Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Will I ever be able to describe the feeling of EXTASIS when my ego disappears and all that exists is my body transformed into wind by the music?
These last shows have been a miracle to me...maybe it´s due to exhaustion or maybe it´s my mood that is open to different experiences but...these last days I have been the happiest while on stage.
I close my eyes, feel the music and let myself go, beyond time and place.
This is the miracle of DANCE. And LIFE.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Between plumbing and receiving applauses...
And this is LIFE. Sometimes, so common and down to earth and, many other times, divine and sublime.
I would be dancing ad eternum, if I could. Actually, I think I will.
But then comes daily reality and the bank, the supermarket, the family and friends, the cooking and washing, all the vulgar activities that makes us - somehow! - rotinary and grounded to the floor.
These last days, I have been receiving so many wonderful applauses and - surprise, surprise - a lot of shopping, plumbing and electricity work at home with my own bare hands.
Between the REGULAR and the DIVINE, let´s see how I am walking around:
1. Tango dancing: Refuge. Escape. Desperate need to put my mind into BEAUTY in all its possible forms. Meeting new people and interacting/dancing with a partner is also new for me, being so used to be a soloist dancer and the boss in charge of movement, alllllllllllllllll the time.
PASSION. PAIN transformed into BEAUTY.
2. Performing every night - already for a month, daily and non-stop - has also been a life-saving circumstance because the applauses and energy I am receiving every day, as well as my orchestra´s appreciation and enthusiasm, have been carrying my spirit up.
3. Plumbing in the bathroom and kitchen. Electricity work. All done by "moi memme", with my own bare hands. Calling men to do it for me would take more time, patience and wasted energy. I can do it myself! So here I was already made up for work (full hair-make-up and fancy cloths on), opening tubes and cleaning them...putting together electrical wires and such...
4. Teaching students from all over the world, while writing and reading as much as I can. All ways of keeping me sober and functional.
5. How lucky am I to do what I most LOVE and being able to use it as a life saver?!
The routine of sublime stage moments, great class sharing and common gestures from daily life will continue for the next 15 days, until the end of Ramadan. After RAMADAN, NEW LIFE waiting for me...ahhhhhhhhh, I can´t wait!
Religion VERSUS SPIRITUALITY
Oh, the amazing illusion of religions...and the irresponsability that come with them.
Everything is just "if God wants" and all disasters happen because "God wanted it that way"...christians, hindus, muslims...all traped in the same self-lying/pity story. So much easier to put matters into God´s hands, isn´t it?
I do believe there is an ORDER to the Universe and an ENERGY that inter-acts with us and what we put out there in the form of thoughts, words and actions but I take total responsability over my life. Reality has taught me not to be childish to the point of crossing my arms and waiting for miracles to happen.
I have a brain, arms and legs to move towards what I want and only after I did all I could do, I surrender and deliver the mission to God or the Universe, or whatever you may call it (because it´s so much bigger than just a name).
Here´s something hilarious and amazingly intelligent I read on my last Osho book delight (ZEN, THE PATH OF PARADOX):
"A minister of the Gospel was conducting religious services in an asylum for the insane. His discourse was suddenly interrupted by one of the inmates crying out wildly, " I say, have we got to listen to this tommyrot?"
The minister, surprised and confused, turned to the keeper and said, "Shall I stop speaking?"
The keeper replied, "No, no, keep right on, that won´t happen again. That man has only one sane moment every seven years."
Moving waters in a stagnated Ramadan month...
As far as I am concerned, PEACE always comes with movement or what I call productive stillness. That kind of stillness where everything REAL and ESSENTIAL happens, the SILENCE and all the angels of the earth and the sky holding you tenderly...that´s the stillness I enjoy. Meditation, holding your mum´s hand, looking at the sea with no end, having the man you love in your arms with no words required, observing wild animals breathing so naturaly or a tree and all the little miracles it´s composed of...being STILL is being more alive than ever.
What I can´t stand is being STAGNATED. STUCK. NOT ABLE TO MOVE DUE TO IMPOTENCE OR ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCES. That kind of immobility kills me. Starting from my nerves, then heading to my mind and, finally, my heart and soul.
I can be still while LIVING but not still if that means being held against my will between choices or situations that are not happy or productive.
So, although this is a still (lazy, perhaps!) month to live here in Cairo (Ramadan and fasting brings all kinds of different rituals and excuses for less productivity), I am making my own movement, underneath the apparent immobility of it all.
Because REAL MOVEMENT always starts from within ourselves, in DANCE as in LIFE. REAL changes come from inside ourselves and REAL feelings too.
What makes us MOVE and FLOW with the BIG RIVER of existence comes from that place in our soul that doesn´t quit to celebrate and MOVE,
I am all up for STILLNESS that is contemplative, productive in a sense of enjoyment of something great but totally oposed to STAGNATION.
Dancing my way out of it. In DANCE as in LIFE because one is a mirror of the other.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Abdel Halim Hafez
Right now I am digging deeply into Abdel Halim Hafez (one of the most famous singers of all times in Egypt and the trademark of a generation).
It´s obvious I had already danced to a lot of Abdel Halim Hafez´s songs but what I mean by "digging" is to use those songs you don´t see any other dancers working on. I mean that I search for undiscovered treasures or stuff that is considered out of the "dance" league/type. I LOVE to experiment with those "hard" materials no one else dares to dance with.
So, I am going deeper out of the ordinary...
Producing daily shows non-stop, during the whole year has this amazing effect of turning me into a chronicaly mad music jukebox, searching for new tunes to dance to.
These days, I am putting my favourite Om Kolthoum to rest for a while.
Digging into Abdel Halim Hafez´s world has been an incredible pleasure, although he sang LOVE and LIFE from a male´s perspective and with a kind of pain I cannot fully understand or identify myself with. I can connect with Om Kolthoum better, still don´t know why.
But I am up for the challenge. Exploring new songs of this famous singer with my orchestra.Every day I discover, at least, two songs I never heard about.~
Dancing to Abdel Halim Hafez is also asking for a different expression in my way of dancing.
Loving the experience, the learning, the spice that is entering into a new world.
Enjoying it...forgetting past wounds with it...moving forward with it...finding joy in the middle of sadness with it.
Thanking God - inside me - for the INSPIRATION to do it ALL.
EVERYTHING ARISES AND PASSES AWAY.
WHEN YOU SEE THIS, YOU ARE ABOVE SORROW.
THIS IS THE SHINNING WAY.
Learning that only the PRESENT moment with its PRESENT JoY really exists. Grabbing every single moment and letting die at the same time is the Art of the wise men-women.
Still too human-fragile to reach this maturity but, certainly, on my way there.
The old devil called DANCER!
I often forget most of the prejudices that surround my profession (and the love of my life: DANCE).
When you know your craft for too long and way too well, when you respect yourself and know about Art, it´s easy to forget that so many other people see you as a prostitute, a vamp who eats men for breakfast or any other kind of loose, immoral person so many egyptian-arabic-foreigners associate with female oriental dancing.
Coming from Classical Ballet - West - to Oriental Dance - East - I can also understand why there is a bigger respect for the first and an ancestral desdain for the other. Ignorance is the word of order here but then you would have to be actually educated to understand that.
I recently read a phrase that said: The mind is only useful when it´s open.
If only last night´s couples knew this.
Once more, I had a hard contact with a part of the reality that surrounds me. I can do my best but I can´t stop other´s minds from going wild with fears, imagination and insecurities. I can not also stop dirty minds.
Yesterday´s show was going well until a couple asked to take a photo with me.When I approached them, a friend who was near said to me:
-You can sit on his lap because she´s not jealous. Just take care you won´t steal him from her.(then laughing like a sad wizard with a heavy heart...).
The man prepared himself to hold me and receive me on his lap and I had to leave their table immediately with a face that I suppose must have said:
-Go to hell with your man and your dirty minds. Why on earth would I hold a strange man, sit on his lap and take him away from his girlfriend/wife/whatever?! WHY???
I am just a dancer, an artist doing her job. How much ignorance, dirtiness and sexually frustrated-unsatisfied men and women are out there?! PLEASEEEEEEE, folks! Go home and make love, enjoy each other, live, be REAL. And don´t put your unsatisfied needs and desires on a professional dancer who is just doing her job.
PLUS: I am not interested - not even a bit - in your men. RELAX, LADIES!!!
DANCERS are DANCERS, not prostitutes or crazy people looking for tempting/alluring/seducing the other sex.
It´s rare - thanks God - to feel this way and be reminded of the stupidity and poor minds all around my profession but, sometimes, it strikes me like a thunderbolt.
In the end, I don´t feel bad about myself because I KNOW very well what I am doing. I am dancing since I was 5 years old and that is not for nothing but, for a few moments, I can´t also stop myself from feeling sad for the image this ART I LOVE above everything still has on human sub-conscious.
Friday, August 27, 2010
"I do not try to dance better than anyone else.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Resetting everything...and busy as ever!
Ramadan can be a lazy month by definition but I´ve been everything except lazy.
The best way yo keep a healthy, productive mind is to work, work, work and keep learning-challenging yourself...
Right now I am...
Teaching students from different countries and performing every single day, while returning to yoga, starting Tango lessons and rehearsing new show program for the AID (muslim feast that wraps Ramadan).
Also started to cook again, after many months of take-out food due to lack of mood and time to get wet and dirty in the kitchen. Buy, buy, sushi...hello home made portuguese food.
Resetting my own system, organizing Portugal workshops and big business treap to India (oh, I can´t wait...here I go, magic land of the Ganga river...how much do I miss that place?!).
No vacation. That´s o.k with me. Time will come for that.
No sea or swimming pools to cool me down and give some colour to my milky white skin (more than one year without catching a glimpse of sun!!!Too much for a latin girl like me...I need sun!!!).
No patience. For lost battles, for lack of intelligence, honesty and competence. Whatever bugs me these days, it´s out the window. Not caring about what doesn´t deserve my attention (this is my new law).
Understanding that being sad doesn´t bring anything good into my life so...I better smile and move on because LIFE is always forward and God always has some wonderful surprises for the pure of heart.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Cairo, the 25th August, 2010
The show must go on...
As a performer, I have it as a fact for life that the show (and life, as the show-stage it also is) must go on, no matter how happy or sad you are, no matter how tradegy or extreme happiness has struck your life. You just don´t get stuck, you move on, forward, upward, in all directions...
The show must go on and it always does for me.
I realize I mention my mother quite often in several entries of both my blogs (I write this one in english and manage to sort of update another written in my mother language, porttuguese).
The truth is her inffluence on me is huge and the hard way she helped to build my character has proven to be a life-saver on so many extreme occasions. She always mocked at tears, never allowed me to be depressed for more than one day or let me sit on my arse just because I am so down I cannot move (what?! she would say...just get up and move!!!).
It was pretty though, as a child, to have a mother who was not compassionate with my suffering (and children have all kinds of sufferings, real and imaginary). I often wished my mum was like other mums I saw with my school pals, patting their backs everytime they fell or defending them if a stronger kid beat them but, God will, she was never like that.
Someone beat you, you defend yourself with your own arms, legs and guts.
Someone let you down, just get up, learn from the lesson and move forward.
If tears roll down your face, let them roll as much as they wish but not forever. One day is the limit.
Oh, Lord. How much I thank my mum for being so tough on me. Because NOW, as an adult, I fear nothing but God.
And because of her I am able to keep on performing and sharing my DANCE and HEART (no matter how happy or broken it may be) with audiences from all the world, night by night, second by second.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON.
And it does!
Monday, August 23, 2010
My sister´s birthday and more LIGHT in times of darkness...
Today is my sister´s birthday (hi, Catarina!) and I wish to be in Portugal to celebrate it with her and our family. As we all know, everything in life has a price and being away from my homeland has too many kinds of prices to pay.
From another perspective, you can be closer than ever to someone, even if physically apart and that´s the case for me and my sister (so different from me and yet sharing the same blood). We pick up from where we left it as soon as we see each other and there´s no much need for words of occasion between us.Our relation has always been like that: raw, conflictual, honest, direct and passionate as only sisters can be with each other.
For her, my unconditional LOVE. Always.May you have the best birthday ever and I am with you today and after, and after and after. We´ll sing together in the bathroom when I visit you in Portugal. Hold your voice and warm up for me...here I come.
Meanwhile, performing everyday (receiving some AMAZING crowds from all over the world!) at the NILE MAXIM, preparing new show for the muslim Feast "Aid", starting some mean tango lessons next week, digging into the writing of my own book (need new laptop cause mine is suffering a painful, slow death...) and organizing next treap to India.
Because the day has been dark in my heart, here´s something to cheer me up:
Dance changes biology into a metaphor of the spiritual body in much the way that poetry changes ordinary words into forms that allow meaning that words normally cannot convey. Jamake Dance changes biology into a metaphor of the spiritual body in much the way that poetry changes ordinary words into forms that allow meaning that words normally cannot convey.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Cairo, the 20th August, 2010
The sum of the days...so far.
It has been a wonderful start of Ramadan. There is a beautiful fanous (Ramadan lantern) on my living room and that light is colouring everything in my life, from the toes to the hair of it.
I'm performing now for two twenty days in a row, non stop, and there is still almost a month to go ahead. I feel cool about it (a big bit bored because it's time to grow another step yet but WELL!) and my head is going round and round, wondering what can be done next in order to get my excitement back.
It's all about the excitement for me, isn't it? If I am not feeling those flames running through me, it's just not worth it...
Audiences have been mostly foreigner oriented and that is not an easy thing for me to deal with and I've said it several times before.
I miss my egyptian audiences, always. They make 50% of my mood and my mood makes 90% of my performance. Anyways, I don't complain...life is great and I thank God for so many gifts inside and around me.
In this lazy, hot Cairo morning (damn, it's HOT!!!), all I think about it's the sum of the days that compose our lives and I take it one day at a time, like never before.
Yesterday there was an eating gathering between me, my love and my musicians in their backstage room. That was really NICE....then a fast show shortened by NILE MAXIM's next cruise booking for sohour (the meal after iftar that breaks the fasting time in Ramadan) and some more moments of pure happiness. What can I ask for more, right now?!
Well, everything. And I am asking.
Just figured out, somehow in the middle of growing and life's surprising events , that no matter how much we plan things, LIFE and GOD have their own route (with no map) for us and I can only wish and do my best to go towards the direction of my dreams, reaching for each moment as if it was the last.
That awareness of the JOY I can only feel NOW has changed my out/in put in life. I guess forever (although this is a very long word for me...:)...
Loving and living, second by second cause you can never know what's coming...
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Cairo, the 18th August, 2010
My favourite song, interpreted by my second favourite singer (Amalia Rodrigues, the eternal DIVA of FADO)
There are a thousand and one songs that take my breath away.
As a dancer, I am always looking for new songs that touch my soul.
As a performer, the search for that tune that will rise me up from my feet on the ground is a daily task and I have found many of those gems in my work but , somehow, in my private thoughts and feeling, this song fills my heart and comforts it like no other.
Thanks to an eclectic upbringing, my ears were used to listen to a mix of gipsy, african, pop and classical music from a very early age.
When I reached arabic music, my internal voice/sound system was already pretty much prepared to everything but, no matter how many marvellous songs I listen and dance to, this song
(THE NEARNESS OF YOU) is just a classic of my own.
When I discovered that Amalia Rodrigues (the bigger portuguese singer of all times and the second best singer - in my opinion - in the world right next to my number 1 , Om Kolthoum) had recorded an album on Broadway themes, I researched and found this pearl:
Amalia singing THE NEARNESS OF YOU...
Too tender to ignore...way too candid...with little touch of portuguese FADO in it...
It goes like this:
It's not the pale moon that excites me,
that thrills and delights me...
oh no...it's just the nearness of you....
Isn't your sweet conversation that brings this sensation...oh noooo....
It's just the nearness of you...
When you're in my arms
And I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams come true
I need no soft lights to enchant me
If you would only grant me the right to hold you ever so tight
and to feel in the night the nearness of you......
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Cairo, the 17th August, 2010
I put a spell on you...
I often find alarming how most people I know - including me, in my deepest moments of doubt and fears - ignore the power of LOVE.
I have also been called witch more than once and suspected of launching dark, sensuous spells on men so that they fall deeply and madly in love with me...WOW!!!
I have been laughing at that idea for a long time...the fact that someone thinks of me as a witch able to produce spells and throwing them on men is something that amuses me but also makes me sad because it ignores the main point about me: when I LOVE, I do it with all my heart.
I give all that I am, without loosing my sense of self and freedom.
I do it as a lover, as a friend, as a sister, as a partner, as a devil and as an angel. I become the protector and the protected. The server and the served. The shadow and the light.
Believing in the incredible power of true love is something that it is in my core so deep as it is the absolute faith in God or in my mother. When another human being feels loved like this - in a totally honest way - he reacts to it, so naturaly. So there you go with the witch thing about me...Lol
I laugh about this over and over again because I've heard it so often...
Yes, I put a spell on you and that spell comes from the hands that caress you and love you.
That spell comes from my body on/in your body, wishing that moment would never end.
That spell comes from TRUE LOVE and I know no other more powerful than that.
Cairo, the 17th August, 2010
Cultural surprises/joys and a reading gift from heaven!
It was regular morning in Cairo as any other Ramadan morning I've ever saw.
The same special atmosphere, the fanous/lantern every where reminding me that Ramadan is all about the LIGHT, the dried fruits at the stands hanging about the streets full of delicacies ready to compensate for Ramadan's abstency, the empty streets I can already imagine in antecipation when the time for iftar comes, the whole deal I adore (although I am not a muslim).
People fasting - or not - in the crowded streets, the sun burning our heads ina way that I strangely enjoy and a gym full of made-up ladies (make-up, laces and the total girlie look checking for the mirrors) looking at me in a strange way because I am drinking my water while training (in Ramadan, devotees should abstain from water or any other drink/food,etc during the day until iftar time arrives).
Two lebanese ladies start to run in the treadmill in high heels until one of the trainers of the gym stops them and explain (?!) them that high heels are not suitable for sports.
Another women arrive in full hijab (covered head) and I can't help but wonder why on earth would you run land sweat like a fountain between women (this gym is ONLY for women, AMEN!) and still wear a head scarf?! How uncomfortable must that be? And unhealthy? And what's the point? You're covering your head from whom?! Yourself, maybe?!
I breath, close my brain for a while and reboot. Reminding myself that every person has his/her own idea of right and wrong and I am not the owner of the Truth.
As I pass by my regular coffee-shop to get my mocha cafe of the day, I feel attracted to a shelf where some lazy, dusty books stand, ignored by the crowds that go there and live around those tables without noticing them.
I grab one of the books and fall in love immediately:
It's the auto-biography of one of the greatest actors of all times: Laurence Olivier (CONFESSIONS OF AN ACTOR). I have to have this book, I think to myself.
The actress in me misses all the worlds and tribulations I can smell from this book. I miss this other world of actors that I once shared with such passion...
I speak with the manager, I beg, I plead, I make my kitten look number 25 (the most dangerous one!), I tell them I just have to HAVE it. How much does it cost? How much???
They tell me it's not for sale.Point.
When I am already leaving and giving up, one of the staff members comes to me and offers me the book.
Oh...it was like Christmas time for me, in a second.
How easy is it to make me happy?! It seems ...too easy...
From the smile and the 1000 thank yous I gave them, the staff of the coffee-shop must have thought there was a secret code for a fortune hidden in that book. No way someone could be so excited about a book with no secret treasure in it, right?
Happy for my Christmas present, from a stranger, in yet another common day of Ramadan.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Cairo, the 16th August, 2010
MARIZA...a bit of Portugal in her voice....
Portuguese people have a special way of doing and feeling things. Maybe it's our immense ocean, maybe it is the memories of so many departures to explore the world, maybe it is that geographical situation we're in (so small, yet with the world at our feet), maybe it is something determined by GOD...
This music reminds me of what it means to be PORTUGUESE.
Cairo, the 16th August, 2010
Short memories of my homeland...PORTUGAL!
The relationship I have with Portugal is pretty much the same I do with Egypt: I feel it very strongly in both its nice and not so bright sides.
In me there is the immense portuguese sea and all the nostalgia it brings with it. There's also a deep way to feel things in life and a need to open horizons all the time. Adventure is in my blood as it is the salt of our Atlantic Ocean. Being portuguese goes through these things...
So here I am missing my country in a silent way (or not so silent!).
These days, I have a longing for our sea, more than ever. Maybe it's the Cairo heat, maybe it's the fact that I am always in contact with the Nile river but nothing can be compared to our ocean where waves crash against the sand with a strenght and a poetry I cannot fully describe.
I am missing our fish, our simple coffee-shops with our simple people.....my family and friends who makes the pillars of who I am, the hidden corners of Sintra and the PIRIQUITA, my city - Lisbon - and its special light...
These days I long for my first homeland....Portugal.And its music, and its air....
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Cairo, the 11th August, 2010
Maya Angelou poem to all my fellow female friends of all ages (and to the special ladies in my life!)
This one of my favourite poems from an also favourite poet, Maya Angelou.
It says a lot about me, the way I feel about myself and the way I wished all women felt about themselves. Because I know a few of them who are simply PHENOMENAL!
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,That's me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That's me.
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,That's me.
Spirit of Ramadan
I've reached the conclusion that only mad men or gods have a total open mind and heart ALL the time.
As human beings in this material world full of illusions and apparent contradictions, we tend to open our hearts and minds at times, though not always, in order to survive in a current that is not tender to the vulnerable ones.
My heart is often closed as a way to protect myself from so many traps but my mind , I must say, it's opened 24 hours per day (and more, if there were more hours to a day).
Specially when you live in a country like Egypt where most people do not think and behave the way you consider logical/normal, your mind has to widen a great deal and the humbleness to understand the OTHER and accept It as It is must be in the order of every day.
When it comes a time like Ramadan, I often think about the importance ( real of theatrical ) muslims give to it and feel amazed at how many ways human beings search for that connection with God (or better said, with their INNER DIVINITY/THEIR SOUL).
I was raised as a christian (a rebel one with too many questions but still a christian) yet my mum was the pillar of my beliefs and those never included praying, fasting, sacrificing my body or mind to please the Lord or feeling the guilt of having been bornt in sin.
As it happens in so many other religions, I find most rituals and rules absolete.
As I see everyone around me fasting, praying, taking care of not breaking any of Ramadan's rules, I think:
Are they really getting the point of all this or just following rituals their families/society/culture has imposed upon them?!
Are they turning themselves into better human beings after all these restrictions and rules or will they return to their old selves after the whole religious festival is over?
I have a deep disbelief in religions, that's something I got from my mum.
On the other side, there are many ways to reach God or feel it inside you and I must respect the individual idiossincracies of each friend, co-worker, lover, colleague, etc.
I may not understand why someone acts the way she/he does, and still it doesn't mean she/he's wrong and I am right. I just can't understand it.POINT.
Loving others has a lot to do with the ability to accept them as they are, even if we don't understand them some times. That's what I try to do, specially in an extreme time like Ramadan.
For me (and I am just a simple ignorant trying to do my best in this crazy world), I am closer to God when I feel total LOVE in my heart towards another people (not only the close ones but strangers too).
For me, I am closer to God when I hold my mother's hand and call her MEU AMOR (MY LOVE, in portuguese).
For me, I am closer to God when I help someone who needs me and ask nothing in return.
For me, I am closer to God when a temptation arrives and my dignity /self-respect is stronger and I can say NO, thank you.
For me, I am closer to God when I hold my man in my arms and imagine all the angels of this Universe protecting him from all harm.
For me, I am closer to God when I make love with my man (knowing that connection comes from our bodies but also our hearts and our souls).
For me, I am closer to God when I smile at a stranger who needs some tenderness or I hold a child that has never been held before.
For me, I am closer to God when I run with my dogs between mountains full of green tall trees and animals.I see the perfect beauty of Nature and feel blessed to be part of it.
For me, I am closer to God when I play with children or animals.
For me, I am closer to God when I dance from my SOUL and share JOY and BEAUTY with my audiences.
For me, I am closer to God when I take a deep breath and give THANKS for being here, at this precise moment, alive and healthy, experiencing this time and place.
Yet this is all...FOR ME...and ME is not EVERYBODY else.
So, this Ramadan...I plan on practicing tolerance towards different beliefs (even the ones I do not understand) and unconditional LOVE. Not an easy task but I am up for it!
This will be my way of living Ramadan...
Cairo, the 11th August, 2010
What do I do before performing (every night after night, after night, after night...thanks God!)?!
Well...that would depend on my mood and time before the shows but, usually, there are a few things I do:
1. Dressing up, retouching make-up and all (the obvious).
2. Drinking my daily cappuccino often decorated with nice words from the kitchen staff (they draw I LOVE YOU with cinnamon on the top of the cappuccino and I just think: how cute is that?!). No alcohol , cigars or any kinds of drugs as so many other dancers do or as most people imagine me doing. I am kind of a nun in those matters...no addictions to strange substances that wil harm or pollute my body/instrument of work/pleasure/LIFE. No, thank you.
Except for the occasional cuban cigar (only with the right company), I do not smoke anything or ever drink alcohol.
3. Rehearsal with orchestra, 99%of the time.
I need to have control over my work and everything that will be shown to the audience.
Of course it's impossible to keep track of all the mistakes, specially on a daily work but I try my best to check what is the situation with the musicians, if there's someone missing, what is their mood and what it will be done better, show by show. I also consider important to sit and talk to them, laugh together, make some of them dance for me (yes, they do!!!) and build a nice atmosphere for all of us. That will be reflected on stage and the energy of the whole show.
Exhausting, yes. But I cannot do it another way. Or I do something WELL done or I just don't do it.
4. I sing portuguese fados while stretching, warming up my muscles and imagining a great show ahead of me. :)
5. Pray to my grandmother asking for guidance and pray to God for protection on stage and inspiration to give my best.
6. I bless myself before going on stage.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Cairo, the 11th August, 2010
This song is for YOU (my man, my favourite dancer :), my present and my future)...
Sleeping by your side...
Sleeping by your side and the beauty of it.
It can be just the landscape of your presence.
It can be the silent warm summer that pours from your skin and still covers me, even without touching me.
It can be just your breath on my hair or the simple fact that you're there and I can see you in all your human fragility.
It can be the magic of having you near.The simple magic of having you near...
The beauty of sleeping by your side (even without touching you ) would have to be explained how mystics explain the power of SILENCE. You can't actually explain it by words, just
The beauty of it...
It can be that overwhelming feeling of LOVE that needs nothing but your existence.
The fact that you exist and you're laying down by my side and everything is perfect because you're there and there's nothing else I need, dream of or desire cause you're near, breathing the same air with me, turning everything into joy and my eyes into sparkling stars that need not to be kissed.
The beauty of it remains in the fact that I can touch you and you can touch me without ever feeling each other's skin.
And I love you.
(And nothing else matters.)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Cairo, the 10th August, 2010
1st day of Ramadan in Cairo
(Relative) silence on the streets...
People rushing home to take their iftar (breakfast) at the first sign of sunset with their families...
Restaurants and all kinds of venues offering banquets up to king's and queen's level and loads of food in a time when people are supposed to be fasting and concentrating on their spiritual selves...oh...I don't even want to go there...
I close my eyes (and my brain) in order not to go crazy with all the contradictions and hypocrisy. Too much for my black and white character!
Cairo, the 10th August, 2010
Mary J. Blige...at her best!
When I do something, I do it 100000000%. Yeah, that's me. If I grab, I do it with all my senses and soul. If I get mad, I do it totally. If I love, I am in for it with everything I have.
So, here I am, an ALL OR NOTHING kind of girl. Knowing this, how could I resist this great Mary J. Blige performance?!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Cairo, the 8th August, 2010The dancer in me...
While reading Patrick Swayze's (actor da dancer, Hello! Dirty Dancing FOREVER!!!!!!)warm auto-biography, there was a sentence that caught my eye (and my heart!).
As he explained some harsh difficulties he had on his dancing career and how it took so much effort to be respected and acknowledged as a serious actor (the fact of him being so handsome may have contributed for that), he told the reader about his resilience and the strenght of NEVER GIVING UP on a goal/dream you cherish, then he referred:
I guess it was the dancer in me that didn't let me quit.
As I read this phrase, tears rolled down my face because I knew EXACTLY what he meant.
I quit classical ballet a long time ago (when I was 16 years old) but I started very early (at 5 years old I was already dancing/shooting on television!) and the memories of the hard discipline I was educated with never left me and, may I say, have shaped all I am, my ability to work hard without complaining and the willingness to go the extra mile just to reach perfection (or near from it!).
One of my earliest memories from Classical Ballet school is me doing dozens and dozens of plies (like a squat with both legs) on the bar and almost falling on my knees but not being allowed to stop until the teacher said so. I didn't dare cry because I knew that would siappoint the teacher (or worse!) so I had to continue and challenge what I thought I could and could not do.
I remember my weaknesses (I was just a 5 year old child!) were not taken in consideration and the discipline I was been raised into made me fall into silent periods of pain many, many times but no one seemed to care.
My feet bleed, my muscles were so exhausted and soar that I couln't feel them anymore but no one took a second to pat me on the shoulder so I had no other option than go on and work harder...
It is the dancer in me.
Yes, it is.
Pushing yourself beyond your limits and never spare your enbergy or cry over tired legs, exhausted mood, wasted body...the flame of this passion for BEAUTY aqnd ART never lets me down and I remember, again again, the phrase from Patrick Swayze's book: It is the dancer in me.
It is the dancer in me that doesn't let me quit when everybody else does.
It is the dancer in me that makes me love my body as the sacred temple it really is.
It is the dancer in me who gives me total awareness of how much pleasure, enlightenment and joy my material self can bring into my life.
It is the dancer in me who tells me to work harder without complaining, to study, to search, to be curious, to observe other artists and learn from them, to push mysefl and my boundaries further and further...no limits to growing...
It is the dancer in me who makes me love LIFE in all its shapes (check how the leaves of Autumn tress dance along with the wind...is that anything more gorgeous than that?!).
It is the dancer in me who allows me to take in all kinds of disappointments in life and never loose my FIRE and desire to make things right, better and better...
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
One more little departure and NEWS to FOLLOW!
Here we go on another little absence of mine. Some times, I really have to disappear from the cibernetic world, for a while....
Too many things on my mind, decisions - very important ones - to take and an urgent need to focus and retain all my energy to myself, as much as I can. Performing non stop is already a good enough energy burner.
Ramadan will be a special time for me.
Not only I will start studying TANGO seriously (not in Ramadan spirit but I am not a muslim after all) - another adventure/passion on the way, I guess...- but I will be performing every single night at the NILE MAXIM (Zamalek, Cairo - in front of Marriot hotel) with a special egyptian folkloric show.
This show is an imposition, not my desire but - what a heck! - you can learn from everything. It will be something different to be inside the Ramadan spirit and law ( egyptian law forbids Oriental Dance in Ramadan because it's considered haram/forbidden by God).
Then planning a business treap to India - one more adventure, God help me! Here I go...- in the end of Ramadan, more shows in Cairo and workshops in Portugal in October...I have the next months all lined up with work and projects but LIFE will move the plans in its own, surprising way, as usual.
I am also ready for those changes and surprises. I only draw the maps but I cannot go against LIFE and the plans it has for me.
Letting myself go with the flow...
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Cairo, the 3rd August, 2010
My close friends and family know, by now and after so many adventures, I carry inside me some kind of strenght that makes me run away from sadness, boredom and ugly situations.
Having the courage to break situations that will not make you happy and follow ahead living in my full vigour may not be easy but it's far better than crying and feeling bad, remaining in situations that don't dignify you.
The ones who REALLY know me have the perfect notion, by now and after so many sudden departures and drastic decisions, I can change my life in a second and erase all the past in order to jump in a new challenge, a better life that fullfils my soul and brings me more joy.
I don't remain sitting on sadness and frustration for a long time, that's for sure...
I am afraid of big changes, as everyone else. I am afraid of loosing something I consider precious, as everyone else.
But my fear of unhappiness is bigger than the fear of taking risks so I am able to move forward (although with tears in my eyes) and never look back when I see my present situation is not bringing the HAPPINESS, TRUTH and the PASSION I demand for myself.
These few people who DO KNOW ME - beyond the image so many strangers build out of me - also are aware, perfectly by now, that no one can make stay on the ground when I know myself so well and my own value.
With no false modesty and after living so many trials, I can genuinely say that I see myself as a QUEEN.
I have faced all kinds of difficulties by myself and won over every obstacle God made me live with my dignity untouched.
I survived all kinds of demons, bad people, jealous boyfriends who wanted to kill me and could not accept loosing me or my own freedom, all kinds of traps launched over me to break me and leave me on my knees and I thrived, grew stronger, held my head up high and moved forward better than before.
No one could buy me (my body, mind, freedom, anything!) and I remained the boss of myself and I did it all by myself (with God's hand on my hand) and never loosing my faith in kindness, honesty and good heart.
Got hurt so many times but tried never to hurt anyone back.
Got betrayed so many times but never payed anyone with the same coin.
I saw so much evilness but never turned my heart black.
I saw darkness but that only made more in love with LIGHT.
Never sold my soul (or body!) to the Devil , although there were so many temptations to do so...
Never did anything that wouldn't make my mother proud...So..after all I've lived through, I am not shy to say that I see myself as a QUEEN.
As a Goddess. A WOMAN in all her REAL DIMENSION and anything or anyone who will treat me as less than that is , automatically, out of my life.
Here's the THING:
When you are respectful, you deserve RESPECT.
When you are good, open and honest with people, you deserve the same treatment from them.
When you love and put someone first, you deserve the same treatment from him/her.
If not, it's not worth to live with that sour sensation of being used, mistreated, not really loved and recognized by your own human value.
I am entering a new phase in my life and new EVERYTHING is entering in my soul.
I am thankful for all. Even for the lost dreams - that will give place to new dreams - and for the tears - that will give place to new smiles.
Although crying, I look forward.
As always. Like Queens in their own right do.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Cairo, the 2nd August, 2010
What I learnt...in a second!
Do not put someone first when he/she treats you as if you were the last and the less important thing in his/her life.
Just don't do it. Give your first place to someone who loves you enough to put you in first place.
And that's how we can use our brain in LOVE (something I thought I would never do).
Getting hurt can be a BIG EYE OPENING EVENT!
Thanking for it.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Me, dancing one of my many Om kolthoum song's reportoire. If I am known for dancing the difficult stuff nobody else dares to dance and if, in the end, my audiences enjoy them, I don't give a ... for anything else! That's how poetic I am!
This video is a piece of Awat'aeny by the one and only DIVA (OM KOLTHOUM).
One of the secrets about dancing Om Kolthoum (there are many!) resides on the fact that you cannot keep on moving like a machine when words so beautiful as these are being said by the singer. You have to live these words for real (acting not included, please!), feel what's being said with no hurry to do things and move just for the sake of entertainment.
Knowing where, how and why to stop movement is much more difficult than movement itself.
Not easy...still fascinating...
The balance between movement (meaningful movement), pause/silence and true feeling make a great Om Kolthoum dance performance. I am still working on it...work in progress,
I guess forever in progress...
Cairo, the 1st of August, 2010
I once read , I forgot where, the following phrase:
If there could only be one prayer, that prayer would be Thanks and that would be enough.
I agree and that's why I never forgot the phrase. It seems you never forget the things that ring as TRUTH within your soul.
That's why today I spent by the church near from my home and didn't get inside it. No need.
Also no need for mosques. Or any kinds of instutional temples.
A single tree with a sky above was enough to make me whisper to myself: Thanks, my God.
A single word came to my mind and reached my heart in all its full vigour, again:
THANKS, my GOD.
Here's the THING:
I am grateful for...
1. My health and the health and safety of my family, friends and everybody I love.
A healthy body, mind and soul is the secret to remain a warrior in this life, no matter how many problems/obstacles/challenges we may face.
I am so grateful I can breath, walk, run, jump, dance, make love with my man and move without pain. Moving as I wish, free as a bird. That's such a blessing...
2. Love in my life. I am so grateful for THIS because life has no taste without it and I have no vision of a future without it.
LOVE in my life is a blessing from God that for that I am so deeply grateful (and I LOVE YOU, BABY!).
3. My carreer, success, challenges, all the opportunities I've earned to practice my talents and share the JOY of DANCING with the world.
4. My home in Egypt, my family home in Portugal. So many people without a home and I have two beautiful ones PLUS my eternal home that is where my LOVE is (again I am talking to you, baby!).
5. All the obstacles and difficulties bring me closer to the LIGHT because they are opportunities to learn, grow and be a happier version of myself!
6. All the beauty in the world. Wherever I go, I see beautiful things, gestures, moments.
And that's wonderful. A simple flower, a sunset, the sky and the sea, someone holding hands with a friend, a child playing as if there were no darkness in the Universe...so much beauty...
7. My talents , all of them given by God! As an artist, you're just an instrument in the hands of God and your duty is to share joy, beauty and LIGHT with your audiences. Talent is a gift but also a responsability and I try to make the best of mine.
8. I am grateful, besides everything else, for the gift of believing in LOVE once again. And, I guess, for good!
9. Being alive!
Cairo, the 1st august, 2010
It's just crazy how much money I spend on books when I have lines and lines of them waiting for me to read them, piled at each corner of my house and asking for the attention I never seem to give them.
The attention other women seem to give to cloths, I give to books.
What other women spend on shoes, I spend on books.
Is it crazy? Or it's just me?!