Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Cairo, the 27th September, 2010
You (past,present and future).
Love. Because that's ALL I am made of.
Songs like this (divine), letting words pour from the music as if an angel was whispering in your ears, sent by me on a sacred mission.
I often am asked about my musical taste and receive surprised faces when I say I listen to EVERYTHING that touches my soul and so many songs do!
I may work with egyptian music everyday but the musical food that keeps me going comes from everywhere...one minute I listen and jam with Miles Davis,then I fly away with indian ragas, gipsy music or african mornas.
Some salsa for lunch and Michael Jackson in the mornings (YOU ROCK MY WORLD ON THE CD PLAYER,NON STOP).
I eat some portuguese fados and then head for argentinian tango, only resting when I return to some quite and disturbing japanese music I got from my favourite massagist in Cairo...
This eclectic chaos is me and all you see on stage is a result of this colourful word that lives within me.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Cairo, the 25th September, 2010
I love transformations.They are part of who I am and, even if I tried to remain on the same spot being the same person I was yesterday, I would rotundly fail.
So I accept when the towers of my life are thrown to the ground (by my own hands, directly or not). You cannot build something NEW and GREAT above a weak tower ready to fall at any second. You have to crash it, let it fall completely, burn it, make it explode and then clean the ashes.
After the ashes are cleaned, I start to build something unique, fresh, ALIVE.
The towers are falling and all I do is help them fall faster and celebrate it!
NEW TOWERS ON THE WAY.
Cairo, the 25th September,2010
1. Receiving Md.Raqia Hassan (Director of AHLAN WA SAHLAN ORIENTAL DANCE FESTIVAL and one of the best teachers in the world) and friends at the NILE MAXIM, once more.
Having their sincere hugs and critics is a luxury.I just love having dancers and other artists in the audience. Souls recognizing each other.Marvellous...
2. Watching the morning sun descend on Zamalek.Shy, soft like a yellow sandy blanket covering life.Breathtaking.
3. Feeling a fresh breeze on my face (coming from my kitchen window).
Closing my eyes and letting myself go deep into this immense bliss.The troubles and pleasures of being a human being (feelings, senses and all the other contradictions that turn us into a beautiful, fascinating mess).
4. Smelling peaches while passing by a grocery shop.Oooohhhh....I sigh.......
5.Looking around and seeing so much beauty and love EVERYWHERE...
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Cairo, the 19th September, 2010
Last small dance marathon before heading Portugal!
The following ten days will be filled with daily shows at the NILE MAXIM and some weddings that came my way. Hope to have fun on everything I do and grow, as usual.
If you happen to be in Cairo during the next ten days, then feel welcome to watch one of my shows. If not, you'll have a chance to watch me dance again - better than ever! - in the end of October, time when I will return to Cairo and my battle fields.:)
Between departure and return, I will be away from the cybernetic world to enjoy some TRUE, LOVING moments and the best things my country possess.
Tchau to everyone...hope to see u all soon...:)
Cairo, the 19th September, 2010
Memories of ny debut at the GREAT AHLAN WAn SAHLAN FESTIVAL!
Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival Closing Gala was a hard cookie for me to crack and I've commented it at the time. The biggest event in the world concerned to Oriental Dance from the most respected teacher: Mad. Raqia Hassan.
Having received the invitation to close her event was an honour and a joy.
The hardest audience I have ever had and some portuguese dancers who made a question of not supporting me or even saying HELLO when they knew me too well. That was sad but hey, I am used to portuguese envy...that's something portuguese have in common with egyptians.
Besides the difficulties and the absence of a feed-back from the audience (who stared at me as if I was a freak of nature), this was an incredible experience in so many ways...
Because I always dance in a state of half trance, here they are...some more images of that show...to remember that wonderful night and the VICTORY it represented for me.
The video is coming to light very soon.Watching myself in this event will be a surprise...have no clue of what I did!
Thanks from my heart to Madame Raqia Hassan for the credibility she put on me and the respect she has been showing for my talent and achievements. It s my humble will to surprise and ALWAYS do better and better...for next and next time.A true artist always recognizes another true artist.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Cairo, the 16th September, 2010
Off for three days, then last NILE MAXIM shows of this season and TRAVELING TO PORTUGAL....
I feel I am already on my way to Portugal...so much antecipation and missing my people...
After the dance marathon of the last two months, here I am going away from the dance world to rest for what it seems like eternity: 3 whole days of relaxing...it really feels great!
Then I´ll be presenting the last shows of this season and traveling to Portugal within 10 days.
It will be another mini marathon to enjoy until I reach the airplane.
Dreaming about coming back home and receiving messages and phone calls from family and friends asking:
"WHEN DO YOU ARRIVE? WE MISS YOU..."
Ahhh, I miss them too and only "my people" can save me from precocious insanity.
I need my ground, my silence and my pillars close to me. They are my roots and the strenght without wich I cannot move forward...
Packing the bikini and the sun protective creme...portuguese ocean, here I come.
So, if you can´t catch me in Egypt during the next 10 days, be informed I will be back to this crazy world from the 20th October (time for a brand new show and a brand new ME).
Before that, I will be out of this orbit, in my original nest, close to the ones who understand the world I am (that´s priceless, isn´t it?).
Cairo, the 16th September, 2010
I love my neighbourhood, for the first time since I arrived to Cairo. I ´ve lived in different places in this crazy city but none feels like "home" so much as "my zone" in Zamalek.
I even have what could be called - by VOGUE and VANITY FAIR standards - a vintage dry cleaning store right next to my appartment called "NEW YORK" (hand painted in red).
How cute is that?
Every time I pass by the shop, I get to remember my favourite city (right next to the rustic, spiritual, enigmatic Haridwar, in India) in the world: NEW YORK.
Besides that, I´ve been discovering a couple of shops and cofffee-shops that are all I love: cosmopolitan with great qualiity stuff from all over the world and yet cozy and warm. They feel like...well, ME!
Last night shows were a last breath into a long run marathon from which I will escape for four days of retreat.
The orchestra was exhausted, I was exhasuted but the audiences, opposite to some rather nasty ones I got not so long ago, were SUPERB! I got all the energy from the people who came to watch me dance and did some of my best work till now.
There were actual yelling burst on several occasions and those were not HEEEELLLLLPPPPP, they were BRRRAAAAVVVOOOOOOOOO........
The exhaustion disappeared and only appreciation and happiness remained.Thanks to my audiences.
Such a pity I don´t video tape all my shows...(MUST start to do it, like backing-up info from my pc).
After the show, I was dragged by a friend to another new place so close from my home but so ignored by me until now. Right next to my favourite book-shop, there it was, a heaven of hot drinks with foam, caramels and chocolates, low lights that make you want to sing the blues and great jazz music to complete the mood.
Just 3 minutes walking distance from my home...who could imagine?!
I love my neighbourhood...:)
Trees (although dusty, we´re in Cairo after all), gorgeous restaurants, the Opera House and the "El Sewy Center" with all those magnificent shows you can only watch in Cairo and original places everywhere.
Baladi and sophisticated at the same time. Now I understand why Zamalek is such an expensive zone.
I am addicted to this place.
Only Joaquin Cortés would drag me out from Zamalek, if he was performing in another part of the town.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Cairo, the 15th September, 2010
A dancer's favourite...
Me, thinking to myself.
My favourite version of the song FLY ME TO THE MOON...
Tony Bennet does it as only ETERNAL SINGERS do.
Me, dreaming to myself and flying in your arms...to the moooooooooooonnnnnnnn......................
Cairo, the 15th September, 2010
Off from this world...traveling to Mars (or Venus, perhaps)!
I already dropped the counting... more than 50 days of shows, not a single day off in between.
So many headaches, pressures and hard days but so many more moments of pleasure, joy and miracles on stage.
What would I do if I didn't DANCE for a living?
Yes, it's so hard in so many ways but, when it's a labour of love, everything seems lighter.
And, for me, this is a labour of LOVE, PASSION and URGENCY (urgency of what, exactly?!)...
My body and mind have gotten used to this routine but, until now, it seems I am going to enjoy a few days off from tomorrow.....ahhhhaaaaaahhhhhahahhhhhhhhhh.........................................
Going away to a secret place of retreat and PEACE...letting my body and mind recover from the roller coaster.
Away from the world.....................................................
Cairo, the 15th September, 2010
More joys of Cairo...
It´s true that you´ll always find what you search for with all your might.
I learnt, no matter what, to search for beauty and joy in everything.
When I walk in the streets of Cairo, dirty and messy as they famously are, I search for a detail that will make my day and show me some beauty.
This is the food for the soul.
It may be an egyptian dove covered in dust browsing the ground for food, a forgotten tree struck by a sun ray, an old man filled with wrinkles and a wornt out turban, a colourful peasant "gallabeya" hanging from a balcony..the list is endless.
I search for BEAUTY and I always find it (this is the way to keep me clean from all the madness around me) so here are some more joys of my hated/beloved Cairo:
1. Sitting by a baladi coffee-shop drinking tea and watching an old egyptian movie with my favourite dancer: Naima Akef.
2. Spending the night at my "secret" place for baladi music at the Hussein (not revealing names here to keep the privacy of my "secret" place).
3. Laughing at the jokes of egyptians because they usually are the funniest people on earth.
4. Attending the "Mawallid" at Sayeda Zeinab, my favourite place for these events.
5. Smelling the fresh air and watching the whole city at our feet from the famous Mohamed Ali mosque.
6. Feeling surprised with rare gestures of generosity and kindness from complete strangers. Apart from all the evilness I´ve seen around here, I sometimes get tears in my eyes by witnessing moments of great, unexpected humanity coming from complete strangers.
7. Eating with my musicians in my favourite baladi restaurant in the Pyramid Street. All the famous typical egyptian delicacies with real "home made" taste on plastic towels covered with flowers and an atmosphere that makes me feel warm from inside.
8. Accepting the invitation for an over the top sweet tea with shop owners in the Hussein. No purpose or goal to it. Just chatting and, on the way, learning some more intriguing facts about egyptian mentality.
9. And so many other joys...I discover every day.Because I search for it.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
tired of being so intense, all the time...can't I be shallow and light for a while, just like so many other people?!
Hhhhhmmmmmm......then I guess I would not be an artist. Artists are all a bit - well, a LOT! - crazy, aren't they? I know I am.
Open, Sesame...tonight I will rock my stage....yeahhhhhhhh.........
Cairo,the 14th September, 2010
Another jewel from my childhood movie (DIRTY DaNCING)
This is the music to dance with your man...and how gorgeous was Patrick Swayze and how sexy is this scene... LOVE this. No prejudices, hypocrisy or half actions-words. Just...
Monday, September 13, 2010
Still on the go...when you give and don´t receive back!
I was supposed to have three days off work this week but those days turned into more shows so me and my orchestra search for our remaining energy and try to give our best, despite the general exhaustion.
The thing about performing with love is that you always receive back from your audience, so your energy and all the feeling you give them is returned to you and multiplied. This renews me, as a dancer. It gives me inspiratiion, strenght, lightness, will to continue doing better and better.
So, what happens when your audience is composed of arrogant, rich people who will not give you a smile, even if they needed it to save their own lives?! Ohhh....difficult.
You give, give, give and do not receive any appreciation or connection back so all your energy is spent and not renewed.
That was the case tonight. I did my best, as always. I GAVE, that´s what I do.
In this world, there are two cathegories of people: GIVERS and TAKERS. The first tend to GIVE with no expectations, requests or payments and the second group only RECEIVES, never gives. These are the TAKERS and I´ve known so many of them, oohhh....God....
I am a GIVER by nature. I rarely ask for myself, I feel shy to request any kind of help and feel a constant desire to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE both in my work as in my personal life.
So, even if my audience is as cold as the North Pole and is so interested in me as they are in dog poop, I STILL GIVE and GIVE, and GIVE...after all, that´s my job, not only my nature.
After two shows full of opulent, nose up, arrogant audiences I am OFFICIALLY off duty, at least until tomorrow when I expect to have a better luck with the audiences that will come.
You see, the THING is DANCE is made of a CONVERSATION between me and the music and, ultimately, with the audience. If one of these links is missing, the MAGIC is gone and I return home empty.
I don´t think so...bed, bed, bed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GIRLIE GIRL (Cause boys will be boys and...girls will be girls...)
Being an eclectic person requires an equally eclectic selection of friends so I have them to talk about dance, others to join me in the gym, some others to share theatre and cinema goodies, deep or simply silly thoughts and so forth...
Some female friends are what I call "girlie girl" pals. They will follow me till the end of the known world if we´re going for shopping and there we went this morning.
Life cannot be all about dancing, afterwards (right?!I´m not so sure on this one...hhhhmmmmm).
First stop of the "girlie" morning:
Cappuccino and Vogue magazine for a quick breakfast before heading to the make-up store where I spend the equivalent to a fortune thanks to daily performing. The thing is being a dancer (oooooooohhhhhh, there we go on the dance subject again...) involves much more than DANCING. It´s shocking - but true - to affirm that actual DANCING occupies 1% of my worries and thought. All the other 99% go to rehearsals, dressing, make-up and all the maintenance a dancer has to do in order to always feel and look her best at the stage because audiences are lovely but they´re also ruthless judges with pointing fingers ready to tear you up if your hair is messed up (mine always is!) or you don´t look your best.
A performing dancer should always look like Central Park and Broadway (New York, New York!!!) on Christmas Eve and that takes a LOT of work to keep up to.
Dancing comes naturally to me, as natural as breathing. But the whole "image decorating" subject is alien to me. I get tired from all the care, touching and retouching, dressing and undressing, so much more than from DANCING which is the enjoyable part, the pleasure zone where everything and everyone is forgotten and all happens between me, God and the audience.
After flipping the luxurious, silk soft pages of our VOGUE (how posh can we be?) and drinking our cappuccinos, we headed to the store in search for more make-up. All my stock is empty, after so many days of work.
My friend looked extatic with excitement. I just looked depressed.
These girlie stuff are not "my thing", they never were...beauty comes naturally to me, not bought in a jar or inside of an eye-shadow case.
If I could do "my thing, my way", I would go on stage naked, no hairdo, no make-up or manicured nails, no fancy clothing or props, NOTHING. Naked and pure as an angel.
Ancient rituals of Dance were performed by NAKED women, why can´t we rescue a bit of the past´s beauty?!
But duty and reality call, as usual.
After shopping and putting some more "girlie" letters in the mail post (I am still one of those romantic excentrics that write letters to friends and lovers...from where did I come from?), we headed for my favourite thai massagist (now that seems to be a great deal of POSH behaviour, at least for my peasant standards!).
Another thing about dancers (here we go again...what about the mentioning of NOT TALKING ABOUT DANCE?!) is the care you should have with your body.
So many dancers hate their bodies and destroy it in many ways (how ironic and confusing is that?!) but, thanks God, I am not one of them.
I am aware of the importance of my body-instrument and how precious it is to me and my work-survival.
So, I deliver myself to my thai massagist while my friend waits in the living room, flipping some more "egyptian house wife" magazines revealing the secrets of "how to keep a husband" or "teach your kids to fast in Ramadan". I am sure she will have lots, but LOTS of fun, reading this incredible magazine. She might even turn into a vegetable...
My thai massagist doesn´t smile. EVER. She exhales and throws some strange sounds into the air but she does not smile. Cultural differences, perhaps. I am used to them.
The massage starts and my body jumps in several painful convulsions, I struck the matress like a drunk sailor on a bad night on the town and howl like a wolf under a nostalgic full moon.
She remains oblivious and totally indifferent to my pain.
It seems, as I confirm it again and again, even sensibility is different from culture to culture, person to person. Thai, chinese and japanese always seemed so distant and hard to understand...it seems we live in different internal words and reactions to the same situation highly differ from person to person.
NOW back to the IMPORTANT:
"I am in pain, manifesting it and being ignored".
Thailand is a predominantely Buddhist country, right? (I think to myself).
"Where is the famous buddhist compassion?"
"Where is the basic human compassion (forget the buddhists, I am desperate here...)?
"Did you know that, under catholic thinking, you could go to hell for much less than this?
"This massage should be considered a voice warm up for Opera singers preparing for "La Traviatta!"
"How can a human being inflict so much pain on another and not feel pity for him/her?!"
At this point, I wondered why I didn´t go to a bar to get drunk for the first time in my life and forget all my worries and sadness?!
I could struck the table of the bar like a drunk sailor and howl like a wolf under a nostalgic full moon and I would pay less money and handle much less pain...WHY?!!!!
A "Bossa Nova" brazilian cd was running the whole time during the 1.30h torture session and a figure of hindu Ghanesh was overlooking the whole movie from the beginning (not even my favourite hindu God came in my rescue...talk about faith crisis!).
How am I not surprised that, in the end, I didn´t feel more relaxed at all.
"Evelithing youl body hults"
(translation: " Everything your body hurts") - She , finally, said to me without an excuse or word of support.
I don´t expect patting on my back, I never did and never got them but this was too much. I was just trying to take care of my instrument (body) and get a good relaxing time and, instead, I got a medieval torture session with a thai lady that looks and acts like Sylvester Stallone in "RAMBO".
Oh, the irony of life...and the surprises you can get when you only wish to have a simple "girlie girl" time.
P.S. My friend is actually not my friend anymore because she also remained indifferent to my yelling of pain. How can you be considered a "friend" (even in the "girlie" cathegory) if you don´t run to me in times of sorrow?!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
With Janet Fitch.
No, I am not a lesbian and this is not one of those messages where I proclaim to have found the real beauty of love and erotic poetry by the side of a woman.
I am still crazy about men (it´s that damned testosterone!!!) but Janet Fitch is the WRITER I discovered and simply cannot let go.
Wow..."THE WHITE OLEANDER" is one of her books but you may search for another.
This is great writing, I can tell you that! Each phrase is a pleasure to read, feel, drink, smell, live...aaaaahahhhhhhh...and no empty linguistic embroideries either.
The REAL THING, as far as writing goes.
Sensuous and profoundly human.
I am in love with this writer.
(number...oh, whatever, who´s counting at this point, any ways?!)
Egypt has taught me many, many great things. Some of them are tough to swallow and others not so much but still they endanger my sense of self and all the certainties I had about what it means to be a HUMAN BEING.
No offense intended but I learnt that egyptians and arabs are made of different brain cells and their hearts and consciousness works in diametrically different ways than mine.
Egypt has taught me that not everyone has good intentions towards everybody else (Yes, I thought everyone had good intentions towards EVERYONE).
Egypt has taught me that not all hearts are used to feel. Many of them are only use to pump blood through a human body but no feeling of LOVE runs through it.
Egypt has taught me that people lie very easily and are often indifferent to other´s suffering.
Egypt has taught me that not everyone who says I LOVE YOU DOES REALLY love you. Many of them DON`T.
In my childish (perharps!) mind, no one would say I LOVE YOU to someone else, unless they felt it from their deepest place of the soul.
Yeah...I am a romantic and a fool, often a fool...:)
Egypt has also taught me that different cultures produce human beings with different behaviours and mentality and that applies, obviously, to ORIENTAL DANCE.
Yesterday shows were also exciting...I guess the exhaustion is working with me here and not against me (thanks God!). Yet, when I finished the first show of the night, I received another disturbing INDECENT PROPOSAL.
Notice that, as a dancer, I´ve received hundreds of indecent proposals in all shapes and forms.
If I went along in the game and were a little less honest, I would be living in a luxurious villa by the sea in Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico!!), lazy body hanging from a tree, puffing away the heat with my sombrero, covered in fresh tropical juice, guacamole and turquoise warm waters...
But I never, EVER went along in the game so...
Did I mention I am a fool?!
Oh, yeah. I did.
So, I am not in Mexico. I am right here, taking .....(use the dirty side of your imagination and fill in the blank) from a lot of really annoying people, testing my patience to the limits, working my ass off (excuse me for the free expression) and trying to be the best human being I can be (no matter how many times I am screwed in the back).
Yes, I am a fool.
When I finished my first show, I received the visit of a couple of egyptians who had been in the audience. I noticed how the man was showing me off to his wife/fianceé/whatever during the whole performance and how she nodded in approval while he talked in her ear about what they were watching.
Until here, all is normal. There are several men who bring their women to watch me dance (although I cannot define the reason why they do it).
They approached me in my backstage room and asked me if I could give a private course to the lady.
"An egyptian woman asking a foreigner to teach her ORIENTAL DANCE?" - Now THAT IS strange. Even if they cannot move a finger, egyptian women think they can dance like Souhair Zaki and better...it´s one of those misconceptions that drives me crazy!
So they started to explain. They are engaged and will marry soon and the man asked his fianceé if she could dance for him on their honey moon.
Until here, all is pretty regular too but "where am I in this honey moon equation?"
The explanation arrived.
I would be the one to instruct the lady how to dance and seduce her husband on their honeymoon.
"ME???" - I told them, in disbelief and a tremendous poker face. I could suggest the cleaning lady, the smily body guard, one of my musicians but...Me???
"Why me? I know nothing about dancing for a man and seducing him! Believe me, I never did it and I wouldn´t know how to do it.
I can teach you how to dance as I do to thousands of other women all over the world and then you use what you learn as you wish but I cannot teach you how to use dance to seduce your husband. "
They were startled. They just couldn´t believe that I didn´t accept being generously paied to teach the lady how to dance for her husband.
Sorry, folks. This is IT: Again and again I say that dance can be used in many ways that makee you and other people happy but dancing TO SEDUCE A MAN is something I know nothing about or prefer not to know.
Not my job. Not my interest. Not my area.
I am a teacher and a performer. Not a streap-teaser, a wedding adviser or an intimate relations therapist.
No, the lady was not interested if all I could do was to teach her how to dance. She wanted the WHOLE deal and I couldn´t match up with their expectations.
So this was the indecent proposal of the night.
After that, along came another show with several other women with tremendous fear that I would eat their men (not a new one, anyways)...
Dealing with the image Oriental Dancers carry is not easy, that´s for sure.
Egypt has also taught me to let go of everything and everyone, otherwise I would go mad.
Egypt has also taught me to throw in the garbadge what is not true or beautiful and that´s what I try to do , day by day.
Show by show.
Proposal by proposal.
(Still thinking about Mexico)...
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Countdown, NILE MAXIM shows, egyptian wedding shows, Tango and home fish cooking (Uh???)
What a mix!
And I wonder why I am not surprised...for me, life has always been about enjoying EVERYTHING, from the most glamourous to the simplest of realities.
You can see interest, fun and beauty in quite all scenarios, even in the darkest, most inconvenient ones!
People who don´t know me may judge and presume they have me all figured out, even my musicians who spend so much time and energy with me often feel confused and don´t know how to treat me: as a QUEEN or as one of them? I know my behaviour makes them confused and I like it that way (why not?). I am a queen and a peasant, after all. If you can´t take it, just drop it and stop trying to figure it out (you won´t, eh, eh, eh....).
Right now, the count down to my treap is on. Only a few days left and here I go to PEACE LAND or, otherwise known as, NORMALITY LAND (compared to Egypt and other Middle Egypt countries, Portugal is the peak of NORMALITY). Leaving the fifth domension for a few weeks will bring me the renewed energy I desperatly need and clean my over burdened brain of all clutter and unnecessary information. GREAT!
Shows at the NILE MAXIM rocking again, after the dull period of Ramadan composed of foreigner-tourist audiences that make my job really hard...YES to the "Aid" and all the hunger for fun of the people who are coming out of Ramadan with all its joys and restrictions.
Some egyptian weddings I will do in the next week will also challenge me, as usual. I admit that wedding shows are not my favourite. Most of the times, the guests are only there to celebrate, get drunk and stoned and jump around like crazy. They´re not really into ART or in the mood to watch a professional show.
In this kind of jobs, I am mostly an entertainer and a "jumping buddy" and not so much of an Artist.
Not my favourite thing but, hey, it´s work and I also do it at my best.
Tango lessons, finally free and back to normal after Ramadan...it was about time! As soon as I get back to Portugal, the learning continues...I think I am becoming addicted to Tango.Heeeeeellllllllpppppppppppppppp.............................
Home cooking (fish in the oven for today). By "moi memme", of course...who else? How can I manage to perform every day, teach and write and - at the same time - clean and cook like a professional?! Women are multi-taskers, that´s for sure and I LOVE being one of them.
P.S. The fish in the oven was SUPERB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Should I open a restaurant?
I am in a deep delirious state.
Friday, September 10, 2010
First "Aid" shows: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!
Tonight´s shows were what I rarely call AMAZING!
Not only did I have my beloved egyptian audiences back as I also did a new, exciting program and took strenght and inspiration God knows from where (any clues?!).
Of course there were the also typical "Let me see what this foreigner can do with our dance" looks from some young egyptian and arab girls but even that I always take as an extra reason to feel inspired and do BETTER and BETTER!!! Obstacles never stopped me and I am confident enough to prove all prejudices wrong.
New singer and orgue in the orchestra and that meant extensive rehearsals which is not what I am praying for after 40 something days of performing in a row...somehow, my ears remain fresh and my body/heart/mind/soul still reacts to the music as if they were all untouched by pain and exhaustion. I can only thank God for that and keep doing my best...
PORTUGAL, here I come...
I´m already having dreams about returning to my homeland.
In those dreams, here are the strangest things I forsee:
1. Me, covered in fat salt from the sea, waking up at the sunset in one of our beaches to the sound of children playing in the water.
2. Having capuccino in our family garden surrounded by the whole family (newly arrived babies included!) and making a clown of myself, as usual. Looking at my mum and seeing her huge happiness for having me in front of her.
3. Having crazy, consecutive cinema sessions with my sister. Cinema therapy, I like to call it!
4. Asking the neighbours for flour to bake one of my favourite cakes with my mum ("hello childhood"!).
5. Rolling on the grass with our dogs, playing with them, falling asleep on them and receiving their company when we run together and watch the green fields and the sky around (they´re my best running buddies).
6. Being still. No music, no dance, no MIND.
Empty Cairo (?!)
This will be the last breath of the month´s celebrations. The BIG FEAST "Il Aid" is turning Cairo into a virtual ghost city.
Just came from the street, disappointed, where I was suppose to eat sushi with a friend because my elected restaurant (as well as all other in the surrounding area) was closed.
It´s Friday and it´s the first day of the "AID", people tell me.
"What do you expect?"
I guess this is like Christmas time in my country when nobody expects to receive any kind of public service or see a live soul in the streets...
So we returned home and made our own lunch (not sushi!) instead. You cannot beat this tide...
Will life go back to "normal" tomorrow?!
I hope so...I wonder how tonight´s shows will go.
Hoping for the best!
And Osho, again and again (LOVE this crazy guy!!!):
" Let go.
Life reveals itself most plainly when you don´t clutch to it, when you don´t cling to it, when you don´t hoard, when you are not a miser. When you are loose and ready to lose, when your fist is not closed, when your hand is open. Life reveals itself most plainly when you do not clutch at it either with your feelings or with your thoughts.
Touch and go - that is the secret, the whole secret, the whole art. Everything kept goes stale - everything, I say. Hoard and you kill it, hoard and it stinks. The reason is that whatever is momentous, living and moving, is momentary.
By hoarding you want to make it permanent.
These three words are very important:
momentary, permanent, eternal. In ordinary dictionaries the meaning of ETERNAL seems to be forever and forever. That is wrong. That is not the meaning of ETERNAL, that is the meaning of PERMANENT. Then permanence becomes eternity; it is not.
Eternity is not a duration, eternity is the depth in the moment. Eternity is part of the momentary - it is not against the momentary; the permanent is against the momentary.
IF YOU GO DEEP INTO THE MOMENT, DROP INTO THE MOMENTARY, DISSOLVE TOTALLY AND UTTERLY INTO IT, YOU HAVE A TASTE OF ETERNITY.
EACH MOMENT LIVED TOTALLY AND RELAXEDLY IS ETERNITY LIVED.
Let go- as a leaf goes with the stream."
ZEN, THE PATH OF PARADOX
ZEN POET (Basho)
"WHEN THE LIGHTNING FLASHES
HOW ADMIRABLE HE WHO THINKS NOT
LIFE IS FLEETING.
THE MORNING DAWNS
LATE NIGHT SOON FOLLOWS.
LIFE TRANSIENT AS DEW.
YET THE MORNING GLORY
GOES ON BLOOMING, BLOOMING
ITS SHORT COMPLETE LIFE."
Enjoying the moment and learning how to let go is the Art for a life time.
Touch and go...like a sun rise or a beautiful morning that shares its light with all of us with no fear to turn into night.
By Osho, again...
"Enlightenment is finding that there is nothing to find.
Enlightenment is the understanding that this is all, that this is perfect, that this is it. Enlightenment is not an achievement, it is an understanding that there is nothing to achieve, nowhere to go.
You are already there - you have never been away. You cannot be away from there.God has never been missed.
Maybe you have forgotten, that´s all. Maybe you have fallen asleep, that´s all. Maybe you have gotten lost in many, many dreams, that´s all - but you are there.
God is your very being."
FROM : ZEN, THE PATH OF PARADOX
Thursday, September 9, 2010
LAST SHOWS IN CAIRO before early return to PORTUGAL!
It´s with so much pleasure I will present my new show for the muslim Feast "Il Aid", starting from today and running till Sunday.
Welcome to my beloved egyptian audiences, how much have I missed them during Ramadan....ahhhh...I´ll never get tired of saying: egyptians are the best and most demanding public there is for Oriental Dance.
WELCOME to EVERYONE!!!
As if it wasn´t enough the whole 40 something days of dance in a row and the constant new shows I put together with all my heart, this new program is so exciting that I can hardly breath thinking about it.
So, if you are in Cairo in the next ten days, stop by the NILE MAXIM (in front of Marriott Hotel, Zamalek) and check what me and my orchestra are producing from our souls.
Excited to perform, excited to travel to Portugal so soon...i can´t wait!
"When I use the word SEXUALITY I don´t just mean genitality. The genital is only one very, very tiny experience and expression of the sexual. The sexual is a very great thing.
By sexual I mean whenever your body is alive, sensuous, throbbing, pulsating - then you are in a sexual state. It may not have anything to do with the genital.
For example, when you are dancing you are sexual; a dancer is sexual, the dance energy is sexual energy. It is not genital; you may not be thinking at all about sex, you may have completely forgotten about sex. In fact, when you forget everything about sex and you are dissolved into any deep participation with your total body, it is sexuality. You may be swimming or running - running in the morning.
So when I use the word SEXUAL I mean this experience of totality. Genitality is only one of the functions of sexuality.
When you pulsate from your toe to your head, when every fiber of your being pulsates - when all cells of your body dance, when there is a great orchestra inside you, when everything is dancing - then there is orgasm."
I´ve been saying it since I first taught Oriental Dance: Do not be afraid to be sexual because you are a SEXUAL BEING and by that I mean to free yourself from the mental jail you were (un)educated in and take the PLEASURE of LIFE for yourself. The PLEASURE of FEELING your body in all its sensations for yourself.
The PLEASURE of savouring food, the wind, a simple kiss, a touch, a sun ray, love, a rainy day, etc,etc...all that LIFE has to offer...all for yourself.
Simply TO ENJOY yourself...
And I keep on saying to students from all over the world: ORIENTAL DANCE is all about being naturally sexual and sensuous, having pleasure with the music, the body, the air you breath, the inner landscape of JOY that comes with the communion with the music...
All this time I´ve been saying this and then I read it so clear in the words of OSHO.
Is this concept of SEXUALITY (not genitality, not pornography) so difficult to understand?
And until when will ORIENTAL DANCE be connected with the limited, negative side of it???
The Beauty Myth
The book I am currently reading is called
THE BEAUTY MYTH- HOW IMAGES OF BEAUTY ARE USED AGAINST WOMEN and I can only recommend it to every woman and man who loves WOMEN.
As an Oriental Dance teacher, my goal has always been to teach the DANCE itself but, most of all, to give the students a sense of themselves and how unique they REALLY are.
Oriental Dance is remarkable that way. It requires technique and all sorts of knowledge but, first and last of all, it demands a self-knowledge and self-acceptance that breaths through the dance.
How many women have I seen transformed by the incredible power of this magical dance and how much of MYSELF have I felt totally changed for the sake of it?!
Reaching a point when I love my body in all its unique corners has a lot to do with the fact of being an Oriental Dancer.
I have that - and so much more- to thank my ART for.
Wish all WOMEN saw how gorgeous they are.
Personally, I never saw an ugly woman in my life. I see beauty in all women, even if they don´t see it in themselves and that´s sad.
If all women practiced Oriental Dance since early age through the hands of a good, conscious teacher, phenomenons such as anorexy and all variations of loveless relationships would disappear from the world.
Simply LOVE the way this book puts the cards on the table and forces me, yet again, to look at myself and how much society pressures women to look and behave a certain way with the illusion that that will bring them happiness and love.
The HUMAN BODY is a miracle of BEAUTY and DIVERSITY. I hope we all understood that, at all times.
CELEBRATING what is special in ourselves should be taught in public schools as much as mathematics and languages.
Traveling soon to Portugal...
My planned treap to Portugal has suffered some alterations so I´m traveling sooner than I thought (yyyyuuuuuuppppiiieeeeeeee.....).
I can´t wait to see my family and close friends, to go dancing in an african disco, swimming in our ocean and run with our dogs...can´t wait for the PEACE of being home close to the quality of people I cannot find in Egypt.
For all the students and dancers who are coming to Cairo soon and wish to see my show and do some classes with me, be advised to do it before the end of September cause I am heading home sooner than planned.
If you miss my show or classes in September, be informed I´ll be back stronger than ever in November with some very HOT NEWS regarding my work!!!
Waiting for the whole world to come...soon...and already dreaming about my people in Portugal..."homeland", here I come!
Cairo, the 9th September, 2010
Dance lab with my crazy "tabal"...
Performing with great musicians (not all of them are, though) has these magnificent things: every show is an opportunity to explore different, deeper, more creative things.
Working with my crazy, favourite "tabal" (not saying names here...may the evil eye remain away from us!) is like being inside of a "dance laboratory" where all formulas are created, tested and approved with the TALENT certificate of the ones who produce music and dance with LOVE.
Ahhh...we often forget the value of the things and people who surrounds us when they are around and, often too late, realize how precious they were after we´ve lost them.
Right now, I am grateful for this "dance lab" where I create - with my crazy musician - something fresh, new and ALIVE at every single show, on a daily basis.
Dancing with your favourite "tabal" is like loving a man...really...it is a love musical affair. That´s for sure. No wonder why so many dancers actually fall in love and marry their own "tabals". I can understand why (although I don´t have any intention of marrying mine).
The tabla touches you as a lover do. When the "tabal" is great and has a connection with the dancer, he knows how, when and with which intensity he should touch her. He knows when to hug her, when to let her go, when to kiss her and give her love in all the different ways a man can love a woman.
IT IS a LOVE AFFAIR, I tell you that...
And letting go a great "tabal" is harder than letting go a great lover. Great lovers are everywhere but great "tabals" no and the second can often give you the pleasure the first cannot.
I know these statements are pretty rough but they´re honest and the position of being a "belly dancer" (as most people often call me) gives me this kind of freedom.
Every show it is a new love affair, a new breeze, a zero point from where we start not knowing where music and feeling will take us.
I LOVE IT!!!
How much am I growing in the ART SCALE??? I guess pretty much...
I didn´t know I loved Adbel Halim so much...
Oh, oh...am I betraying my dear OM KOLTHOUM?!
I am afraid so...betrayal has never been my strongest feature but now I feel like a cheater by loving Abdel Halim Hafez so much...
When Ramadan started and I brought a male singer into my orchestra, I decided I would put Om Kolthoum to rest for a while (from wherever she is resting in PEACE, she must be a little tired of watching me use her music so much) and dig deep into ABDEL HALIM HAFEZ, THE NIGHTINGALE OF EGYPT...
Little did I know how much I would fall in love with him...still not my OM KOLTHOUM LOVE STORY. That´s comparing the love of your life with a great hot affair. Abdel Halim is my current hot affair but it´s so delicious that I am not willing to let him go.
Is there a problem with this?
I guess I can dance Om Kolthoum AND Abdel Halim Hafez, can´t I???
Discovering incredible music by this new hot affair...he may have led a tragic life, but his music was ruthless and full of hope, despite all the drama involving him.
"Fatet gambena"..."It happened besides us" is one of my favourite as well as "Karait if fingan" and "Bil omr´el hob".
I always thank God for everything. The great and the not-so great. Even for the tragedies that seem to erase all hope and ability to believe in HUMAN BEINGS again.
I Thank God for the over-worked periods and for the few times of rest. I am happy working and happy sitting silently. Just sitting. I´ve learnt , so far, that ALL IS GOOD AS IT IS.
So, no more complaining about over exhausted muscles but just an observation:
The result of working non-stop with my orchestra has produced the following curious phenomenons with the people I, prodly, call MY MEN (my musicians):
1. I know their faces, hands and voices by heart. I could recognize any of my musicians by only listening to their voice or seeing one of their hands. That´s how familiar they are to me. More than family itself.
2. We have developed our own "private jokes" that no one else - outsiders - would understand. With just a look, we all burst into laughter and there´s no need to explain why. WE ALL KNOW WHY.
3. I know, with just one look, how the shows will go on every night. I get it by their energy, their moods and expressions.
4. I´ve noticed the ego treaps all of them go into when working in the same orchestra and trying to please me. The secret is "not trying to please me" but simply do their jobs with love and professionalism but they still think the "old egyptian way" and act a little childish in my opinion. I am the teacher in the kindergarten. Already got used to it.
5. Some of "my men" read my thoughts. They already know what I am feeling and thinking in any day, they have my own chair reserved for me to listen to new songs and give me some RARE, honest smiles that make my day.
6. By now, if any strange man gets close to me before of after any show, he can be sure to get kicked in the arse by one of my over-protective musicians. Even my father, if he dared to show up as a surprise and hold my hand, would have his "derrière" hardly kicked by one of my men. I find it sweet, I must admit. :)
7. Seeing that I am not in the happiest of my moods, some of my men dance for me.
Yes, that´s right. And that also makes my day and, miraculously, takes off a huge laugh from inside of me.
8. All the testosterone around me makes me feel safe. This could be rightly explained by a certified doctor specialized in " hormonal behaviour of the female body" or something like that. Working with men (not a single woman around me!) has a soothing effect on me. I´ve noticed and confirmed this fact.
Maybe I see in them the father figure I´ve never had (never had that protective figure because my dad started living with us at home when I was already a little woman), maybe it´s just the adoration they have for me (yes, it does feel great to be treated like a QUEEN all the time!!!), maybe it´s just the absence of envy and competition so typical from female environments.
I really don´t know the exact reason but I am totally happy working with men and their testosterone combines with mine (have loads of it myself!).
9. With all their awful treats and mafia dealings, "my men" are the ones who build a big dream with me and it´s with them I spend most of my time.
By now, I know their spirits better than my own hands and feel blessed for their moments of generosity and tenderness towards me.
Not everything is fake around here. Thanks God.
O.k, If I didn´t know , by now, what to do with soar muscles, I couldn´t be called a DANCER, I guess...
My question is not what to do to relief over-tired muscles but what to do when these muscles are beyond the state of soar and exhausted. They gone beyond it. They´ve been there and they have crossed that bridge. DONE.
It´s like I don´t feel the pain anymore, and there they went (my tired muscles, my tired heart) the past 40 days of dancing/performing in a row with class teaching on the side, the yoga, the gym and all the walking around I do for shopping and other ordinary activities of any normal person.
ANYONE HAS A CLUE?!
Soar. Solution found.
Beyond soar. Have no clue what to do with it (a few days by/in the sea wouldn´t hurt, I suppose...).
Last day of Ramadan so...time for television reviews (don´t ask me why)
Now that I read yet another genius statement from my favourite mad man - OSHO - I am not looking for the MEANING of LIFE anymore.
Oh...what a weight taken off my shoulders!
Allowing myself to know that not everything in LIFE has a meaning or stop searching for IT in everything that happens around me and with me is such a relief...we´re in a global mad house, YEAAAAAHHHHHHHH....as BRAVE HEART MEL GIBSON would scream (how great was the actor in this role?!!!): FREEEEEEDDDDDDDOOOOOOOMMMMMMM....
So, today is the last day of the Holy muslim month of Ramadan and there is the "Aid" feast coming for the following three days. Egypt was practically frozen during the whole month and, as if that wasn´t enough of inactivity, here it comes three/four days more to just sit and relax...aahhhh...nobody does NOTHING so well as egyptians and arabs...never saw such an ability to stand and do NOTHING. I am working towards that ability but still didn´t get there. On my way...
Because this is the last day of Ramadan (no more fasting and running traffic in the streets at the time of "iftar", breakfast for the fasting muslims) and because I discovered there´s no necessity to find meaning in everything and everyone, here are my last television reviews (coming from a T.V. non-addicted):
1. Catching up with my all time favourite television series: THE SIMPSONS. This is work of truly observant, intelligent, great humoured writers...LOVE IT.
Between dance shows, rehearsals, choreographing and classes, I have great laughs with Bart and Homer Simpson..Human nature portraied with such grace...
2. SEX AND THE CITY and DESPERATE HOUSE WIVES. The best of the recent television series, all on DVD (thanks God for the dvd existence!). The scripts are made of the best writing and the actors, directing and photography are impeccable. Besides the incredible entertainment product these series are, what fascinates me the most is the vision of our actual society with all the contradictions, global fears and dreams that unites us. These are also portraits of REAL humans with their fragilities and strenghts.
T.v. material for great laughs, great feeling, great thoughts and inspiration.
Not just a mere entertainment product coming from the business machine but commercial items with an actual cultural value.
Television made with ART and HEART. Cannot resist it!
P.S. Where can I find the movie SEX AND THE CITY 2 ???
If it airs in Egypt, it will arrive to our t.v. screens with censored zones (all the lovely sensual scenes cut from the movie, as usual). Not interested in censorship, THANK YOU!
Other than these televisionary delicacies, there´s nothing else I see on t.v. except for the occasional movie (like the amazing MILLION DOLLAR BABY I reviewed two days ago).
Egyptian channels are on with pornographic, basic, tasteless music videos all year round (with some religious hits for Ramadan in the mix - WELCOME TO EGYPT!).
Besides the porno video clips, there are censored news, football that makes brains fall sleep even deeper than they are already sleeping and soap operas about egyptian traditional lives that scare the hell out of me because they confirm the non-sense of this society and how ignorance and prejudices still manages most egyptian´s lives.
Whenever I go to the gym (only girls, fellows!), I find the typical egyptian feminine panorama:
The whole staff (trainers, cleaning ladies, secretaries, teachers,etc) together, watching the already mentioned soap operas, eating and gossiping together as if there was no tomorrow...). Do they watch THE SIMPSONS?!
From the depth of my own prejudices, I dare to say: I DON´T THINK SO...
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Cairo, the 5th September, 2010
If you happen to be in Cairo...
1.You cannot miss the end of Ramadan with the BIG FEAST - "Il Aid" - and all its colourful celebrations.
2. You cannot miss one of my daily shows with my orchestra at the NILE MAXIM (in front Marriott Hotel, Zamalek).As I always do my best, I can assure you´ll have a wonderful time and see Oriental Dance performed not only with professionalism, but with LOVE and DEVOTION. Always. Reservations are required. Book your place through the number: 002 - 012 73 88888
3. Have one or more Oriental Dance and Egyptian Folclore classes with me, as students and professionals from all over the world are already doing... Bookings through the email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. See the Darwish show at the Hussein (Palace "El Khoury", Saturdays and Wednesdays around 20.00h). This is a SOULFUL show that will take your breath away.
5. Take a ride on a "felluca" (traditional Nile boat) on the river. Cairo by night or by sunset is the best if seen from one of this wind blown ancient boats.
6. Enjoy the craziness and unpredictable life of the city. You take the traffic jams, the chaos and the whole messy stuff about Cairo but you can also enjoy its beauty, excitement and points of interest.
Looking for the BEAUTY, always...even in the middle of a huge mess like Cairo.
WELCOME TO EVERYBODY!
And tonight I danced with all my FIRE...
Because there's no heart break or sadness able to erase this FIRE I AM.
And how blissful and thankful I felt to see that I am not dead, that a heart is still pulsating inside my chest and that nothing and no one can shut this voice up.
I danced and magical sparkling stars came out from my eyes like fireworks from the sky.
Tonight I danced to save my own life, myself from becoming a cold rock.
To see that I am still ME, after all, it's a miracle.
To feel the flames burning inside me and this wild desire to LIVE inside me working the floor and the space is a God's gift.
How can this happen?! Miracles of Life.
The WORK of God.
Cairo, the 4th September, 2010
Melting pot...I am...
Proving that I am a product of a melting pot of different cultures, here it is another gem of my past (and present): KIZOMBA. Typical urban african music...also part of my childhood and happiest memories.
Usually, KIZOMBA is sung in portuguese with african taste or a specific african dialect (like crioulo) but this version comes in spanish. The rythm and taste of KIZOMBA is still there.
From my past influences like this one, I get the warm feeling and the passion for DANCING, LOVING, ENJOYING all the pleasures of LIFE.
Warm in LIFE as in DANCE...and so much of it comes from all the music that built my inner world...
What's next?! Beethoven, Strauss, Mozart, Bach??!!! All those and more because I am made of so many colours and tastes....
Cairo, the 4th September, 2010
From my soul...
Another music that is part of my musical genes.
Gipsy music/dance is my oldest frustration and I still dream about returning to the origins and study it seriously...the world is such an immense, interesting place with so many wonderful things to know and learn...I wish I lived 200 years to learn and enjoy all kinds of dance...
Going back to the source...crying and laughing with/at LIFE.
Cairo, the 4th September, 2010
Childhood memories of strange dances I enjoyed till exhaustion...
Oh...I found this video - lambada - on the facebook and I couldn't resist sharing it.
It seems it's an important part of my personal WALL of SHAME but, what a hell, I am what I am because of all I lived and all the songs I loved and danced to so...why not admit it?!
This LAMBADA was a passion of mine and I danced it with everybody I knew (my sister being the special victim of my lambada dance attacks).
As a dancer, I am the product of ALL I listen and love and this is part of my genes...warm, joyful, sensual...how wonderful it feels to listen to this music again...
And I get up and dance, dance, dance.........
Art as a survival tool...and my LOVE DECLARATION for posterity!
Dancing, singing, building something beautiful that touches people´s souls (in the form of performances, workshops or even writing) has always been my Nº1 passion.
For DANCE, I´ve left behind family, homeland, best friends and several men I loved.
Every time the choice arose in my life, between ANYTHING/ANYONE and my ART, I had no doubt and never looked back to choose THE LOVE OF MY LIFE : DANCE.
I was born doing it and, if God will, I will die doing it.
It´s my biggest passion, my drive, my inspiration and the air I breath.
One of the reasons why I put my ART in first place in my life is connected with the fact that, through the years, it´s DANCE, MUSIC and ART which has saved me from becoming a cold, cynical person after living so many disappointments and hardships.
If it wasn´t for ART and my work, I would have gone totally mad or bad from a long time ago.
Creating, listening, feeling, dancing, singing, living between other artists, all the heart breaks and pain seem to be lighter and,miraculously, transformed into LIGHT.
So, when I am dancing I am not just enjoying myself, working and entertaining other people but I am also healing myself and saving my soul from becoming dark as so many experiences life has offered me to live.
So DANCE is a life-saver, a soul-rescuer, an angel who holds my heart in ITS hands whenever my heart is threatening to disappear...
How could I NOT consider DANCE as the REAL LOVE OF MY LIFE???
We´ve been together for too long (since I started to move by myself).
DANCE and only dance never disappointed me or hurt me.
We´ve been through so many things in life and we´re still strong, closer than ever, always growing in love with each other, deeper and deeper...
It´s DANCE that sustains me when everything falls apart and I have no energy to walk. Maybe I can´t walk, but I can always DANCE.
It has been my air, my reason to live and continue growing...
DANCE has seen me go into ACTING, SINGING and trying to stay away from it for lenghts of time but IT knows that I always return to IT. No matter how many detours and treaps I do away from DANCE, it´s to DANCE that I return for FREEDOM, PURE FEELING OF LOVE and COMFORT.
I always return to DANCE in search of myself away from the EGO, closer to my SOUL and that place where I have no name, no nationality or tags to classify me by human/mental standards. I return to DANCE to find ME, my essence, my true mirror, my beggining and the absence of my end
(because we´re infinite).
It´s to DANCE that I return when I need to go back to where I belong: HOME.
This is my declaration of LOVE to my all time NUMBER 1 LOVE: DANCE. DANCE.DANCE.