Is Joana Saahirah leaving Oriental Dance behind?

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– To be a warrior or not to be a warrior?  – That´s the question (thank you, Mr. Shakespeare).

Few things make me as sick as the lack of originality. Damn!
It´s incredible how lost and clueless so many people are. They copy others in their clothes, choices, ideas, creeds, face expressions (eeek!), mo10609633_10152422871258716_8453984537769149076_nves, words, even dreams. There are dream copy machines – how sick and sad is that?!

This is how the twisted tune goes: If that made her who she is, I want a slice of that cake. Outch. Scarier than Frankenstein and Freddy Krueger combined. 

I know I swim against the tide when I teach dancers to BE who they are and never comparing themselves to others; I know I swim against the tide when I teach dancers to discover their own path, instead of mimicking other people´s dance and life. I know it and I´m tired of swimming against the tide(s). Truly tired.

The thought of stopping Oriental Dance for good and dedicating my life to something else has visited me often during this last year. For the reason I just mentioned and for many others that would take several articles to express. Despite the expansion and the success I´ve been enjoying since I´ve moved to Egypt and, more recently, throughout the world, I am still fighting the urge to call the whole thing off .

Coming from me, a well known passionate missionary of this despised Art from, the confession may come as a surprise for a lot of people. Exemples of dancers who are shutting the door on the nonsense have been frequent – I´m not the only one who´s disappointed with the direction this dance is taking or the kind of people who are running The Show. I ain´t the first and certainly not the last.

I have a Mission, though, and that keeps me going for the moment: a Higher Purpose than myself is what keeps me from throwing the towel on the floor and letting it all go down the toilet. That Mission is not yet fully accomplished. Once it is, we´ll see if this Path still makes sense or not; we´ll see if my arms are eager to keep swimming against these tides or if they believe there are other Oceans to conquer. Once all the mountains I chose are conquered and I feel my job is done, I´ll probably feel curious to enter new worlds and dimensions. Probably…we´ll see. Until then, I´ll keep doing my best, even if that means pitying copy-cats and pissing a lot of people off with my counter-current approach to dance and life.

Living – not surviving but LIVING – with integrity exposes us to the harshest winds. Man, oh man…10414400_10154738148620206_6034641813298737985_n

5 thoughts on “Is Joana Saahirah leaving Oriental Dance behind?

  1. Oh, it is a brave thing to say that you are tired of the path the oriental dance is going. I felt that from the very beginning of my so-called dance “carer” ( I am not a star or a well-known dance). After a year in one of our domestic dance studios I have clearly got to know that what I was taught was totally wrong. That was NOT the oriental, just something else.

    And during my dance experience I have never been told and explained WHAT meant to be an oriental dancer. All teachers and stars wanted me to be was just a long-haired beauty looking quite the same as the rest of my dance colleagues. beautifully haired, fashionably dressed and producing movements to attract and fascinate the audience. Attract, kill them or DIE. Teachers want their dancers to copy them, to belong to what is wright or wrong in their own Universe. Many dancers fight to enter the magic world of Cairo thinking that once entered they have ALL of it- glamor, fame and fate.

    In Russia where I live there is NO descent room for the oriental dance as an Art form since this dance does not belong to our native art (no way). It is still a very young form of Art, it should peek up its own place somehow. There are only 2 major options – restaurants (which are really funny in province, where folks want you to lie down on the floor rolling coins on your belly) or contests. Oh, those contests….. So much could be told.In the long way they kill your personality due to one major condition: if you want to WIN you have to be a someone`s CLONE. You have to be in a trend. I am an organizer myself and I am so tired of the clones and copies..The other bad thing is that there is NO descent room for the oriental and you have to take part in competitions and organize them for other people to compete. Until this dance wins its own place as an Art of dance, we have the only possible way to perform at contests.

    What is a CONTEST? It is a place where you are compared with another person. One unique personality is compared to another unique personality. And we all know that COMPARISON always leads to increasing or decreasing of ones self-esteem. It is a battle where nobody wins. And I may say it is a wrong tool to teach people to be their selves, to surrender to their personality. I hate comparisons and situations when you are compared to somebody else. I remember I did not like such games when I was a kid. You a winner or a loser – so WHAT? Life is not about winning or losing, and it is all about how TO BE, to enjoy your living without any necessary conditions which let you be.

    My dream in the field of the oriental is that only people ready to grow and create a new Art form called “the oriental dance’ are left in this dance form. Only the ones who really feel and love it just as it is, the ones who do not use it for the purpose of attracting audiences, self-exaltation, filing in their personal emptiness.

    And the clones and copies are so tiring to watch.

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    • Absolutely, Tatiana.
      You know that I know exactly what you´re talking about, don´t you? 😉
      Keep doing YOUR thing as long as it makes sense to you – the same thing for me and everybody else.
      I don´t believe in a job we do without absolute conviction, passion and faith. When they´re gone, it´s probably wise to leave it and start a fresh new path. Maybe. Maybe not. I guess everybody will feel what´s right for them. No universal answer.

      As far as I´m concerned, the goal of all my dreams was one: TO BRING BACK THE SOUL OF EGYPTIAN ORIENTAL DANCE TO THE WORLD AND TO OFFER A PALPABLE CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS ITS DIGNIFICATION. There are still a few things to be done – in my career – in order to achieve that, if Life agrees with me. My next book is a big part of it; a new show, the show I´ve been dreaming about since I´ve moved to Egypt, is also another part of this closure. After those are done, I´m not sure it there´s something left. Sure enough: I could keep travelling the world to perform, teach and lecture – that´s already a great achievement and something that gives me much pleasure and honour. I´m not sure if that will be enough to keep my fire going in the future. Let´s see.

      Sending you and my beloved Russia all the love in the world. I know we´ll see each other soon, despite all currents 😉

      JoanaS*

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      • Yes, yes, dear Joana, I remember everything you told me during our meetings, at our workshops and lectures. Please move forward with your ideas! You truly right and blessed with your plans.

        Your dance and attitude has really inspired dancers in my region. Today I received a mail from one of the girls, who suffered with a lack of interest in her dancing (we had a big discussion with her referring the inevitable Russian question (resembling Mr. Hamlet): to be or not to me, and the other Russian part of it is: WHAT to do). She was present at your workshops and really really loved your manner. And the magic happened! She has made up her mind to dance your choreo at her festival in Apatity (a very Northern town), and she ENJOYED her dancing. She says THANKS to you (and to me as well for inviting you in Russia). So, it works! Your attitude, passion, conviction and fate bring such wonderful fruits. Some dancers start to shine ..

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  2. I grew up with around bellydance so I have gone through all of the feelings you write about. It took me a long time to come to terms with it; it was not easy. I dance only because I love it and that means that alot of the time I do it alone, by myself. I learned about the power we all have within. Its so ironic that we dont need anyone to get there, its right there waiting for us to align with it. Anyway, there are people who have totally removed themselves from all of the nonsense but you wont find them out trying to sell themselves on social media. I think its more like they are in a secret place that you can only go when you feel at peace and connected to the ground you are standing on.

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    • Dear Sarala,
      Thanks for your interesting comment.
      There are two spheres for this Dance: the amateur and the professional. If you´re a professional and live for and from this dance, then you simply cannot afford to retreat and do your own thing without being exposed to what´s happening worldwide. You just can´t. If you´re an amateur and you have your own profession apart from dance, then you CAN do it but you won´t contribute to the development of the dance. You will do it only for yourself, for your friends, family and close community and, usually, you won´t push yourself to offer a POSITIVE contribution to the dance.

      My case is very specific – if you know a bit about my life story and career, you´ll know what I´m speaking about. I´m an amateur (as in LOVER of this craft) as well as a high profile professional who is exposed to the best and the worst of this field – first in Egypt and, more recently, all over the world. I still dream about making a contribution to the field – my journey has never been about myself but a love that is higher than myself. Here resides the problem: although I know I make a difference, as much as I can, the feeling of being a tiny grain of sand in a huge, overwhelming desert remains getting stronger and stronger. The soul and the core of Egyptian Dance seems to have been lost and my dream to bring it back often seems like a lost battle.

      We can all dance for ourselves and enjoy it – that´s not the question. I hope we all do it. The question is another 😉 Let´s see what the future brings. Waiting for the Flame to reignite.
      Love,
      JoanaS*

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