In 8 years of Life and Career in Egypt there are trucks of Knowledge, Lessons learnt and Treasures gathered. They will not fit in a website post but here I leave “just” a hint of the Magic*
What have I learnt from Egyptians?
*Life wise and Dance wise – both internally connected.
I can honestly say I recovered the Roots and Essence of Egyptian Dance from the experience of having a life and daily performing ritual in Egypt. It has not been an easy school. It has actually been the hardest, often cruelest of all Universities but it will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know if you have the intelligence, the feline curiosity, the stamina, the inner strength and the clean HEART to SEE IT* (further and higher than the most).
*In life, as in Dance: be relaxed and go with the flow of Life. Egypt has taught me this: I am not stronger than Life itself. One could put it in another terms: I am not stronger than God´s will. You may be strong, skillful, brave and all that jazz but you always need God-Life-Universe flow on your side. If it´s not, then the only thing you will achieve is a series of head knockings on the wall.
*From the last rule comes another: practice yourself to be able to recognize when obstacles are worth fighting – against all odds – or when Life is telling you that is not YOUR LIFE´s DIRECTION. This has been a hard cookie to crack for me. You see: I´m a fighter. I do not quit and never accept obstacles as stronger than my will power. So it has been an enormous exercise sensibility and humbleness: to distinguish when LIFE offers obstacles to be overthrown or when LIFE is clearly telling you that is not your direction.
*Breath deeply and enjoy the MOMENT. In Life as in Dance.Egyptians have done it naturally – and traditionally – since forever. They are the big “celebrators” I´ve ever known. They know how to STOP and ENJOY the PRESENT MOMENT (they know it way too much – as far as my European productivity oriented education is concerned). Applying this principle adds quality, pleasure and freedom to your life and dance.
*Don´t be afraid of STILLNESS. Then again: Egyptians do it better than anyone else. When you hear critics thrown at the faces of foreigner dancers they usually target their stressed movements and their inability to enjoy, take their time and be still in the movements they perform. Egyptian dancers – and women, in general – used to have a much slower and cool pace of life and THAT has strongly shaped the Egyptian dance style. Once we dig into this dance it´s wonderful to balance movement with stillness; music with silence; energy and strength with relaxation; control of the movements with smoothness (very hard combination of qualities).
*Be LIGHT in your mind and heart – specially when you dance. Egyptians have lived on insecure limbs for centuries. They´ve endured all kinds of occupations, disrespects, corrupted Governments (foreigners first and then Egyptians), hard life´s conditions. If one does not forget a while and forgive a LOT life becomes unbearable.
In life as in dance: don´t let your grudges, disappointments and wounds turn your soul into black. Release all your fears, sadness and memory of injustices and pain as often as you can.
*Do not aim to IMPRESS – in life as in dance. Aim to ENJOY and SHARE your inner world with other people (that´s what Oriental Dance is about). Egyptian dancers of the past had an extremely charismatic presence that did not care a bit about impressing audiences. They were so focused on enjoying themselves – therefore offering an apparent effortless shine to their dance.
*TARAB – or that ability to get so lost and impregnated with the music you´re listening that your ego disappears and YOU BECOME UNITED with the MUSIC. Here´s –probably – the most Egyptian of all the concepts presented in this post. In Life as in Dance: allow yourself to get lost with the music, to drink from it like there´s no tomorrow; to make love with it as you would with a deeply loved person of your heart´s choice. Get drunk with the music: with love: with LIFE itself.
*Have fun! Egyptians do IT better.:) They have fun with the smallest thing – quite like children. Having that playful and good humored attitude – in dance as in life – helps a LOT more than the attitude of taking yourself too seriously.
*When you fall, accept it with a smile and make a new dance out of it. This is another Egyptian quality that comes from being used to deal with constant difficulties and frustrations. Look at your falls, weak points and mistakes with a tender smile and make the best of them. Correct them, if you can. If you cannot, be creative about them and use them the best way your imagination can conceive.
*Thank God – the Universe – whatever you believe in on a daily basis. It is known that Egyptians mention Allah (God)´s name all the time – very often in totally wrong contexts. “Il hamdulilah” (thanks God) is an expression that got stuck into my mouth permanently. I am not a Muslim but I don´t think you have to be one in order to use this expression and be grateful to God for being here, alive, thriving and growing.