Archive for Egyptian

hips in action again

Some of my PRISM Dancers and I did a bit of TOBD in our show at the local multicultural fair yesterday. We used Sirocco’s “Intro” track because it fit in so well with the rural Egyptian music we used for our folkloric choreographies. And of course playing the finger cymbals fits right in too.
I was happy to see my hip moves coming back, I’ve been working on getting them big and clear enough; so I was happy to see this little video, courtesy of Siyala’s family.
We’re all in beledi dresses: no costume changes because it was a short 30-minute show. This also demonstrates how well Tribal Odyssey synchronized improv fits into a show that includes other styles of belly dancing. We began with this TOBD number, then went right into Ghawazee, Raks Assaya; American Oriental; slow TOBD and Tribal Sword; American Belly Dance again; then Interpretive (a fun basket dance). The dresses are a compromise between glitzy and folky – we all stayed onstage through the entire show. So convenient!

by Anthea (Kawakib)

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whose side are we on, anyway?

who brought up religion?


I know people look for markers, patterns, SIGNS – something recognizable to help them make sense of things, and I’m aware of specifically religious end-time symbolism because my first husband was a religious scholar and we both enjoyed discussing theology, theories, and beliefs. I’m also well aware of how some devout Christians strive to distance themselves from any kind of devilry or worship of what they would consider “false gods”.

That being said, I want to set the record straight on my use of the “Eye of Horus” symbolism in our dance format; as well as clarify any references I personally might make concerning the “Goddess”.

The Eye of Horus

image of eye of horus

ancient Egyptian symbol and cool eye makeup

  1. First of all, the “Eye of Horus” is Egyptian, and this dance format is specifically inspired by Egyptian dancing. The shape of the Eye of Horus as used in our format specifically refers to the shape of our dance group in a certain situation when more than 4 of us dance together. This symbolism was first suggested by my co-creator Miramar as a way to help students remember this shape when dancing with a group. It refers to the shape of the group when the Lead Dancer is on the short side of the group. This Improv Tribal Style format is not choreographed but must be created on the spot by the dancers themselves, so any memory tricks are welcome.
  2. Secondly, use of this ancient Egyptian symbol does not signify that I promote, condone, or even permit any behaviour or rituals dedicated to Paganism, let alone Satanism, in my dance activities. In fact I actually became an ordained minister in 2002. Don’t get me wrong, I think paganism can be a positive force (at least it’s better than nothing); but it’s not what I’m about, nor is my dance art about that. When I personally lead a pre-performance circle before a show I quite clearly invoke, by name, the Creative Spirit, a Divine personality. How old-school, to be sure!
  3. Third: in the end what counts is MOTIVATION – that is, what is really in someone’s heart when they wear or use a symbol. People may be fooled by appearances, but the Spirit is not. For instance, if I don’t know any better than to worship a God who has human emotions like anger, that’s fine. But if I know better than that and I still pretend to believe in it – that’s not okay. My religion is of God, but don’t expect me to put my new wine in any of your old wineskins.

And now, enter the GODDESS.

I use imagery that speaks to me – and the attributes of nurturing care and planning that females bring to the table are best personified to me on a universal level by the concept of the Goddess, our Mother Spirit, a complement to the seed of our Universal Father, God. Just two aspects of the trinity deity we come from, move in, and can return to.

Since our finite minds are far from being able to understand, let alone explain these concepts of infinity, the familiar concept of the Goddess stands in as a sort of mental shorthand that gives us dancers an image of inspiring feminine spirituality.

Ant that is why, in my personal work, and for my student dance group that performs all styles of belly dance, I use this image:

Goddess dancer image

my dance logo, created by my daughter

It’s as far from a false god as you can get.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that often what other people see is a mirror of what they have in their minds, and is not really about me at all. But in any case, now this is as clear as I can make it.

If you don’t understand this or have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

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planning tribal classes at Pennsic 2013

I’m looking forward to later this summer when I’ll be camping again for a short week at Orluk Oasis in Pennsic; and I’m scheduled to teach ONE Tribal Odyssey Bellydance class on the second Wednesday. I’ll be sharing some of the fast (advanced) lead-and-follow combinations, including several combos with finger cymbals (of course, cymbals are optional for new students). I hope to have a live drummer again this year.

Rajni, also of Orluk, is teaching the slow combos, and her classes repeat over several days. We both scheduled our classes for early in the morning (in the Middle Eastern teaching tent) so get up early and beat the heat!

Rajni in red

Rajni of Orluk Oasis

Rajni’s classes run in the second week, at 9am on:
7/28, 7/29, 7/31, and 8/1 (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday). Contact Rajni through her website, Qamar Tribal Odyssey Bellydance

My classtime is 10:30am on Wednesday July 31, just after Rajni’s earlier class. Here’s the event on Facebook: Tribal O combos at Pennsic

Students taking any of our classes can get a DISCOUNT Access Pass to the TOBD Playlists on my YouTube channel (for example, the Slow Combos and Staging series). Be sure to ask about the Discount in class!

I can’t wait to see my Orluk family and the wonderful community of Pennsic bellydancers! It’s always the highlight of my year.

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dancing in the footsteps of the Ghawazee…

 Anyone who’s watched a performance by the Banat Maazin in their heyday knows what a powerful impact they had when dancing together. Their long, extended sets using basic, even-tempo’d Egyptian rhythms provided the perfect backdrop to their style of belly dancing: as a performing group, their dancing was UN-choreographed but obviously structured in that they knew when to group into duets or trios that meshed, or dance as individuals, or dance as a group in sync.

 This feeling of loosely structured but coherent group movement is the same we get in the American group improv formats like ATS­™ and ITS. At their best, these formats provide a structure when we need it, and allow us the freedom of spontaneous creation inspired by the situation in which we’re dancing at any given time. We should ALWAYS strive to keep alive the un-choreographed nature of this type of bellydancing, even though it carries with it the possibility of imperfection. It’s foolish to think we can reach perfection in any type of dance, isn’t it?

Besides, dancing with friends is more like playing together – especially since you can take turns leading the group. It allows for so much freedom! Sharing the burden of keeping things moving lightens the load considerably; and every single performance is unique – it’ll never be done that way again!

Apart from the fun factor, here are some “dance-teacher” specific reasons to consider using a Group Improv format in class:

  • the limited repertoire of combinations helps students develop graceful TRANSITIONS between movements
  • students quickly begin to hear and recognize the music’s beat and rhythms
  • learning to play finger cymbals while dancing is quicker and easier
  • students develop increased powers of attention and awareness since they must stay focused on what the Leader–and the group–is doing at any particular moment

Once students reach the stage where they feel confident in leading and following the combinations and staging changes, they can finally “relax and just dance”, going with the flow and enjoying the moment. It takes work to get to that point but once there it’s extremely rewarding. There’s nothing comparable in solo dancing or group choreographies – group improvisation is in a league of its own. Thank you Banat Maazin, for inspiring dancers across the globe.

…But isn’t it funny that bellydance troupes always choreograph their “Ghawazee” numbers when the original performances were obviously group improv?

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