Monday, October 21, 2013

Looking back* (plus Slovenia Magic*)...

Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*
I´m not a nostalgia lover, particularly where time is concerned. Celebrating 10 years of career or counting how many this or that have been achieved is not my cup of tea. By quality and default, I look at the NOW and the AHEAD, never back. What I´ve done is not interesting anymore, at least for not for me. WHAT I AM DOING NOW AND THE DREAMS THAT KEEP GROWING ARE IMPORTANT.
It seems I´ve done a LOT and yet - if I fall in a rare "looking back" exercize -, I see only 12 years of Oriental Dance on my back. 12 years of work in Oriental Dance is not THAT* long if you take in consideration how much water has already passed under my bridge.
Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*
In these 12 years, I´ve taught, performed and organized events in my original homeland (Portugal) when pratically no one knew what Oriental Dance was; I launched myself to Egypt (performing in Lebanon, in Oman and in Qatar before setting my tent* in Egypt) and - without any help or guiding hands -, I built a very sucessful career there for 8 years of non stop applauses; in these last 3 years, I´ve been invited to teach, perform and lecture around the world and have two BOOKS ready to be published (first one will be OUT THERE* very, VERY soon*).
Teaching in  Maribor (Slovenia)*
A new show* on the way and a brand new WORLD AGENDA that will take 2014 by storm. This fantastic ADVENTURE* happened  in 12 years of PASSIONATE JOURNEY - only 12 years! Imagine how much I will do with the rest of my Life*...:)

Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*
 It´s true, I started working in the field when I was just 22 years old. I was green, naif and still not prepared for the craft but I learnt WHILE doing it - mistakes included. If I´d waited for the "perfect" time to start, I would still be waiting - that´s the truth.
Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*
Yep - looking back is not my "thing". And yet it´s amazing when I do it and see how PROUD I am (of everything I´ve done so far and the immense lot of AMAZING things I will do right now).

Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*
But...if you ask me...what´s the most FANTASTIC thing I gather from the Journey - so far -, I would tell you: the Passion, Wonder and Respect I have for my Art has never faded, even after seeing the darkest corners of this world and travelling through all sorts of hell ("Welcome to Egypt!"). It´s a full circle moment, no doubt: I´ve started knowing* this Dance is Sacred; then Egypt happened to me and "they" tried to convence me this Art is shit and dancers are prostitutes. I´ve accepted to prove them wrong and won.
I´ve seen the darkness, indeed, and came out of it more luminous than ever.
PROUD, IN LOVE and BLESSED are my words of order. Today and always.

Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*

Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*

Performing in Maribor (Slovenia)*


Saturday, October 19, 2013

ME* - seen (or felt*) by Rute Maluma´s Eyes***

Me - seen (*felt) by the beautiful Eyes of Rute Maluma*.
 To keep up with her work, go to her new Page on the Facebook:

The Magic* around me (us*) is incredible - harder and harder to ignore.
In LOVE* (with myself, with others and with the WORLD*).

Friday, October 18, 2013

"STAR MAKER LONDON" CONTEST by Joana Saahirah of Cairo*

"STAR MAKER LONDON" CONTEST by Joana Saahirah of Cairo*
PARTICIPATE and get the chance to WIN a FANTASTIC PRIZE and the opportunity to study with Joana Saahirah of Cairo.
A modern and stylish "bedleh" (dance dress) designed by one of the most sought after designers in Egypt (Aziz); three original cds with authentic egyptian music; 50% discount in the payment of STAR MAKER WORKSHOP (by Joana Saahirah) on the 17th November, London.

1. You have to subscribe to the workshop (STAR MAKER) and send your name and payment confirmation to the email:
2. You have to SHARE the EVENT (see link bellow) on your FACEBOOK PAGE
3. You have to send us your DEFINITION of STARDOM  - what makes a DANCER a STAR?
Your answer must be sent to the email:
4. These three conditions must be fulfilled and sent to the refered email UNTIL the 4th November. Any subscriptions received AFTER this date will be considered invalid.

The winner will be announced on the FB (as well as in this blog) on the 6th November and the prize will be delivered (in person) during the STAR MAKER WORKSHOP (17th November).
Available through this link:


*** Some images of the PRIZE (that YOU CAN WIN):



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Beauty (and LOVE*) are Everywhere series*

Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara began taking pictures of her grandmother, Misao, 13 years ago to commemorate her rich life. Along the way, the photographer came across a beautiful bond between her now 88-year-old grandmother and a cat named Fukumaru, whose given name roughly translates as “good fortune circle.”
In her photo book titled Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat, Ihara captures the affectionate tale of these two best friends doing everything together.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lisbon (MAGICAL*) rendez-vous

Story of my LIFE* (and Dance Path*):

That old devil called Oriental Dance*

Oh, Lord! I´ve never been patient - that is true. It has served very well -on many occasions - and tragically bad - on many others. Life and work in Egypt has taught me to be as flexible, compassionate and understanding as my Soul allows me to be. As long as no one is harming other people, I am fine with it ( after seeing so many pigs riding their bicycles nothing seems to shock me anymore): aliens doing the twist, princes with underwear on their heads, unicorns cooking beans, dogs singing Cole Porter´s tunes, you name it...everything is just fine.

 The one thing I never got used to was the image most people still have towards Oriental Dance.
Fair enough: I´m traumatized by 8 years of life and career in Egypt. The dose of potentially offensive and humiliating situations I faced were enough to crash even the mightiest of all self-esteem convictions. No matter where I go, those episodes of egyptian "REAL LIFE" haunt me like evil ghosts I cannot live without.

How many times I had to hide my profession in order to avoid further sexual harassment, verbal or even physical attacks and other troubled consequences?! How many times I was treated like a cheap (or expensive)  piece of meat (which ends up in the exact same gutter)? How many times I read the thoughts of those around me and felt ashamed - not for me or my craft but for their soulless, brainless, heartless existences?
 Oh, man. I´m tired. Too tired for words.

A few days ago, I could (sadly) laugh at one more of these "Oriental Dancer"´s crazy life episodes.
As I stood in line, for the fourth time in the space of less than one year, to make a visa to a country where I will perform and teach, I was approached by one of their (bizarre) employees:

-Hi! How are you? I cannot believe you´re here again in such a short time! You must REALLY love (fill the blank with a country of your imagination´s choice)...
-Yes, I do. Very, very much.
-Ah: I know what you´re going to do there.
-Really? Good for you.
-Yes, I have another friend who is also a stripper. Her names is Claudia Claudina. You must know her...

Wait! The embassy freaky employee thinks I´m a professional stripper. Fair enough. Should I tell him the truth? "I´m not a stripper; I´m an Oriental Dancer." Should I?!
Maybe NOT. It didn´t take me long to realize that correcting this employee would not benefit me, it would only drag me into a deeper hole.
It was not the first time I had been mistaken by a professional stripper; I had corrected who assumed that was my profession and the result had been disastrous. Not only the respect level went down the toilet (yes, it seems that Oriental Dancers - or Belly Dancers, as most prefer to call us - can be worse than strippers) but an added dose of comtempt and pity was thrown at my back. No mercy or a second guess.
From what I understood, here´s the deal: strippers promise to deliver the goodies (aka BODY) and they keep their word; Oriental Dancers promise to deliver the goodies and fail to keep their word. So, basically, both professions are on the same track/purpose but the first one is more PROFESSIONAL than the second.

-No, I don´t know your friend Claudia. - I answered the Embassy´s employee.
-Maybe you will meet her soon. You´ll probably be working in the same venue one of these days.

End of conversation.
Current mood: TIRED* of people´s ignorance. Yes, yes, yes: be compassionate towards ignorance, evilness, stupidity and so forth. Yes, I try. But it´s tiring. VERY tiring.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Religion* (ART***)

What a man!:)
Only greatness can be this humble, simple, generous and authentic. I think I´m in LOVE*:)

During yesterday´s concert of ESTAS TONNE (gorgeous artist) I could not stop myself from thinking out loud, once more (confirming what has been on my mind, heart and work for so long): ART is RELIGION, it is THE CONNECTION of human beings with themselves and with GOD. Directly; face to face; no intermeditaries, power struggles, ambitions, Holly Books and Priests in the middle; the DIRECT SACRED BR...IDGE to the heart.
What I loved the most about this concert was the HUMAN EXPERIENCE that rose above the comercial, standard, expected "music show". That Artist/Man is not interested in selling; anything, not even his music. He´s interested in CONNECTING with other people and, by doing so, creating SACRED MOMENTS all of us will be eternally carrying within ourselves.
Blessed and grateful for the experience*.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Joana Saahirah of Cairo baladi choreography

Sharing the Goodies*: one more choreography done for one of my workshops (BALADI).
Hope you all enjoy* and take much inspiration from it.

Bonus: one more fantastic photo by Slavko Rajh (taken during my last performance in Slovenia)

Finally (!)...somebody understands me:)

Yep: that pretty much says it all.

Moving forward and on fire but not free from that persistent feeling of "walking alone" in the midst of the crowds. 

Ah, THIS ONE TOO (seems today is a reality check parade)!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back to Russia* (this November)

Back home - to Russia* - this November.
Happy Bunny I am!:)
 Teaching, performing and judging in yet another Major Festival where I expect to see loads of talento, humbleness, discipline and passion for the craft of Dance (usual treats in most of the dancers I met in Russia).

 Also excited for what, in the past, was dreadful to me: being a judge in Oriental Dance Competitions. No, I didn´t warm up to the role of a judge. I still dislike being in such position and  think the concept of competition is dangerous and potentially destructive of dancer´s self-esteem and true purpose but I also realized I had MUCH to learn from these events.

 Watching dozens (if not hundreds) of excelent dancers competing and having to judge them (according to criterias most professional dancers don´t even follow - but SHOULD) gives me a rare  OUTSIDER perspective on what a Dancer should be and what the audience expects from her/him.
Other dancers qualities and flaws may well be my own; they become mirrors where I can correct myself, improve, search for a clearer inner truth. In fact, being a Judge in such competitions (with high level dancers who have properly prepared for the event) can be another unexpected School for me. For that* - and so many other gifts - I am grateful.

So be It*.

(Still) echos of Slovenia*

My last work trip to Slovenia earned me for pretty unexpected joys. A "Post-Scriptum" in my upcoming Book ("The Secrets of Egyptian Dance & Other Life Lessons from Egypt"), new friends and the longing for yet another* home.
Sometimes - ok, many times - I wish I was normal but then I know the flip side of the coin would not be here, where it is, allowing me to be CREATIVE on so many fronts.
Madness and talent are GIFTS from God that come with their correspondent burdens and responsabilities. I try - the best I can - to keep myself in "this world" without - EVER - belonging to it. The refusal to be one more of the sheep crowds is what keeps me breathing.
With a deep breath I THANK, once more, SLOVENIA (and Ksenija, the amazing organizer of the event where I taught, lectured and performed) for making me a richer human being.
Here are some more souvenirs of this unforgettable (soul) Journey*:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blessed* Egyptian Radar*

Photo by Slavko Rajh
It´s known - if you´ve followed my career so far - that I owe a LOT of Egyptian audiences and to the Musicians who have worked with me in eight years of daily shows in Egypt. Local audiences and musicians were my biggest Teachers, Guidance and Family and the ones who held my ground when everything seemed to fall apart. They are - indeed - the MASTER TEACHERS of my own EGYPT GREAT SCHOOL of MYSTERIES.
Very few people know about my true self and motivations: what makes me do what I do and go where I go. For me, REALLY, it has always been about the GROWTH, the DISCOVERY and the ADVENTURE of feeling ALIVE by finding who I am and sharing it with others.
My life and work in Egypt has developed many of my senses (or RADARS, as I prefer to call them): the survival radar, the passion radar, the "not interested" radar and the EGYPTIAN RADAR. Yep: you read it well. Wherever I am performing (may that be in Egypt or in China, Japan, Hawai - you name it ), I FEEL if there are Egyptians in the room. Once I identify them, I FEEL AT HOME - I know* I am back home. It´s beyond understanding.
No surprise then when I hit the stage in Slovenia and immediately located one egyptian gentleman (and the word is truly accurate in this case: a GENTLEMAN) in the audience. I felt HIM* and he felt ME* instantly: we didn´t know each other but, somehow, WE DID. There was a common ground, sky, language, secret passage to Heaven, a dimension we both shared.
As I danced, I saw his lips moving (saying something to his wife and to himself) and, most importantly, his EYES shinning. I knew everything he was feeling and thinking. I knew what that performance was about: not a cute, correct, exotic dance but an opportunity to RECONNECT people with their own souls, in particular this GENTLEMAN who came from the same Land* I come from. What I saw in his eyes was LOVE and a SOUL who remembers the way back home*; that was ORIENTAL DANCE magic* happening.
 No more comments required. Just:
 THANK YOU, LIFE*********************
Photo by Breda Jurecko.

Appreciation (the cherry on the top of my cake):

Just for the sake of wonder and gratitude, here´s  of the comments I received from a dancer/student who participated in my workshops. Tears in my eyes and a fairy dancing inside my chest:).

"Dear Joana...
  I wanna say thank you for the fantastic workshop on Saturday. You are the Oriental/Egypt soul, now I understand what you mean by saying "Bringing back the soul of oriental dance". Please show all the bellydancers around the world that THIS is oriental dancing, and not the hard dancing structures they all teach in europe, especially in Austria and Germany. I want you to ask the music of the choreo we danced, this shaabi/saidi funny mix. I would be very happy if you could send it to me. Many thanks and a lot of success!"

   Neslihan (Orientalgroove Graz)