And the Winners are…(Christmas Basket offered by Joana Saahirah´s School)

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Detail from Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School Christmas basket: Christmas postcard handpainted by Ana Oliveira, the artist who created our school´s logo.

Congratulations to the students who won the 3 Christmas baskets

Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School proposed to offer!

Here are their names and definitions of Egyptian Dance: 

Egyptian dance is one of the few ways where I can feel completely myself, become attune to my emotions, and share this love with other people.  It has been the one thing that has always been with me, regardless of where I go or what life throws at me.  
Ariyana Murakami
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Egyptian dance to me is the ultimate act of self-expression.  I love every time when I perform, I become one with the music.  I am part of the music, the interpreter of the music, and I love to draw the audience into my world for an emotional experience, or whatever they may feel.   It is truly magical and I am hopelessly addicted to it. 
Phariah Yue
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Egyptian dance was a life line for me to extend my stage life. I never expected Egyptian dance to become a tool of observation about myself or a conversation starter about what belly dance can be.  Coming from a modern dance background, I was reaching an age where my body just could not do what I asked of it.   I first tried American Cabaret Belly Dance, however many times I left the class uninspired and unchallenged.  I felt like the belly dance class wasn’t serious enough for me and how I wanted to train. Eventually I found Angela Prato, an Egyptian styled belly dancer and it changed everything for me.  In a performance I observed of hers, she stood out.  She was elegant, earthy, sensual, and everything she did onstage just looked natural. It didn’t look like anything I was doing in my other belly dance class.  It was deeper emotionally and had more quality of movement. Angela wore more conservative costuming than other belly dancers, choosing gowns. It didn’t fit into the belly dancer mold that I had always envisioned, which widened my horizons a bit.  Even being completely covered, I could see every move more clearly than the dancers that were wearing far less than she.  It was a powerful realization for me as a beginner dancer that we can exist outside of a stereotype in this genre of dance.

With Egyptian dance, I have continued with discipline and training I was used to in my western dance classes.   I gave up trying to find comparisons with my previous dancing though there is that time in class and private practice to develop technique and muscle memory which may be similar. However, I spend more time in class learning about rhythms, lyrics and meanings of songs, which encouraged looking deeper into the culture.  Egyptian dance became something precious, something I take very seriously, and I want to represent well.  Egyptian dance gave me something to sink my teeth into again, and I made me feel whole.  I was immediately put into a situation where I had to understand my body with this technique, and how the same moves can look different on each body performing them.   The emotions that I experience dancing to a song will be different than Angela’s (even within the same choreography) and that is okay and expected.  Egyptian dance represents a freedom to me I never have experience in western dance, and I now feel that this is a higher representation of artistry than anything have ever done previously.

An unexpected thing that I have experienced with Egyptian dance is the reaction to Angela’s troupe when we perform.  Audience members come up to us after a show, asking us about what we are dancing, how they liked what we are doing, and that the performance just spoke to them.  It starts a conversation about a culture.  It’s not the general “you were great”, or “you looked beautiful”, it’s usually something more specific about what we were trying to express. The reactions come from both men and women.   It is a great night when a stranger comes up to me and starts asking me about my art.  I wear a velvet baladi gown with simple sash. My adornment is the emotion, honesty, and joy I have for the music and this dance that I try project to the audience. Sometimes it’s the humanity of the Egyptian performer that packs the biggest punch to the audience, not the sequins and tricks. 

Amy Wilson

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The Christmas Basket on the way to the homes of the winners.

 

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