Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lisbon, the 30th September, 2009

"And then my hands...on your hands"

And then my hands found yours. The perfect fit.
There have been so many hands running through my hair. Competent lovers.
Some from lust. Some from the heart. And then some from the soul (the best kind!).
There have been several eyes watching my nudity, admiring my skin and taking my hands like the people of all times have been taking Princesses hands for thousands of years.
Nothing new there...
I´ve held so many hearts on my own hands and still search for the perfect heart to hold...on my hands.

I forgot and quit the search until...your hands.

No hands have fit like yours.

There have been all kinds of caresses. And hands.
Big hands, small, strong and fragile. All warm, even burning in fire but never quite perfect when entangled in mine.
There have always been some centimeters to adjust, my fingers in an effort to grasp another pair of fingers, trying...trying too hard to fit...and never quite there.
All those hands held mine. They held my hips, my neck and - one of them! - my own bare soul.
All amazing to my thirst and cry for love. All amazing.
Though...
None have fit like yours.

everything has caught me off guard.I thought I had seen it all, felt it all, loved it all.
I knew - did I?! - no hands could ever perfectly fit mine. Universal truth I took for granted.

And then...my hands on your hands.

I lay my head on your chest hearing the church bells that take me to heaven.
Another perfect fit and I am scared. Peace and war run together around my battle field transformed into a bed or roses.
You tell me: be silent. Hear the moment. enjoy it...stop trying so hard.
I speak. Like a compulsive, crazy, disoriented sick poet, I speak.

Nonsense.

I speak.
Too little.
Too much.

I am scared.
Of you. Of those perfectly - irritantingly - fitting hands.
Of you. Of that perfectly - irritatingly - fitting chest where all my heart turns blank and yet...full. Once again.
Of you. That soft devious drum whispering inside your chest while I am laying there. my head on the moon. A disgrace of full pleasure and abandonment.
Paradise on earth.
Everything exists and everything is there.
Here.

Of you.
Of me.
Of THE LOVE.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lisbon, the 26th September, 2009



"Earth"



I´ve been digging the earth, quite literally.

Almost returning to my Cairo crazy life and all its exciting, stressful bits, I am still enjoying the ESSENTIALS.

The ESSENTIALS are the things I found out to be the most important in life, despite their apparent normality:



1.Holding hands with my mum and walking around with her under my arm.



2.Being in the presence of my close family and friends and drinking from their love, their silent support, the view of their eyes caressing me (caressing Joana, the person under the cover of the DANCER or the ARTIST), our "laughing together"...



3.Eating together with this incredible people who boost my self-awareness and esteem like no one.



4. Kissing our animals (dogs and cats and even horses, if we had them!) at such an extent that they take my perfume.I smell like them and they smell like me. Oh...pure sweetness...



5.Teaching students that are "more than students". Between fans, students and friends who recognize your value and cherish you for it.



6.Knowing a few new people that are worth knowing. My profession - in the area of Oriental Dance, as a performer, a teacher, a researcher, a singer and as an artist overall - is surrounded by LOVE, SOUL FOOD, people and things that not only inspire me but also touch my heart. My work is all about LOVE and I cannot put it in my art with all my honesty if I don´t feel it.

Having the chance to meet people who get into my system (not an easy task!).
Not being easy to impress me (you never really know what I find appealing, what strike me as unique and valuable...hard to know...), it´s great to meet people who don´t even try to impress me and, without noticing it and thanks to their inner life´s quality, touch me and deserve my respect and admiration.



7. Breathing the early morning breeze, walking around our garden bare footed and take it all in. Silence and peace. Two of our century´s new luxuries.

7. Just BEING me without having to be the talented artist every single night (although I am already missing the stage...)





"To forget how to dig the

earth and tend the soil is

to forget ourselves."


Mahatma Ghandi

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lisbon, the 18th September, 2009

"Bits of victories Plus Chocolat"
Thanks to Tuxa and the sweet photos she just sent me. Bits of victories, daily victories in the city of all my laughs, pains, achievements and miracles: Cairo!


It feels great not to wear make-up for a while and being able to walk by during all day in not much more than a simple pair of shorts.


Rain has visited us today but that didn´t pull me away from my incredible, "freedom lover" mood. Now I start to really understand why egyptians and arabs as well tend to act so radically different when they step into foreign lands...


I am tired of the harassment and the repression.That might be the worst thing about living in Egypt!
Also related to the theme, here I am reminding you all to watch the movie "Chocolat" with Juliette Binoche and Johny Depp. I have seen the movie before but bought the Dvd and gave it a second look. It was like the perfect ending to my own personal "Ramadan" (the official date for Ramadan end is on the 20th September).
Chocolate and its luxurious family members as opposed to repression, both mental and religious.
Enjoying life´s pleasures was never an excuse, as far as I´m concerned, to be less than a decent person. Pleasure and "being good" are not opposed concepts, according to my own life experience.
So why so many people keep trying to put the "devil stamp" on some of the best things in life?!

When the SENSES are seen as our enemies and PLEASURE is also seen as a DEVIL THING, we´re refusing to accept human beings fullness and rejecting an essential part of our nature that cannot be rejected, erased or suppressed (although many religions, politics and ignorance have always tried it!). Enjoying my senses and having great pleasure in life (food, work, friendship, dance, making love, making love, making love :))) all the goodies in this life) was never a contradiction towards my mind, my spirit or my ability to be a good human being.

Quite the opposite. If I am a fully satisfied person - both phisically as mentally - and have enjoyed all life´s pleasures in a natural, healthy way, I will not be obesessed with anything and I will surely supply others with equal pleasure.

After "Ramadan" and all the concepts that still forbid human beings from enjoying themselves, all I can suggest is: Watch "Chocolat" with the best company (kisses and ALL included!:) and BE HAPPY! Life´s too short for sadness and false moralism!
There is a scene in the movie that clearly reminded me of Egypt and the whole repression theme:
The city´s Mayor - the greatest opponent to the "chocolaterie" and all human´s pleasures - breaks into the chocolate shop to destroy it and ends up splurging between the choco goodies, eating, eating, eating until he passed out from the delirious, unexpected banquet.
He had been fasting because of the Easter time and, finally, he couldn´t escape his own human nature and ate along all the chocolate he had feared and condemned so strongly.
Someone who is free to taste and enjoy all kinds of "chocolates" will not search for it everywhere or over indulge himself like a maniac when a slight opportunity arrives.
What ifd repression and hipocrisy were to give place to freedom and joy for life with all its colours?! If only we could...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Cairo, the 14th September, 2009


“Time for myself”

There is a time to shine and a time to take refuge in total darkness, recovering from ancient wounds and breathing again from a totally new air.
There is a time for action and a time to stand still and listen to ourselves.
There is a time to lick our wounds and heal them and a time to love again, a time of hurry and a time of slow pace as we watch the birds and the bees. Simple and essential as they are. Insignificant as they just seem to be.

After winning the first battles of what it was crossing a fire zone in my personal and professional life and a very challenging new performance place, I am taking time for myself to recover my breath that has been literally taken away by the continuous hard work, successes and “having to be on top” pressure.

I have crossed a hard desert and arrived to an incredible, luxurious oasis of my own making and no matter how many times I say I am proud of myself, it will never be quite enough.

I am beyond proud of myself.


I am also overwhelmed by what I’ve been achieving but the price of the struggle is very clear on my body and mind. I am so tired that I am starting to “crazy talk” in Austrian with perfect strangers (I didn’t even know I knew Austrian!) and giggle like crazy people for no reason. Hhhmmmm…

I am totally breathless and exhausted and yet never been happier in my life.
Still hard to believe I am performing in such a great place – “NILE MAXIM”, Cairo – due to my talent and competence (and not through the “classical” bed path) . Miracles DO happen!

Ooooooohhhh…I am taking time for myself.
I just want to land in my country, run for the beach and eat grapes after returning from the water with my salted skin, breath, sleep, love and be loved, see some of my best friends, eat well, wearing bikini all day, having some fun and RELAX.
Forgetting about my Egyptian challenges for 10 days! A bit of normality. Just a bit, please!
Will it be possible?!

No make-up or any kind of production. Shoeless (yes!) all day running along with our dogs in total wilderness, dishevelled hair floating free with the wind, sunsets by the beach, kisses and hugs, Portuguese sweets and laughs.
Being a child again. The child I never stopped being right deep inside of me.
Not allowing old pains to turn me into a cold cynical person who doesn’t believe in human being greatness and goodness. No, I refuse to be turned into that.

Friends coming over and eating along by our swimming pool, lounging and cracking jokes, hugging me like only true friends can. All of us running around our lakes.
Laying on the grass with our dogs and falling asleep right there with no agenda on my mind.

There is a BIG SEASON of SHOWS and CLASSES waiting for me in Cairo in October . What I MUST do right now is to empty my head and heart, REBOOT and RESET!
Clean the internal machine, rebuild its structures from the inside out until a new ME is ready for the challenges that will follow. Life is composed of so many deaths…I have learnt to accept them and rebuild myself from the ashes leaving ever more gorgeous flowers on my internal graves.

This is what I must do.
There’s no light or shinning without darkness.
I am retiring myself from the world for a few days. Waiting for the great come back right after the retreat.

Life is made of cycles and every time I close one of them, another one presents itself in front of me ready to be fully experienced. I am ready for the jobs. For everything.
Never in my life have I felt so powerful and yet so humble, so strong and yet fragile and so beautiful. I feel beautiful like never before…

Ready for the BIG mountains and for the applauses.
But, before that, let me vanish for a while. The ultimate luxury…just vanish and be reborn as MYSELF, more of MYSELF.
Amen.
Cairo, the 13th September, 2009

“Simply the BEST!”


I am sleepless again. And almost speechless too.
The adrenaline still runs in my veins…music still pumping in full power inside my head and my heart.

Tonight shows were the BEST so far and believe me I have been enjoying a great deal of INCREDIBLE audiences since I was blessed to move to the great “Nile Maxim” and, finally, be in a place that reflects my level as an artist and as a person.

Tonight was just overwhelming and all I can do is, in total humbleness, thank God for everything. When reality is way too good to take in and all the blessings seem too unreal, all I can do is pray and thank (aren’t these the same?!)

Special tables reserved just to see ME dance, great groups of mixed people (foreigners, Egyptians, arabs, you name it) and my name being yelled at full power by the ones who knew what they could expect from me.

I danced HAPPY. Very happy. Time flew too fast and, in each dress change, I wished I could run to the stage in split of a second to reunite with my audiences. That’s how great it was…after nights like this, all the troubles, obstacles, disappointments and pain I have endured to get here are smashed and turned into ashes.
They’re nothing near from this incredible JOY!
And my destiny unfolds itself in front of my still incredulous eyes…

Thank you, God! 111000000000000 times and forever: Thank you.


Preparing to travel to Portugal – YES! – and already wondering about the BOMBASTIC new show I will present as soon as I return to Cairo in the beginning of October! Being appreciated and respected in your job is the best way to push you forward and make you grow. And, by God, I am growing!
Did I mention YUPPIIIIIIIEEEEEEE???!!!!!!!!!!
Cairo, the 12th September, 2009

“ESSENTIAL futilities!”


Now here’s another tip for dancers: Never, EVER perform with a beautiful dress that feels uncomfortable and too tight.
Tonight, I could hardly breath as I danced simply because I decided to ignore that the dresses I chose for the night’s program were part of that dangerous group of “bedlehs” which look GREAT and feel TERRIBLE.
I call them the “problematic seductive bedlehs”.
These were purchases I have made during PMS (it completely blurs your vision and distorts your wise perspective) or in a hurry when I knew a dress was not well cut or the bra was too small for me and, even though I knew it, I still bought them because it was so gorgeous!

Yes, they’re so gorgeous – and cost me so much money – that I have to dress them, once in a while, but I always need a temporary amnesia to go ahead on doing it.
I make myself forget how uncomfortable they really are and hope, God knows why, that they have become better with time (?!). As if some invisible fairies had done some nightly silent work on the “bedlehs” and, suddenly, they fit as perfectly as they look!

Better to look a little worse but feel free and comfortable in your dance dress. Nothing as horrible than performing while in pain and not being able to breath.
Unpleasant and dangerous!

Vanity won tonight and I must advise you not to do the same. To dance properly, you need to feel GREAT, more even than to LOOK GREAT. If both of them are possible at the same time, then it’s PERFECT.

Still a few shows to go but…
Preparing to travel…very happy and anxious to land in Lisbon and run to the beach!
The Portuguese sea breeze and the sound of the wild waves breaking against the white sand shore…aaaahhhhhhhh….missing my country and my people!
I totally need some “normality” time to recharge these over exhausted batteries.
Portugal, here I come…

Cairo, the 11th September, 2009

“Souhour at “Naguib Mahfouz” coffee shop
and winning foreigner audiences…what a quest!”



Going to “Khan el Khalili” on a Thursday night and during Ramadan is not the most perfect of the imperfect ideas. It’s kind of crazy, really…specially if you live in Cairo and have had more than enough of traffic, crowds and noise.

On normal occasions I wouldn’t go to the market on a Thursday night in the middle of Ramadan even if I was dragged or if they told me Joaquin Cortes (my favourite Flamenco dancer and a hot piece of man!) was there waiting for me with a Spanish bouquet of flowers.
But these are not “normal” times I am living.
I am working, working, working – and may I say AMEN and THANKS GOD 1000 times! – and all my days and nights have been limited to it.

Just before yesterday, I could escape for a few hours after work and went for my Salsa night enjoying some “non professional” dancing (it’s great to dance only for my own fun!) plus smoking an INCREDIBLE Cuban cigar my friend Angelito brought along. I was in heaven…

And yesterday, here we go to the famous and gorgeous “Naguib Mahfouz” cafĂ© to have our “souhour” which is supposed to be the last meal of muslims just before they restart the fasting of a new day.
The menu was made according to what’s better suited to endure the several hours of the following fasting day. Heavy food that will remain in the stomach for a long period of time and sugary stuff to give us stamina.
The restaurant is beautiful and it was crowded. Ramadan is, indeed, the time of the year when Egyptians and arabs eat more! Fortunes are made on food supplies and restaurants during the holy season and both women and men grow fat in an astonishingly fast rhythm. Everywhere I looked around, I could only see people eating, eating, eating!
Another contradiction with the spirit of the season…

Note of a true “gourmandise” :
Brought home one of “Khan el Khalili” famous Egyptian pancakes in the end of the night. Still hot, still crunchy and with honey melting along with extra “eshta” (remains of the milk) and a smell that drove me crazy all the way until I arrived to my destination.
A visit to “Khan el Khalili” without an Egyptian pancake is a sin. In Ramadan or in any other time of the year.

Winning foreigners to my team!

As I previously mentioned in ulterior postings, dancing in Ramadan means dancing mostly for FOREIGNERS/TOURISTS who come to the “Nile Maxim” (in 95% of the cases) included in travel agencies programs and with no knowledge about the dancer who is there.
I found it hard not to feel these shows as “touristic packages” oriented for an express audience who doesn’t appreciate my work as Egyptians and Arabs do in normal times.
After so many nights of consecutive work (18 nights in a row, so far!) , I finally got a grip and adapted myself to this experience, finding the following conclusion:
No matter what kind of audience you have – and their level of understanding of the dance and music you’re presenting – ART is always ART and you just have to do your best, put your heart and soul in it and let it flow.
It seems easy to say but harder to put into practice. I try hard to forget what kind of audiences I’m having so that I can give them my best but there’s an exchange between me and them that is simply not the same when it comes to touristic shows.
Most of this crowd watch me as if I was an exotic bird and not an artist. They would applaud, even I was not that good…!

O.k… Getting over it.

ANOTHER HINT OF KNOWLEDGE:


The way to grow as a dancer comes differently for each one of us. I am discovering that “my path” goes towards the show concept – for sure – but, mainly to the emotional, technical and spiritual richness I can impress in each dance.
Forgetting about the dancer boys, the show off, glitter and stuff for a while…forgetting about the “tchan tchan tchan tchan…” and all the major effects. Concentrating on the most difficult: DANCING BETTER (incredible how easy it sounds!).

Including it ALL:
Technical expertise, sensibility, awareness and total dominium of the material I am working on, relaxing and letting my internal timings play their roles, feeling secure and sure of myself, my personality and the great/UNIQUE stuff ONLY I can bring to my ART.
Not easy…and yet, possible. A work in progress.


Cairo the 9th September, 2009

“Giving from your heart always returns to you with doubled gifts”


Helping the ones who have less than you and the whole concept of CHARITY is a big thing in Muslim religion and one of its five pillars.
When Ramadan arrives, the charity pillar kicks in in all its strength and the wealthy release their sense of guilt by sponsoring food tables for the communal “iftar” (break fast) in the streets and by donating money to several causes or individuals.


Charity and the concept of the richest giving to the poorer is one of the points I admire in this misunderstood religion although I am not a particular fan of charity because it perpetuates the abysmal differences between the classes.
The excessively rich keep stealing and growing fatter while the poor serve them and wait for the remains or the bones of each luxury meal.
The rich keep corrupting and being corrupted though they find in charity a way to clean their dirty sheet of sins. One good act of charity seems to erase – in most muslim heads – the misdeeds of the opulence crowd.
It doesn’t sound good to me.

I am much more fond of equality of opportunities, free and efficient education for EVERYONE with no distinction of social class, religion or race. I believe in self-worth and in providing people with the tools to work and produce whatever their dreams ask them to instead of maintaining the poor in the gutters and throwing them occasional financial aids. They’re still miserable and helpless, even if you help them with charity just to empty your mind of the guilt you have accumulated.
Their life doesn’t change. “Pashas” are still “pashas” and the miserable servants are still miserable servants. Society classes and unfair structure remains the same.

Although I am not financially rich, I am perceived as such for many reasons:

I am a foreigner and it’s understood that all foreigners are rich (!?).
I am an active artist working in a market where people imagine loads of money is made daily. I have to clarify that honest dancers who don’t prostitute themselves do not make such money. The great loads of money, the expensive cars and flats some “dancers” exhibit come from prostitution and not from a clean, daily work as a dancer. Is that clear?!
I have to struggle with daily expenses like any normal person.
Also there is the constant investment in my career, meaning paying better musicians and rehearsals, new dresses and good quality make-up, cosmetics and all the extra expenses you need to take care of when you’re dancing constantly and need to be fit and fresh all the time (manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, hairdresser, etc).

If I handled money to everybody who needs it and asks for it, I would be penniless. Cairo is full of beggars and people in need. My heart breaks every time I see this people in the street and yet I know there’s not much I can do but…
I also know that if I don’t take my “cappuccino” or my “chai latte” some times and just give away that money to people who need it, I don’t die, I don’t really miss my drinks that much and that small money means a few meals to a poor person. Small gestures like this make no big difference in my life but have an incredible effect on the life of the ones who receive the help.

When my own assistant told me that she would finally buy meat for her family meal after I pay her the first dance dress she embroidered for me, I realized that a little bit – for me – it was a LOT for her and that any small help would mean good food on her family table. I imagined the smiles of her children and their pleasure eating together…that’s priceless.

Walking to the gym instead of taking a taxi and then giving that money I didn’t spend to someone who needs it.
Not buying that new dress I have been dreaming about (but that I don’t really need cause I have enough dresses) and using that money to improve someone’s week and put food on their table.
Resisting the urge to go to a fancy restaurant and, instead, cooking at home and paying an extra fee to my hard working assistant knowing that her family will have a great meal and her son will receive a birthday present that, otherwise, she would not be able to afford.
All these small gestures are harmless to me – they even benefit me, somehow – and they bring such happiness to others!

This is a conscience I have been building up inside me since I moved to Egypt.
One of the good sides of living in Egypt (you learn even from the dark side of a unjust society where most people live in extreme poverty).
I also learn about the concept of GRATITUDE for all I have.
I thank God in my deepest sense of humbleness.

Today was a special day. I always give from my heart and not to the ones people expect me to. I follow no protocols or “should do’s”. Whenever I feel like giving money or a gift to someone – for my own personal reasons – I find out that it always comes back in double/triple to me. I expect nothing in return but the pleasure of GIVING but nature takes its course and miracles happen. The Universe is a great, fascinating place to live in. Its mathematical order never ceases to amaze me.
I wanted to give some extra money to the lady who cleans the bathrooms in “Nile Maxim” (me and the cleaning ladies, an eternal love affair I cannot understand until today) and a beautiful box of Ramadan sweets for her family. I also wanted to offer the same Ramadan sweets to the son of one of my musicians who is recovering from a severe car accident.

I had been compassionate with this musician’s son situation not only because I knew about it but because I could clearly feel his deep sadness and concern on his music. Listening attentively to any of my musicians give me tips about whom they are and what’s their mood. And so I cried along – dancing to his nostalgic, sad “taksims” - with my musician while his son was in hospital and I also rejoiced with him when he got better and returned home to his family.
I had to show express my happiness.
And so I did.

The joy, gratitude and smiles of both of them cannot be expressed by words and my pleasure with their reactions cannot either. Their eyes in full emotion shone like diamonds and told me things only souls can understand and assimilate. Magical…
The cleaning lady – Salma – was ecstatic when I delivered her money and sweets but nothing amazed her more or got her more tearful than the simple fact that I knew her name.
“I love you, ya Salma. I am happy that you’re happy.” – I told her from my heart.
“Do you know my name??!!! How come you know my name?!” – She gasped in total amazement.
Then again, I cannot describe the joy episodes like this bring to my life.

It’s true and confirmed that, when you give from your heart, the joy comes back twice as strong to you. I am still floating…
Cairo, the 6th September, 2009

“Just another regular day…”

7.30h a.m.– I woke up too early in such a state of excitement that it seemed someone had injected my veins with ecstasy during my sleep. What happened?!

The Best good morning kissing – Check
Evian water drinking before I can even take the first breath of the morning – Check
Breakfast doing justice to my fame of being a true “gourmandise” (fruit, yoghurt and dry fruits of the season, courtesy of Ramadan plus honey with sprinkled cinnamon and mint) – Check
Fast shower and taking care of my babies (more kisses, kisses, kisses and tummies rubbing) – Check

9.00h a.m.– In order to move faster – and spare some much needed money, may I add – I caught the subway till downtown Cairo and handled the already customary staring from all the ladies in my carriage. Better from the ladies than from the gentlemen, may I also add.
I dig my head into the book I’m reading and pretend no one is observing me or making cute remarks on me. Thanks God I also brought my new AMAZING Gucci sun glasses. They cover my eyes and the fascination that they cause in both women and men.
I am a fan of the ladies carriage (the subway is segregated until a certain time at night: women and men travel in separate sections of the subway). Never in my life did I think I could enjoy segregation.
Until I moved to Egypt!

I pass by my favourite “used magazine” stand near from the American University. They always get me some goodies I cannot get anywhere else: old VOGUES and Vanity Fairs with incredible fashion photography, Oprah’s (my not so secret addiction) and even some incredible books already vanished from regular bookshops.
My Oprah’s didn’t come. I am pissed and cranky. It’s too early in the morning for me to be contradicted or for my wills not to be attended plus I resist the craving for my “chai latte” not to receive the Ramadan reproach remarks I’ve been receiving all the times I was caught sipping on something in public during fasting time.
Grrrrrrrrrrrr…

10.00h – Taking care of bank issues – boring, boring, boring…
There’s a guy – Lebanese from his looks and fancy dressing – “trying” to hit on me right by the cashier by my side. I say “trying!” because I am not the easiest pick up choice. In fact, I am a real challenge to all Arabic Don Juans who are used to blink an eye and get any girl at their feet.
I’ve seen it all, sweet pies. I’ve done it all and I am well satisfied with what I got, thank you.
Not easy to impress me, guys! You gotta do much better than the winking and stalking…L

I turn my face around, I make funny, ugly faces and the guy is still smitten…
”what a nerd”…and yet, he’s kind of cute! He is! (disagreeing with yet another female role model widely spread in the Middle East, I – moi, a woman, as far as I know – love to see a handsome man. Women are supposed to be beautiful and young but men presume they can get away looking like Frankenstein and this chauvinist society supports them in this illusion).

No, it is not enough to carry a huge belly and a fat wallet exhibiting the man’s riches. Sorry, guys, you have to get more assets than those, for God’s sake.
I do LOVE and appreciate a HANDSOME MAN, thank you very much!
Women only accept less than that due to lack of choice, for money or to a rare disease called love. Brains, a clean heart, character and courage are also treats that can compensate – for me – when the physical beauty is not particular of a man but still…I love to see a handsome, well groomed man.

Otherwise, believe me…women – as much as men – love to look at a handsome man, love to feel a great perfume on a man when he passes by and so on…please don’t fool yourselves or us!

Back to reality:
Oh, noooo… even if he’s kind of cute, forget about it. I am not the flirting type and it puts me off that a guy is so obviously hitting on me while cashing his checks and talking on the phone (talk about a real multi-tasker!).

I leave the bank and the guy follows me. I literally run away from him and escape into Egyptair office where I happily receive my plain ticket to Portugal!
Oh, God…I miss Portugal, my family and my friends…some piece of PEACE and normality.

I receive a total “star treatment” at Egyptair. Everybody knows my name and congratulate me for my work, even the “mohagabas” who giggle and act like Tamer Hosny just landed on their office. What a wonderful surprise!
How do they know me???Does this crowd go out and watch Oriental Dance?!
I wouldn’t imagine so…
Well, it feels GREAT and embarrassing, at the same time.

11.30h a.m. – Back to the subway where I am, then again, stared upon. The usual.
Should I stick a rubber booger to my nose and let the crowds go crazy over me for a REASON?! Sometimes, I cannot take the pressure of being observed and scrutinized ALL THE TIME. I just feel like doing something obnoxious that justifies all the staring. A huge plastic booger (but looking real, yeah!!!) would do the trick, I guess.
Where do they sell them?

12.30h a.m. – Torture time at Mobinil, the mobile enterprise that handles my internet and telephone lines. I have been robbed by Mobinil and the return of the money – more than 7000 pounds illegally taken from my personal account without my knowledge or authorization– has been delayed for more than one month.
It’s scaring how a credible (???) enterprise like Mobinil can steal money from a client’s account and there’s no one responsible who can rectify the crime.
I go crazy and torture the poor employee that attends me for two hours.
Yes, two hours! He tells me to relax, calm down and sit down. No, thanks. I prefer to put up an Opera Show in order to get my hardly earned money back.

On tonight:
“Aida” (for some Egyptian flair) or “La Traviatta” ( for drama and romance).
At your choice.
“I am not leaving this place until I have my money back. Be sure of that.” – I yell at the already tired ears of the employee. I ask for the manager but he’s hiding like a dog in his office. “Let the poor employee face the crowds while the manager is hiding in his office like a mouse” seems to be the company’s motto.

“Aren’t there any REAL MEN around here?! So much chauvinism and bragging and yet…no REAL MEN!”

For some long moments, I swear I can see tears of despair in his eyes.
The weird think about the Opera show I had to put up at Mobinil is that I am not even the “yelling” type. I usually am very assertive and even aggressive when dealing with professional or any external business with men around here but never yell. No need for that.
When I say NO, everybody who knows me can be sure that there is no turning back. I mean “NO” and no one can change my mind. I’m soft and yet tough and impose authority by giving the right example.
No need to be hysterical (I even openly dislike hysterical type but…)

Except in this hard Mobinil case. Being calm and assertive would only get my ass gently and effectively kicked. The fact that I went alone – meaning: no man by my side – also played against me as men usually see women as silly and weak.
Well, they did see who was fragile and how many decibels my voice could reach…that’s for sure!

Surprise of the “Medieval Torture” episode: the punished employee must have thought all my yelling and stomping was sexy so he too hit on me and ask me if he could call me outside work, risking an even bigger scandal and being fired (although I don’t think any Egyptian boss would fire an employee for trying to pick up a female client).
I could not believe what my ears listened. I was dumbstruck and fastly travelling to the edge of an eminent collapse.

The guy didn’t get permission to call me (duh!) but I finally got my stolen money back. Yelling hysterically in the middle of Mobinil staff and clients proved to be much more efficient than any civilized approach I ever tried before. I guess we have to revue our social codes and their consequences. Human societies are, indeed, strange, dark places to be living in.
By the way, the audience chose “La Traviatta” for the Opera session (we’re all romantic freaks deep inside).

How will I perform tonight after all this stress?!

15.00h – Moroccan bath – “Hamman magrhebi”. What should have been a relaxing time became another medieval torture, only this time I was the victim and not the offender.
The Moroccan lady who baths me must have had some episode with Mobinil or worse and I was her scapegoat. Yes!
She rubbed me with the “loofah” with such might and aggressive manners that I feared I might had been chosen to roast as a chicken for “iftar”. Will she take me directly to the barbecue spot after my skin no longer exists?!
I had to plead with her to stop hurting me several times and I spent the whole time in a fetus position, fearing for my skin and for my life.

I often find that most Arabic women have a strange relation with their own body and the body of other women. Due to the demands of beauty – the biggest asset for women in the Middle East, besides being sweet, submissive, domestic/family oriented and weak brained- women around here seem to be prone to endure self inflicted pain even more than their western counterparts. They know, by instinct and education, that women are born to suffer and that it’s worth to support any physical pain in order to look their best and attract or maintain the attention of men .
Plastic surgery never was so successful as in the Middle East (Lebanese win this battle having been transformed into authentic plastic dolls!) and I’ve observed the way women touch themselves and others is aggressive and harsh. No consideration, sensibility or sweetness for their own skin. Strange…
They handle their own body as if it was a marble chair. No sensibility, no pleasure or love for their own skin. That might also be one of the reasons why the “hamman” lady dealt so insensitive towards my own body which I happen to love and cherish like the treasure it really is.

LITTLE RULE to REMEMBER: Stressed women – like me!- should not be allowed to bath another women. Outch!
It’s still hurting.
At least someone will enjoy a damned soft, sweet – almost inexistent – skin tonight. Point taken. It was worth the suffering.

16.00h – Fast lunch with a poor friend who heard me complain about my tiring morning and the murder attempt at the Moroccan Bath place.
Risotto with mushrooms – delicious – tomato soup and other entries and…a fabulous tiramisu that left me with water in my mouth (I want more of that, please……..) and a company so sweet that I remembered not everybody is plain crazy in this fascinating town. Thanks, sweetie! You saved my day.

How am I going to perform tonight?! HOW???????????

18.00h – Dressing up in a hurry, hair, make-up, perfume. All check.
My assistant is arriving with her home made food (bless you, Nagle!) and my driver is waiting downstairs to take me to work (fancy, fancy).
I feel exhausted and try to convince myself that I dance the best when I am overtly tired. No tension, no thoughts, no wanting to please or insecurities simply because…I am too tired for that. And the result is, usually, great! Let’s hope this is one of those nights.

19.00h – I fall asleep in the car on my way to work.
Arriving, landing on my back-stage room and on my favourite long armed chair with my hot tea held in one hand and my exhaustion held in the other hand. Tea and exhaustion go great together!
The chief of the orchestra wants to know what’s on the menu today (program of the show that I change every day) and I am so over the top tired that I whisper some Om Kolthoum song and “the usual”.
- What usual?! There’s no usual. You change it constantly! – He reminded me, forcing me to think (why? why? why?).
I make an effort to concentrate and come up with songs we haven’t done in a while. I don’t even ask for a rehearsal before the stage.
My guard is down, clearly.

23.00h – I can’t believe how amazing work was tonight! My theory – when tired, relaxed and, therefore, amazing in dancing – has worked perfectly tonight, thanks God.
Audiences were AMAZING and I danced for myself and between worlds – conscious and unconscious due to my extreme sleepiness – curiously reaching people much better than when I am making efforts and “really trying”. Life has these surprises.
My tonight tabla solo was the best, so far…(Thanks, Mobinil!)
After stealing from me, driving me crazy and putting me in the best/worst mood for work, Mobinil should sponsor me, now there’s a thought.

24.00h – I am at home eating dinner and thinking: Am I going crazy too?!

Just another ordinary day.



Cairo, the 6nd September, 2009

“Reminders”

Tonight, just before I got on stage, a question from my Egyptian assistant made me remember the reason and purpose of my life’s direction.
Have I chosen Oriental Dance as a profession and life path or has IT chosen ME? Who makes the decision is not clear to me as I feel I was drowned by God’s hands into an adventurous life I hadn’t decided for myself.

In the succession of busy days and nights, troubles and wonderful stuff we’re living, it’s easy to forget WHY we do what we do and WHY we felt so fascinated with something – or someone!:) – in the first place.

Right before I got on stage, my Egyptian assistant (who prepares the best “chai bi nana” for me before every show, God bless her!) asked me something essential that turned the night into a whole refreshed, fully lived experience, once again…
“Why do you love “Raks Sharki”/Oriental Dance?” – She asked me, out of the blue.

There was just a split of a second until I answered as if the words were ready to spout off my mouth for centuries:
“Because it is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. When these two speak, they do it through Oriental Dance.
Isn’t it marvellous?! I don’t even know how it can be considered “haram” if it’s simply DIVINE?!”

This simple (?!) question made me remember why my struggle makes sense and why I have given up so much for my ART. Thank you, Nagle (again, our masters come from the most unexpected places)!

I also couldn’t stop but wonder, once again, how different human being perspectives and minds can be. In the heat of Ramadan, here I am talking about Oriental Dance – the highest of the forbidden devious things in Islam! – as a DIVINE language.
Something that represents evil and deviation from God’s path (for most muslims) is, at the same time, as far as I’m concerned God’s language itself. The way God manifests Himself through my soul while I’m dancing. How different from most people’s perspectives who see it as “haram”!

The world can be seen through many, many colours, indeed.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cairo, the 5th September, 2009



I'll be away from my postings and pc for a while from today...digging deep into my shows and other challenges and priorities. So...leaving you with my latest news and hoping to hear lots of comments from fans and controversial followers (my favourites!:)).


MY EVENTS TO FOLLOW...
TAKE NOTICE:

Excited coreographing my new dances (Crazy Tabla Solo and Modern Saiidi) for my upcoming workshops abroad and regular classes in Cairo:


1.Workshops in Portugal (Lisbon, 19,20th September) - more infos through my email: dancemagica@ gmail.com




2.Workshops in Italy (Rome, the 26,27th September) - more infos through my email: dancemagica@ gmail.com or jacybellydance@gmail.com




3.Regular classes in Cairo from the 5th October ahead at CSA INSTITUTE, MAADI (21st Street, number 4) - more infos through CSA ( 010 382 96 38 or email: pauline@livinginegypt.org )




Schedule for regular classes (from the 5th October):


Mondays from 12.30h till 13.30h - Beginners Oriental Dance Class
Wednesdays from 12.30h till 13.30h - Intermediate Oriental Dance Class
Tuesdays evening from 7.00h pm till 8.00h pm - Beginners Oriental Dance Class
Tuesdays evening from 8.00h pm till 9.00h pm - Intermediate Oriental Dance Class


4. Egyptian Night at the CSA on the 7th October (starting at 17.30h)
with EGYPTIAN DINNER, INTIMATE SHOW OF JOANA S.(live egyptian music), dance video-clip show and open conference about Oriental Dance and Egyptian Culture.
For infos and bookings, please contact: lama@livinginegypt.org




NOTE: New Joana Saahirah article coming out on the CSA magazine ("OASIS") in October!


5 Don't loose my Ramadan shows at the "Nile Maxim" until the 15th September and yet a new BOMBASTIC show at the same venue FROM OCTOBER ON!

For reservations, please call "Nile Maxim":
012 73 88888
010 73 88888
011 73 88888
02 - 273 88888

Friday, September 4, 2009



Cairo, the 4th September, 2009














"Me, myself and my 1000 faces on stage"




In life as on the stage. Life as a mirror of my life and my artportraying me in my 1000 faces.



Stage and life end up being one and a single cell spreading from all the complexities of what defines me (I am feeling too fancy today!).

















We're never just ONE, aren't we?!







I am baladi and shabeya. I am also classic and sophisticated.


I am Om Kolthoum and Hadaweya. I am earth and sky. Water and fire.

Lots of fire. Too much of it.
These photos reflect my many faces or the several colours of my soul. A bit of everything PLUS spices. I am all about the spices, thanks God! :)


















Full house tonight at the "NILE MAXIM". What a thrill...God!


I guess people sense my excitement and my drive while on stage. It must be impossible to ignore it because it's so damned strong.



Dancing, dancing, dancing. Moving forward. Opening new windows and searching for my higher self. The stage is a temple. My temple. Where I find LIGHT and, finally, who I REALLY AM.

Thanking God. Every day. Every night.





















Cairo, the 3rd September, 2009


“Reminders”

Tonight, just before I got on stage, a question from my Egyptian assistant made me remember the reason and purpose of my life’s direction.
Have I chosen Oriental Dance as a profession and life path or has IT chosen ME? Who makes the decision is not clear to me as I feel I was taken by God’s hands into an adventurous life I hadn’t decided for myself.

In the succession of busy days and nights, troubles and wonderful stuff we’re living, it’s easy to forget WHY we do what we do and WHY we felt so fascinated with something – or someone!:) – in the first place.

Right before I got on stage, my Egyptian assistant (who prepares the best “chai bi nana” for me before every show, God bless her!) asked me something essential that turned the night into a whole refreshed, fully lived experience, once again…
“Why do you love “Raks Sharki”(Oriental Dance?)” – She asked me, out of the blue.

There was just a split of a second until I answered as if the words were ready to sprout off my mouth for centuries:
“Because it is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. When these two speak, they do it through Oriental Dance.
Isn’t it marvellous?! I don’t even know how it can be considered “haram” if it’s simply DIVINE?!”


This simple (?!) question made me remember why my struggle makes sense and why I have given up so much for my ART. Thank you, Nagle (again, our masters come from the most unexpected places)!

I also couldn’t stop but wonder, once again, how different human being perspectives and minds can be. In the heat of Ramadan, here I am talking about Oriental Dance – the highest of the forbidden devious things in Islam! – as a DIVINE language.
Something that represents evil and deviation from God’s path (for most muslims) is, at the same time, as far as I’m concerned, God’s language itself. The way God manifests Himself through my soul while I’m dancing. How different from most people’s perspectives who see it as “haram”!

The world can be seen through many, many colours, indeed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Cairo, the 31st August, 2009


"Shopping and shows...working, working, working..."


I just don't stop!

Sometimes, I wonder from where I get so much energy to do so many things and always pushing myself further, often too much...


Shopping in the morning in the Hussein. Pure hell. So much traffic and people that I could hardly walk a few centimeters in the narrow streets of the Medieval market.
People, people, people!

Buying more materials for my first dance dresses collection (YES! I am designing my own dresses and preparing a first collection to sell so...pay attention to the BIG NEWS!).

Also received lots of reproaches and dirty looks due to my clothing (training suit!!!). What should I wear not to shock people during Ramadan?! Again, I feel tempted to go for a large potatoe bag but even that would arise men's (should I say animals?!) uncontrolled libido?!

I loose my patience. Feel like saying " F....... them!"

Should I be forced to walk covered and veiled in the streets in order not to be bothered?!WHERE IS FREEDOM?!
A bit of a flu attacking me and turning my daily shows even more challenging..."the show must go on", though. Artists don't know weaknesses when there's a stage to turn alive.
Trying to take care of it and, at the same time, not giving it too much importance. Tomorrow I will wake up much better!
Still thinking about the incredible reactions to my BLOG entries and how much it all excites me. I LOVE a GOOD CHALLENGE, dear friends!
If there's something I never was that is a COWARD. Everything I do is surrounded in a certain polemic because I say and act upon what I think and truly feel. I don't lick boots or try to please the ones who can bring me benefits. I'm transparent and way too strong for a woman (according to male's vision around here).
Living and working in the Middle East has strenghtened that feature in me as I faced so many hard situations - mainly with men in my business - and I was always brave and strong enough to dignify myself as a woman and defend my profession as all dancers should do.
I have never let my dignity be harmed or the word "DANCER" be treated with less respect.
And I am damn proud of myself, I must say so.
I am not an hypocrite, a coward or a "crowd" pleaser par excellence.
I do MY THING, always. On stage, in my writting, in my teaching, in my personal life. This is who I am, take it or leave it.
I have been punished and appreciated for being honest and straightforward and I have no plans to change that in me. Honesty and courage to say what we truly think and feel should be celebrated and not condemned.
Still thanking everybody for the heated discussions your comments are arising and for all those comments which also make me think further and put myself to the test!
Thanks to all my followers (the ones who agree and the ones who disagree with me).