Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What is Oriental Dance? - from Egypt to the World*

Christian Schloe

I kind of envy everyone who is so sure of him/herself  and his/her certainties that nothing and no one can shake them, move them, change them. As far as I know, all that exists is change and uncertainty and I - happily - reached the point of rejoicing on that impermanent ground.

I discovered - through the most unexpected ways, lessons and teachers - what is Oriental Dance during the last years of career and life in Egypt. I reached success without any compromise I could be ashamed of and I was blessed to be guided by egyptian audiences, my musicians and Magic* towards a deep - and unusual - understanding of my craft.
I know how to dance for egyptians and in my own way (which is, by chance or not, the "egyptian way" with a personal twist); I am comfortable dancing with the best egyptian musicians and for the most demanding of egyptian audiences. That is territory already conquered - more than conquered.

Once I started to be invited to teach and perform in different countries of the world (with their own language, culture, mentality, tradition and relationship with Dance) the territory I had already conquered expanded and showed itself in all its glorious immensity. I started to understand I was back to - almost - point zero. I started to dance for audiences who were not my fellow egyptians with whom comunication - via dance - became so organic, spontaneous, instinctive, visceral and  loving that it´s second nature to me.

Suddenly my stage expanded and I was out of my Cairo cocoon where - for some intense years - I was working, learning, exploring, trying new and old things, discovering myself as a dancer, woman, human being in the wide WIDE world.
I started to be hired to perform for audiences who were not familiar with egyptian language, music, dance, culture. This made all the difference in the demands applied to my craft; I also started to perform without my warm company (my egyptian orchestra) without whom I never thought I could dance; I had to face huge theatres (where the physical distance between me and the audience were a major obstacle to a dance that requires physical proximity and energy exchange between music, dancer and audience) as opposed to the cosy, circle like stages I was used to perform in Egypt (where my audiences could see the shine of my eyes, hear my breathing, feel the heat coming from my heart).

The stakes did not become only higher but so DIFFERENT than the ones I was used to that I had to rethink everything I had learnt about Oriental Dance.
Out of my comfort zone, once again - always.

From Egypt to the world sounds great, doesn´t it?! It was always my project, dream, goal, mission and - may I dare saying - DESTINY.
Easier said than done though...but here I am: rethinking, questioning what is the ESSENCE of Oriental Dance, what I must re-adapt in my dance in order for it to be understood and felt by audiences from China to Italy, from Russia to Argentina, from France to Mexico and so on.

Keeping the essence/heart/soul/original language (because Oriental Dance IS a LANGUAGE) of the dance while making it fit in brand new contexts where the MAIN MESSAGE of the dance is still being comunicated.
Distilling the language, cleaning it from everything that is accessory, reaching for its core and being able to make all kinds of people FEEL it and LOVE it as much as I do.

Being a dancer is - above all - being the eternal student, the curious child, the one who is open to all kinds of jumps into the Unknown.
From Egypt to the world sounds great, indeed. SEEING MYSELF DOING IT sounds even greater (and AMEN to that).

Monday, April 8, 2013

The World dancing with me (blessed*): Spain, England, Cyprus, Ukraine...heaven on the horizon.

One more apology dedicated to my blog readers.
 I´ve been neglecting my blogs for way too long - I know it. Many travels, cycle closing, moving from country to country, not really knowing where is my ground (or even if I have one...), growing, not really knowing what is right and left...too much happening: LIFE.
Absence can also be a kind of presence and silence can speak louder than words.
The promise to catch up on the blog´s update is already done. Meanwhile, here´s the list of the next stations where my dance train will land (´cause my train has wings):

Spain; England; Cyprus and Ukraine and the rest of the world next. Paris and Eilat already lined up for the grand opening of 2014 and so many more events to come spread all over the world. What an honour!

No matter how many times I say "thank you" they never seem to be enough. My career´s evolution is well deserved and worked for but there´s still - and always - a sense of bliss, awe and gratitude towards the accomplishments of my highest dreams. The Universe-God is fair, after all.
See you all soon (somewhere over the rainbow).


Performing and teaching in Pais Basco, Spain this May!

Returning to Spain (Workshops, Show, Lecture about my Career in Egypt and what it REALLY means to be a professional Oriental Dancer in Cairo for 8 years of success, struggle and a Love for this craft that has no rational explanation).
Pais Basco it is...rejoicing at this - one more! - opportunity to share my Dance with the World.

Teaching and performing in Russia (love of mine).

In a few words, this is how I describe the undescribable joy of performing and teaching in Russia:
1. Knowing that my Art is appreciated, understood from an artistic point of view, loved, cherished, stimulated and given wings to fly higher;

2. Knowing I will find loads of talent, hard working people who are used to deal with Dance as the serious and deep craft it really is;
3. Knowing that I will see the best dancers in the workshops, working more intensely than anyone else;
4. Knowing that I will deal with generous, warm, humble, professional and supportive people who deal with me and my work as I always dreamt they would;
5. Knowing I will find "amateur" dancers (beginners, so they say!) that are more professional and impressive than most dancers who call themselves "professional".
6. Knowing that I will meet DARING dancers who take risks in order to excell; dancers who will not mind except their own business and do not compare themselves to others but always aim at excelling themselves and being better than they were yesterday. If they look at their dancer colleagues they do so with inspiring eyes who wish to learn from everything and everyone and not the competitive, envy eyes that I so often find in this dance environment.

7. Knowing I will find dancers with 6 years old that have a mature attitude and work ethics in a class as true pros with the kind of focus and curiosity only artistic minds have.
8. Knowing I will be treated as the Artist I work so passionatly to always be.
9. Knowing that I will enter the 6th dimension where Egypt can be easily found in the strangest and funniest ways (there are gas stations in Russia which claim to work 25hours per day so you see what I´m speaking about: Egypt´s madness is around the corner).
P.S. I feel at home in Russia - I really do. The most delicious food a soul´s artist can receive is the respect and love of his/her audience and this is exactly what I receive in Russia.

Last trips (Spain) = El Duende*" is indahouse:)

It doesn´t get easier...I´ve said it way too many times and the certainty of it is still on and on and on.
People expect more of me, I expect more of me, Life itself keeps presenting all kinds of challenges that expect more of me.
The stage fright, the trying to go beyond what I already did and saw done by others; the thirst that no water can quench, the desire to surprise myself: Art, Life = all the same.
Teaching and performing in Malaga, Spain was yet another step towards my artistic and personal growth. If those perks are not in the equation it doesn´t get interesting enough to get me going. Some may be addicted to drugs, alcohol, whatever the human mind can conceive; I am shamelessly addicted to growth and that leaves me on the ever so hot spot of permanent insecurity.
The more you know, the less you realize you DO know; the better you do, the better you wish to do...this kind of internal ambition is the material of what Artists are made of - I presume - but it´s also a sleepless nights ticket.
My favorite part of this process is that it brings us a noble humbleness or character and a consciousness of our fragilities that makes us HUMANS and, therefore, more OPEN* to be ARTISTS - the kind of artists that change the vision and direction of our craft.

 Returning to the south of Spain was returning home - again. Andaluzia - with its obvious Arab presence - was my vacation spot for many, many years (while my father worked in "La Linea", near from Morocco).
Flamenco and its "Duende", Pablo Picasso (not my favorite man but my favorite painter and source of inspiration of many of my choreographies), the feet on the ground from the gipsies and an andaluzian accent that is the same accent of my soul. Just wonderful.
Performing with a live orchestra (even if it was not my egyptian orchestra) was a pleasure as I always prefer to perform with musicians than with a dead music-cd; improvising with musicians I don´t know and without proper rehearsals is a risk, I know that. But it´s still a risk worth taking...
We managed to be ONE with our audience and we even did a first time tabla solo mad creation on stage (with my friend Mohamed el Sayed on the tabla); I orchestrated the music on stage, as usual, and focused on creating those divine links that make us all (me, the musicians and the audience) one single body, mind, heart and soul.
The result is magical and umpredictable: it depends on the moment, the gifts God offers on every single instant of music-dance-love and the "duende" that comes from the total abandonement of oneself (no ego, no ambition, no effort to shine, impress, please - just TRUTH and a LOVE sharing that is more than just artistic: it´s HUMAN).
Audiences were amazing - even recognizing my "gipsy" soul and making a point of cherishing it - and dancers were passionate, interested and hardworking in the workshops. A true pleasure. :)
Deeply grateful and taking Andaluzia in my heart - wherever I go.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Joana Saahirah of Cairo in Ukraine this July*

Honoured to announce my first professional trip to Ukraine - this July.
The jig is - more than ever - UP!

 Workshops and Performance that will spread - a little bit more - the Magic* of Oriental Dance.

Two of my articles were already translated by the wonderful Arusa Nanu and there are many more on the way. Ukraine is already getting to know me even before I arrive there.:)

***More infos about the event:



*** To read the articles (in russian) please follow the links: