow dancers and I think it's important to spread the love around as much as possible, when it's warranted.
 

Makeda Maysa

New member
Oh, and also? There are quite a few big name dancers who, for lack of a better word, "suck". Making the biggest noise does not = having the most talent. I have been quite disappointed by the "stars" more than I care to remember.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Yes American cabaret is fusion of many different styles of Oriental dance that was originally taught by first generationArabic/Greek/Turkish/Armenian/Persian immigrants to America. It is not a fusion of Western style dances (i.e jazz, modern, hip-hop,ballet) nor a fusion of music and movements from multiple distinct cultures (i.e Indian dance, with samba and few hip drops thrown in). Of course this is my opinion, and as such it is subject to scrutiny.
Since Yasmine said essentially what I was going to say, I'll just repost her comment for emphasis.:D Because it is a fusion of middle eastern styles, good AmCab has a distinct middle eastern flavor and remains identifiably belly dance while fusions that incorporate everything from Indian bindis and Celtic bagpipes do not.

The biggest danger to the furture of MED? I think good belly dance will survive despite the junk trying to pass as MED, but poor performances that concentrate on a pretty girl, gorgeous costuming, and eye catching gimmick moves rather than solid dancing are my personal pet peeve.
 
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Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Fundamental religious attacks on the dance in the countries of origin. The suppression of creative spirit will have much wider negative impact than bad fusion....because without it how would we tell the difference?
Not just this, but add fundamentalism in the western world also - I've been the direct target of same. Its all the same mindset - one that I see as the "left hand of darkness" or the "claw of Mordor".
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
I suppose it is different around the world but I hear of dancers being widely praised all of the time.
Sometimes I wonder if it is just because the name is well known and people think there is something wrong with them if they dont like it.
I think once people reach a certain stage in the pecking order they no longer hear criticism as no one dare give it. I have seen and heard plenty of pussy footing and understand exactly why. It is often easier to critcise the lesser known dancer with less connections.
A dance has to really offend me in some way not to like it. If I dont like the dance it does not mean I dont like the dancer and vice versa. I can get bored but it does not make me dislike them.
Perhaps people feel insecure about another dancers popularity and want to pick holes in them? I have known a few teachers/organisers whom have become victim of students etc. it is often the nature of the beast.
Anyone who has had any success as as a teacher/performer has had casulaties along the way.

The issue about fusion is a complex one, it is a bit like, eat too many cream cakes and you get fat. Cream cakes are nice but too much...
What to do?
I only teach straight Egyptian dance but I have dabbled with other dances in the past. I have choreographed pieces recently with moves which are not strictly Egyptian. The group are already dancers who know the difference and to me this is what counts. The music is ME, so are the costumes and the moves are very modern.

I dont want to see fusion disappear, I just want to see some balance and the scales have certainly tipped.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Oh, and also? There are quite a few big name dancers who, for lack of a better word, "suck". Making the biggest noise does not = having the most talent. I have been quite disappointed by the "stars" more than I care to remember.
Yes there certainly is. And not all of these sucky-but-noisy dancers are female either (no-one here, unless you count me of course - I'm hardly a "big name", but I'm sucky and noisy and I know it! :lol:)! Not to mention big name dancers who should know better, and can certainly dance better, but who nevertheless promulgate sleazy dancing and costuming.

Then there's the stars who are stars in the best sense of the term - I always use Fahtiem as an example. Not only is she a wonderful performer and instructor; but just as important if not more so - she's a class act on stage and off. Gracious, cheerful, and never, EVER dodgy or sleazy dancing, costuming or behavior. A role model of all of us, and there are plenty of others like her; some well known and some not. Thank Goddess for these wonderful people.
 
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Caroline_afifi

New member
The least damaging..overpriced costumes...c'mon who needs a Sahar Okasha costume that sells for grand!! Ok my personal rant:rolleyes:
I'm going to bed
Yasmine
That price would damage my bank account!!

I dont think we should ever underestimate the danger in costumes (sounds scary)
I used to believe that a bad costume just brought the dancer down but it can bring down everyone around them too and have a long and wider impact. Ever been in the same show as someones who's nipples keep popping out? do you think the audience will remember the moving Um Kulthoum piece?

A large part of the attraction to this dance is the dressing up, remove this and you will remove half of the worlds students and Pro's.
How many dancers do you know who will perform without a costume or make-up? the mind boggles.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Caroline,

I suppose it is different around the world but I hear of dancers being widely praised all of the time.
Sometimes I wonder if it is just because the name is well known and people think there is something wrong with them if they dont like it.
I think once people reach a certain stage in the pecking order they no longer hear criticism as no one dare give it. I have seen and heard plenty of pussy footing and understand exactly why. It is often easier to critcise the lesser known dancer with less connections.

Truer words were never spoken!!!!! This is what I mean. You hear plenty of praise for well known, ultra marketed dancers who often do not deserve it. On the other hand, there are dancers who are perhaps not as well known, but
ARE somewhat known who actually give a better class and do a far better show. We are all afraid to name names except in private when it comes to tearing down the institutions of the dance, but we could at least get the names out there of people who are great at what they do. They even usually charge less and give a lot better, less crowded class!! These are the people my dance company tries to support by sponsoring them. So far we have not gone wrong and the shows and workshops have been wonderful!! We have also not had a prima donna in the bunch.

A dance has to really offend me in some way not to like it. If I dont like the dance it does not mean I dont like the dancer and vice versa. I can get bored but it does not make me dislike them.
A dance only has to be mislabeled for me to be unhappy. This right away is the beginning of the break down of integrity in the dance form. I am aware that I have a reputation for being extremist, but we HAVE to start looking at the lowest denominators for us to begin to make improvements.

Perhaps people feel insecure about another dancers popularity and want to pick holes in them? I have known a few teachers/organisers whom have become victim of students etc. it is often the nature of the beast.
Anyone who has had any success as as a teacher/performer has had casulaties along the way.
If a dancer is awful, I have no problem saying so. I DO have a problem with people not giving equal time to those dancers who make good contributions, but are not famous enough for people to sit up and take notice. Many people seem only to be impressed with whom they are told to be impressed by. They do not seem to have developed the eye for what is good or not good in the dance. They are impressed by the Pop-Lock kings and queens and see nothing beyond the radical movement that these people have developed.

The issue about fusion is a complex one, it is a bit like, eat too many cream cakes and you get fat. Cream cakes are nice but too much...
What to do?
The issue is really about good and bad fusion, I think as opposed to anything else. As Helen Erikson once said. "I love good fusion. I have seen it three times"!!

I only teach straight Egyptian dance but I have dabbled with other dances in the past. I have choreographed pieces recently with moves which are not strictly Egyptian. The group are already dancers who know the difference and to me this is what counts. The music is ME, so are the costumes and the moves are very modern.

Same here......


I dont want to see fusion disappear, I just want to see some balance and the scales have certainly tipped.
I agree.... and don't imply it is Middle Eastern if it is not. This includes American Oriental, which has a basic movement vocabulary of belly dance, but a completely different way of utilizing those movements, along with its own unique essence, ...strictly western. This is one of the most beautiful dances ever created by westerners, but it is not Middle Eastern on any level aside from a few basic movements that can be seen in many other dances that are not Middle Eastern as well.

Regards,
A'isha
 

Lydia

New member
I agree with yasmina her post aswell...and also what aisha said big names are not always ,,that,, I also want to ad this, people that want to learn more must take the trouble to realy try to find out what they are learning and who is teaching if that person realy has experiance has the know how ,not just o well she is teaching there so i geuss its ok...i know dancers that are teaching in a big ,big festival no need to write the name...but those same dancers are banned in the gulf for prostitution more than ones ...and they are teaching..i think its the responsability from dancers that teach... to teach aswell how to behave how to cary yourself off stage...and stay away from scandals...that will help the dance...because specialy the famous big names this is what people are looking at,so they have the
abillty to change things because people will take it from them if they say and
do... people will follow...i am sure if fiffi abdo says please dont drink before going on stage otherwise your balance will be efected, many people will listen..i hade dancers laughing at me because i dont drink alcohol,they say they need it otherwise they are not ,,looze ,,on stage...so if the big names would join hands they can do a lot of things to realy make this art come back in a biiig way and make people aware it can be differant and there is still a big future for this art...not just making money,because that is way most are in it... have a nice weekend all....
 
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Farasha Hanem

New member
What is going on with the Internet?!?

Ohhhh, I am SOangry!!! :mad: I tried posting just a few moments ago, and when I hit "Post Reply," the site told me I wasn't logged in, and I AM!!! I have the memory of a goldfish (3 seconds), and I'll NEVER be able to remember everything I said! :mad::(:mad: Ohhhhh, I hate, HATE computers, why do I sell them? :mad:

I'm sorry for the rant, everyone; it's almost my monthly "I hate the whole world, ESPECIALLY electronics" week, so I'm feeling a bit crabby. :( Anyway, I tried to quote lizaj's last post on page one, because she brought up the very concerns that I have. I was also going to say how we all now live in a global society, and how our cultures have influenced each other, blah, blah, but now I'm so mad at this computer that my intelligence has temporarily went out the window.

I need a time out; maybe I can validate my opinions when I've cooled off. Sorry, everyone. :(

Wait...did I just accuse myself of having intelligence? oO; lol
 
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