Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cairo, the 5th February, 2010

Another departure... NEWS to retain while I travel:

Dear followers, I have been a bad girl (for good reasons, though...).

Absent for two weeks and now, again...stressing about my upcoming departure to Portugal, then heading to India for an unforgettable treap, returning to Portugal for work and then coming back to Cairo to restart my shows and so many other things going on my life.
I am so excited!

In the middle of all this mess, I hope I have the time and opportunity to even say HI to my dear Blog followers but I cannot promise a follow-up or any updates. Let's see how it goes.

NEWS to retain:

1. SHOWS at the NILE MAXIM going.....................(there's a huge smile on my face so you can imagine how they're going).
The reason why I am not commenting on my shows is because they're really going...
Yes, that's the reason.
I am taking this evil eye thing very seriously because I had actual proof that it is a SERIOUS MATTER. know shows are going, you just have to step on the NILE MAXIM and see it for yourself.

Reservation numbers to book your place and watch my show:

- 002 - 012 73 88888

- 002- 011 73 88888

- 002 - 010 73 88888

- 002 - 02 273 88888

FOR INFOS, CONTACT ME through the email:

Being the invited artist and teacher from Cairo of the Oriental Dance Festival in Colombia - LATIN ARABIAN - on the 30th April, 1st and 2nd May, 2010 (Latin America, here I come!).

Workshops and shows with live orchestra from Cairo (see further details in ulterior post).

I´m looking forward to teach my new choreographies and finally bring a bit of the Cairo magic to the world performing with live band in a show I wouldn´t advise you to miss…:)

For detailed infos, please follow the links:

Luz Betty :


3. I'll also be performing and teaching in Argentina (Buenos Aires) on the 7,8, 9th May! Tango and Oriental...this will be an AMAZING time to have...
Infos: Bellydance Weekend Festival 2010 Buenos Aires

4. Intensive workshop in Portugal - Lisbon - on the 28th February (program available at portuguese version of this BLOG: infos through my email:

5. News, photos and videos weekly updated at my FaceBook Page (Search for Joana Saahirah in the FaceBook) and on Youtube.



Knowing that the job of being a human is so hard , and it is the only job there is left - though we keep on pretending otherwise (...)


Cairo, the 4th February, 2010

Dancing to my own music...what a luxury!

Oh...I ll not deliver too much details about this one until everything is over and done but...I just have to say it: I am so happy with my new music.

Simple infos that are making my day:

1. Majance is what musicians call to the dancer's signature entrance music on stage. In Egypt, each dancer owns a majance composed for her (although many of them dance to already existing majances which were not composed for them) and it's her presentation card, the sound that announces this specific dancer's coming on stage and what she repeats on every single show.

2. The wonderful egyptian composer Hossam Shaker built my own majance with me.
I was searching for someone who was an artist outside the small money making machine of musicians of the egyptian market. I didn't want something predictable and resembling stuff that were already done.
I wanted something DIFFERENT, UNIQUE, STRANGE, COMPLEX and FRESH! I needed someone with a head opened to the world and not a small minded composer and...tchan, tchan, tchan, tchan...I found him!
Side by side. Night by night. Beat by beat and emotion by emotion.
I was by the composer's side on every single step of the work, from the first glimpse of melody till the final mix in the recording studio. It was straining and hard, it literally took my breath away (along with my sleep and some mental sanity too).
I heard dancers don't usually do this: keep up with the composer's work at its every small step. They deliver the idea and the composer deliver them the music already done in the end. I could never let this happen, NEVER! Does this mean I am a control freak? Maybe... does this mean that I know very well what I want and what I DO NOT want and I actually know what I am doing? Maybe...Does this mean that I am a perfectionist and want to be fully understood? For sure.

3. The whole composition process was tiring but fascinating to me. The way the composers started to learn about my personality, tastes, feelings...soul! We even considered bringing my mom from Portugal to sit with him - having tea and egyptian sweets, obviously - and tell him all about me, from childhood until now.
My mom would have told him quite a few interesting goodies, that's for sure!
The composer came to see me perform twice and joined me in one rehearsal with my orchestra but the main infos came from many sleepless nights we spent in his office, working on the music and talking about life.

4. I cannot tell that working with musicians in the recording studio was a pleasure because it wasn't. Most of them were a lazy, pain in the arse crowd who had no love for their work and just wanted to play whatever could be done fast, get their money and get out from there in a second!
5. The final result...well...
More details about the whole subject...well.
These will be delivered as soon as everything is on my head and unavailable to the famous evil eye.

Keep yourself updated.
This has been quite a journey!
Cairo, the 4th February, 2010

Arabic beauty

Beauty concepts vary so much depending on time and place...what is considered beautiful in Portugal may be considered hell ugly in another country and what used to be a gorgeous painter's muse from the Renaissance can be seen, by today's standards, as a fat weird lady who should be home baking cookies or devouring french fries.
And then there is the mutual influence both West and East offer each other (with some disastrous results)...we always seem to value what we don't have, that's for sure.
The neighbour's grass is always greener than mine, isn't it?!

Yesterday I was running in the treadmill (in the women's section of my gym) and caught sight of two quite disturbing images:
1. A lady covered with her hijab (the scarf that covers the head of many muslim women) was retouching her make-up to make sure her dark skin was not appearing from under her heavy white foundation.

O.k, not even mentioning how weird it is to train in a gym and sweat (in the women's section with no men AT ALL around) while wearing a head scarf and make-up. What will you do when the sweat gets in the way of all this mess of mascara, lipstick and foundation PLUS a headscarf that I imagine being suffocating!?

I never thought I would see this and yet I am remembered I am in Egypt so...anything and everything is possible!

Then the worry in this woman's face...ahhh...this was the worst! If someone saw her dark skin, hell would break loose, for sure...

2. Then, as I was running like a man (by arabic women's standards, yup!) make-up, no hairdo, no scarf or cute jewelry playing ding ding while I move...I catch sight of another disturbing image:
There was a special whitening lotion selling on television and the whole beauty show was about it! I knew that being white was a major asset for most arabic women and men. I also knew there is a huge prejudice over her concerning dark people (considered ugly and, somehow, low standard due to their colour). I had heard about sudanese and nubian people being harassed (not sexually, surprisingly!WOW) in the streets, offended, even beaten up.
I knew about all this nonsense. But I didn't know a beauty show could be based on a lotion that makes your skin whiter.
Then I realized we,westerners, have an whole business made of tanning products and services. I am in the possession of my very own tanning lotion, am I not?
So, if I wish to get darker, why on earth should I find so strange that another women wish to get whiter?!

Many times.

So...what are WE doing here?
I spend hours by the sun to get tanned...the darker, the better...and never quite enough!

My egyptian assistant, that novel character that colours my days and nights with incredible, also absurd delicacies, is dark and covers herlself with white foundation to guessed!... whiter.
In the West, there are tanning businesses and people get burnt and damaged from too much sun and too much tan machine sessions.
In the East, women die to get whiter and look at my winter's pale legs as if they were a master piece.

What if beauty could be universal and, simultaneously, absolutely personal? What if we destroyed all the beauty prejudices and standards and could enjoy each person for her/his own UNIQUE beauty?
What if we sttoped wishing to be someone we're not?
Now...would that be so difficult to achieve?

When it comes to monkeys in the head and insecurities, human beings are pretty much the same everywhere.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cairo, the 4th February, 2010


I am a detail kind of person.
I am the kind of lunatic creature who will notice a little bird up on a high tree in the middle of a crowded place...I am the kind of elephant in the room who will forget about some really important matters and people for the sake of watching a beautiful child playing by herself on the ground.

I am ALL about the details and my work doesn't escape this feature of mine.
As luck would have it, Egypt is an extremely rich country in terms of details. You can find them everywhere and in the middle of amazing contradictions, terrors and wonders...

Here are some details from my dancing journey and a bit of what I value.

Cairo, the 4th February, 2010

Step by step...moving forward and always doing it my way...

Cairo, the 3th February, 2010


Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life.
A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job...
And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of
to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to
embrace one possibility after
another - that is surely the basic
instinct...Crying out: High tide!
Time to move out into the
glorious debris. Time to take
this life for what it is.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cairo, 3rd February, 2010

Between worlds - the urgent chamaleon...

Living between worlds has advantages and disadvantages, obviously.
Curiously enough, I started belonging to different worlds since I was born.
Being surrounded by portuguese, africans, gipsies and spanish people from such an early age definately shaped my personality and, I guess, has prepared me for all that LIFE would ask of me later on when I left my country to conquer my dreams in Egypt and, allas, in this wide world (and others!).

Being a born city girl within a family of farmers and simple people of the country/earth has also made me a kind of sophisticated peasant. I am educated, cultured (by some standards) and not quite stupid. I love good quality EVERYTHING and love, more than anything, travelling and eating well. I also love eating with my bare hands, sitting on the floor (not matter the situation I am in) and just being simple with none of the usual arrogance and show-off typical of the so called high level people.
I am a mess, really.

I am also a chamaleon who changes its skin colour whenever I land in Portugal or return to Egypt. The needed adaptations are endless as soon as I land in Cairo airport, every single time...

Here are some words beautifuly written by Samia Serageldin in her book (that I recommend) called THE CAIRO HOUSE:

But the two chamaleons are the ones who straddle two worlds, segueing smoothly from one to the other, adjusting language and body language, calibrating the range of emotions displayed, treading the tightrope of mannerisms and mores. If it is done well, it can look deceptively effortless, but it is never without cost. There is no hypocrisy involved, only the universal imperative underlying good manners: to do the appropriate thing, to make those around you comfortable. For the chamaleon, it is a matter of survival.

Cairo, the 3rd February, 2010

My very own idea of Intimacy and PEACE

Intimacy is a very wide, multi-faceted concept.
Some see Intimacy as a bundle of private moments between two people, some even limit it to sex and yet some, like me, see INTIMACY in a special light that makes me (between so many other of my own weirdest treats!) an outsider whatever I am and by any standards.

PEACE is also a higly coloured idea with distinct shades, tones, feelings to it.
Some consider PEACE as a simple absence of WAR (military war). These forget that wars can exist in the tiniest places and in the most unexpected corners of one's mind and heart.

Both these concepts, when lived/discussed in a country like Egypt, are even more charged with mixed, confused ideas.
Intimacy is something that belongs exclusively to the house warmth of each family or pair of illegal lovers. Public displays of intimacy - physical intimacy - are strongly condemned in Egypt as in many other Arab countries.

I suppose the highest point of the Intimacy scale as far as the common egyptian or westerner is concerned resumes itself in the act of having sex with someone. And, by God, I guess we all know the simple act of having sex with someone can be the least intimate experience of one's own life!

Peace is also an inflammable subject in Egypt which is, thanks God, one of the most peaceful countries I've ever seen in terms of phisical security. When you think about all the unfinished subjects and war still going on around all Middle East, you find Egypt as a surprisingly paradise like territory.

People are, usually, pacific and kind around here. They REALLY ARE.
I am not afraid of walking in the street at night anywhere in Cairo (although I get nervous by the certainty of being sexually harassed on every single step I take) and mosques are full of praying devouted muslims who try to follow the Prophet's calm assurance and humane approach to others.

I believe people try their best in this beloved country. They do not succeed most of the times and they can only do as much as they know. If they KNEW better, they would know better...If I knew better, I would also DO better... (touche!).

Now...what is peace for egyptians and arabs?
And for me?
Is it our western notion of PEACE so different from the ones I find in this side of the world?!

Here's a jewel I found.It may not explain the cultural differences between, apparently, opposite worlds but it surely describes my own ideas of INTIMACY and PEACE but the words wore written by Kate Light:

A house in the country to find out what's true /
a few linen shirts, some good art /
and you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cairo, the 2nd February, 2010

Me at work...updating some news on my dance path...

It has been a very, very busy time for me these last two many great things going on and so much of me put out there...I guess I discovered that time's a wasting...or, by another time AT ALL to waste.

The last shows have been unbeliveable and you really had to be there to know what I mean.
Hard work, intelligence, resilience above all obstacles and faith...all combined to help me get to the REAL POINT when it comes to DANCE as an ART FORM.
No matter how many classes, all sorts of education and tips you can receive from the best teachers in the whole wide world, I now understand that the real matter - when it comes to dance or, for that matter, LIFE itself - is something you discover inside of yourself with no one's help or external hints.

Now I am INDEED getting the point.
Asking God for guidance, always...

Cairo, the 1st February, 2010

Buenos Aires and more images of my shows...

Last minute news:

Besides going to Colombia to teach and perform (see ulterior post) I will also be in Buenos Aires, Argentina sharing my Art with that beautiful people on the 7,8 and 9th May!!!
Infos: Bellydance Weekend Festival 2010 Buenos Aires

Being a frustrated tango dancer (I guess one of the very few styles of dance I have never studies and one of my favourite!), this upcoming event in Buenos Aires is giving me such an antecipated joy that I can hardly describe what I'm feeling.