Thursday, May 30, 2013

Joana Saahirah of Cairo in Slovenia (this September)

World BellyDance Contest by Joana Saahirah - and the WINNER IS*...

Lu Ain Zaila (from Brazil)- Congratulations!
(My thank you and congratulations to all the participants for their contribute, Oriental Dance definitions and loving presence).

Here´s her (winning) answers:

1- At what age did Joana Saahirah start to study classical ballet?
Answer: She began your studies with 5 years old.

 2 - When did Joana Saahirah perform on television for the first time (when and where)?
Answer: Your first performance was in Portugal in the television in a children´s show called “Brinca, brincando” with 5 years old.


 The Oriental Dance is an art alive with the amazing ability to be both public and personal. She carries in her intimate, the sharing and the transformation of the human being who is chosen by her to dance.
This reality certainly is due to its original essence, contemplation of life itself, but today in a broader context, search liveliness in each of us.
Oriental dance only is complete when we can bring afloat, the ability to expose yourself, seems simple, but is very difficult, because it depends largely of our emotions experienced by each of our senses: a hug, a kiss, or the witness of the more simple joy.
Our ability to express themselves through of body in movement depends on our resignation to the walls we erect around our feelings and of who we are, and allow to be seen loving every inch of Arabic poetry in lyrics, feeling in your core the touch of each instrument as an extension of heart, of soul is a personal challenge, private shared with the audience that craves this exchange .

The movements characteristic of oriental dance are important, but no mean nothing if we do not we give them literally our identity, because to express a broken heart, loving, a smile or pain is not something simple, there is no room in this dance for a representation of a ethereal figure, incidentally, nor for representation because the movements are not static, the feeling is not plastic, not request mime and yes, our ability unique and unmistakable to express who we are and the feelings that come to the skin.

Oriental dance is an art that involves our senses in various ways and this perception and respect for what it means, and what it is essentially is what feeds creativity and gives us awareness of what we do and interpret.
This ability to express the oriental dance in a manner genuine and integrates not only comes from the heart, but the study, knowledge and of the sensory immersion we need to do in this "life". Not only movements and music make the oriental dance, she makes yourself of our ability to dream with life around the Nile, with the wind of the desert, the streets full of markets, family celebrations, colors, smells and sounds that are not music or movement, but the true inspiration, the life again.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Essential conversations (thanks, Gabrielle!)

Piece from the Booklet
"The Secrets of Egyptian Dance" to be delivered on my upcoming COURSE in LONDON this 1,2nd JUNE!


"An old tape recorder on his hand, blushed cheeks and blinking eyes that resembled the ones of a princess on her first ...
meeting with her Prince Charming; something forbidden and sacred in the air.

- Juju... I come to say good-buy to you. – Mohamed announced with a heart breaking expression on his lovely face.

- Oh...thanks. But we will keep in touch, don´t be sad.
- (...) – a long silence united us.
- Uh...hmmm... I want to tell you a secret. – He hesitated.
- Well, sure: go ahead.
- But first promise you won´t tell anyone, specially my mother: she would kill me if she knew...
- All right, I promise I won´t tell a soul. What is it? You got me curious, “ya wad” (Egyptian expression that comes from “ya walad” = “oh boy”)!
- I am a Dancer like you but... only in secret.
- (...) – My poker face and another weird and long silence joined us for the evening.
- What do you mean: “in secret”?!
- I mean that nobody knows. I have danced like Naima Akef since I was a baby but only when I am alone at home or at my friend´s bedrooms. I wish I could be a professional like you, I wished...- He sighed while swaying his head in the fashion of a tired, dashed mad man.

By this time, I knew a bit about the infamous stigma associated with dancers – both female and male – so I didn´t ask the silly questions: why can´t you be a professional Oriental Dancer? Why dance hidden?
It was widely known, not a secret (like Mohamed´s passion for dance and his Naima Akef impersonation): everybody was clear and loud about dancers and their loose morals, prostitution side activities and other sweet kinds of fame that lingered above the profession for too many centuries.
Words were useless – we both knew it. Action spoke for them, as it happens in all crucial matters.
The show started without further ado or any need for presentations: Mohamed put the tape on and moved around in my living room in what seemed to me like a crazy butterfly epileptic attack.
My face´s expression must have been priceless, you can bet on it.: speechless, between pity, tenderness and curiosity, I watched a full length performance that was so unexpected and authentic as it was precious. After the first shock of Mohamed´s lack of coordination and technical skills, I started to look beneath and beyond the surface and that´s when MAGIC happened: it was not him who was dancing but HIS HEART, completely exposed on that living room: authentic, overflowing with LOVE and PASSION for the music: DIVINE. I also noticed how AUTHENTIC and PERSONAL were each one of his movements – even the ones I could consider clumsy, out of tempo, whatever my “educated dancer” attitude could grab to criticize. He was HIMSELF – complete, no excuses, shame, masks, arrogance, wanna be attitude: just HIMSELF and OUTPOURING with LOVE-LIFE.
How stupid could I be?! My presumption almost tricked me into laughing at this boy´s dance lesson – just because he was less than perfect in his “technique and body control”. But, thanks the Lord, I was rescued from my own arrogance just in time to come face to face with God and SEE* - through this unexpected Master – the CORE of Egyptian Dance."

By Joana Saahirah of Cairo
***Conversation (between me and the wonderful Gabrielle Schrötter) that was born from this text I wrote:
Gabrielle: Yup, this is the magic! Is it only my impression that this is more and more rare the more a dancer focuses on technique? Behold, without a minimum of technique, you just can't express yourself... But: technique without personality/heart does not leave a lasting impressiong, personality/heart without technique can.
Me: You mention "a minimum of technique" - disagree. In order to grow as a DANCER - ARTIST (as opposed to a spontaneous dancer who enjoys dancing JUST for the family and friends) you DO NEED a GREAT -and always better - TECHNIQUE. A minimum just won´t do the trick - specially if you´re a pprofessional or would like to be called one. Technique is the visible TOOL a dancer uses to express about 50% of her THING-LIFE. The other 50% may be composed out of VERY essential things (that this piece of the booklet "The Secrets of Egyptian Dance" talks about): personal charisma, energy, feeling, ability to be vulnerable and COMMUNICATE our thoughts, sensations, feelings, story, soul with others; the ability to TOUCH people´s hearts and souls through our dance. These two sides of the coin (50% techinque PLUS the other 50% that gather all those invisible perks) are ESSENTIAL. One without the other will stop you from being an ARTIST-DANCER. This is my opinion (in a few words;).
Me: P.S. Notice that "having the technique" developed does not presume you USE ALL MOVEMENTS at the same time but that your body is trained-educated with a wide range of vocabulary that offers you expressive tools that will serve in the right amount and time. Also notice that this episode that happened with Mohamed (it´s a true story, by the way) did not mean I found out technique is not importante. I would never hire Mohamed to dance professionally, for instance. I would never tell him: "you´re a pro, man" because I didn´t think he was. But he could TEACH ME SOMETHING that was beyond technique and that I could ADD to my knowledge of dance. That´s what I meant.
Gabrielle: exactly: both sides of the medal must be developed! To me, as a member of the audience who appreciates ruhi misr, the "50 % thoughts, sensations etc." is more important than a lack of technique. Just state of the art dance technique is aerobics on stage. I notice so many Western dancers focus on technique and leave the other 50 % behind. See my point?
Me: I see your point and respect your opinion but disagree, partially, again. You say: "Just state of the art dance technique is aerobics on stage." - this is not NECESSARILY correct. When a GOOD technique is developed then it becomes LANGUAGE (like words you learn when studying a new idiom) - not aerobics. That kind of "technique" is still not complete, under-developed and immature. REAL TECHNIQUE, when integrated and deeply worked in, becomes LANGUAGE (as rich as your vocabulary and talent can permit).
Me: Then I agree with you: "I notice so many Western dancers focus on technique and leave the other 50 % behind." This is - sadly - correct and it´s something I try to work for everywhere I go. I go towards the "ruh masri" (as you so tenderly mention) BUT always making a POINT about EVERYTHING - all sides of the coin - we MUST (or can) develop. Technique that does not feel, look or work like "aerobics" is one of them.
Gabrielle: Just finished doing the laundry and had a few mor thoughts on our conversation: I *really* like the "technique becoming language" thought! Yes!! This is it!! Now you even managed to put a most complicated subject into three words, you are the best, dear Joana Saahirah!
Me: See it as learning a new idiom (english, german, italian, portuguese, arabic, etc). First you learn the forth; then you start to learn how these letters join in order to build small words, then more complicated words until you start to build simple phrases. Then you reach out for more complex combination of words, phrases, interaction between both and so forth. You practice it, you start to break the language rules when you have dominion over it and, ultimately, this new language becomes such na organic part of you that there´s no more thought in the process of TALKING: it becomes a LANGUAGE you spontaneously express yourself through. THE SAME WITH ORIENTAL DANCE (and the language we are learning - or remembering, as I prefer to cal it - is the LANGUAGE of the HUMAN SOUL). NOW: THAT is THE POINT of Egyptian Dance;).
Thanks, Gabrielle, for inspiring this chat (I am sure lots of dancers will find it interesting).


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh, YES*********************

Let me hear you say: YES...YES...then some more: YES...YES...YES!
Oh, yeah.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way." 
- W.H. Murray

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Joana Saahirah London Courses (1,2nd June): where the MAGIC happens*

Two world premières in a single place and weekend: WOW!
London will be the first step on these new adventures I am so proud of:
1. "Om Kolthoum Treasures" Course
2. "The Secrets of Egyptian Dance" Course
You will have to be there in order to grasp the depth and essential importance of what well will study on both courses but there´s an info I can offer in advance: these courses will change your view about ORIENTAL DANCE and LIFE - drastically, inspiringly, lovingly.
There will be technique(s), there will be choreographies, all that jazz (and more) but of a very DIFFERENT, PIONEER and MAGICAL SORT plus some new material I bet no other teacher ever passed on.
Both Courses gather some of the JEWELS my life and career in Egypt
 have taught me. Being a dignified and self-made Oriental Dancer with 8 years of career and personal struggle in Egypt has its perks and THESE are - no doubt - two of them.

Dare to join us for the Ride. I promise you won´t regret it.:)

Here´s one of the goodies every dancer will receive at the Course "The Secrets of Egyptian Dance". Cannot express by words how EXCITED and BLESSED I feel for sharing the knowledge, tips, precious lessons I´ve gathered directly from my life (professional and personal) experience in Egypt (8 years of career and daily pleasures & struggle at the fairly called "Great School of Mysteries of Egypt".

Joana Saahirah latest video goodies and a pearl for the road*

I will apologize yet again to all my blog´s followers (for my poor and less frequent updates) but 2013 is - indeed - a year of more ACTION than words. Aside from that, remember my words (the ones you may miss over here) are being channelled to other priorities (my own BOOK and the BOOKLET of the Course "Secrets of Egyptian Dance").
The FOCUS right now is ACTION so follow me through it and be patient until my time and energy allows me - once more - to more frequently update my "diaries of Egypt".:)
NEXT on the MENU:
1. Preparing the courses for LONDON (United Kingdom) this 1,2nd June (will stay in London for an whole week so I am available for PRIVATE LESSONS and SHOW BOOKINGS). Any request should be directed to:
"Om Kolthoum Treasures" & "The Secrets of Egyptian Dance" (world première) are in the program filled with many life changing materials.
2. Excited about upcoming events (festivals in Cyprus and Ukraine are next) and all the challenges, joy and success that I can already pre-view in my path.
The announce of my return to Russia (this November) also added JOY to my already overflowing (love) cup:).
3. Writing work on hold (but to be concluded this summer, come rain or come shine) as well as a deserved vacation that I am so passionately dreaming about (it´s arriving,´s arriving...).

For now, I will leave you with my latest VIDEO goodies. Enjoy:
1. My Saiidi improvization in Malaga (Spain). Wearing a gallabeya made from the one my dearest Mahmoud Reda wore in his famous Saiidi "tableau" more than 50 years ago:

2. A mad improvization with the orchestra "Funun" in Malaga, Spain (notice I had never heard or worked with this orchestra about jumping off a cliff!):

3. Video presentation of "The Secrets of Egyptian Dance":

4. Video presentation of the Course "Om Kolthoum Treasures" - part I:

5. Video presentation of the Course "Om Kolthoum Treasures" - part II:

Pearl for the Road:
"For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, 'Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.' Thus I became a madman."

--from The Madman (1918)

Counting my Blessings (last trip´s jewels*)

It has been a Faith - and consistente/persistente work - Journey.
No fruit has fallen from the sky without a previous seeding period, watering and all the tiny or big care period every crop needs to flourish and be fruitful.
Time has been too little for me to update my blogs (so much going on in my Life and so much SERIOUS responsabilities on my hands) but - allas - it is a great sign of LIFE, ADVANCEMENTS, PROSPERITY and WELL DESERVED SUCCESS.
Meanwhile, I am COUNTING MY BLESSINGS as I work, create, write, discover, travel, EXPAND towards myself. No one can make the path for you and I may dare to add: Thanks God for that! I wouldn´t want anyone else inside my shoes because, despite all the tempests, they are pretty damn AMAZING shoes to live in. ´Wouldn´t exchange the hard times for smoother ones either because - yes, it is a classic: - they have made me who I am today.
Dance is the sum of so many things and in those things you will always find the WISDOM, LOVE, INNER LIFE and MATURITY that only arrive with life experience and learnt lessons (directly squizzed from some pretty acid lemons, most of the times).
As I return from yet another HUGELY SUCCESSFUL work trip (this time to San Sebastian, Spain) I find myself breathing slower and deeper than usual: I am grateful seems to sing out of my every pore.
Running at the sunset with our dogs (and watching rabbits, snakes, birds and all kinds of bugs on the way): jumping like a child: TRUSTING life and its fair blessings: it´s all part of the package of who I am as a person and a dancer.
The photos you see in this post are from my last show in Spain (Donostis events photos).
 As usual, I improvized with a total willingness to try new things, sensations, comunication tools, Magic*. It is better to fail - greatly - than to play safe and remain in the mediocrity of what I did yesterday (I´m crazy that way...).
I threw myself out from the cliff and dared to fly, fly, fly without knowing where I would land. The result?! Well, well: appreciation that came in the shape of some warm yelling from the audience, heart melting comments and hugs from all dancers in the festival and so many other litthe (big) blessings that reassure me that the high way is also the RIGHT way.

 With my heart in my hands I danced, gave a lecture, taught my workshops and looked at each person I met with the curiosity of a new born puppy. Ain´t no other way to LIVE: or you allow yourself to die and be reborn or you become one of the cynical half dead people that pollutes this mad world of ours.

From all the BLESSINGS I am GRATEFUL for I tend to press my button on these:

1. My health and the health of the ones I love the most.

2. The Love inside and around me - everywhere I go, really.

3. The prosperity, the success that comes from a deep respect, appreciation and feeling of empathy for my VISION of ORIENTAL DANCE.

4. My wide circle of friends spread all over the world - supporting me as well as receiving my support, inspiring me as well as being inspired by me, celebrating my feasts and giving me their hands on the falls: such a BLESSING to have you all in my Life (you know who you are).

5. The realization that ALL my DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE, one by one and in front of my eyes that shine in full glitter of excitement for the gift of BEING ALIVE.
The much that was already done shows me - in fact - that the so much more I dream to do is POSSIBLE and it goes way beyond everything I can imagine. Blessed and grateful for that lucid VISION and the strength to materialize it.
Let´s ROCK the WORLD! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sneak peak at upcoming London workshop goodie*

Sneak peak at the booklet of "The Secrets of Egyptian Dance" (to be delivered in London on my upcoming workshops - 1,2nd June):

"Basically – and on a spiritual level - the choice was between Life and Death. Living with the knowledge that I had been too much of a coward to follow my dreams (even if they seemed impossible to the world around me) was unbearable, too much of a burden for my shinning pride to take; knowing that I would die, little by little, under the “kind” applauses I was used to was not a sunny option for me; living with the regret of “not trying”, “not going for it”, “not testing myself” was the kind of weight I knew I could not take on my shoulders. 

 Between living dangerously and signing my own death certificate (properly supported by society, family, friends and boyfriend – all with the best intentions) un-rested my own adventurer, gipsy nature. In a quest for being true to myself (a treat that would soon come in handy in my career and almost kill me in my private life) I took the plunge and never went or looked back.
Had I been the mouse I so much despise and “The Secrets of Egyptian Dance” (that the reader now holds in her/his hands) would not have known the light of day. 

  The rest is history."


Saturday, May 11, 2013

World Day Bellydance Contest (by Joana Saahirah of Cairo*)

Welcome to the "World BellyDance Day" contest  by Joana Saahirah of Cairo and
This contest was created to celebrate the LOVE for Oriental Dance from dancers, students and audience from all over the world.
In order to participate you just have to answer two questions (answers available at my official website: - to have access to the whole website (in english) please click in the british flag that is on the bar at the top of the website)
 and define ORIENTAL DANCE (aka belly dance).
No need to be a professional dancer or even a dance student. You just have to LOVE Oriental Dance and dare to join the feast.
***THE PRIZE (check photo above as well as photos bellow in this post):
An Oriental Dance dress designed by me and embroidered in Cairo); a gorgeous hip scarf; a dance DVD with vintage performances of the most celebrated egyptian dancers; a music cd for Oriental Dance and a "pharaonic" notebook.
This "oriental goodie" basket will be sent to your home (with no charge) after the results of the Contest are announced (on the 30th May).
***All you have to do is:
 Answer the questions (answers found at
* At what age did Joana Saahirah start to study classical ballet?
*When did Joana Saahirah perform on television for the first time (when and where)?
*** Please send your answers (with name and email) to:
***Answers will be received and considered VALID for contest ONLY until the 30th May (having in consideration the CORRECT answer to the first 2 questions and the ORIGINALITY and AUTHENTICITY of "Oriental Dance" definition).
* The best answers will be published (with the authorization of their authors) on my Blog:
Good luck, everyone!
Shots of the prize:




With Love, J*.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

(Happy) return to Russia (this November)*

My particular passion for Russia (and russian dancers) is not new.
For the past months, I was teaching, performing and judging in (fantastic) festivals in Russia for two times and in those two times all I found was TALENT, DISCIPLINE, RESPECT and LOVE for the ART of DANCE and so much passion, daring ideas and incredible understanding and appreciation for my work.
It is only understandable that I am thrilled to announce
my return to Russia for another BIG FESTIVAL
(this November).
More details will follow. For now: just the honour - yet another one - to share my Vision of Oriental Dance with the world (specially in those parts of the world where mentalities towards Dance have evolved and I can see my seeds flourishing faster, higher, stronger than ever).
Blessed and grateful for the opportunity to follow my bliss* and accomplish my Dreams/Destiny.
Way before Russia I´m still on the way to SPAIN (Bilbao, the 17th, 18th, 19th May);
United Kingdom (London, from the 1st till the 7th June); Cyprus (beginning of July) and Ukraine (middle of July) and many other places to be announced... :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Foreigner Dancers Versus Egyptian&Arab Dancers (and other articles)

I´ve written articles about Oriental Dance and the Life of Dancers for so many places and in so many directions that I tend to forget where all of them went. Much like objects: after I´m done with them, I simply erase their existence from my horizon (talk about dettachment...). It was a good reunion, then.
These were notes I wrote a while ago on the Facebook and totally forgot about. Someone called - again - my attention to it and here I am taking a new look at them and finding them worth sharing.

Read on, enjoy it and use it in your Dance/Life if your Soul tells you so.

Follow the links: 
And a final note to the soul (mine and yours: OURS):

The so called "perfectionism" is a plague I suffer from. Contrary to popular belief, it does not allow you to be better under all circumstances. It can - in fact - be the reason why you are not better in your craft, relationship, life in general. 

 After many head knocking sessions on the wall I - therefore - choose to replace "perfectionism" by GUTS. The guts to fail, if necessary. The guts to be medíocre, awful, average (the worst thing in the world for an artist), something of no consequence, insignificant: anything and everything: but with GUTS.

 Also noticing how relative it all is: what is "perfect" for me may not be "perfect" for you and there you go chasing a ghost that - to make matters even worse - cuts your legs, hands and courage.
To hell with perfectionism. Cheers to GUTS!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Next stations on my map and Soul Notes for the Road.

Where to next?
Spain, England, Cyprus, Ukraine and much more...
Still a load of serious (I hope!) writing to finish and new Stages to conquer. Vacation is - definitely - not here yet.

Leaving you all with some Soul Notes (whispered in my ears when I least expect it) for the Road (our roads). Hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me.

"More than the knowledge I gathered; more than the talent I may borrow from God; more than the experience and know how accumulated out of my victories; more than anything else...the biggest triumph tool I hold in my hands is my Ignorance (royal, humble, conscious) and the thirsty curiosity that goes with it and, some times, kills it for a moment or two."
Joana Saahirah

"CREATING seems to me as a constant mad willingness to jump off cliffs without knowing where (or if!) I will land. No certainties, no ego trips, no applauses garanteed (or even wished for): just the pure pleasure of flying into the Unknown with the inner confidence and awareness that, no matter what happens, God´s Light will be there to receive me and speak through me, through my dance, my spirit and presence overflowing with Love* (the BRAVE kind of Love: the only One, perhaps...)."
Joana Saahirah
"The most important thing in Dance is not the amount of movements you can make but how you make those movements and the Life* you can fill them with. It´s not what you do but HOW you do it that makes ALL the difference.
Dancing is so much more than acrobatics, aerobics and ego trips...we´re getting to the point*, anyways."
Joana Saahirah
"You know, kid? The important thing is to keep moving ahead.
Maybe running, maybe walking, maybe just dragging your feet on the floor. Maybe swimming, maybe flying or even dying...but MOVING.
That is the trick."
Joana Saahirah

Joana Saahirah in London (FLASH NEWS!)

Here we go: directly to the subject:
There is no way I can tell you by words (although I try to) how EXCITED I am with my upcoming visit to London. All I can say right now is that everybody involved in the event will feel a huge page turner after we go through the MAGICAL (and I use this word in a literal way). A page turner regarding the WAY WE DANCE and the WAY WE LIVE.
Not only will I teach the whole Weekend (1,2nd June) but I will also stay in the city for the following week after that *(AVAILABLE FOR PRIVATE LESSONS AND SHOWS BOOKING).
For NOW, two HOT NEWS that may interest you:
1. Feel welcome to subscribe to Zara s Zouk Newsletter and have access - besides other goodies - to an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW I offered her. I thank, in advance, the support and faith the lovely (and talented) Zara puts in my work ("Much appreciated, honey").
2. Subscribe to my London Workshops and have exclusive access to a SPECIAL-CLOSED FACEBOOK GROUP
 I created in order to prepare the dancers for the BIG WEEKEND.
In this Group you will find challenges, exclusive material (videos, lectures, articles, tips, contests) and an whole space for pre-workshop  preparation (questions*debates*discoveries*interaction with me and other dancers in the course) that will create the perfect base for what we will work in the courses.