Monday, April 26, 2010




Cairo, the 27th April, 2010

On my way to Colombia and Argentina...


Almost, almost on my way to Colombia and Argentina.
Still performing every day until my departure so...no time to breath.
Finishing material for workshops and shows between my own shows, in my backstage room surrounded by make-up bags and dresses...oh, my life is a mess...a blessed, wonderful mess full of wounds and joys.

The most exciting thing about these treaps?
The sharing part.
Knowing I will be able to pass on my vision/passion for dance/life to so many students and audiences...that's a privilege and I am so deeply grateful for that opportunity.

Latin America...here I come...:)

Crazy (surprizingly) realistic last minute note:
I am quite sure I will be changing steps and re-doing my crazy choreographies on the airplane and airport bathrooms.

Scary last minute note:
I AM NOT KIDDING.


Cairo, the 26th April, 2010

The challenge of choreography

Choreographing to perform or to teach simply kicks my ass and puts me totally off-balance with myself and my very own knows for sure about dance and art.
I am not the kind of girl to run away from challenges. Quite the opposite and yet I can't stop feeling that choreography is a bit of a torture mixed with excitement.

While I choreograph, something miraculous happens (besides the learning in itself): A THINKING BODY AND A MOVING MIND arise from the depth of my own pre-conceived ideas about how to do a great job!

I have the time to think about each step and the best way to express the music, transform it into another language that will add meaning, passion and LIFE to the initial material.
I am never satisfied, that's the problem. I do not search for perfection because the concept is so volatile and relative but I search for GREATNESS and TRUTH.

Will the movements be faithful to the music I am working on and will them add something extra worth doing and watching?
Will I be able to comunicate from my heart using this choreography?
Am I doing something worthy?!
Why am I doing THIS?

Why do I dance, in the first palce?

All these questions and some more coming from my own home-made insecurities always make me dream about choreographing as well as dreading it.

Maybe I think too much.
Maybe I am too much of a perfectionist.
Maybe I am afraid of not corresponding to what my audiences/students expect from me.
Maybe I am just never satisfied.
Maybe I am always - non stop - looking for more and better...because I know the path is open and has no end.

Why are artitsts so complicated?!



Cairo, the 26th April, 2010

Magical moments at work (what audiences do not see) just before departure...

What is an artist made of and what brings his talent to its highest point, ready to explode into the world and into people's lives?
For me, it's love. Silence. Intimacy. Sharing with my co-workers/artists.
Tenderness.
Here are some moments that fill me up just before getting on stage.

Almost traveling to Colombia and, while dealing with my beloved egyptians, I'm been thinking a lot about the greatness of the so underrated PATIENCE...
LOL

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Cairo, the 17th April, 2010

CLOSING GALA SHOW
at AHLAN WA SAHLAN FESTIVAL
- 30TH JUNE!


O.k, I had to take a deep breath and re-compose myself in order to deliver the NEWS the right way and clear:

I was honoured to receive the invitation to perform at the Closing Gala of Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival created and directed by Md. Raqia Hassan, the big responsible for the massive divulgation of Oriental Dance in the world.

Having earned this invitation is a Victory in itself. It's a trophy that actually tastes like heaven, leaving me nervous - from now on - due to the pressure to do my BEST. With God's help, as usual, all will be better than fine...just fine...

Receiving this sign of appreciation and faith in my work by one of the best teachers/choreographers in the world (and, certainly, the smartest talent spotting lady in the Universe of Oriental Dance!)means a LOT to me.
I often feel exhausted and wonder if all I've been through has been worth it and then there are moments like this when I see that YES, it has been worth it BIG TIME and YES, your dreams can come true if you work hard for them, if you persist against all adversities and if you're willing to pay the price for it.

Right now, I just feel blessed. Within a few days, when all the dust falls back to the ground, I will start going crazy thinking about the bombastic show I must prepare.

I am already asking all my Muses to come and visit me...Magic will happen!

Check the website: www.raqiahassan.net

Tuesday, April 13, 2010



Cairo, the 12th April, 2010


A new departure...
NEWS
to follow!



If you follow my blogs you must have noticed, by now, that I disappear from short periods of time and that has nothing to do with going on a retreat to the Sinai mountains or such. It's just that, from that to time, I get so overloaded with work that I simply can't update my blogs so here we go again...


So here's what's happening right now:
I am creating, creating, creating...hope you can all see the results in the shape of live shows, videos, workshops... whatever God wants!

Preparing new show for the NILE MAXIM with my also - always - new orchestra!
Preparing Colombia and Argentina events and feeling happy to receive some more invitations to teach and perform in another places (will update infos as soon as I can and all is confirmed!) in the world.
I feel honoured and excited!


NEWS TO FOLLOW:


1. New program and a NEW ME. As usual.
Not to be missed, if you’re in Cairo, check one of my shows at the NILE MAXIM!Reservations through the following numbers:
- 002 - 012 73 88888 / 002- 011 73 88888 / 002 - 010 73 88888 / 002 - 02 273 88888

2. COLOMBIA
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 check the website:
http://www.saharnicompany.com

3. ARGENTINA:
I will also be performing and teaching 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
www.infoarabe.com


4. STOP THE TRAFFIC, FOLKS! 'Cause this is a great piece of NEWS:
You do not wanna miss my show at the CLOSING GALA OF THE BIGGEST ORIENTAL DANCE EVENT IN THE WORLD, AHLAN WA SAHLAN FESTIVAL ON THE 30TH JUNE
(Md. Raqia Hassan creation and direction).


This is the ONE you will HAVE to watch, if you love Oriental Dance and Art.
I am so honoured by this invitation and excited I can't hardly speak (or write, for that matter!).


5. Keep updated through the FACEBOOK ( add me as Joana Saahirah) and Youtube (search for Joana Saahirah of Cairo).

See you soon...

Cairo, the 12th April, 2010

Last words about India

There is no conclusion for the whole journey. The great thing about this treap is the door it opened in my mind, heart and Spirit.
I am still feeling the results of India on me.Like a wave that keeps going and going, undulating endlessly...

What I know for sure is that I want to return to India as soon as possible.
That's FOR SURE. I am in love and wish to know more and more about this incredible country where BEAUTY takes on a new meaning.

This treap was just a beginning of a journey with no end.
I thank God for opening one more gate to me.

Cairo, the 12th April, 2010

Gurus - INDIA PART VII


Rishikesh is famous for its ashrams and the Gurus who live in them, receiving people from all over the world and teaching their message to ones who seek the TRUTH.
I am skeptical, I always was. I am also intuitive and always felt there was something quite not right in this all Guru adoration.
There is a single power and that is God. The rest is just a bunch of peanuts with no great importance.
I also believe there are human beings who get to a mature spiritual level and express rightful, useful, divine messages from that place they reached.
What I don't believe is in the promise of Spirituality for sale. I don't believe someone can save you from your own demons, as I don't believe in someone else teaching you about the TRUTH. This is something you find within yourself.
I guess...



Cairo, the 12th April, 2010

Haridwar, Rishikesh...the land of Gurus! - India PART VI


Famous hindu peregrination of Kumb Melah, thousands of followers seeking the rare opportunity to be purified by the river Ganga waters (so close from the miraculous Himalays) and reborn.
These were my number 1 highest points of the treap, even if I was not searching for anything. I was simply needing to find myself, heal my wounds and be reborn not as a hindu or as a christian but simply as a HUMAN BEING with a heart able to trust and love again. This was no easy task but, what can I say, the waters of the Ganga river are MAGICAL and here I am to confirm the veracity of this fact.

Haridwar and Rishikesh (made famous after The Beatles found their guru there in the 60s) are considered holy places and the proximity with the Himalayas gives them that purity and peaceful allure you may dream of when you're searching for your own soul.

Kumb Melah peregrination happens every 12 years and I would like to think that it wasn't a coincidence that I went on this treap exactly at this time.
I became a bit hindu, as I often become a bit of everything good, and bathed in the Ganga, talked with Saddus and sat with them while being totally undisturbed by their nakedness.
Saddus renunciate material life in all its forms and live in eternal peregrination, walking from place to place totally naked and covered in ashes from the dead.
It may seem strange to a westerner to observe these men but I could easily understand their way of living.


As with everything in India, there was a crazy mix in the subject:

1. Part of it had a Spiritual component of true renunciation to material goods and mundane subjects.

2. Part of it was pure evasion and need to run away from life's worries, responsabilites and headaches. All possessions bring pleasure and headaches. Some people decide the price to pay for material possessions is not that worth...

3. Part of it was a trip into the world of drugs and the illusion that chemicals can alter your reality perception in such a manner that they take you closer to God.Pure illusion and sickness.
Hindus believe that human beings have different phases in their lives and none of these phases should be dismissed.

They have childhood, then they grow and get educated, they work and build a career, a home, all the worldly assets and the pleasure of the senses they discover when they get married and have children.
After they lived a full life of career, home and family making, they are ready to renunciate to all of it and this is the stage the Saddus represent.



KUMB MELAH, Haridwar:


I suggest you research about this hindu feast because it's a world of information that opens doors in your mind and spirit.
I gathered with the crowds offering flowers, incense and fire to the Ganga River.
I bathed in the river and felt like a new person after that.
I've chanted along with some buddhist kids in Rishikesh, also by the river and I saw all those commercial adds promoting Ashrams where you could buy your own LIGHT (so it seemed!) and Gurus with whom it also seems you see the Light!
Spirituality may be for sale in these two places but there's also something deeper, stronger, more present than that available to everyone who can SEE with the HEART.
If you can grasp the feeling of PEACE and TRANSCENDENCE residing in these two places, I guess you understand India.



Cairo, the 12th April, 2010



Indian weddings - INDIA PART V


I noticed indian weddings are an even bigger issue than egyptian/arab weddings!
India has the lowest rate of divorces in the world and that says a lot about the importance and weight of the MARRIAGE institution.

The expenses, rituals and responsabilities envolved in a wedding are such that I think no one would dream of getting divorced after all the hassle and hard work.
Families still decide, at large, who marries whom and the secret, forbidden love affairs of couples from different castes are a popular theme in indian movies and novels.


Quite like in egyptian culture, a marriage is not seen as a love affair but the union of two families, two inheritances, two names and, specifically in India, two castes that should be the same.

The proccess of choosing a bride/groom is extensive and would put the best western detective to shame. Mums and dads investigate their son's/ daughter's proposed partner and scrutinize every little detail of his/her life, even hiring astrologers to make and compare their astrological charts. If there isn't a mininum of compatible points in their charts, the wedding is off as indians think in practical terms of daily and eternal life together.


The adds for groom/bride shopping/choosing in indian newspapers are amazing to observe as you see people sell themselves as products and always refer the caste they belong to as this will define the kind of people they'll atract.


The wedding we attended to was full of colour, loud music and rituals we coulnd't fully understand or follow. The groom was depressingly gloomy but the bride was beautiful and smiley. We followed her from the hotel till the stage where she met her groom and other families members to an endless session of photos.
I didn't find indians so much fun at weddings as egyptian, though...there is a seriousness about indian people that makes them take subjects like a wedding very, VERY seriously. Egyptians have a funnier, lighter way of celebrating it, I thought!


In all the beauty of the party and such, nothing stroke me as much beautiful as the traiditional Benares dress the bride was wearing. Tradition says that the bride should wear a gold embroidered dress from Benares and, by watching this one, I could easily understand why. It was sparklingly, opulently BEAUTIFUL!
When it comes to luxury and beauty indians beat everyone. These guys know about these subjects, I must tell you.

I couldn't help but wonder what kind of life this couple would have.
I was informed they would work on having children right ahead and I mean WORKING because indian marriage is, as much as the egyptian/arab marriage, oriented into DOING BABIES.

So the couple will be pressured in the direction of immediate PROCREATION and the groom will have a cup of milk with spices sitting by the bed in order to make sure all the juices are flowing and he has the power to WORK on the baby subject, if you catch my point! ;)

Kama Sutras and all kinds of sexual street education are available to everyone. Hindus - that compose the majority of indians - are educated in these matters and grow up to be a strange mix between enlightened sex apprentices and horny, repressed people who just can't wait until the wedding night in order to have sex (virginity is a big subject in India, specially for women -of course!!!!!!!!).
Hindu religion is a very realistic one and assumes that human beings are sexual beings as well as the many Gods in their pantheon.
Observing the twisted way most indians live the Sacred and the sick side of their sexuality is something I had a good laugh at and enjoyed learning about.


Cairo, the 12th April, 2010


Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar - India PART IV

I've often heard that the north of India was special in many ways. I had no idea of the divisions within this enormous country and how much the northen identity of India was connected with the maharajas and all they left behind when they lost most of their power (although some of their most relevant descendants still live in family palaces and enjoy the status of royalty in the country).

What enchanted me the most in these northen cities I visited was their natural beauty and the luxurious palaces recently transformed into hotels full of history, wonders and an exotic flavour I never found in Egypt where everything seems too familiar to me.
I also felt amazed with the contrast between materialism - often extreme - and spirituality. This is a country where people know, for sure, we are made of flesh and bones as well as SPIRIT!


AGRA:
Agra can easily be defined by the TAJ MAHAL, considered one of the Modern 7 Wonders of the World and rightfully so, I must say. Never in my life did I see such opulent, perfect, simetric beauty and never did I feel such a sense of ETERNAL LOVE just by staring at this monument dedicated to Love.
Describing Taj Mahal will not do the trick, you just have to see it yourself to understand hat I mean. Being there reminded me that there were romantic fools (like me!) who truly believe in eternal love and total devotion to a person that occupies our heart.

There was a smooth breeze that morning we visited the TAJ MAHAL and not even the thousands of tourists and erratic, rebel, out of control monkeys which hanged aroung the crowds could distract me from the gift of BEING THERE, taking in so much BEAUTY and LIGHT!


JAIPUR:
Oh, we saw some incredible hystorical treats in Jaipur and I even climbed (with a very small group of fearless adventurers like me) till the top of a lonely monastery where we chatted and were blessed by a Bhramin (like a priest from the highest caste). At the top of an altar where several hindu deities were laying around in colourful manner, there was a kitchen, plastic clock doing a heavy tick-tock that made me laugh. No matter how highly evoluted you are as a human being, you cannot escape the fact that you're still living in this material dimension where time counts...
That clock did not manage to put me out of my spiritual mood as well as it didn't blind me to the point that I would fall in the common error of thinking about India as a salvation-guru-that- changed-my-life kind of place.
No matter how many spiritual titles one may have, if you're still on Earth, you're still human and vulnerable to all our incongruences.
In a land of Gurus by the meter, I confirmed that there are no TRUE gurus, except the ones who do not accept that title and are able to orient you towards yourself.
I will not do the description of all the gorgeous monuments I saw but simply say I had a blast enjoying the sensual beauty of it all and having chai, chats and laughs with local merchants, watching them move their head side to side while talking and repeating in so many manners: NAMASTE for you!

PUSHKAR:


Oh...this was one of my favourite places in the whole treap and I still don't know why, exactly.
Pushkar seems to be a simple village with a local market and an opulent, once again GORGEOUS hotel recovered from a maharaja palace.
I had my ayurvedic massage, I invited myself to a local wedding and wandered around the markets of the village as if I had lived there forever.
I even met KIKASSO, an indian painter by this name who was a character worth knowing!
Pushkar is a simple place full of magic.
One of the best moments of the whole treap also happened in this village and that might contribute for my preference:
After visiting a Sikh temple, I waited at a coffee-shop for some friends who were travelling with us. I ordered my chai and started to talk with the owner of the place as well as the cook who was congratulated for selling me the best chai I ever tasted.
In Bombaim, the chai usually came with buffalo milk that has a sour, funky taste to it (not good!). At this Pushkar's coffee-shop, the chai came with the famous Sacred Cow milk, lots of sugar and so much love...(the secret ingredient to anything tasty!).

As we talked about life in Pushkar, I watched the people coming and going, entering the Sikh temple and buying offering of flowers and incense to offer to their own, varied gods.

Some cows also passed by, slowly and with the pace of the Queen of England!
Very cute and disturbing as no one is allowed to touch or harm the cows (enough harm all the garbadge they eat from the streets).
I found some dancing treats in Pushkar and dreamt of not leaving this place...ever!
The hotel was a paradise and the wedding me and my friend Guida attended was pure magic!

I am dreaming about coming back there...
Cairo, the 12th April, 2010

Reading, watching, listening - India on my mind...still...maybe forever...

I haven't spoke about readings for a long time and that's for obvious reasons ( no time or head to read) but here are the picks I am trying to read away between shows or five minutes I manage to stay awake just before going to sleep:

1. M.K. Ghandi, An Autobiography
Written by Ghandi himself, this is a simple book describing a less than simple life from one of the humblest, greatest men that ever lived on Earth (as said by Albert Einstein himself who happened to be a somewhat intelligent gentleman!).


2. Sarah Macdonald, Holy Cow - An Indian Adventure
This is not a masterpiece but it's a fun reading about a westerner view on India and its contrasts. Light reading for fun and further understanding of the way we, clumsly, relate to the OTHER that is different and hard to be understood.


3. Just got one of Kiran Desai's books : THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS and I'm hoping to dig in it as soon as possible. Still no comments on this one but, for what I saw from it, this seems to be an incredible book.

LISTENING:

1. Ravi and Anouska Shankar - both famous citar players and, respectively, father and half sister of famous Norah Jones.
The citar is one of those instruments which seem to have been created to make me relax and fall asleep (the arabic oud is another one of these!).


WATCHING:

1. Some Bollywood movies I brought from local indian markets.If the scripts seem to be mostly tear jerking, overtly and unrealistically romantic, the dance scenes compensate for it. If the actors seem to over act a LOT and you cannot find any indian Anthony Hopkins delivering great acting performances, their dances and music also compensates for it.

Laagan is one of my favourite but there are the most recent DEVDAS (with some incredible dance scenes) and Marigold (not so good but also a light view over India and Bollywood glamour).
Slumdog Millionaire - international blockbuster movie - is a good one that did not runneth over my cup...

Cairo, the 12th April, 2010


NEW DEHLI - INDIA PART III


NEW DEHLI:

Another big metropole - extremely polluted although I feel Cairo beats it to the points - where you can see the extremes of indian society to an obnoxious extent.

The Old Dehli with the traditional markets, dark alleys of strange, magical shops with enchanted potions you get afraid of, the famous and infamous rikshows (chairs attached to bicycles rode by skinny legged men who will ask for a few ruppees to take you all over town) and poorest people and the New Dehli with the fancy compounds for the rich families and descendants of the Maharajas and such...


Between all the markets I took a looksie at, the Khan Market with its amazing libraries and local fashion designers really made me wish I was a millionaire...I'm not even a shopping kind of person but this market made me crazy with its rich embroideries, modern indian designs that took your breath away with their beauty and delicious bookshops with material about dance, music and all cultural matters related to India.

I felt New Dheli was kind of plastic and lacking in authenticity and cultural character. All the big cities seem to have lost their sense of identity, don't they?

I was delighted with the food, though...you can find some AMAZING restaurants in New Dehli as well as some SPAS with Ayurvedic treatments that really make my day.


Did I say I LOVE indian food to the extent of madness?! Well, I said it now.

New Dehli is full of great indian food as well as highly manicured, polished rich ladies who shop all day and show you the REAL meaning of VANITY.
Bollywood stars get together with the highest caste - the Brahmins, the Religious caste - and the Untouchable's caste is, in fact, considered Untouched. Prejudices walk hand in hand with the richest, wisest, most interesting Spirit any country could have.
Knowledge, spirituality and material arrogance are evident in the big cities like New Dehli.
As a true country girl, I longed to reach the deep, interior India and so I did...


WHAT STROKE ME THE MOST:

1. The caste system that divides indian society in different levels outlawd by the Indian Constitution but still very much alive in the country's daily life.

2. A great mosque situated in the heart of the Old Dehli and the first Islamic mosque (with the tallest minaret)in the world. I felt closer to Cairo as I listened the calling for the prayer inside of the mosque. I am not a muslim but learnt to know, respect and love some people that happen to be muslims and are part of my life. That brings me closer to the religion itself.

In India, you understand and REALIZE that all religions are ONE and speak of the same thing.
The way hindus respect muslims, jewish, buddhist, christians and everyone in between is astounding and touching.


Cairo, the 12th April, 2010

Bombaim - India PART II

Remembering experiences will never get close to the actual feeling of LIVING those experiences. That's why we speak - and almost never understand and act upon - the greatness of NOW. Enjoying the moment.


Well, that's what I did as soon as I got to Bombaim, my first city as I got into India.


I quickly understood why India is under the astrological sign of Capricorn.
Burocracy, lines, requests, paperwork and more nagging at checking your bags, hair, cloths and etc says a lot about indian character. Entering India and getting through the several gates and check-ups of Bombaim airport is enough to get why they're capricorn sons and daughters.
This is also an old country with a heavy, fully charged past and that can also be qualified as Saturnin, Capricorn like...


BOMBAIM:


I could feel the weight of India over my shoulders as I got to know Bombaim and even quicker did I feel the dark sensuality of the country.

It all smelled like cave like sexuality. Don't ask me exactly what that means cause I don't know it myself but that's what it felt like: dark, velvety, scorpionic, dangerously alluring sensuality!


Bombaim was part of the portuguese empire, in the past, so there are still remains of my country in this city (as well as in the South which I didn't visit yet).
It's a city looking at the arabic sea and from all the things I saw, the thing that impressed me the most was the house of Mahatma Ghandi!

Is it because it seems no men like this are born anymore?
Is it because I always had a crush on heroic men?


The - embarassing - truth is that I cried as I moved around his house and got acquainted with further details about his life. It was not possible to keep a straight face after knowing about a man who gave up his comfort, privacy, well being, his whole life for the sake of the ones who could not fight for themselves and for the sake of India's dignity and freedom.


There were letters directed to the United States President at the time, some directed to Herr Hitler (asking him - so politely, in such a gentleman's manner - to stop the Holocaust) as well as documentary photos, some few personal belongings and Ghandi's room with the famous spinning gear that symbolized the Indian revolution towards British exploitation and domination.


The house was peaceful as heaven and I could have easily stayed there forever.
Was I alive at the time of Ghandi and I would become a crazy groopie chasing him off limits until he made me his wife!

That's how much I adore and admire this man. What a remarkable person (check out Mahatma Ghandi's Autobiography - Experiences with the Truth).
I also visited the Elephantine islands with the famous caves representing several of the many, many, many colourful Hindu deities and another touristic places but none filled me as much as Ghandi's home.



Chai - famous masala tea with milk - shops mixed with some posh Starbuck's style coffe-shops gave the city a domestic flavour punctuated with a nouveau riche inffluence that bugged me. Indian richest people tend to be, as in any other part of the world but with an extra bit in that country, arrogant, ignorant and petulant in the way they treat another people they consider under their level.


Near by the hotel, we found christian churches, synagogues and even some mosques. India is, indeed, the country of all religions and mentalities. No wonder India has become an impossible puzzle to solve. So many interests and different comunities at stake...very hard to unite so many differences in such an enormous country!



WHAT STROKE ME THE MOST:

1. A world wide famous food delivery system known for its eficacy and internal organization.
Every day, there are millions of house wives all over Bombaim who cook their husband's lunch which is transported and delivered in hands by men in bicycles.
This seems to be one of the best organized, efficient domestic enterprises of the world and it surely proves Indian impeccable sense of hard work and efficiency in all they put their mind into.

2. There is a specific exclusively male laundry service in Bombaim which employs thousands of men. You can watch how they wash, iron and dry the cloths of the rich people standing in a slum like kind of hole improper for human breathing.
The poverty in India is a permanent issue in the world press and in all traveller's accounts. Such a complicated matter, actually.

I learnt not to avaliate and judge such situations easily. Poverty is everywhere in all shapes and forms but it surely shows itself a LOT in India due to the geographical dimension of the country and the over population subject.

Cairo, the 12th April, 2010


What you'll not find in the touristic guides - India!

Since my return from India, the country itself has been a recurrent theme in my blogs.

It's such a cliche but the truth is this kind of treap can change you for life, even when you're not looking for it.

I've already said it:
I went to India dragged by one of my best friends - who happens to be indian - and had no idea of what I would find (I saw the program of the treap, for the first time, when we got to Bombaim!).


Yeah, this might sound crazy to lots of people...travelling without caring exactly where I'm going or what I'll be doing but there were a few hints that were quite enough for me to decide to take on this adventure:

1. I was going with a great, true friend.

2. I really needed to get away from my usual world (although exchanging the caos of Cairo for the caos of Bombaim and New Dehli is not the smartest of the moves, I must admit).
The wise thing to do would be heading to a sunny, peaceful place where I could have silence, space, peace and emptiness. Some place like Maldivas, Brazil, any beach paradise would do...
Instead, I went to India (more caos, craziness, pollution in the big cities, some silence and then some more noise, lots of people everywhere and not much individual space to move around but...for sure, PEACE).

3. I often find the most significant decisions of my life are done by intuition and this was one of them.



So...how was it arriving to Portugal after so much hard work in Egypt?
How was it to spend just a day with my family and travel to Bombaim with no idea of what was coming?


These are not rhetoric questions so here's my answers:

Arriving to Portugal after so much work in Egypt felt great, as usual!

Having dinner with my family, closest friends and neighbours, shopping with my mum in our local grocery and walking the dogs at sunset...hmmm...these simple, precious things fill me up to the soul!

Spending just one day with my family was harsh but they understood, as they always do, my gipsy soul and wished me a good journey (although my mum was sure I would hate India!). She was, surprisingly, wrong.

So the journey starts in Bombaim and here are some short flash back notes (no time for further descriptions, sorry folks!) that you'll not find in any of the best Lonely Planet touristic guides.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Cairo, the 12th April, 2010

Home, sweet home...

How sweet it feels to walk to work and forget about taxis, traffic from hell and headaches on a daily basis...ohhhh...it's great to leave from my home at 17.45h and arrive to the NILE MAXIM at 17.50h!

YES!!!

Meanwhile, I am redefining my own home and life, as I did dozens - maybe hundreds?! - of times before...I love the process of fixing a new space to live in, getting to know the neighbourhood and special corners around.

Zamalek is rich in special, cozy places and I intend to find out about all of them!

Ohhh.......I am in homely heaven...
:)










Cairo, the 11th April, 2010

Last images


People often ask me how is it being a belly dancer (????)in Cairo and how much you DO learn and get from it.
Of course there are the obvious difficulties and benefits I presume everyone knows about: the prostitution and corruptive system on one side, the name you can - eventually! - build in the local and internacional market, etc.

I would add a few mountains to climb and a few more wonderful benefits I, personally, get from the whole experience.
Between the hidden joys of being a professional Oriental Dancer in Egypt I can now easily enumerate these few:

1. Knowing how to deal with the worst kind of people (within musicians, empresarios and all the mafia around this business) and also knowing the pleasure of working with some REAL ARTISTS and GREAT HUMAN BEINGS (both at the same time, which is very rare!);

2. Growing from your egyptian audiences which guide you, like no teacher does, through the alleys and corners of the path to turn yourself into a REAL DANCER;

3. Working with some incredibly talented musicians whom redefine your ideas and knows for sure kind of dogmas related to music and dance.

I just love being challenged and taught by the ones who know more than me and, thankfully, I am humble and wise enough to recognize the ones I should listen to and learn from.

4. Backstage madness between me, my musicians and other artists, staff and such...I was always advised not to mix with the crowds (if you know what I mean...) and, most of all, never to show my teeth to my musicians and give them a hand because, they say, they would rip off my arm as well.
I just can't follow this advice, for as much as I wished I would.
I cannot defend myself from disappointments neither way and, at least, I know - for sure - that I had amazing times off and on stage with all the musicians I've worked with and none of them, until today, lacked the respect towards me.
I am too much of a human being to be able to ignore or be cold to the ones who produce magic with me every night.

5. Those moments of connection between me, orchestra and audience. All egyptian!
Priceless and non attainable in this manner in any other place in the world!

6. The winning feeling of seeing my name growing in the market ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY due to my talent, hard work, persistence and faith. In a business where prostitutes are replacing artists, it's an almost impossible mission to have done what I am doing, my way!
And, by my way, I mean : NOT SLEEPING WITH ANYONE IN ORDER TO GET WORK OPPORTUNITIES.

Since I've arrived to Egypt, I had nothing but difficulties and multiple obstacles and here I am, stronger than ever, proving wrong every one who told me I couldn't do it, unless I sold myself!
Proving that ART is much alive in Egypt and that I CAN DO IT in a honest way has been the biggest pleasure of the whole journey.
I thank God for that.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cairo, the 11th April, 2010



Small video...funny ending with my crazy, little devil genius percussionist


This song is just soooooo egyptian...a bit, just a bit of my dancing and an unusual ending with my main percussionist playing with me and with the music (as we both become one).

Dancing is not only about materializing the music and each instrument but materializing the EMOTION of each sound, each word.

A DANCER shouldn't only read the music but the emotions it contains. That's the challenge I love!
video

Saturday, April 10, 2010



Cairo, the 10th April, 2010



India - bringing closure to the subject (?!)


The truth is I cannot bring closure into my last India treap neither did I have the time, as I hoped for, to write some full articles about so many subjects I found interesting during this amazing journey.

I often say the true treaps are the ones which manage to change you from the inside out, as a person, as an evolving Soul in this crazy world.
Landscapes, monuments, even people will not represent a treap if that means you leave that certain country in the same way you arrived to it.

So, according to that, India was the definition of a TREAP.

I left richer, fuller of Light and more aware of ALL I want and ALL I do not want in my life.
With no exaggeration, this was a reborn process I did not see coming!

It's not that I intended to find my own ashram or guru and solve all the eternal questions of life.

It's not like I went to India expecting for answers and for Light.
I've learnt, so far, that there are no such things as Gurus or Masters.
You and the way you react and intelligently learn and upgrade your consciousness through Life's experiences define your growth. Nothing more than that.
The REALLY important things cannot be taught by other people and no one can save us from ourselves.
The REAL learning is made one-on-one, from within and only between yourself - as your ego, personality - and your Higher Self - your Soul.

The whole treap could be summoned, for me, in one word:
GANGA (Ganges river).


In the Sacred town of Haridwar, I did my very own ritual bath Hindus perform there every 12 years (in a famous peregrination called Kumb Melah).
I joined the crowds and followed my instinct, as always.
This early morning bath in the freezing waters from the Ganga river (freshly navigated from the Himalayas stuck to Haridwar and Rishikesh) represented the highest point of my treap.


Make no mistake. This was a simple episode with no fanfare or photos to go with it.
Hindus believe that Ganga river waters are sacred and Haridwar is one of the 4 places in India considered particularly holy (check Hindu mythology and religion, it's a colourful, human oriented blast!).


Medicinal and magical proprieties, they say. The Divine hand in it, they say.
All I will ever know is what I feel and I actually felt as a new person (a Lighter one, at the least) after dipping myself into the waters of this wonderful river.
I ran away from the crowds, as usual.I watched in awe the peregrination rituals and thousands of hindus offering their sets of flowers, fire and incense to the Ganga river. The night of the peregrination went on to become a rainy one,to the point that all the wounds of the Earth seemed to be washed away.
I woke up early in the next morning and smelled the wet sand under my feet.
Me and my friend took a rikshow ( a bicycle with a seat on the back rode by skinny legged men who made you feel guilty ) to the holy city of Haridwar.
We saw a couple of sadduhs (men who have renunciated to material life and all its pleasures and travel in eternal non-attached peregrination full naked and covered in ashes).

We also saw the early morning ablutions of hindus, the first breakfasts stirring in the fire, the freshly made chai with lots of milk and spices, the early smiles of the - somewhat - stiff indian people.


I had a bag with spare cloths aside.
I grabbed myself to the iron chains danggling from the river's walls and went down into the water really hard a couple of times, washing away so much of what was weighing on me.
I coulnd't breath properly the first time due to the freezing waters falling directly and so closely from the Himalayas. All my body was in shock, I guess.
The other times I went deep down into the river, I could only feel the pressure and strenght of the current and all it seemed to take away with it.

Overwhelming feeling of erasing and cleaning all it needs to be cleaned from your guts till your soul.
I went out from the water as another person.
I could breath better, all the muscular pains I had been carrying from my Cairo overloaded schedule washed away by some magical hand I could not explain, only feel.
FEELING. PURE PEACE.

By the time I went out from the water, there was already a considerable amount of voyeurs photographing me and filming me with full attention as well as standing by audiences I tried to ignore.

This was a moment for myself, extremely intimate and yet I still had audience for it (how ironic is that for a performer like me!?).
I couldn't blame the people watching me, you know...I was a voyeur the whole treap and a nosey observer myself so I coulnd't really get mad at others for finding me exotic as I found them.
Being assisted by my friend, I exhanged the wet clothes by the new ones, looked at the early morning sun and breathed deeply and smoothly as I didn't do for a long time.


This was, without a doubt, the highest point of an incredible, life changing journey.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cairo, the 9th April, 2010

Hey, Mr. Dj, put the record on!

There's a famous song from Maddona which says:
Hey, Mr. Dj, put the record on
I wanna dance with my baby
Hu hu hu...


And there it goes on...

That's the one who got into my mind in a recent taxi ride I made to my personal masseur (yes, I am so fancy that I have my very own personal massagist and I say it in french cause it sounds more relaxing).

I got into a cab with a lady - monakaba/totally covered muslim lady - already sitting at the front, by the side of the driver.

As soon as I got into the cab, the driver smiled at me from the rear view mirror and changed the arabic music playing at the moment for a drastic, magnificent and sexual Prince album he owned.

Some drivers will carry around a DJ collection for locals and another for foreigners because they think a foreigner will enjoy FOREIGNER music more than arabic.
This was one of these drivers but, what a hell, he didn't need to go as far as Prince.
Don't get me wrong.
Prince is a gemini like me and I adore his music.
I find some of his sexually explicit songs extremely alluring and fun to dance to but I am talking about GET OFF and CREAM.
These were the songs he had playing on his cd player.
Some of it says:

Get off...let a woman be a woman and a man be a man...
get off...if you want me baby, here I am...
there's a rumour going around that you ain't getting served...
let me unzipp it...
cream...get on top...cream...don't you stop...
put cream...right THERE!

And the beautiful, poetic lyrics went on and went accompanied by the driver's and the monakaba's dancing heads with no idea of what the lyrics were saying.

They both checked on me to make sure I was enjoying myself and their naivete made me laugh. Here I was with a religious - I suppose, although being completely covered doesn't assure she's a religious person - lady and a humble, old, taxi driver dancing along and even trying to sing along with Prince talking about putting cream in strange places of the human body and I couldn't stop to smile.

I wonder what would be their reactions if I translated a bit, just a bit, of the song's lyrics.:)

I love Egypt.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010





















Cairo, the 6th April, 2010

PASSION

I just can't live or dance without it.
That FIRE that brings two real lovers together, that same FIRE that makes us go forward when everything seems burnt out and lost.I cannot live without that FIRE.
I cannot dance without it either because Life and Dance are one and the same thing for me.

With the same strenght and truth I love my man, I dance.
With the same will I breath, I dance.
With the same PASSION for life that keeps me moving forward without looking back at the pains and tribulations, I dance.
With the simple and pure PASSION, I dance.









Cairo, the 5th April, 2010

Glimpses of Grace

Me, still and always growing up at every show...
I am in a state of Grace.
Each musician is a valuable and unique gift for me. Each one pushes me forward into new dimensions and levels of Artistry.

I am in a state of Grace and you can see it in my dance, in my eyes...

To check all my dance photos and videos, search for Joana Saahirah of Cairo on Facebook and on Youtube.