Learning Egyptian Oriental Dance can be a truly transformative Journey – the ride of a life time! If you´ve been following my work – through my workshops, shows and lectures around the world or through my writing -, you know by now I´m not talking about your regular bellydance at the gym routine. Nothing against it. There´s a place for everything and everyone: cheap potatoes and caviar serve different tastes, goals and pleasures.
It´s also clear (and natural) that the majority of women who search for this dance doesn´t have artistic aspirations and, as the song says, “just wanna have fun“. Fair enough. I´m just not your girl if all you´re searching for is a commercial, superficial, bullshit exotic aerobics. Knock on another door – there are plenty that will offer you just that kind of product.
An exemple of a disastrous teacher choice mistake took place in Cairo, Egypt, at the times when I taught “regular” Egyptian women. Although they were lovely, bright, beautiful ladies, they came to my classes with totally mistaken goals (according to what I teach and how I see this dance): they wanted me to do one of two things:
1. Teach them to be a Joana Saahirah copy. They had come to my shows with their families and friends and thought that “dancing like me” was the thing to aim at.
–Teach me to dance like you dance. I want to do it like you…
2. Teach them to please their husbands.
– For next thursday night evening. I want to drive him crazy so he won´t look for another wife…
Holly maccaroni. Not me. Not my cup of tea.
Not my dance.
It doesn´t matter if your ambition is to become a professional dancer/teacher or not – I´m still going to make sure you learn how to dance at your best, according to your personality and life path.
Professional ambitions on the horizon or not, a PERSONAL TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY is an essential part of the package – this is what learning Oriental Dance is all about. I like to call it Alchemy, knowing the word is too hermetic for most people. For the sake of mutual understanding, we´re back to TRANSFORMATIVE.
At the heart of this transformation is the glue we use to bring back the dismantled pieces of our Being.
Are we aware of how divided we are? Body is over here, mind is over there; the heart is lost in unknown lands and the soul…oh, the soul…don´t get me started…does anybody remember we are a Soul?! Most religions tell us the body is evil and the soul is something so high, distant, unatainable that we simply cannot reach it unless we´re dead (not very exciting, isn´t it?). Atheists will argue if we have a soul to touch – dead or alive. Either ways: we´re screwed and condemned to live with parts of ourselves that we´re not allowed to touch, much less embrace on a daily basis.
Although I inhabit a different planet (a friend told me I live in a local time unknown to humans – she was right), I am aware that life´s struggles and daily chores tend to contribute to keep these pieces even more distant from each other. Our hearts get numb; our heads are pre-programmed to freeze, follow orders and sheeps instead of thinking for themselves; our bodies are task employees: do this, go there; finish that and run there; no time to stop, feel, digest, understand what the heck is going on inside of this miracle, etc. We look like broken toys – life, or what we make of it, breaks us in pieces and we move forward without ever noticing it.
No wonder keeping the pieces together is such a challenge. It can be a beautiful challenge, that´s the good part of the story.
The Journey Egyptian Oriental Dance offers – when properly understood, respected and taught – aims at BRINGING BACK THE PIECES which have been lost from each other, separated, distanced by wrong notions of what Humanity is.
We´re not a body – it´s certain. But we´re also a body, as sacred as the soul.
We´re not a mind – spot on. But we´re also a mind, as relevant and useful as the heart.
We´re not a heart – thanks God! But we´re also a heart without which we tend to become scary machines (does it ring a bell?)
We´re not only a soul – we´re many things wrapped up in a soul that sustains the whole package.
As I teach an increasing number of dancers – through my travels as well as my NEW ON LINE PRIVATE LESSONS – , I cannot stop wondering how FANTASTIC this dance is. I see the effect it has on people´s dance but, above that, on their lives.
It´s certain the mambo jambo market for “bellydance” is still dominant. But the other way around starts to apply: more and more people are awakening to the REAL treasures this dance brings and I´m honoured to be one of the bridges that brings it to the light of day.