Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Return to Spain (Barcelona) this November!

So happy to announce that I ll be teaching and performing once more in Spain, Barcelona this November. More details will follow!

Quote of the Day:

"While performing in Egypt, I learnt that dancing Om Kolthoum is finding a sacred balance between stillness and movement. Silence and music. Death and Life...As if they were ONE and the same (because they actually are)."

Author: me. Taken from my own BOOK...

Joana Saahirah on TheBellydancers.Tv

Everything I do (Dancing for fun, Performing, Teaching, Choreographing or Writing) is a CONFESSION. Too personal, some say...too strange, anothers will claim. Impossible to put on a shelf, critics add. It is just WHO I am widely opened on the table, no disguises, no wanting to be perfect, no masks, no Ego. Just Art...because Art, for me, is always personal and YES!, confessional. It s a great sign that it annoys so many people.;)
(Beautiful pictures of me conceived by Monir Mahmoud)

It is with great pleasure that I see some POSITIVE things being done within the Oriental Dance promotion in the world. While this Art tends to die - at a frightening pace - in Egypt, the whole world is falling in love with it, proving that Art knows no nationality. It belongs to the Soul of the World.
Here´s a GOOD thing: TheBellydancers.Tv 

Follow my channel there through the links:



Sunday, July 22, 2012

What a mirror!

  • OMG!
     If I already didn´t love Baryshnikov, then I would fall for him now. This quote is exactly 
    what I´ve been doing, teaching and speaking about since forever. Seeing I have such splendid company is nothing less of miraculous. 

    No further comments required.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Joana Saahirah of Cairo on television show

Edited version of television show "Portuguese in the world" with Joana Saahirah of Cairo.
English subtitles included.
A sneak peak at the LIFE of a foreigner Oriental Dancer in Egypt!

A little BIOgraphy of mine...

Joana Saahirah of Cairo *

Joana Saahirah is, currently, one of the most respected and well known Oriental Dancers in Egypt and in the world.

She performs with her orchestra in Cairo and travels around the world as a guest artist&teacher in major Oriental Dance Festivals.

Actress, dancer, choreographer, teacher of Egyptian Oriental and Folkloric Dance and World Dances *(flamenco, latin american dances, Argentinian tango, African, classical ballet, etc).
Also a columnist writing for magazines and newspapers with which she often collaborates. Her first book about Dance and her life as a dancer in Egypt will be published this year.

Joana Saahirah was born in Portugal and received a wide education both academically and artistically that included several art forms *( dance, music, singing, acting, etc).

Aside from her regular studies, Joana S. entered the Classical Ballet Conservatoire at the age of 5 and there she studied Classical and Modern Ballet till the age of 16.
During these years, she covered the study of many other dance styles (jazz, African, Latin American, Flamenco) and applied for the Cinema and Theatre Conservatoire to which she entered with honours, earning a scholarship to deepen her acting studies at the “Real Escuela de Arte Dramatico” in Madrid, Spain.

She started working on television and theatre while discovering the Art of Egyptian Oriental Dance which took her to visit Egypt in a series of study trips that would change and determine her life.

She left Portugal and headed to the Middle East where she performed in Lebanon, Qatar, Oman and Egypt where she has been living and working for the last five years.
After studying with some of the best teachers of the world in the area of Egyptian Oriental Dance and Folclore ( Souhair Zaki, Nagwa Fouad, Mona El Said, Azza Sheriff, Mahmoud Reda and Farida Fahmy –both known for the “Reda Troupe”, etc) and mixing her personal and professional experiences in the stages of the Middle East and Egypt, she has created her UNIQUE style, both personal and deeply Egyptian.
Joana has studied all kinds of Egyptian Folclore from the hands of the Master Mahmoud Reda, Father of Egyptian Dance and founder of the “Reda Troupe”.
She has travelled around the world to teach with Master Mahmoud Reda, assisting him in his teaching  as well as in his choreography challenges.

Due to the recognition of her artistic success in Egypt, Joana has been invited to perform, choreograph and teach all over the world for the past two years (United States, Latin America, Europe,etc)as well as the Galas of "CAIRO AHLAN WA SAHLAN" and "SALAMAT MASR" FESTIVALS.
She has also written articles about Egyptian culture and art for several Portuguese magazines and newspapers.

Although Egyptian Oriental dance is still not recognized as a form of ART – as once happened with another ethnic dances such as Flamenco – it is Joana s dream to bring that knowledge into the world and present this ancestral, magical Dance in all its true beauty and richness.

Joana Saahirah´s dream is to see Oriental Dance recognized as the ARTISTIC/HEALING tool that it really is. Bringing back the Soul of Oriental Dance!

Find Joana Saahirah of Cairo at the Facebook and Youtube.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Joana Saahirah of Egypt

Repost dedicated to all my fans, students and fellow dancers around the world. My success and journey would not be possible without your presence, interest, appreciation and LOVE.
Love back @ you all!

What I will be doing like a mad woman this month.

You guessed. 

My own BOOK writing and re-writing process is on. 

Summer will be ALL about finishing it, having the courage to deliver it and get ready for the BOMB it will be, once it comes out to the WORLD. Never did I do something THIS difficult in my LIFE and, believe me, I´ve done pretty tricky stuff until now.
The coronation of my own journey and the opening of NEW DOORS which will take me to higher flights up my own Magic Mountain.
Leaving you all with a Summer breeze and a loving "see you later". Leaving Cairo behind for a while for the launching of brand NEW and BIGGER goodies on every level (shows, workshops, events in Egypt and all over the world).
Until my return, LIVE and DANCE joyfully ´cause LIFE is only NOW!

"She´s not THAT into you" - Part (oh, who cares to count the stars?!)

He just met me at a common friend´s birthday party on a fancy Cairo hotel. We talked and laughed as with everyone else and we all exchanged mobile numbers as newly friends. By the end of the night, he whispered in my ears he wished to take me to his home to show me his jazz collection (oh, smooth talker you are...). Yeah, sure! 
The next day, here´s the scary current of messages I received on my mobile from this nutty Don Juan:

1. I know that you´re conservative but I want you to be with me. I feel I know how to make you happy. Please allow me.
2.I really want you next to me as a normal human being who wants to wake up next to you.
3.Don´t act cool!)
4.I want you in my arms.:)
5. I am a star.

I mean: Really?! 
Those were the messages that managed to blow my mobile´s mind (yes, my mobile has a bigger mind than a lot of people I know). Although they sound like a five year old freak messages, they actually come from a grown up (?!) egyptian man who also happens to be a doctor extremely respected in his field.
Talk about maturity and respect for women.
Is it me or this world is going beyond crazy?!

The Egypt of other eras, the REAL Egypt, "my own" Egypt...

Above there is a photo of a present that a dear friend - Yasmine Kamel - offered me. She told me, and I remember it from my first studying trips to Egypt, that it was a MUST at every egyptian´s homes. 
I cannot imagine something like that happening now! It is "haram", after all. 
In one word: DEPRESSING.
Bellow there is another symbol of "my own Egypt" that, I ´m afraid, is dying in front of my eyes. 
My number 1 inspiration - Om Kolthoum - and the Sphinx in all its glory and ancient wisdom.
As an Oriental Dancer who truly LOVES and RESPECTS egyptian music, dance and culture I cannot stop from feeling nostalgic about a country that once was "Om Dunya" ("The Mother of the World").
Dancing against ignorance. LIVING in FREEDOM and CREATIVITY against ignorance.
Still LOVING EGYPT, even against ignorance...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is Oriental Dance considered as an exotic streap/tease? "Blame it on the boogie"

Why the hell is Oriental Dance STILL considered like a cheap exotic version of streap-tease?

This was the question that bothered us, me and fellow dancer/friend, while sitting at a Zamalek coffee-shop on a lazy, freaking hot July night.
She lighted a cigar and I sipped "chai bi laban" (tea with milk) from my cup, wondering WHY, oh why, this ignorance persist on the heads of Egyptians, Arabs as well as many other nationalities, even from the most civilized countries.

She pointed out some reasons and I pointed out another ones simply because it is a wide subject which cannot be understood without taking in consideration a great deal of politics, religion, social, economical and traditions factors. 

Here it is, the list we came up with between cigars, teas and sleazy guys staring at us as if we were aliens from Mars who just landed on planet Earth:

1. "El khamis bi leil" (translation: " Thursday night") in Egypt.
 It is an intimate tradition of couples all over Egypt and it entails a night of sex (licit or illicit, meaning between married or unmarried couples) and a private "dirty dancing" from women to men. If you live or passed through Egypt for long enough, then you will know that "dirty dancing" is equal to "Oriental Dance" in this context and many others. 
This reason was pointed out by my friend as she thought the association between "oriental dancing to seduce your husband" really marks professional dancers with a bad reputation once they do it in public and for strangers (both men and women). 
Although I don´t totally agree with this one, I see there is a point to it. You cannot forbid women from using dance - Oriental or any other - to seduce whoever they like, as well as we cannot forbid men from doing it (and, YES, some men do it...email me for details if you´re seriously curious about it!). Because there is NOTHING we can do about it, I never cared much about it. I also know that the dance these women do to seduce their husbands is an "amateur" version of the dance PROFESSIONALS are SUPPOSED to present on stage. I hardly compare a housewife which shakes her boobs and hips like a crazy hurricane on her husband´s face to a PROFESSIONAL ARTIST who KNOWS what she is doing and has no INTENTION of seducing her audience.

But, somehow, yes there is an association - even subconscious - between the bedroom thursday night dance and the Oriental Dance you see on stage. 

2. I mentioned the DANGEROUS and REVOLUTIONARY role of Oriental Dance as one of the main reasons for its disgraceful treatment and image. People try to break down what they fear and even admire. 
 A professional Oriental Dancer is EVERYTHING a woman should not be, according to current egyptian/arab principles. 

*She´s the BOSS, commanding a group of musicians, assistants, technicians, backup dancers, etc. NOT the servant.
*She´s in charge of an whole machine where she MUST be a WOMAN and a MAN at the same time. Emotional yet commanding. Spiritual and loving on stage but with a tough fist on the backstage. Artistic but also a bad ass in order to manage a group of men which in Egypt people call "allateya". NOT GOOD. NOT for SISSIES. NOT for EVERYONE.

*She´s exposed - body and soul - on stage, assuming ALL that she is, thinks and feels. NOT hidden under veils and home walls under the "protection"/jail of her husband.

 *Her pleasure - sensual, physical, ALL included - is obvious and she´s not afraid to show it in a society where WOMEN´S pleasure seems to be shameful and a devil´s work. Check the barbaric clitoris excision in Egypt and you will know what I am talking about. 

* She earns her own money and is the reason why so many men (musicians, technicians, assistants, empresarios, managers,etc) have food on their family´s tables. She does not need a man to provide for her.

*She goes against the stereotype of the humble, submissive, guarded, gaze on the floor women that are praised as the RESPECTFUL ones in this country.

*She represents, overall, FREEDOM. "Braveheart" style freedom. The one that is loud and urgent. Her movements are FREE, no tabus or shameful body parts. She dances for herself and her own pleasure, first of all, and she admits BEING WHOLE. A TOTAL HUMAN BEING. Body, mind, heart and soul. 
Now...THAT is revolutionary.

3. I also pointed out that most dancers in Egypt contribute for the bad image of this dance while entering the games of this business. The moment professional dancers STOP prostituting and selling themselves for a job or money, then the dirty bosses, managers and empresarios that rule this business will HAVE to CHANGE and the image of the whole matter will also change. 
You cannot convince people this is an Art form and Oriental Dancers are respectful ARTIST if you´re screwing your boss or any man in exchange for work opportunities and/or money. EXAMPLE is stronger than words. 
"BE the change you want to see in the world", 
said my personal hero Mahatma Ghandi.

4. Repression. I mean mental, physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual repression . They are heavy contributions to the bad image Oriental Dance has until today. ALL Dances are sensual because they allow the BODY and the SENSES to  freely express themselves in a natural way. 
Oriental Dance, in particular, does not show more skin and flesh than Classical Ballet, for instance, which is highly respected as an Art form. But it does show a lot more of PLEASURE in the movement and a general FREEDOM of expression that can be perceived as an ESCAPE for REPRESSED people.

If men and women are un-educated to perceive the body as wild beast that must be tamed through "halal" sex in marriage (the ultimate hypocrisy), then Oriental Dancers or any other person who shows a little skin or natural sensuality will be perceived as a devilish, tempting danger. 

5. Oriental Dancers are a barometer of each society. You cannot expect a repressed, ignorant, mentally/emotionally/ sexually blocked society to understand and respect Oriental Dance as an Art form. If I am hungry, really starving and dreaming of a dry peace of bread, then I will not recognize and appreciate a "gourmet" meal once I see it. I will only see a dry piece of bread.  

The subject is wide and interesting. I believe that, by pointing out the reasons for this horrible image of our dance, we can start DOING SOMETHING to change it. 
It is ALL in the hands or DANCERS. 



Saturday, July 14, 2012

"She´s just not that into you" - female version. PART INFINITE.

Post dedicated to men, in general, and to egyptian/arab men in particular (whose egos tend to be higher than Everest mountains and the self-esteem more illusory than kindness in Adolf Hitler´s heart).


If a Woman shows no interest in you - and saying hi, shaking your hand and being polite does NOT mean she is interested, it just means she is a civilized person - it is because (NOW REPEAT AFTER ME): "SHE´S NOT THAT INTO YOU".

It is NOT because she is:
1. A lesbian.
2. Conservative/prude.
3.Emotionally traumatized from previous relationships.
4.Still in love with her ex.
5. Recovering from a contagious skin disease that she´s afraid to pass on to you.
6.An alien disguised as a woman in a spy mission to planet Earth and to Egypt, specially.
7. Men hater.
8. Blind. I mean physically blind, not able to see the man´s irresistible crossed eyes and fluffy mustache.

No, no, no. SHE´S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. Take a little knife and stuck it, maybe for the first time, in your swallowed ego. Let the balloon explode just one time, a little bit. I promise you will not die neither will the world end.

I know this possibility will not land on most male´s minds but, please, take it in consideration for my mental sanity sake and avoid the bitchy, sarcastic, offensive attitude once you realize - AFTER hundreds of refusals from THAT woman - that she´s just NOT interested in you as a lover/boyfriend/husband. 

It is common for men around here to choose women and haunt them as an english colonizer used to haunt "ghazelles" in India. The "ghazelle" had no option other than let herself be haunted.  I know a LOT of women will succumb to your feet if they see money, comfort, status and a general aspect of luxury around you (many of them will succumb if you have two legs and two arms and a job that pays the bills).

 But, take my word, that there are others who are not "ghazelles" expecting to be haunted. In fact, they are the hunters - and I know this goes against thousands of years of brain mechanisms that tell the male side of the world that they are the providers and hunters of meat, women included - but it is the disturbing truth.

Some women don´t expect to be chosen and are not easily impressed by your worldly feats and bank account. Some women are - now surprise yourself!- DEMANDING in a way that they expect their men to be:

1. Intelligent, not smart asses.
2. Honest, not smart asses # 2.
3. Handsome. Oh, yeah....Eureka! You discovered: women also appreciate BEAUTY and handsome men.
4. Funny and fun to be with, not smart asses # 3
5. Sexy, not smart asses # 4 with an absurd pride in their chest hair.
6. Hard working, not smart asses # 5.
7. Passionate, faithful, strong, with CHARACTER that is so strong it doesn´t need to put women down in order to show he´s a MAN.
8. LOVING in THAT* way that makes a woman feel like...A WOMAN.
9. A Man who is wise, mature and mentally developed enough to KNOW that a Woman is not less than him in any possible way. She´s just a HUMAN BEING, just like him. Not weaker, not dumber, not more dependent, not your property. A HUMAN BEING. 

(Oh, oh! Did I listen to some brains exploding now?!)

Oh, I know...these are gems. Rare gems. But, take my word once more, some women will not stand for less than this. 
Now take THAT in your pipe and smoke it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

"We´ll always have Tahrir..."

"Casablanca" movie script´s writers knew NOTHING about life.

 The right quote of this iconic script should have never been "We´ll always have Paris" but
 " We´ll always have Middan Tahrir". 

Yes, we will...the memory of a lost utopia of turning a deeply corrupted and enslaved country into a DEMOCRACY where people have LIVES instead of survival struggles. 
Egypt deserves much better than this, for God´s sake (and I mean it FOR GOD´S SAKE). Old corruption still around - because it is in the head of common egyptian people from all social ranks and in a decadent, hypocritical way of life that became normal and even logical to the majority - and a brand new corruption associated with Muslim Extremism is ON

As I passed by Middan Tahrir the other morning and observed the tents, sandwich-full and tameya- improvised shops and a general lack of sense and purpose, tears almost rolled down my face if it wasn´t for the also already classic sexual harassment that took any hint of emotion from me. 

A friend was attacked by a crazy guy when she was returning home yesterday night - in Zamalek, once the fanciest and safest zone of Cairo - and I have to breath 1000000 times (yoga style, if you please) in order not to kill someone while walking in the streets. 

Hope seems to be lost, at least for me and for the ones I speak with. Both foreigners and egyptians. 
Sad to see the world STILL belongs to the one and only God most people follow and respond to: MONEY/POWER.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thanks, Sancha!

Thanks, Sancha França, for this re-post.
Always doing MY THING with FULL presence. Body and soul.

Returning to Barcelona this November!

Very happy to announce my upcoming return to Barcelona, Spain to participate *(workshops and performances) at the "Barcelona Oriental Festival".
More details will follow. For now, I am leaving you with the Facebook Page of the Event.
Follow the link:

"My Egypt"

Photo by Sally Zohney

Flying bras and intestinal hurricanes...on stage!

Well...first of all, let me warn you, dear reader:
If you expect a poetic post, you better stop reading NOW.
If you expect a cultural high level post, also turn your head away and do your laundry or something...
This is a pure practical and eschatological post only intended for hardcore, no bullshit performers who truly wish to make the best out of every situation and I mean EVERY SITUATION.

The stage is an extension of Life or, for me, LIFE itself. Very often, more real than regular life itself. It is a place of prayer - as I see DANCE as a PRAYER, no matter how many so called "religious" prejudices others may try to throw at me, but it is also a place for disasters and non planned crisis.

Let the first rock be thrown by the professional Dancer who regularly performs on stage and NEVER experienced an embarassing situation. You name it, I´ve been there and done that:

1. Fallen bras - a classical of Oriental Dancers who are victims of designers with no idea of movement and stage needs. How many times did my bra opened itself on stage, while I was dancing? How many times did I have to juggle between smiling at the audience, move as if nothing is happening while trying to lock the bra on my back or asking one of my (mortified) musicians to do so?! 

2. Fallen skirts on stage. Less frequent than the bra but still a MUST on my list. I even had my skirt falling on a big convention stage where my dance was being filmed and projected behind me on a gigantic screen so that everybody, from every possible corner of the theater could see my private parts! 
I grabbed hold of the flying skirt and did a "torero" (bullfighter) brand new dance with it, trying to make fun and art out of a desperate situation.

3. Fallen bodies. I mean: falling on your ass on stage with no means to pretend that was part of a post-modernist choreography. Slippery floor, shoes that surf on a bit of water on the floor or food someone dropped. 1,2,3...TRACK! On the floor. 
I´ve been there several times and never hurt myself seriously, thanks God. Even more, you can always see the whole fiasco as an opportunity to laugh and do some old style floor work that your audience will enjoy anyways. Blocking and admitting defeat is a deal breaker. A PERFORMER ALWAYS finds a creative way to get out of every situation and ART can be born out of the most unexpected situations.

4. The intestinal hurricane. Oh, yes! When your tummy is having its own "Middan Tahrir Revolution", the only thing you wish for is a toilet but, sometimes, all you get is a stage and an expectant audience which has no interest in your depressing diarrehea.  
You shimmy your way into complete disaster, fearing for the safety of your musicians and audience, never knowing if miracles happen or not, running from the stage to the toilet and from the toilet to the stage. 

In these cases, I suggest:
Deep breathing. Believe in the power of the MIND;
Restraining your movements to the minimum and not going for energetic shimmies (the most dangerous of movements in this situation);
Laughing about it to take the edge of the whole madness;
Focus on the toilet path as a relief to arrive shortly after every set of dance.
Explore other movements that do not include the hips and belly and, by doing that, expand your dance vocabulary to higher horizons;
Pray to God for salvation.;)

I´m sexy and I know it, egyptian style.

Never there was so much fuss about sexual harassment and security in Egypt, particularly in the beloved jungle of Cairo. 
Women everywhere - including me - started to openly talk about the TORTURE they have to endure every time they DARE to walk in public spaces as well as both sexes mention different kinds of security - or lack of it - related situations that we never heard of before.

I cannot complain - thanks God - for the security question as I did not experience anything negative in this regard and still feel safe anywhere I go in Cairo. The same cannot be said about the sexual harassment. 
As I endured an early bird visit to one of those burocratic place for dancer´s paper work (which is a tedious, depressing enough experience in itself) I realized three different attitudes can be traced out of this sexual harassment craze:

1.The men who keep their disgusting sexual remarks to themselves, saying it in a low voice (which, thanks to my blessed ears, I can listen to anyway) and staring blankly at you with the same expression of those long term lunatics who have passed through different mad houses and resisted to all kinds of treatment, without hope or cure.

2. The ones who TRY to be "religious" and, therefore, run away from the pecaminous sight of a woman as vampires run away from garlic. Their eyes get stuck on the floor and you can see them sweat, suffering in an internal debate between Light and Darkness. 
A woman´s BODY is perceived as "fitna" (something than can challenge the order and path of God, a temptation, potential reason for the FALL of all virtues) as well as a SEXUAL OBJECT. Male´s bodies are seen as PRODUCTIVE, POLITICAL, SOCIAL items but not FEMALE bodies whose functions seem to be resumed into serving men both in the sexual and procreation area. Any woman who dares to show her body - even if covered with cloths - in public is harassing men or so they think. Isn´t it crazy? The sexual harassers consider themselves victims of the FEMALE BODY and their enticing flair! 
Talk about crazy town.

3. The openly assumed SEXUAL PERVERTS who will throw pornographic remarks at you, try to grope you or even worse feeling no shame for those acts. These are the same who will enter a mosque and call themselves religious. In their heads, it is their RIGHT to harass you because YOU are the criminal, not them. Who the hell you think you are to go on the street and walk freely without a male owner (brother,father, husband)?!

Does this deserve any further comment?! I´ll leave that to your consideration.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The eternal student...

Professor D. Hassan Khalil´s workshop at SALAMAT MASR FESTIVAL was a wonderful surprise for me. I almost forgot how great it felt to be on the student position and not on the teacher/performer. For the last years of my life, I have been blessed with a crescent recognition of my work - both on stage and on teaching - and that has left me no time or opportunities to do what I love most: LEARNING.

I´ve been criticized for lots of things I consider QUALITIES of my own and, therefore, have no intention to change. One of them is my apparent willingness to admit that I don´t know everything and the never hesitating desire to put myself in the place of a simple student. 
I do believe that you can always learn something new from everyone, even from the bad (sometimes!). As time is short, I try my best to learn from the GOOD ones and delight myself on receiving surprises that, otherwise, would not visit me. 

This afternoon s workshop with Prof. D. Hassan Khalil was one of those occasions when I truly enjoyed myself. A simple bedouin choreography with lots of cultural context info and tips regarding the nature of movement and energy use while you dance. Laughter, lightness and kindness from the teacher and just a warm atmosphere where I could enjoy dancing with no pressure to show something, do something extraordinary or teach something to someone else. 

I remembered how great it feels to be a student. Thanks to SALAMAT MASR FESTIVAL for bringing such interesting people to the event and thanks to Prof. Khalil for the good times he provided us with.


Added goodies to "A trade like any other"

Thanks to my dear Morocco for this "post scriptum" note on the wonderful book *(mentioned in previous post) "A trade like any other".

Here we go: 
"An Hour for God, an Hour for the Heart : Islam, Gender andFemale Entertainment in Egypt"
Follow the link:

Good readings and dance to everyone and remember: "knowledge is POWER". 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Secret wishes.

Summer readings for dancers and other curious souls...

This will be THE Summer of MY BOOK as I will be on/in it with body, mind and soul but - by God! - I will not remain without my own food. Here´s the Summer reading delights for my Summer:

* Still digging into the addictive Anna Karenina by the russian genius, Leon Tolstoy.

* Happy to have on my hands a copy of my dear friend Morocco´s book
 "You asked aunt Rocky: Answers and advice about Raqs Sharqi and Raqs Shaabi" . Finger licking good.

Aunt Rocky met me after one of my Cairo shows. She was loving, appreciating and - surprisingly - generous with me in a way I am not used to see in this competitive dance field. 

From that moment on, we became friends who share similar views on Dance & Life. She is as witty, intelligent, fierce and funny as they come and I have dreamt about her book since the moment we talked for the first time. So much experience, knowledge, observation skills translated into a wide and well informed view of the Oriental Dance world panorama.
Just started reading her book and felt trapped in fascination from the first page.

Now this book I dreamt about - Rocky´s book - is out there and you can order it through the link:

Lucky me that I have my copy personally autographed with a loving dedicatory by the author and delivered from her  own hands to me, followed by a warm hug and the usual exciting laughter she always provokes in me. 
Private message to Rocky: "Love you, dear tiger sister!"

There are not a lot of GOOD books on the market about Oriental and Egyptian Folkloric Dances. 
Here is the suggestion of the ones I truly recommend:

1. The Classic: "Serpent of the Nile", Wendy Buonaventura.

2. Grandmother´s secrets, Romina Fawzy 

3. "A trade like any other", Karen van Nieuwkerk

Wishing you all great readings, dance and a LOVING summer!

The royal Juice or the Mona Said Workshop.

Mona el Said Workshop at SALAMAT MASR FESTIVAL is a subject prone to critics as well as learning curves. 
I love being a student and will gladly show my own ignorance if that means learning, developing my skills and knowledge of Oriental Dance or any other subject of my interest.
This time, I will leave the critics behind and focus on the GOODIES. 

Like it or not, Mona El Said is an icon of Oriental Dance due to the career she built for herself. What could we gain from it, yesterday afternoon?! 
Well, maybe a lot. Maybe nothing. It depends on what you´re searching for, how much beauty your eyes are able to see in the world (even beneath the superficial crap) and how wide your horizons are.

Here´s a short list of items I brought in my bag from Mona el Said workshop:

1. Teaching is a work of LOVE. If you don´t LOVE teaching ALL that you know, then DON´T DO IT. The lack of love for this work shows itself off like ugly frogs in a clear water pond. If you LOVE teaching, then do it ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the way. Do not keep information for yourself in fear that other dancers will be greater than you. Even if you share EVERYTHING you know, NO ONE WILL TAKE YOUR PLACE. Each person&artist is UNIQUE and copies are always second best to ORIGINALS.

2. The Magic* of the Dance does not reside in the fancy movements, cloths, hairdo, make-up but in the SOUL you offer while you move.

3. What fills each movement and step is your own INNER LIFE. I call it "the juice". Tasteless food -no salt, no spices, no Love - is like tasteless dance where all movements are empty of emotion, intention, life ´s experience, memories, fantasies, dreams, whatever makes you an interesting PERSON. 
An orgasm without LOVE, that is a good dance performance. An orgasm WITH Love, that is an AUTHENTIC heartfelt dance performance. 

4. Let your body talk by itself, not imposing movements and techniques you find fancy and impressing. There is a POWER - BIG one! - on the spontaneity of a BODY that is connected with its soul. When both are allowed to talk freely, a personal and brand new language is born and the DANCER becomes an ARTIST. Impossible to copy, impossible to ignore. 

5.Appreciate your audiences&students as they are the main reason for all that you do and the pillars of your work, in case you´re a professional Dancer&Teacher&Choreographer. Thanking people for their attention, appreciation and respect is a BASIC MUST that should never be forgotten. 

6. Don´t be afraid to show off your vulnerabilities. You can rather use them in favor of your Art as well as a self-healing tool. Subtle, alchemic, beautiful. Like YOURSELF.

7. Open your eyes and LEARN from EVERYTHING. The good and the bad. 

Yes, it is.

Life is full of surprises, indeed. When you think you found an angel, you realize it is a demon. 

When you presume you´ve just crossed paths with a dangerous snake, you find that there is a frightened bird underneath its mutable skin. 

When you think you have it all figured out, then it comes a brand new experience/knowledge that crashes the fragile walls of your certainties to the ground. 

Life is often painful or extremely happy - at least, for me, as I tend to live everything to the fullest - but it surely gives you the intelligent ability of doubting yourself, what you see and all you think it is "for sure". Fascinating, really...

Thank you, dearest, at SALAMAT MASR FESTIVAL, CAIRO.

It isn't what I do, but how I do it.
 It isn't what I say, but how I say it,
and how I look when I do it and say it.
(Mae West)

I want to thank the curious, daring, energized dancers who joined my 
WORKSHOP at SALAMAT MASR FESTIVAL yesterday. Those were a couple of hard working, challenging and - I hope! - eye opening hours. 

The "Set il Hosn" music - composed for Nagwa Fouad - is an AMAZING dance material full of details, nuances, moods, intensities, styles, universes. That´s part of the reason why it is considered one of the best - if not the best - musical entrance for Oriental Dancers composed until today. 
The more sophisticated the music is, the more sophisticated the dancer (and her tools) must be. If the music is RICH, then the DANCER´S level must be rich or richER, never bellow the first.

It is known that I LOVE challenges, I crave them, I LIVE for them and because of them. Adrenaline junkie, ambition freak some say. From the true depth of my BEING - that very few people know - all  I want is to GROW and offer that same growth opportunity to others, may them be students or audiences. 

Gratitude to SALAMAT MASR FESTIVAL who believes in my work and gave me this chance to share it with all of you. 
Sending LOVE and COURAGE to all (including myself;).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What to expect *(on my SALAMAT MASR WORKSHOP)?

What can you expect in my upcoming (it´s TOMORROW!!!) Workshop 
at Cairo Salamat Masr Festival?

Well, first let me make a short introduction:
I was a street girl, bad ass, rebel little girl with an angel´s face. I hanged with the gangs of my neighborhood, was respected by the considered "marginal" and my best friends belonged to two ethnic backgrounds that were deeply looked down at by portuguese, at least at that time. From one side, africans returned from the ex-colonies Portugal had in the coast of Africa (amongst many other zones in the world) and, from the other side, gipsies. This was my "street" life.
Then...tchan, tchan, tchan, tchannnnnnnnnn....................................... I had a parallel life (feeling like one of those men who are married and admit to having lovers...):
Descendant of peasants from the depth of Portugal, having been raised between Portugal and the south of Spain (where my father worked until my teen years) and enjoying all the influences that brought. I was also an irritating child performer (singing, acting, dancing, streap-tease, beating the boys up, you name it...) and a Classical Ballet student with a strict training from the age of 5. 

It was with 5 years old that I stepped a real theater stage for the first time for a classical ballet performance (or something that was supposed to remotely look like it). 

In fact, it was a double baptism as I performed (well...I cannot call it performing, really...let´s say "doing my non-sense, monkey business which my parents thought was genius") on a theater as well as on television! The t.v. show was called "Brinca, brincando" and it was a major hit between the kids of my generation, the one who grew up in the early eighties. 
Oh, boy... I felt like a star and it made such an impression on me that I could NEVER forget it or let it go. I had done my "wee" share of domestic musicals to the tortured friends of my parents who were forced to sit and watch me going bananas before they could even talk to them and I often entertained the nursery crowds  with my streap-tease delight at "siesta time" but THIS WAS a DIFFERENT MATTER.  Now I was a professional *(yeah, right!). 

With 5 years old, I do remember the television studio in all its corners, the smell of the wooden floor, the studio cafeteria with "papo seco" (a kind of portuguese bread) and coffee in the air, the lighting and - oh, MIRACLE of GOD and the ANGELS - the cameras
I felt fascinated by the cameras, attracted to it in a passionate way and protected by them. Yes, PROTECTED. Within the borders of that warm box I could be anything, everything. Even more: I could be MYSELF and everybody would understand me. Truly understand me.

Why am I telling you THIS?
Because my next WORKSHOP at SALAMAT MASR FESTIVAL (happening now in Cairo) is all about facing the STAGE as well as LIFE in a courageous, creative,personal, loving and daring way. 
Dancing is NEVER just movements and steps for me. It is much more than THAT. 

In the same way I felt protected by the television cameras (and, oh!, their warm lights on my face...heaven...) as much as I always felt protected by the STAGE. This has always been the place to be UNDERSTOOD, LOVED for who I am (and make no mistake, what you see on stage is exactly who I am in what people call "real life") and PROTECTED from the outside world where I feel like a perfect alien, most of the times. 

Some of the best moments of my life happened on STAGE, as well as the BIGGEST discoveries my Soul provided me with. The way you face a crowd on stage will define how you face your LIFE - in general - outside of it. 

For me, DANCING (or Acting, Singing, etc) on STAGE has always been about:
*SURPRISING myself as well as my audience;
*FEELING the LOVE and spreading it with each one of your movements (I know it sounds like a cliché but it´s exactly what I feel);
*BEING MYSELF, no matter what;
*SPEAKING what words cannot say.

One question for all of you, fellow dancers:
The same questions can be applied to LIFE.

My SALAMAT MASR WORKSHOP will be all about THIS* subject. Using the fantastic "Set il Hosn" musical entrance ("majancé", as egyptian musicians call it), we´ll work on technique, choreography as well as the LANGUAGE of the STAGE, the one can can and should be adapted to YOUR UNIQUE personality, energy, body and soul.

Welcome, everyone!