I am a “baladi” kind of girl – that is clear to anyone who knows me. Mahmoud Reda – my dearest teacher and friend – told me many times: “you are a sophisticated fellaha (egyptian peasant), ya Joana” to express the fact that simplicity and down to earth attitudes are the matter of what my education is made of. Snobs and arrogant assholes are just not my cup of tea, thank you very much.
Part of being a “baladi” girl includes loving BALADI dance or the original form of RAKS SHARKI (Dance of the Orient, Oriental Dance or, as it´s commonly known, belly dance). It´s all about the FREEDOM of speech – literally – but not a mental speech made of ideas and stored data in my brain – it´s a HIP speech.
Yes: you read it well: HIPS CAN TALK (in fact, they do it all the time despite the fact that we don´t listen to them). After watching, teaching, correcting, stimulating thousands of dancers from different nationalities, it´s obvious that most women are totally disconnected from their hips (and the organs, muscles, creative energy, sexual impulses, LIFE inside it). It´s a problem if you wish to dance a mean, juicy, (im 😉 )proper baladi piece but it´s an even bigger problem if you wish to enjoy life and use all your potential as a human being.
~Here´s what I call my hips: “MY BELOVED POWER HOUSE“. They expand with time – literally and metaphorically speaking – and are the source of my power, inspiration, love, passion, drive, ambition, dreams, pleasure and and and and. And then some. My hips are queens, goddesses, mother and father as well as their children; my hips sustain me when everything seems to go down the toilet and are a fountain of endless joy, discoveries, strength and divine pleasures.
If your hips could talk, what would they say? – Here´s a question I always throw at my students, especially when we´re working on a BALADI theme. The answer is usually a bland, empty expression on their faces and a loss for words or, which is worse, a negative comment about the volume and shape of their hips.
Women who are disconnected from their hips (or carry around a hate relationship with them) cannot be fully creative and alive – they just can´t. One thing – love for your hips – leads to the other: the FIERCE willingness to be yourself and move ahead in life outpouring love and pleasure.
Sexual tabus, negative body image, repression of all sorts help to turn women and their hips into chronical enemies but BALADI – the SACRED HIP LANGUAGE, as I always call it – is there to propose something else…elsewhere inside of you there is a SEED (just look at your own womb and you´ll remember it). Appreciating and caring for that seed means the world. To you. To us all. Women who love their hips tend to love Humanity (because humanity resides in them) – baladi dance says it so and I´ll not be the one who disagrees.
Here´s a little technical hint that may lead you towards the Magic* of the Baladi:
this style is composed of different realms:
1. Standard movements, combinations, poses, transitions, structures, rules (which are made to be wisely & madly broken);
2. Breaking the rules; reinventing the standard technique you were taught;
3. Creating your own personal vocabulary (from IN-side) – linking imagination/visualization with body and body with heart and soul. There´s an ABC only your hips know about. Baladi excellence is all about discovering it and sharing it with the world.
To know more about BALADI and why our hips don´t lie (and are so important to our lives), join me in one of my BALADI seminars/classes somewhere over the rainbow (meaning: somewhere in the world).
Then the apostole proclaimed: “love thy hips as you love thy neighbor.“