Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
You never know what s around the corner and I guess that s a great part of the fun of being ALIVE.
I love these photos - so wisely taken by someone who knows me all too well - because they are absolutely natural and a true "no show". Just me, waking up in a relatively bad mood and before taking my cappuccino, just preparing myself to go out to the world and face the rain (and the sun that, frequently, comes after the rain)...
Just can t get more natural and real than this.:)
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Tabla madness, dancing madness, LIVING madness...only the true WARRIORS follow through the hardest, heaviest tempest and come out of them shinning like brand new human beings.
It is in the times of DARKNESS that you see who you really are and how much LIGHT you carry within.
So writting comes as yet another way of connecting myself with other people and being listened to, understood and - hopefully - appreciated.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Me, doing "my thing" on an Om Kolthoum favourite of mine.
Only true ROMANTICS who still believe in true love can dance Om Kolthoum.
Cynicals and cold people cannot. That s the only thing I am sure of when it comes to dancing the best material there is for Oriental Dance.
Leaving you all with some of the best dance goodies I can thank of.
Put together Joaquin Cortes, Baryshnikov and Gene Kelly (unfortunately not among us, anymore...) and just hand them to me on a plate. All I would need is a spoon.
Lord All Mighty for the BEAUTY of the world!
Talk about breath taking...
It is this LIFE force that I see as MAGICAL when it comes to the effect a brilliant piece of DANCE can have on human beings.
Julio Boca and Allessandra Ferri giving one of the best interpretations of "Romeu and Juliet" I ve ever seen. This is classical ballet, distant from technical empty fireworks, but FULL of REAL LIFE and ART.
Prokofiev s master piece, in my opinion.
The music just fits Shakespeare s play so divinely...all the nuances of the characters and the story emotional line translated into music in a perfect and HUMAN way.
This IS BREATH TAKING stuff...
I sigh, I sigh.....aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.................................
In another wonderful conversation I often have with Mahmoud Reda, we asked each other what was essential in a DANCER.
Mahmoud told me about technique and talent, creativity and understanding of the dance craft.
My answer was simple and concise:
"A dancer should be breath taking."
For me, as a DANCER myself, I consider my job done when I can take the breath of my audience away, even if for a few seconds.
When DANCE achieves THAT, I say there s a LIGHT, a moment of suspension and extreme emotion when DANCER and AUDIENCE are connected through their hearts and souls.
When your breath is taken away, it means something in your own organism is interrupted and questioned. Organs and cells stop, as if in awe or scared by something NEW and yet so familiar, for some undefined time and there is a MOMENT of absence from our normal world.
A dancer has to be breath taking. Period.
If not, Dance is just a beautiful connection of different movements, empty as balloons.
To be a DANCER is a work in progress.
The quality that turns a DANCER into an ARTIST able to touch people s minds, hearts and souls is a QUALITY , a DIVINE quality that - I believe ! - only God can give or take away from us.
Praying to always take my own breath away while dancing. The rest follows so naturally that it almost becomes common.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
"Every time we say good buy, I die a little"...
Cole Porter by the voice of the irresistible NINA SIMONE!
Just a little good buy from my blog followers (I ll be back, though!) with the hopeful certainty that after each sad "good buy" comes a new and happier "Welcome!".
"A Cairo stalker s classic"
Being stalked by despaired men in Cairo is as common for any woman as listening to the also classic "Welcome to Cairo" throwed at tourists with the funny, generous smiles egyptians carry so well.
Sexual harassment is a circular and recurrent theme of this blog simply because it reflects the truth about my life in Cairo. As a woman, as a foreigner, as a DANCER, as a FREE individual who chooses to express herself as she pleases and go wherever she wishes to, this kind of experience is just as present in my daily life as a morning teeth brushing.
Yet there are many kinds of stalkers around:
The ones who choose to spend their time calling women with sexual remarks and silly, empty, childish conversation attempts.
The ones who just say dirty things to women as they pass by in any public place.
The ones with money who stalk DANCERS - no kidding!- in the most dangerous, sneaky, evil and harmful way.
The ones who will actually grop women s bodies in public places.
The ones who will stalk women by car, following them until she agrees to get into the car or get a police man who will, most commonly, also harass her.
The ones who will stop their cars, park them and run after women trying to pick them up as they walk along the streets of Cairo.
From all the wonderfully disgusting array of Cairo sexual harassers, the ones I get more often are the professional ones - surrounding my work - the "dirty words" whisperers in the street and the stalkers who park their cars and walk by my side proclaiming their infinite love at first sight and inquiring me about the knowledge I may have of my own beauty (how much cheasier can this get???!!!)...
Here s an instant classic freshly baked from the Cairo pervert s woven (just happened last night):
After a friend of mine dropped me at home, I felt an urge to go down to the gasoline station near from my home to get a few bottles of ice tea (yes! Summer has finally arrived to our beloved Cairo!) and cookies.
Innocent task. Innocent enough.
As I was paying my goodies, I noticed a pair of good looking guys staring at me as if I was the reincarnation of Marylin Monroe (another common treat around here) and, fast in my intuition, I could preview the movie that would follow ("these guys are going to follow me...I just know it!", I thought to myself).
As I left the shop of the station, one of them followed me immediately and tried to start conversation but I, suddenly, changed the direction of my steps and he got disoriented and almost fell on the floor ("I wish!").
I started walking really fast towards my home and felt someone was running after me.
- Mademoiselle! - Mr. Creep bursted at me.
- Can I talk to you? - He insisted, even when I ignored him and continued walking.
-No, you can t. - I finally answered, without looking him at the face.
-Do you know how beautiful you are? - He persisted.
- Yes, I know. - I answered, with indifference.
-Can I know you? Invite you for a drink, for dinner, anything? I just want to know you better. Is it possible? - He shot at me in a hurry, seeing how I was sprinting and still refusing to look at him.
-No, you can t. - I said to him, dryly and starting to loose my already short patience.
- Can I speak with you?
-Can I take your phone number?
-Can you look at me?
-Am I bothering you (duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...........)?
- YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - I yelled at him, ready to put down my grocery bags and punch him on the face as I had to do on many other occasions.
He finally quit walking along with me but allowed himself to sink even lower by persisting on the pleading about going out with him until I disappeared from his visual horizon.
Now...again and again...I stress an essential point over here: What kind of MAN who is worth being called as such would put himself in such a deep shit in order to pick up a stranger from the street?!
Yeah, yeah...we all know about women in the Middle East being, generally, treated as meat for instant consumption and male pleasure.
We all know - and some of us feel it on their own skins - about Women s rights or the absence of them.
We all know about women being chosen by the male buyers as cheap cattle and yet, the more I observe men s behaviour in Egypt (Middle East included here), my pity and misericordy goes to THEM.
I ended up seeing the predators as the victims because it is so damned shameful the place where they insist on putting themselves, like hungry, desperate dogs in search of a mate.
Very SAD, dear gentlemen.
What about a little, just a little, self respect?
Monday, May 23, 2011
And what a great lesson it is to understand that dance is defined from within and that small steps can make us fly.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The lucky of the few...finding the perfect partner in dance as in life!
Margot and Nureyev symbolize that match made in heaven with all the shoks and tribulations but with the unique shine that SPECIAL combinations produce.
This was one of the most fantastic dance duo of all times.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Cairo, the 21st May, 2011
My latest discovery: the body needs times of rest in order to assimilate all its creations and experiences.
Some times, the best dance exercize you can offer your body is sleep or a quiet time observing what happened to it in recent (or past) times...Listening to it, just listening.
No pushing and no action.
Oh, don t you all look so surprised...yes, this is a discovery for me, even if I always knew, theoratically speaking, that the muscles and the cells need time to digest physical exercise, any kind of exercize.
That might include dance, if the logic of my brain is not failing me in a very obvious way.
Then why would I suppose that, after performing non-stop for the last 5 years, my body would not need a silent/quite time to recover and internally DIGEST all I ve been learning and creating?!
Digestion time...yet ready to new banquet/new creation time
(oh, yeah...I may have discovered the wonders of digestion/quite time for my body but I am still a dance maniac...in case you didn t notice it until now!).
Still eating "full and tameya" with my bare hands...
once you are born from the "people of the earth" you never quite loose your original ground.
So thankful for my "fellahin" family who gave me the connection to the ground and the wise humbleness of the simple people.
And nobody should be surprised to see me in Sakarah, Egypt, eating vegetables and "baladi" bread with peasants ("fellahin"), sitting on the ground and putting the food in my mouth with my bare hands.
"Bint il balad" all the way, but always like a Queen!
Friday, May 20, 2011
Just another day in Paradise...
I´ve mentioned it several times and I will never quit doing it: one of the best things that has happened to me during this great adventure of my LIFE in Egypt is my friendship with my beloved teacher-grandfather Mahmoud Reda.
It is not even the dance he taught me or the continuous push to incentivate me to choreograph or all the precious knowledge and experience he has passed on to me.
What I truly treasure is the childish laughter, mutual respect and the pure love we ended up having for each other despite our age differences and the fact (I often forget) that he is the Number 1 authority in Egyptian folclore and a unique talented Genius in what he did in "Reda Troupe" and all over his career.
We sit and eat together, cracking jokes and naughty remarks so easily you could mistaken us for truck drivers sharing beers by a street roullotte.
He shows me his newest dance and I show him mine, telling him what my heart searches for right now in terms of music. We listen to old tapes together and comment on the zones that are more delicious to choreograph. We often agree and disagree, in the same proportion.
I ask for some Gene Kelly goodies and Mahmoud ends up watching it with me, for the 1000th time admiring the wonder of TALENT, yet he finds out an old VCR tape portraying old classical ballet pieces...as the children we are, always in love with dance and "knowing more of it", we watch it and talk about it, always LAUGHING and enjoying each other´s presence.
He´s there for me and I am always presente for him, even if physically absent.
We know there is a sacred, hidden garden that only belong to us.
I show him Billie Holiday and sing for him, he finishes the concert also singing for me and we laugh, laugh, laugh...
His studio is like a home to me and his presence is the closest I could ever ask as far as family is concerned.
And, because I am not blind, I can see a treasure when it is in front of me and I say THANK YOU.
And, as usual, that´s the only prayer that IS.
Cairo, the 19th may, 2011
Courage (priviledge of a few...).
"In the beginning there is not much difference between the coward and the courageous person.
The only difference is, the coward listens to his fears and follows them, and the courageous person puts them aside and goes ahead. The courageous person goes into the unknown in spite of all the fears."
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Baryshnikov talking about one of the best classical ballet masters of all times: Alexander Pushkin.
Watching this video reminds me of my first steps in dance and as I started learning the craft at the Classical Ballet Conservatoire at the age of 5 years old.
When I was 16 years old, ready to choose to become a professional classical dancer, I left behind Classical Ballet and never looked back because I knew, by then, that art might have been my essential base but was not my CALLING.
Classical ballet was too conservative and restrictive for me. You could not go out of the stipulated structure or move your body in any way it felt. You had to obbey and accept the movement others would impose and I was never good at obedience...
Since I had begun learning ballet, I felt caged into a golden prison where beauty and pain mixed together in a very alluring and dangerous way.
I wanted to be free and faithful to my wild nature and my teachers often complained I didn t control my hips and hands (I wonder from where did it come from! Hmmmm....any guesses?).
I didn t decide NOT to be a professional classical ballet dancer with anger or sadness, although I cried like a baby everytime I watched ballet pieces after that, but I remained loving it in silence, from far...searching for my TRUE mission in dance which ended up being Oriental Dance.
This video also reminds me of the discipline, hard work and humbleness I was taught into. Those are gifts from my past and I am deeply grateful for them.
If I still dance classical ballet?
Sure I do.
Often alone, as a personal training no one, except my own critical mirror, watches. It s a memory lane trip and keeps me rooted, flexible, connected with the place I first learned from.
And yes, I still cry every time I see a good classical ballet performance. I cry due to the emotion - if the dancers are good - and due to my own longing and memories of a full past at the barre repeating and repeating a certain movement or combination until it was what others considered PERFECT.
I came from a world where BEAUTY and artistry cannot be achieved without pain and arrived to Oriental Dance where hard work is always combined with pleasure and never going against my body s nature and instincts. It has been quite a ride!
So many things a dancer is made of...so many.
Yet this was my womb and you always return to the womb.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The worst kind of ambition (arrogance?)
Worst kind of arrogance, to be ambitious without being a total bitch!
Specially when it comes to Women - in particular in a country like Egypt or any other in the Middle East - ambition is a delicate subject to discuss.
I ve been used to watch as dancers step on another dancers (this applies, unfortunately, to all artistic areas) in order to achieve their goals.
I ve had low tricks and attacks played on me by famous dancers (egyptian and foreigner) who act like Divas on their own right but, as I discovered, are simple nut unscrupulous women who will do quite "anything" to get where they wish to get.
I have the worst kind of ambition.
I refuse to prostitute my body, mind and soul for the sake of my ambition.
I also refuse to harm others or attack them back *(after they try to screw me as if I was the biggest danger in their lives and all they have to do is to eliminate me and then their lives will be just perfect!).
Being honest and kind, in this country, is seen as a weakness, a fault in your character, some kind of fragility. If you REFUSE to be bad and CHOOSE to do GOOD then you are seen as a weak person. This is just how it is.
My ambition is the WORST and I repeat the WORST kind of ambition.
I do not lick any "pasha" s boots (or anything else, for that matter) in order to have professional benefits. I do not show any rich guy my breasts or talk smoothly dirty with him (speciality of most egyptian dancers) to get "WHAT I WANT".
I hate the simple idea of harming another dancer in order to benefit myself and I take any idea of doing it as a mortifying humiliation from my part. I have the nerve - arrogance! - to believe that my talent and professional abilities will do JUST fine and speak for myself.
I don t beg for the favours of the influential people and I don t smile to anyone, if I don t feel like doing it.
I am seen as a weak person from many - the ones who think I could not be bad without knowing that I COULD but I choose not to - or as an arrogant ass by many others who think I should bow and kiss the feet of "pashas" of every level in order to reach my goals.
I have this terrible- yes, worst! - kind of ambition.
Living and respecting myself as a WOMAN (and yes, a kind of queen!) is a sin around here.
Smart asses who know how to fake a hand shake and prostitutes are the HEROS of the day.
Do I have any intention of changing?!
As any of my detractors would tell you, I have NO intention of doing it. It is INDEED a kind of arrogance from which I am so damned proud.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Magnificent Prokofiev and the GENIUS of my beloved Rudolf Nureyev (one of my eternal crushes)...
Ah, if Shakespeare could see this immense beauty!