Since I´ve started getting out of Egypt (thankfully 🙂 ), after years of successful but also exhausting career/life there, I´ve made a point of disconnecting from its madness, gossip and pseudo politics. I´ve started a different, international, phase of my professional path and feel totally immersed in it, blissfully unaware of what´s going on.
Then the news of an egyptian bellydance contest crossed my eyes and the first question that popped out of my mouth was:
1. Who is this contest serving/promoting? I saw a couple of clips and none of them seemed to indicate a particular criteria oc choice (are these dancers supposed to be amateurs or professionals? Not event that is clear…), respect or consideration for the competitors. So...I´ll keep my mouth closed in this point and leave the question OPEN: whom did this contest aimed to promote? If you´ve seen a bit of it and use the beautiful brain you have, you´ll reach your own conclusion.
2. Is it fair to join foreign dancers and egyptian dancers in an unique competition?
That can be divided in two different questions:
2.1. WHY isn´t there a CLEAR criteria to guide the competitors? How is it possible to hold a fair competition without RULES, POINTS TO BE JUDGED, a GUIDE LINE of qualities that people are judged for?! HOW? Are dancers depending on the judges and production personal tastes? How absurd is that?
2.2. Some defend it´s not fair to put egyptians and foreigners on the same table because they bring totally different qualities to the dance.
Fair enough – I agree with that: they do bring difference qualities (and flaws) to the table. But then again: if a clear JUDGEMENT CRITERIA would be defined, both sides of the barricade would be evaluated according to the same GOAL and would work towards the same horizon, minimizing their “innate differences”. It wouldn´t erase the genetic, cultural, religious factors that make egyptians dance the way they do as opposed to foreigners but it would offer a COMMON GROUND from which each side could grown from.
Lesson #13 (I used numbers according to the Major Arcana of the Tarot so they´re lessons/secrets/symbols of Life´s major breakthroughs: DON´T FORGET TO PLAY (YOU´RE CLOSER TO GOD WHEN YOU´RE LAUGING and
Lesson # 14: GOING BACK HOME*: STILLNESS, INNER DANCE (AND HOW TO MAKE RICH SOUP OUT OF WATER AND ROCKS).
I don´t know how much can be perceived by the titles (they´re obvious to me because I lived them and wrote them but maybe they´re not so clear to other people unless they read the whole text). These two mentioned chapters of the book focus on some of the reasons why egyptians believe “foreigners can NEVER do it as well as egyptians, no matter how well prepared and professional they are”. Anyway: there are specific characteristics that make the EGYPTIAN DANCE LANGUAGE what it is – characteristics that egyptian dancers have by nature and society/life conditioning; characteristics we, foreign dancers, CAN learn and therefore be closer to the CORE of the DANCE. Then again: I don´t think the point is to dance LIKE egyptians but to REALLY know this SACRED, AMAZING, ALCHEMIC language that has been so misunderstood for so long.
Back to the main question: if it´s fair to join foreigners and egyptians in an Egyptian Dance competition: dance competitions are held all over the world and within all kinds of dance styles.
Flamenco is not only practiced by Spanish gipsies – would it be fair to put them in a competition with non-Spanish gipsies?
Tango is not only practiced by Argentinian, would it be fair to put them in a competition with non- Argentinian?
Salsa is not only practiced by Latin American people – would it be fair to put them in a competition with non- Latin American? The list would go on and reality is, no matter how much separates us (egyptians and foreigners), Oriental Dance is clearly heading to UNITY (as it is the whole world right now – may you ignore it or not) and creating a contest of Egyptian Dance ONLY allowed to egyptians (or the opposite: an Egyptian Dance contest ONLY allowed to foreigners) seems more unfair, out of reality and illogical than joining people who cannot, apparently, be compared.
And that takes me to another question: is Egyptian Dance an exclusively egyptian language? I believe not. It´s universal, human – coming directly from our soul (and souls have no nationality).