Monday, April 30, 2012
Egyptians are divided...
And it is not only by politics, religion, superficial opinions about this and that. Oh no...the divisions are much deeper than that.
It is no surprise than, after so many centuries of oppression, egyptians have developed different faces&personalities in order to survive around masters, dictators, injustice. When it comes to ORIENTAL DANCE, their own Art and a huge part of their identity, the question gets even more messed up and contradictory. Their mind has been fed with lots of prejudices, repression *(sexual, emotional, physical, mental, spiritual...you name it!) but their HEART remains INTACT, still pure and carrying the MEMORY of the true PURPOSE and MEANING of their DANCE.
While dancing in a private party, I observed as an egyptian couple was deeply delighted and following my every movement. Their eyes were filled with tears of joy and recognition, their chests were opened and a beautiful light seemed to come out ot them as if by magic...
As I socialized with the guests after my performance, they came to talk to me and I tried to push the lady to dance with me for a while. This was when her husband ordered her *(???Never got around the notion of a man ORDERING a woman!) to sit still and do not DARE to move.
-"Enti arfa il raks haram!" /You know the dance is forbidden by God - He told me, as apologizing.
Wow...this couple who, moments before, was FEELING how ELEVATED and BEATIFUL dance was to the point of MAKING THEM FEEL THEIR OWN HEARTS AND SOULS was NOW talking from their minds and, therefore, considered the whole deal a plain and caustic "NO-NO".
And this is how most people live around here. Divided. Their minds separated from their hearts. Their bodies as enemies of their souls. When will the REUNION of all these parts happen and people are allowed, once again, to be HUMAN?
And this is what you do when you have the BEST "taabal" in Egypt working with you. Every show is a fresh surprise, an excitement, an improvisation that comes from the heart with PASSION and total commitment.
One more reason to join us at the 4th CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP,
this Friday (*4th May) at Dansation school.
Dancing to percussion is not the mechanical stray of movements I see in most cases, it is a true expression of your wild nature, it is returning to the day you were born: wild, happy, innocent and FREE!
Join us at the 4th CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP with LIVE TABLA, this Friday *4th May at Dansation! The deal is pretty much clear: LEARNING how to DANCE, BE YOURSELF and rediscover an ANCIENT ART FORM which was, originally, used to comunicate with Divinity. Prejudices and ignorance can come and go but the TRUTH remains untouched. Come and FEEL it once more, it will be a ride you´ll never forget! One of my favourite percussionista will be playing for us at the workshop (TABLA) and we will focus on the RHYTHM & the HEART. From 6pm till 9pm at Dansation (#6, El Gazaer Street, behind Atlas Hotel, Mohandessin). Welcome to the PARTY (fun & art...) J.
“The lotus is a flower that grows in the mud. / O lotus é uma flor que cresce na lama. The thicker and deeper the mud,/ Quanto mais profunda é a lama, The more beautiful the lotus blooms”/ Mais belo é o florescer do lótus. This thought is expressed in the Buddhist chant:/Este pensamento é expresso pelo canto Budista: Nam myoho renge kyo.”
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Leaving you all with upcoming EVENTS and the usual PASSION, a MUST* in everything I do:
***4th CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP with LIVE PERCUSSION on the 4th May, from 6pm till 9pm at Dansation (all infos in this Blog- see past posts). Me and one of my favourite percussionists will introduce the REAL* pleasure and richness of Oriental Dance through Rhythm, the Heart and the Passion.
***11,12,13th May - "Weekend Bellydance" in Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA - Honoured to be in this AMAZING city for the second time, PERFORMING and TEACHING! Find "Bellydance Weekend" infos on the Facebook (Martin Salvatierra)
***19, 20th May - Workshops in Portugal (19th -Lisbon, 20th- Oporto).
***26,27th May - IRELAND- "Shakefest" at Chasterville Castle, near from Dublin. Then again, very happy to be Teaching, Performing and giving a Conference at this incredible venue. The whole event will happen in the castle itself...MAGIC***in the air, folks!
***Return to Cairo for brand NEW SHOWs with my orchestra and the first long term
CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE COURSE - Empowering Women through Oriental Dance!
***SPECIAL ATTENTION to the FESTIVAL "SALAMAT MASR" in July, here in Cairo.
I will be teaching and performing at it, side by side with Mona el Sayed, Zizi Mustafa and many other GREAT names of the ORIENTAL DANCE HISTORY.
NOTE for the SOULs:
”To dance is to live. What I want is a school of life.”
- Isadora Duncan
*This incredibly sad and beautiful song while watching the sun go down in the heart of Cairo.
*Singing "Misty" with my dearest Teacher and Friend, Master Mahmoud Reda. Singing together, fitting words in each other´s blank spots.
*Kissing like there is no tomorrow.
*Listening the "purrrrrrrr" of cats close to my ears and the little bodies vibration that go with it.
*Surprising myself (POSITIVELY).
*Discovering how much I love, after all, Naguib Mahfouz writing (Egyptian Nobel Prize of Literature).
*Listening to the birds outside my window and eating THAT* light - slightly sunny and smooth - that comes through my window when YOU´re around. And, notice!, you´re ALWAYS around.***
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Welcome to the 4th CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP
by Joana Saahirah
From 6pm till 9pm at Dansation school (Mohandessin, Cairo)
THEME: RHYTHM & the HEART with LIVE PERCUSSION by one of my favourite egyptian percussionists.
JOIN us and SURPRISE yourself while entering a brand new, exciting, fascinating WORLD!
Experience the REAL*** richness and beauty of Oriental Dance through PERCUSSION and its JOYFUL rhythms, feelings and expression.
***Price for the 3 hour Workshop: 150 LE WITH LIVE PERCUSSION (TABLA)
******LIMITED PLACES available so be sure to subscribe to the WORKSHOP until Thursday, the 3rd May.
To subscribe, you can send your name and contacts to the email: email@example.com, through a message to Joana Saahirah of Cairo on the Facebook OR
subscribe directly at DANSATION school:
"DANSATION" school, 6 El Gazaer St. Mohandesseen, Behind Atlas Hotel - Giza
Tel: 02 33048247
Mob: 0100 0850153
What eyes are educated to perceive today will become tomorrow´s prejudice.
It´s an old talk, the one of the way ORIENTAL DANCERS are perceived in Egypt and the Middle East. I grew up inside different art forms (classical ballet and others, acting, singing, painting, writing,etc) thanks to my parent´s open and advanced minds. Through that wide and early artistic active life, I was taught to see myself as an WHOLE system of blessed and complementary parts. My body fits my mind and my heart fits my soul. No part is superior to the other. No piece of me is prone to be smashed by my inner devils because I cherish it. ALL.
Never did I perceive the human body as shameful, dirty, uncontrollable, primitive (in the negative sense of the word) or a "work of Satan". Christianity and Muslim religions (the one I grew up in and the one I currently live in) seem to view the HUMAN BODY as a distraction, to say the least, from the most superior spiritual realms. An obstacle to the religious person´s ascention to purity, a Devil´s tool to make us fall into temptation and so forth.
Isadora Duncan, the famous mother of Modern Dance and a (LOVE) religious person herself once said: "The body of the dancer is the soul´s luminous manifestation." What a contrast between this quote and the ones of priests, sheikhs, so called "religious" individuals.
In a society where the human body, specially the FEMALE, is considered shameful, dangerous, weak to the temptations of the flesh, shameful and object of tight CONTROL, LIMITATIONS and CRITICS, ORIENTAL DANCE and DANCERS cannot be seen like anything other but PROSTITUTES. As ARTISTS, we use our creative tool - body, mind, heart and soul - to COMUNICATE with others. If that creative tool is seen, in normal circumstances, as a Devil´s work, then we represent the DEVIL. It is logical and sad.
Only when the nature and richness of the HUMAN BODY is known, respected and FREED can ORIENTAL DANCE and DANCERS be understood and cherished. Until that happens, we´re just a provocative signal of this (and all) time´s decadence.
Change mentality and you´ll change DANCE, DANCERS and the WAY they are represented in egyptian society.
Malcom X once said: "I have a dream..."
Me too, Malcom...me too!***
(On the picture:*Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Wilding at home,1953)
Think it over, please...will you marry me?
It seems that, lately, my world has been deeply affected by male nonsense or, should I say, cultural shocks that really rock my world but not in a good way.
I ´ve come to terms with the fact that everybody is different and each brain (working or non-working) has its own path to see and deal with this relative world of ours.
I´ve also recognized that the culture, religion and mentality you are raised in have a strong effect on the adult you´ll become.
What I cannot seem to assimilate is the way most men I know around here ignore the very nature of LOVE, PASSION and, ultimately, relationships.
After a year over the first marriage proposal from this man (respected and well known singer, a gentleman and an intelligent, well travelled person himself), he returned to the chase after I answered him with a blank "No, thank you. I am not in love with you so I cannot marry you". During this last year, he tried to get me close to him in very delicate (and unsuccessful) ways to no avail.
Now notice something: I respect this man. I even like him. I just don´t LOVE HIM. He was brave enough to put all the cards on the table and not going for the usual "best friend/brother who wants to take you to bed" thing. He belongs to a rare species of GENTLEMEN who honestly tell you what they want, plan and feel and ask you if you´re interested. So I could not be mad at him. I HAD to respect him for the risk of receiving a "NO" on his face (which he did) but never expected that, after an whole year, he would return with the question:
-Did you think about it better?! I love you and want to marry you (and many other beautifful and, apparently, sincere stuff).
-The question is not if I think or not. The question is if I FEEL and I don´t. I was not in love with you a year ago and I am not in love with you now.
-But you can change your mind, if you give me the chance to be close to you and show you more of who I am.
-It doesn´t go like that. I am a LATIN, LATIN, LATIN hot tempered woman, my dear. When we see a man, we know if there´s a chance for a love relationship within the first five minutes on his presence. It does not take time, patience or conformity to realize if I am interested or not.
-Is it because you´re still in love with your ex? ´Cause I can wait, if you need or make you forget him.
-No, no, no. I am not in love with any ex boyfriend. That´s not it. I am just NOT IN LOVE WITH YOU.
No matter how much I tried to explain it to him, it was hopeless. It seems the concept of "BEING in LOVE" is totally foreigner to these men. The ones who wish to marry search for the PERFECT CANDIDATE (beautiful, honest, mother figure, humble and respectful, etc) as another type of check list that she must fulfil ignoring that FALLING in LOVE has nothing to do with perfection, practical choices or candidates for a post/job. It is CRAZY, it is IRRATIONAL, it is UNEXPECTED and VISCERAL. It is a moment of SOUL RECOGNITION that takes your breath away. It is a "cannot live without him" kind of feeling right in the center of your chest. It is an extra, JOYFUL heart beat inside of you every time you know you´re going to be together. It is a God´s gift, a miracle no cientist could explain until today.
Ah! Feeling frustrated and in a TRULY foreign land. Someone out there from Planet Earth, please...Someone???
Monday, April 23, 2012
The 4th CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP is arriving to town...
By Joana Saahirah (that would be me!) and one of my favourite "taabals" (percussionist who plays the "tabla").
It will happen this 4th May (4th Workshop on the 4th May- nice numerological syncrony) at Dansation, from 6pm till 9pm.
MAIN THEME: RHYTHM and the HEART.
More details will follow very soon...
Welcome, beautiful WOMEN of CAIROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Too smart for my own good.
If you´re an Oriental Dancer living and working in Cairo you will find your intellectual life as the focus of deep enquiry and surprise. No one expects you to be intelligent, educated, well travelled or cosmopolitan.
There is this recurrent gasp of surprise at my brains:
-I could never imagine you´re THAT intelligent!
Oh, really? What would you expect then? That I would be illiterate and spend my evenings picking at my nose?
Dancer´s image is STILL on the darkest side of this brilliantly absurd coin of egyptian/arab mentality. The fact that you´re a dancer AND you have a working brain is a SHOCK for most people you´ll meet. When they inquire about my educational background, how many languages I speak and write and how much I know of so many different subjects (from Art to Politics, from History to Biology) they simply go MAD. Their brains cannot, JUST CANNOT, accept that a DANCER can be more than an empty body seductively used for men´s enjoyment.
Note on the devilish side of me: ´Starting to enjoy the SHOCKED expressions of the ones who get to know me better and find out that the prejudice they attached to me does not FIT at all.
Witches (and Dancers)are people too!
Yes, they seem to be.
Although I doubt it when a lady forbids her husband from talking to me after a show or a husband forbids his wife from getting up from her seat and dancing with me.
It is not surprising or that hurtful anymore but it always gives me that chilly sensation that I must suffer from a weird sort of skin disease.
It´s a "Oh, she´s a "rakasah"...keep your distance or she´ll contaminate you" kind of feeling, you see?! Not very civilized, I might say. But, strangely enough, the ones who keep their distance due to the prejudice are the least civilized of all (they just don´t know it yet!).
Dear egyptian politicians (or something like that). I love Egypt, we all love Egypt and what Egypt needs is not - REALLY! - a restrictive political agenda that focus on porno websites and women´s clothing. That is NOTHING when compared to the GENERAL CORRUPTION you need to clean up, the EMPLOYMENT system and JOB CREATION you need to implement, the EDUCATIONAL system you need to redefine and improve, the HEALTH CARE you need to HUMANIZE.
A lot of time and energy is being wasted on subjects that only matter to empty head, sick people. Covering a woman´s head or body will NOT bring prosperity to the country. Judging homossexuals or pointing fingers at fallic shaped vegetables and fruits will not solve the URGENT problems our Egypt needs to see approached.
REAL POLITICS is about improving CITIZEN´S LIFE QUALITY and that does not include turning them into mental retards with your lunatic, paleolithic ideas of what a DEMOCRATIC STATE should be.
Adress the REAL issues that will FEED, EDUCATE, TAKE CARE of egyptian´s LIFE and brigther future. That will be much more appreciated than "pseudo-religious" bullshit.
JoanaS.(the "rakasah", one of your most beloved public enemies).
On convenient marriage proposals.
It is known that the career of a Dancer in Egypt is, in 99,9% of the cases, linked to the men she dates/marries/goes to bed with. Part of that garbadge that you end up finding here comes from a classical proposal that visits you and revisits you every once in a while.
As a foreigner dancer you are under very restrictive and unfair laws (different from the laws applied to egyptian dancers). This makes your work, legal papers required and daily life quite tiring and unconvenient, to say the least.
One of the famous tricks foreigner dancers are prone to go along with is marrying an egyptian in order to have their husband´s nationality and, therefore, enjoy the legal rights and benefits of egyptians. The problem with this "little trick" is that you are supposed to marry a man you don´t love, like or even can stand JUST for the sake of your career. If some women are able to coldly live, sleep with and have children from men they don´t love, I am - unfortunately - not one of them. Blame it on the latin blood (too hot tempered for my own good!) or my christian education. Blame on the weather, the pride or the prude in me. But I just CANNOT do it.
I´ve recently received ANOTHER convenient marriage proposal and I sure know how much easier, in some ways, my life would be:
1. I would have egyptian nationality and benefit from laws and a FREE working system (as a foreigner, I can only sign ONE contract, not more...as an egyptian, I can sign as much contracts as I wish, hence, spread my networking and professional horizons on a much wider scale as well as making some money instead of working like hell and not keeping a dime for myself).
2. I would not be submitted to the constant limitations, complications and mess applied to laws regarding foreigner dancers in Egypt.
3. I would have a husband working on the same field who would protect me from other "hunters", organize my working agenda and promote me instead of doing it all by myself.
Yeah...being an ROMANTIC who would only marry for LOVE and DEEP RESPECT for a MAN (with a capital "M") has its price and I´ve been paying it for quite some time. Although temptation strikes, once in a while, I am too much of MYSELF to accept being less than a WOMAN, a QUEEN, an ARTIST, a PERSON I am actually fond of.
Sexual harassment in Cairo...PART XVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII.
First of all, my apologies to the amazing ACTOR Ryan Gosling (in the picture) who is here, in all its immense beauty and charm, being used as an illustration to another sad subject.
Sexual harassment in Cairo has been an issue under debate for quite some time through egyptian and foreigner women´s voices. It became REALLY out of the common record when you reached a point of NEVER going out in the street without listening sexual and offensive comments from men. The post-Revolutionary period is proving to be harder than we thought on everyone and on many levels. Men´s even wider frustration shows its thorns at this time, more than ever.
If unemployment was a HUGE problem before the Egyptian Revolution (January, 2011), it became an even bigger problem after it. There are more men without jobs and that means:
1. Men hanging around streets and coffee-shops in a total state of nervous breakdown. They don´t know how to feed their families, if or when they will get their jobs back or get their first job ever. Uncertainty and economic hopelessness DEEPLY affects men´s self esteem and mental balance, specially in a society where they are valued - or despised - regarding the MONEY they earn. A man without a job, money, home, car and the whole material circus is equal to ZERO in egyptian society so a crescent unemployment has a strong, destructive grip on them.
2. When their MALE pride is on the floor, frustration and anger arise and the ones who pay for it are WOMEN. These fragilized, frustrated unemployed individuals feel less than a MAN when they´re not able to earn money and sustain themselves and a family. So their free, empty, sad time is applied on throwing their frustration on the women to dare to walk in the streets.
These factors do not take the responsability from perverts who think it is OK to sexually harass women but they explain, somehow, why we see so many men - more and more as we speak - giving a hellish time to every body from which a skirt is hanging.
Change ECONOMY, CREATE more - and FAIR - employment opportunities for both women and men as there will not be so much space and time for foolishness and sick behaviours. Like it or not, these are the REAL POLITICAL issues that the future Government has to worry about. Not if women wear veils or not, bikinis or "burqas".
It all goes down to the same point: USE YOUR BRAINS, dear people!
Define GOOD, please. ´Cause, as I am learning, there are as many concepts of GOOD as clouds in the sky.
I thought being GOOD would mean HONESTY, KINDNESS, COMPETENCE, GENEROSITY, COMPASSION and so forth and, suddenly, I discover that it also means - for a LOT of people - being a smart ass, fooling others, cheating, lying, cutting other people´s legs in order for one shine, playing games, being cruel.
I am CONFUSED. Just a little...define GOOD, please. PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
On Men´s hidden agendas- Part (who knows?)
It is not the first time I mention the outrage I often feel on the way most egyptian/arab men treat women. Sure I know about the educational/mentality/society conditioning and that people are - in a considerable measure - a product of their environment but still shocks me to see how CONCEPTS like MEAT HUNTING and LOVE are totally mixed up in these gentlemen (or should I say: cave men?)´s heads. From what I observe, none of them has a remote clue on the REAL meaning of FALLING in LOVE with a woman. They simply write down on their dirty agendas:
1. Prey or piece of meat #1 (Joana, the Dancer...UAAAAAAHHH AHHHH AHHH AHHHHH AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!)
2. Prey or piece of meat #2 (Mona)
3.Prey or piece of meat #3 (Linda)
4. Whoever wears skirts and looks like a milking cow on the heat.
It is disgusting, sad, pitiful how they will pretend to be someone they´ve never been, engage in a "I´m your brother/best friend" false talk and try, over and over until complete exhaustion, to haunt you down. No OPEN AGENDAS because that would mean HONESTY (gossips say this will cause you skin irritation and leave you blind within a week, so be aware of this contagious disease some eccentrics call "honesty"..bllgghh!). An OPEN AGENDA would also mean receiving a direct "NO, I am not interested in you as a man. So sorry!" and that goes against all that the MALE EGO of egyptians/arabs is about. For all records, they were never interested in you, NEVER. They just tried to, delicately, get you in bed until they see they ain´t gonna eat from that plate and pass on to second choices of haunting preys.
These hunters may be old enough to be your father, boring enough to make you fall asleep, ugly (inside and out) to make you retreat to Amazonia jungle and never come back but they are, apparently, CONFIDENT as hell.
In fact, REALLY confident men do not hide their agendas. They are mature and brave enough to be honest, direct, respectful of you as a PERSON and take the risk to receive a "No, thanks!". They will not write down women´s names in their agendas, as a grocery shop list, but simply VALUE YOU as the PERSON they happened to fall in love with.
The sensation I get from these cave men is that they NEVER fell in love (which explains why they´re so plain and boring and...). They were "educated" to choose a "nice girl from a nice family" (or several as men are allowed to marry until four women at the same time), marry, procriate, cheat on their wife(s), eat, sleep and die. Although movies, songs and poetry speak about ROMANCE and LOVE that is helpless, fatal and a "can´t live without each other" kind, all of it remains within the illusionary universe of ART. In REAL LIFE people do not KNOW or experience REAL LOVE.
It is not like these cavemen fall in love with you. They don´t because they don´t even know how that happens, how to do it, if it will cause them an allergy like honesty does. They just pinpoint you as a good candidate for the job of serving him as the next doll on their shelf and go for it, getting closer to you "just as a friend", testing the waters again and again until they lose hope of getting you into bed and pass on to the leftovers (other women marked on their agenda).
Pitiful, ugly and ridiculous.
Small Glossary note: a FRIEND does not mean "someone you randomly call that way on the pursuit and hope of jumping into her pants/skirt". A FRIEND is NOT ("wallahi! NOT, NOT, NOT!) a GIRLFRIEND. You should know the difference since kindergarten.
A FRIEND is equal to a person you will cherish all your life for her own sake, no hidden agendas, no ulterior motives. Friendship justifies itself and it is, probably, the purest of all kinds of LOVE because you simply share Life´s ups and downs together with no expectations associated with passion, couple´s emotional luggage or anything else. A FRIEND is like a brother/sister you chose for yourself, it is NOT(!!!) a prey you´re trying to haunt in the sneakiest, most dishonest way.
Hope that´s clear.
"Cleanse...that perilous stuff which weights upon the heart.(...)
Therein the patient must minister to himself."
Macbeth, William Shakespeare
It was funny...now it is JUST ridiculous!
Yeah, it once was a reason to laugh: this tendence Egypt finds for the ABSURD and the NONSENSE. It produced great commedies, music, even dramas and dance. It served well to all of us who have a brain and, therefore, are critical of the ones who don´t. Now it is just getting way tooooooooo ridiculous to bare.
"Middan Tahrir" that was, only about one year ago, used for a NOBLE purpose (to demand a FREE and DEMOCRATIC Egypt with dignity and future for all)is being used to sell snacks, flags and political publicity for the so called "religious" extremists with beards, spots on their foreheads and CRAZY ideas of conspiracy and a new islamic state where vegetables like carrots and cucumbers will be banned as they arise people´s lower instincts.
What the hell is going on around here?! Never did I see so much lack of QUESTIONING, REASONING, SENSIBLE USE of our own birth given right: to THINK for ourselves.
"Wake up, Egypt!Before it is too late..."
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
The soundtrack of my SOUL at the present moment. This music talks to me, from me, through me, by me with no need for words. The Passion, the fears, the running and the stillness but, most of all, the infinite LOVE and FIRE that burns in my chest turning everything I do into LIGHT.
I Dance as I make Love.
I make Love as I eat.
I write as I sleep.
I listen as I cover my ears and vanish.
I fall in love as I get drunk with music and just HAVE to eat it, chew on it, make it my own voice, my own Existence.
This Music is ALIVE and fragile, strong in its deep vulnerability. This music is a WOMAN. Like me...
Monday, April 16, 2012
3rd CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP at Dansation (#6, El Gazaer Street,behind "Atlas" hotel, Mohandessin).
From 5pm till 8pm.
REDISCOVER YOURSELF AND THE TRUE ESSENCE OF ORIENTAL DANCE...
For further infos and subscriptions, please contact us through: firstname.lastname@example.org
Waiting for the Beautiful WOMEN of CAIRO, this FRIDAY (20th April)!
Time off from this cybernetic world to choreograph two brand new pieces for my soul and for May upcoming tour *(Argentina, Ireland, Portugal...) as well as for yet another Inspirated boost on my own BOOK writing. While the stage is a PUBLIC affair where you present a finished product, there are times when Artists have to retreat and WORK ON WHAT IS INVISIBLE TO THE PUBLIC.Here´s such a time.Now.
Going DEEP inside myself*** to find what´s been stored and asking to be released in the shape of BEAUTY and ART. Need time to remain inside my own heart´s walls. Alchemy time. Courage for the BIG JUMP time.
***Feeling afraid and excited about it, as usual. It is always an enigma on how things will turn out, if I´m going to be able to perform the way I wish to or simply fail a lot until I DO, if Interesting stuff will come out or not. It is an ADVENTURE. Scary and ESSENTIAL. You can run but you can´t hide.
Love,Passion and Courage to us all.
See u soon...
Egyptian politics have reached levels of ABSURDITY that I never, in my wildest imagination, could have conceived.
Check this candidate to the Presidency of Egypt speaking on television about the REAL meaning of the brand "PEPSI".
After I saw this video and realized how DARK things really are I just went to the corner of my home and threw myself into the Nile river. Got rescued by a crocodile who took pity on me or simply wanted to punish me even more by being ALIVE and having a brain which gets deeply hurt by this IMMENSE stupidity.
"Be afraid...be VERYYYYYYYYYYY afraid..."
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Inner battles (writing and choreographing)...
I´ve mentioned it before: Writing my own BOOK requires a similar process to choreographing new pieces. In both cases - writing and dancing - I am always searching within myself, at the realm of my INSTINCT and INTUITION, for brand NEW MATERIAL that is HONEST, FRESH, GROUND BREAKING. I am not good at copying what others did or I did. What´s done does not interest me anymore. It´s yesterday´s news.
In this DEMAND for INSIDE EXPLORATION I lose myself, my patience, my fears and also my joy, some times. The MAGICAL DOOR from which I ENTER my SUBCONSCIOUS is not always open. I try to sneak through it before the MIND guardian catches me and, in most cases,I succeed. But then there are those times when the door is so closed that all I come up with - words and movements - is less than INTERESTING to me. Then frustration comes, some negative thoughts arrive at my own smaller door and I think: "I can´t do this!". Many times...so many times that I get tired of the destructive talk and JUMP.
"Yalla! Whatever comes, go with it. Even if it is not what you feel excited about."
Eventually, INSPIRATION gets a hold of me and lays on my lap.
Creating from your RATIONAL side must be much easier...why did I have to be born an ARTIST?! Damn/bless it.
What Women want?!
An old question with lots of different answers.
There is not just ONE TYPE of WOMAN, you see...there are many kinds. Sure we can generalize and build characters who portray the majority of this or that kind of Woman but believe we are as varied as the countryside flowers on an early Spring day.
*Some Women want security in the shape of finantial and family structure to "assure" them they fit the mold. These, usually, marry and have children with men they can easily control (becoming a sad version of a police man)and have no great consideration for such things as LOVE, PASSION, FRIENDSHIP, EXCITEMENT, TRUE connection between them and "their" man. All they know is that they´re supposed to marry and procriate and they pay high prices for that picture.
Most women I know, here in Egypt, fit this cathegory.
*Other Women wish to be chased, flirted with, seduced, marvelled with their egos fed by men who know how to play the game. With or without finantial profit included. They have no wish to fit the mold society prescribes for them but they have also quit the ideal romantic of "REAL LOVE" between a man and a woman. They´re usually experienced women who have lived enough (and suffered too) in order to play with men the same way many of them play with women. Kind of sad, in their own free way.
The only ones who are allowed to act this way in Egypt are prostitutes.
*Then the third kind, VERY RARE nowadays, that actually look for the "El Dorado" of relationships. HONEST, TRUE, PASSIONATE, "Can´t live without each other" kind of LOVE. These rare species are like diamonds in an ocean of dirt. You can almost pass them by without noticing as they are transparent like the finest gems of jewelry.
Not looking for money, status, games and ego feeding sessions. They have no need to fit any mold, just the aspiration of "living happy ever after" with the man of their dreams.
In this case, children and a home are a CONSEQUENCE of a deep love and mutual understanding, NOT the GOAL of the relationship. Very often misunderstood, these WOMEN carry the flame of the ROMANTICS between their soft hands. Outcasts of hipocrisy, angels of sheets and moon light adventures we tend to read in great novels.
Gems often mistaken by common rocks by men who never held a diamond on their hands before.
They exist...you just have to open your eyes and SEE them***
Sent by a friend who thinks this quote describes me (I tend to agree).
Joana´s rule: In Life as in DANCE: I am FREE, I am nothing less than the BEST version of myself. The things or people which do not honour that are like drops of sweat I wipe off my skin.
Never settle for less than what you deserve and strive for GREATNESS in all you do so that your worth is always clear and obvious. To yourself, first and most of all.
Random moments of Pure Joy...
With friends, students,another dancer´s pets, myself...I am an easy laughter and joyful person. Blessed I am;)
Easy to burst into laughter and easy to burst into tears.Sometimes I think I am five years old.:))))))))
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Beauty is everywhere -part "lost count!"- and recurrent blindness.
It felt great to wake up with all my muscles sweetly hurting from last night EXPLOSIVE show. Having a cappuccino with a close friend at a quiet bookshop (books and good quality coffee...what else do you need to relax?!) and shopping for the house not quite feeling the floor under my feet.
On my return home, I had to stop and stare - MARVELLED like a rain drop - at a huge tree from which hundreds of dry leaves were falling at once, flying around, landing on me. It was a sudden miracle, another kind of explosion - very similar, though, to my last night show´s explosion - and all I could do was open my arms, hands and heart while giving back a HUGE smile to the tree. I stood there, receiving the leaf rain, covering me with all its beauty and wisdom.
An old man passed by and tried to save me from this beauty, indicating an alternative path from where I could escape this sudden phenomenon.
-No problem. I am fine. I´m enjoying it. - I told him, leaving him staring at me as if I was a lunatic in need of clinical treatment.
Everyone who passed by this area ran away from the leaves that were falling so intensely. They ran so much and in such a frightened way that you could presume it was an acid rain, and not a miracle, happening there.
I let them stare, running away, think frogs and hell about me and just closed my eyes, enjoying the bath God was offering me. Blissful. Blessed.
Happy like a Human Being. Ahhhhh....what a morning!
Back to the Basics.
Always.Insistently.No escape. The greatest questions come with the simplest answers while we search for complicated arguments that only satisfy the eager-ego.
Note from last night´s show at a WONDERFUL private party: BE YOURSELF. I mean: REALLY.
Don´t pretend to be whatever you´re not. In Life, as in Dance, be brave and natural. Other people react to naturality, spontaneity, truth, AUTHENTICITY. Occupy your body, mind, heart and soul as they are and don´t be afraid to show it.
When in doubt, BE YOURSELF.
When on stage, BE YOURSELF.
When LIVING, BE YOURSELF.
P.S. Last night audiences went mad with my "Seret il Hob" interpretation. Less movements, less freaking out, less effort. MORE FEELING, MORE SOUL, MORE "TELLING a STORY" with my body, face, movements and pauses. Music and SILENCE.
P.S.2 Egyptian audiences are the BEST!
Friday, April 13, 2012
Thank you, Farah, for this beautiful promotional video.
Can´t wait for this month of May and my so awaited return to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It´s gonna be a LOVE explosion over there...trust me, it WILL!:)))))))))))
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Apparently in the 1950s, a popular nightclub, Mocambo would not book Ella Fitzgerald because she was black. Fortunately for Ella, she had a powerful and unlikely benefactor Marilyn Monroe.
“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she promised she would take a front table every night. She told him - and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status - that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman - and ahead of her time and she didn’t know it.”
- Ella Fitzgerald
Posted by Wane Alen on the Fb
Women of Cairo: This EVENT is FOR YOU!
Learn the REAL SOUL of EGYPTIAN DANCE while rediscovering what you´re made of, as a WOMAN, as a HUMAN BEING. A very special*** kind of REVOLUTION of our own.
All details on this BLOG (see older post), on the FACEBOOK ("Joana Saahirah of Cairo" Fan Page) or through the email: email@example.com
Welcome...JOIN the PARTY.............................
Something you increasingly see in Cairo these days...
Someone, a genius of his/her own right, will come up with the idea of creating a school to learn "HOW TO RELATE WITH OTHER PEOPLE WITHOUT TOUCHING THEM BECAUSE THAT IS "HARAM".
Creativity around the block. Check!
Madness to think about the unthinkable. Check!
Emptiness in most brains. Check!Check!Check!
Easily inffluenced people. Check. BIG TIME.
Opportunistic commercial inventions to suit the brand new needs of the confused People of a post-Revolution that still DID NOT HAPPEN: Checkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!
This school will be opening soon. In a theatre near from you.
Random pearls of pure BEAUTY...
"But when he came into the world, he was looking for something else. Though heir to a name that meant power, land and property, surely when Orlando was born it wasn't privilege he sought, but company."
Posted on FB by Carlos Alves
Sufi music and dance at the deep heart of Cairo.
The Hussein (zone where the famous "Khan el Khalili" market can be found) is a treasure island to be discovered. Thanks to fellow musicians and dancers, I discovered another spot (not accessible to tourists) where Sufi musicians and dancers gather for soulful concerts. First, there is the mystical palace where the concerts take place. Fatimid and Mameluk buildings with that rare air of "A thousand and one Nights". You expect Shehrazade to come out from behind a curtain at any given moment...it is MAGICAL.
Then there is a funny mix between RELIGIOUS and SECULAR elements. Like sacredness and prophanity holding hands. Sheikhs - who are treated and act like super stars - praising Alah, the Prophet Mohamed and the "Koran", dancers of "tannoura" that REALLY believe in their own connection with God, through whirling, musicians who are, obviously, under the effect of some kind of drug and "shaaby" singers adding spices to the gathering.
How apparently opposite worlds touch is something interesting to observe. Nothing new in Egypt, may I add. Contrasts and opposites touching each other is a constant in this country. These evenings just have a certain "je ne sais quois" that leave me hanging between the sky and hell.
Egypt is crazy and Cairo is a madhouse. That is for SURE. But NEVER, EVER will I call BORING to this place. Everything BUT boring.
Survival mechanism for Cairo (the actual world, really!)residents.
If you´re not able to turn the FEELINGS button OFF, you´ll be surely screwed.
And that´s another chapter on the subject: how not to lose your HUMANITY when you have to live in the middle of a jungle where humans have lost that *** defines them.
Learn the lesson well, dear student!Homework for today. Reflect upon the subject -
Rare species: Human Beings. How to rescue them(US)?!
Of prejudices and other demons...
A kind egyptian lady comes to me at the end of my show, visibly confused. I just performed at her daughter´s wedding and her bases have been deeply shaken.
-Joana...I have to congratulate you for the show.
-Thank you very much.
-Your dance is...(searching for the right word)...Different from other belly dancers I´ve seen. Even better than egyptians.
-We knew you were beautiful and very professional but no one could expect you to touch our hearts and that´s what you do every time you move.
(Now I was the one searching for words to answer).
-Is this a new kind of dance you are inventing?
(My face grows weird and twisted, trying to make sense of what the sweet lady is telling me).
-Ahhh...not really. This is Oriental Dance, YOUR DANCE. EGYPTIAN DANCE. But I do it my way, more like an Art than just shaking. Got it?
-So that´s it. We were all wondering who taught you how to dance THAT way.
-Many great teachers have taught me but, in the end, it is the DANCE that I FEEL and all I want is the audience to FEEL it with me.
-Oh, really?! Yes, it is a different dance. Very glad that you´re not just a "belly dancer" like all the rest.
??? (Me, happy face but speechless...)
It is interesting to observe...
That most dancers I have the pleasure to teach in workshops around the world as well as in private sessions have a common comment that never ceases to surprise me.
Here´s the thing: When I am dancing, I am not "only" myself. I tryly expand into a state of nothingness that allows me to FEEL everything, except my own vain ego.
Apparently, this - and the fact that I carry Oriental Dance as my body´s natural language - seems to appear to others as something they, kindly, call "FREEDOM".
"You´re totally free when you dance...it´s like you´re flying..." - Are the kinds of sweet comments I hear repeateadly.
It sounds great but it always gets me surprised. Is there any other way to DANCE if not in a state of TOTAL FREEDOM?! Never heard of such thing.
It would be like breathing without inhaling the air.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Guilty as charged.
Guilty and proud of it. Of LOVING Om Koltoum´s music so much and suffering because of it.
You know, for sure, that you´re guilty as charged for the blind love of Om Kolthoum´s music when you leave an early show at a private party where you actually danced two themes of the Diva and run like a wild horse to the extreme end of Manial Roda in order to listen to the end of a conference about her.
You feel tired, full of sweat and in no mood for a long taxi ride till the end of the world (where Om Kolthoum Museum was built!)but you still grab your bags, make-up and still wet dance dresses and head on, courageously, to a conference.
You know that you´re mad about Om Kolthoum when you remain there, outdoors with mosquitos biting every tiny bit of your body, and have the patience to listen to a dutch "expert" who knows as much about the subject as I knew when I started learning Oriental Dance and thought "baladi" was an egyptian ballad for romantic lovers.
From the whole tortuous conference, here´s the only new things I learnt: That Om Kolthoum recorded a patriotic song dedicated to Iraq (called "The people of Iraq")and that there are old recordings of someone, who some experts suppose to be Om Kolthoum at a young age, reciting the "Koran".
The conferencist didn´t speak arabic but is considered an expert on Om Kolthoum. Eh?!(?!) How can you NOT speak/understand arabic and be an expert on Om Kolthoum which musical richness comes, in a great part, from the poetic lyrics she used to sing as well as the interpretation she offered each single word?!
Even then, I didn´t mind...red spotted skin from the mosquito bites, surrounded by kind, old egyptian men who are mad about Om Kolthoum, like me, listening to a boring gentleman throwing common sense information at us as if it was the discovery of the century. In between, we listened to long, LONG, LOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGG old songs from the ORIENT STAR (aka Om Kolthoum) and dreamt away with it.
Guilty as charged for this LOVE that never stops growing...
Sunday, April 8, 2012
3rd CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP
by Joana Saahirah*
The 20th April (Friday) from 5pm till 8pm at Dansation school (Mohandessin).
It is with such pleasure that I announce the 3rd Cairo Oriental Dance Workshop, this time dedicated to a VERY special subject that is a MAJOR part of the Egyptian Dance technique and learning process:
ORGANIC CREATIVITY from your body, mind, heart and soul. Going BEYOND the basic steps and coordenations. We will focus on REDISCOVERING our POTENTIAL to react to the MUSIC on a FREE, CREATIVE, FUN and ARTISTIC LEVEL.
We will dance with balloons, legs, hair,intuition, arms, hands, hearts and much more...Entering an UNIQUE and pioneer way of SEEING ORIENTAL DANCE and OURSELVES, as Women and Human Beings.
***Material required for the WORKSHOP:
Comfortable cloth, your favourite arabic music on a CD and a candle.
JOIN us and SURPRISE yourself while entering a brand new, exciting, fascinating WORLD!
***The 20th April (Friday) from 5pm till 8pm at Dansation school (#6, El Gazaer Street, behind "Atlas Hotel", Mohandessin)
***Price for the 3 hour Workshop: 125 LE
******LIMITED PLACES available so be sure to subscribe to the WORKSHOP until Thursday, the 19th April.
To subscribe, you can send your name and contacts to the email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through a message to Joana Saahirah of Cairo on the Facebook OR
subscribe directly at DANSATION school:
"DANSATION" school, 6 El Gazaer St. Mohandesseen, Behind Atlas Hotel - Giza
Tel: 02 33048247
Mob: 0100 0850153
Welcome, beautiful ladies!
The 3rd CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP is arriving!
And other miracles of...
Impossible is a word that does not fit into my brain. Maybe some kind of mental limitation that I am proud of (among others, of course...).
Therefore, I make a point on seeing ALL my dreams COMING TRUE. Some have been with me for quite some time, some arise from the most unexpected places, at the most inconveniente times.
****Living and performing in Egypt with my own orchestra, being understood and loved by egyptian audiences (in my live performances) and others all over the world as an ARTIST is a DREAM that already came true.
I am lucky to receive - from God, the Angels and who knows whom else! - the INSPIRATION and PASSION to present ORIENTAL DANCE as an ART form and not as the plain acrobatic exercize I see in most dancers of this genre. What my body, heart, mind and soul produce are nothing but miraculous gifts that I borrow from a higher source. For that I am deeply grateful.
****The second BIG dream, which brought me to Egypt, was to write my own BOOK about what it REALLY means to be a WOMAN and an ORIENTAL DANCER in the birth place of this Art. Not a theoric book like some have written (with a special reference to the amazing Wendy Buonaventura and her classic "The Serpent of the Nile")but a personal account with an insight perspective of someone who has been there, done it and suceeded at it WITHOUT selling her body and soul to the devil. This is no small feat, I may tell you that!
After five years of life and daily work as an Oriental Dancer in Egypt, I finally got the material, maturity and right impulse to write THIS book. I have been doing it, on and off, for the past year. Never imagined what HARD, HARD, HARD work it would be. But it is gaining form and I can already see its shape, flavour and aroma.
Finishing my book and daring to show it to potential publishers...Happening NOW.
****Taking my Passion and Knowledge of Oriental Dance and Egyptian Folclore to the World through shows, workshops and conferences. Changing people´s mentality towards the subject and crashing prejudices, ignorance and unfair ideas about the Middle East, North Africa and what these cultures have to teach us and offer us.
Happening too...NEXT TOURS: ARGENTINA, PORTUGAL, IRELAND, SPAIN.
****Then a brand NEW dream that just showed up in my garden, practically unannounced:
"WOMEN OF EGYPT BLOOMING", a project to promote my own events in Egypt dedicated to EMPOWERING WOMEN through EGYPTIAN MUSIC, DANCE and CULTURE as well as the EVENTS and INSIGHTS of other Women who, like me, do not give up on BEING the BEST VERSION of THEMSELVES.
The NEXT event will be the 3rd CAIRO ORIENTAL DANCE WORKSHOP on the 20th April.
Much more will come...
Dreams come true when you dare to FIGHT for them, follow them, sacrifice and work hard for them and, above all, never GIVING up on them! It takes a WARRIOR to be an accomplished DREAMER who is also, don´t doubt, an achiever from the SOUL/to the SOUL!