Betraying James Joyce

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There´s no doubt I´m a rebel. It´s not like I wake up and decide: I´m going to be a rebel today. I just am; I was born this way.

I love what, and whom, I love independently of conveniences or external pressures; I won´t spend a second with a person, or thing, that doesn´t set my soul on fire.

I go where my heart sends me and I won´t do what everybody else´s doing  if that´s not part of my personal path. Some call it arrogance; I call it the courage to be myself.

My choice of books follows this rule: the rebel´s, heart following rule.

I´ve been meaning to read James Joyce´s “Ulysses” for a long time.

As I finished my third visit to the Writers´Museum in Dublin, I headed for the bookshop with one goal in mind: buy and, this time around, read Joyce´s master piece.

I´ve heard about it; I know it´s one of those books every aspiring author, or writer or whatever you may call to someone who writes compulsively, should read; I´ve grabbed it several times, trying to get hooked; wanting to get hooked; wishing, hard-hard-hard, to get hooked.

The result was invariably the same: it made me sleepy, bored to death. They say it´s a master piece and I don´t doubt it. Maybe it´s my problem – I´m not ready for the book.

Maybe not. All I know is I cannot invest my time, and focus, on something that makes me want to sleep and, just before I do, slap anyone who crosses my way.

There I was, eyes, sharp, decided, focused on the shelf where The Master Piece was exhibited. I grabbed it, opened it, inhaled its smell (in the middle of the book; always in the middle) and started to read.

-I want to love you; I really do. – I whispered towards the book´s pages.

-…- Silence. Passive aggressive stillness.

I could sense arrogance in the air. And I really dislike arrogance. But I kept reading.

-Can someone get me a pillow? And a bed? Please!

I quit. Yet again. Lost battle.

I ended up, as usual, betraying Joyce by a far inferior book, according to Literature experts: Angela´s Ashes by Frank McCourt, a book I instantly fell in love with. No reason. No recommendations. No MUST READ list. Pure, plain, straighforward love.

I opened it, started reading and knew I was interested. Why, exactly? I don´t know. Should I know? Can you explain love?

I can´t.

Documentary on the rejected author. Something to ease my guilt sense.

Sneak peek at The Secrets* in Poland

A full month of non stop travelling for work; several countries covered; different groups of dancers and students; meetings with strangers and new friends in Dublin, Tullamore, Malaga, Warsaw; love affairs & phantasies; new dreams on the rise; airports, bags, jet-lag, the guilt for not being able to work on my book while on the road; the joy of it all.

Here´s a video – above – with a sneak peek into The Secrets of Egyptian Dance Workshop I taught in Spain, Ireland and Poland. The music is called Baladi Nostalgy by Ilahun orchestra. There´s so much I could say about it but I´ll leave comments aside, for now. Just enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed creating and teaching it.

For now, I´m leaving you with some tips I´ve gathered along the road:

  1. Trying to achieve perfection, whatever that means. I can only thrive for growth and totality: putting everything I am into what I do. More than that it´s an illusion. A frustrating one.
  2. The idea that happiness means “having it all”. It´s another impossible goal. If you´re in China, you cannot be in Spain. Not at the same  time. If you choose the right path, the left remains unexplored; if you dedicate your time to your children, your creative achievements, charity, travelling, (fill the blank space with your priority), you won´t dedicate it to something, or someone, else. Choosing is losing. We choose something in detriment of something else. I´ve made peace with losing a path over another, knowing I always do what my heart´s calling for.
  3. Stop judging people. Yes, there are arseholes – no doubt; I´ve met a few. But most of us are doing the best we know. If we knew better, we´d do better. Dealing with other human beings, and their flaws, is another way to become more human. Hard but possible.
  4. Enjoy every single moment even if the present doesn´t seem particularly exciting to you. Having coffee at the airport (overpriced, crappy coffee), for instance, can be awesome. Meeting a friend for lunch. Enjoying success after you´ve worked hard for something. Kissing a loved one. Reading a line of a great book. And the list goes on. Appreciation, people! Life´s short and oh so fleeting ❤
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Teaching in Warsaw, Poland, at Orient Addicts Festival

The tip of the iceberg

17218668_1501949866495552_1550312680342670216_oWorking in the dance studio, the place where the magic starts to happen, a laboratory for trials, failures and achievements nobody, except me, witnesses. This is where I feel tired – many years thriving for excellence and working, under pressure, non stop – and reborn. The intimate space where I can be a beginner. All over again.

A dancer is what the public sees but, mostly, what it never gets to see. The tip of the iceberg, under water, may be messy and often frustrating but it´s the beginning of everything.
Returning to the studio, day after day, humbles me & reminds me why I started studying dance, at 5 years old, in the first place.

Essence is more important than appearance – the mirrors in my dance studio know it well.

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On my way to Poland (Orient Addicts Festival)

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It doesn´t matter how many times I´ve performed, taught, lectured and judged at major international events or how many shows I´ve presented with my orchestra in Cairo for 8 straight years. I doesn´t matter how experienced I am in my field – it always feels like the first time.

On my way to Poland, ready to rock and bring the house down with the soulful dance that unites us all.

Blessed & grateful ❤

Brain on vacation

15400522_937143383089310_2083812381756603919_nLife experience, combined with self-awareness and the observation of the bigger picture, has taught me a few things.
Mostly, that I don´t know much. Also: there´s no point on trying to find logic in the world.

Nonsense, variety of perspectives and random gifts/bullshit, seem to rock our world, even when we´re convinced we´re the ones driving the ship. Human beings project their own dreams, frustrations and illusions on each other; they fall and rise; they´re childish and then wise, cruel and then kind; angels and demons. It´s all part of the same – crazy, fascinating – package.

-Don´t sweat it. Just flow with it the best you can. You won´t understand life. All you can do is living it to the fullest. Experience it; feel it; drink it. Don´t try to dissect it with your mind. – Something/someone whispers in my ears, lately.

I smile. Not understanding can be good. And way more pleasant than chasing ghosts which are continuously out of my grasp.

I´d be exhausted, if not dead by now, if I took what others say and do personally; if I tried to find reason in unreasonable things; if I got easily offended or hurt by betrayals, envy, smallness; if I kept the illusion of control. I´d be an arrogant prick if I took success, praise and growth to heart. All is good, transitory, relative, multi-faceted.

All is life and I dance above the waves. I try to.

I don´t know; I don´t understand; I have no idea – these may be the wisest statements I´ve ever said to myself. And, you know what?, I´m happier than ever.

That´s enough for me.
Happiness is the goal.

 

Going where it hurts

Working Up.JPGImprovisation has always been my thing, my comfort zone, my nature. It was Mahmoud Reda, The Father of Egyptian Folklore and my best friend, who insisted I started doing it. And taking it seriously.
-I can´t do it, Mahmoud. It bores me to death. I´m an improviser. – I´d tell him, like a baby.
-You CAN do it. And it will make you a better improviser. – He´d answer, holding his cup of tea, watching me go crazy, fighting with a musical phrase and my crumbling certainties.
At first, I did it for him; then, just for my own practice; after, when students from all over the world started to reach out to study with me, I´d choreograph for them.
Only recently, I´ve started to choreograph for myself, for pleasure as much as for work and personal growth.
It´s still out of my comfort zone. I hate it, at times, mostly when results are not up my expectations. But that´s exactly why I keep doing it: crashing walls, facing limits and expanding precisely on the spots I thought I´d fall.
Never underestimate the power of DOING. No need for perfection, if such thing existed (it doesn´t). You just gotta DO IT.
Choreographing
Photos: me, doing it, in one of my dance studios.