God laughs at our Plans

When I moved to Bali, Indonesia, I thought I’d start a new, local, dance project and settle into the Asian way of living. I also had a personal dream, one I doubted would come true
The thing is I´ve always dreamed my own dream, did my own thing, followed nothing except the guidance of my own soul.
I now look at the last months and realize how little we know and how generous, and sometimes brutal, life can be.
My initial plan went down the drain, giving place to another plan, one I was almost afraid to wish for – finding true love, launching myself into creative adventures that make my adrenaline juices flow, getting into a new phase of my life that pushes me to drop my old, outdated, identity behind.
Like a snake, I shed my old skin. It hurts a little and it’s damned scary but there’s no way back 🌟When Love knocks on your door, you must receive it with open arms. And so I do.
Life can be a b….; it can also be a generous Mother. May we open our hearts and receive its gifts.
Photo: me, bathing in a waterfall in Bali 🌞, captured by the eyes of my beloved man.
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Preparing to take off (Bali, here I come!)

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Balinese children, a symbol of purity, faith, limitless possibilities (photo taken by me, two years ago, on my first visit to Bali)

Confession: I´m a little scared – my heart’s going BUM, BUM, BUM! – and beyond excited.

Big leaps of faith are uncomfortable – how many of those have I taken? – but I don’t know any other way of living.
 
🚀First, I moved to Spain to study Acting at the National Conservatoire.
🚀Then, I started a new market for Egyptian Dance in Portugal when nobody had ever heard about it.
🚀Then, I built a successful career – no prostitution strings attached – by myself in Egypt where I struggled and won for 8 years.
🚀Then, I started to teach-perform-lecture around the world; writing and publishing my first book, growing, and loving.
🚀Then, I opened a pioneering school which is changing the way Egyptian Dance is practiced and taught around the world – my newest baby, Joana Saahirah’s Online Dance School
 
Now, the biggest of my biggest dreams happening in Bali, Indonesia.
When I read that list, I doubt if I sleep at night, if my days have 24 hours, if I manage to breathe.
The answers are yes, yes, yes.
 
🚀Luck has very little to do with it. We build our luck with our own hands. And, if luck doesn’t show up after we’ve showed up for it, we build it from scratch. We invent it. We become It.
No excuses; no complaining; life belongs to the dreamers who dare to be Doers.
 
🌎 Getting ready to take off 🌞 Bali, here I come!
 
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Sneak peek at The Secrets* in Poland

A full month of non stop travelling for work; several countries covered; different groups of dancers and students; meetings with strangers and new friends in Dublin, Tullamore, Malaga, Warsaw; love affairs & phantasies; new dreams on the rise; airports, bags, jet-lag, the guilt for not being able to work on my book while on the road; the joy of it all.

Here´s a video – above – with a sneak peek into The Secrets of Egyptian Dance Workshop I taught in Spain, Ireland and Poland. The music is called Baladi Nostalgy by Ilahun orchestra. There´s so much I could say about it but I´ll leave comments aside, for now. Just enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed creating and teaching it.

For now, I´m leaving you with some tips I´ve gathered along the road:

  1. Trying to achieve perfection, whatever that means. I can only thrive for growth and totality: putting everything I am into what I do. More than that it´s an illusion. A frustrating one.
  2. The idea that happiness means “having it all”. It´s another impossible goal. If you´re in China, you cannot be in Spain. Not at the same  time. If you choose the right path, the left remains unexplored; if you dedicate your time to your children, your creative achievements, charity, travelling, (fill the blank space with your priority), you won´t dedicate it to something, or someone, else. Choosing is losing. We choose something in detriment of something else. I´ve made peace with losing a path over another, knowing I always do what my heart´s calling for.
  3. Stop judging people. Yes, there are arseholes – no doubt; I´ve met a few. But most of us are doing the best we know. If we knew better, we´d do better. Dealing with other human beings, and their flaws, is another way to become more human. Hard but possible.
  4. Enjoy every single moment even if the present doesn´t seem particularly exciting to you. Having coffee at the airport (overpriced, crappy coffee), for instance, can be awesome. Meeting a friend for lunch. Enjoying success after you´ve worked hard for something. Kissing a loved one. Reading a line of a great book. And the list goes on. Appreciation, people! Life´s short and oh so fleeting ❤
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Teaching in Warsaw, Poland, at Orient Addicts Festival

“Enta Omri” choreography by Joana Saahirah

Choreography taught in different countries.

Music: “Enta Omri” by Om Kolthoum, composed by the genius Mohamed Abdel Wahab.

Video shot at my doorstep, literally. Only Beauty, Art and Love allowed ❤

*

To watch the introduction to this choreography/theme, feel welcome to follow this link: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89-8Q-gkuE4

Entrance on Stage choreography by Joana Saahirah

One of the choreographies I taught in Portland, Oregon, USA, last October.

“Entrance on stage” or “majancé” – check introduction video – shot at home in incredibly beautiful and uncomfortable conditions: freezing and windy weather; wet, hard, irregular floor. Yet made with love, as usual.

EnJOY

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If you wish to see the introduction to this choreography/theme, feel welcome to take a look at this video shot at home by my own fireplace:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY9yej_WoBE&t=3s

Joana Saahirah in Portland, Oregon, USA!

Portland USA Event 2016.jpgJoana Saahirah II & The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life and Beyond by Joana Saahirah in USA, for the 3rd time in a row!

From Egypt to the World – bringing back the Soul of Oriental Dance.
Portland, Oregon, 21-23rd October. Event organized by Heather Henna Louise

Thrilled to go back to USA, for the 3rd time in a row, to share my Vision of Egyptian Dance and its empowering effects. Join us for a weekend that promises to challenge, and change, all your ideas about dance, yourself and life.

More informations over here: http://www.hennadances.com/joanapdx

The Critic (finally!)

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Photo by Ronald Winstone

I´ve earned a good dose of impermeability to ignorance and prejudices.

Being a successful Oriental Dancer for about 14 years – most of them spent at the Mecca of this art form, Egypt which also happens to be the Mecca of hate towards Oriental Dancers – helped building a thick skin.The good thing about dealing, consistently, with stigmas and unfair judgements is the resistance, compassion and indifference you eventually gain. I learnt how to laugh at ignorance and answer with intelligence, and the sarcasm in which I became an expert, to stupidity.

My dance and I have been taken by what we´re not since forever. I can count with the fingers of one hand the times someone saw me or what I do under an educated, open and fair light.

7f03407678e0d4063953560395db0b1e.gifI´m often taken as a dumb blond, a femme fatale who eats men for breakfast, the seductress who captures the sultan´s attention with her dangerous moves. Flash News: I couldn´t give less of a damn about the sultan and, if there´s dance going on in the “harem”, the sultan is doing it. Not me. I´m the one lounging on the cushions, eating grapes and enjoying the performance.

Curiously enough, it all started way before I became an Oriental Dancer. I was the pretty girl who hangs around with bad company – gangs; African and Gipsy kids – and hides in the last row of the classroom while managing to get A grades. The teachers would doubt every time the results of my exams came out.

-Is this your exam? Did you do this? – They´d ask, astonished, embarrassing me in front of the class.

This is why being seen for who I am became such a luxury, something I never take for granted. Cheers to the exceptions, men and women who happen to have a brain that operates above the heavy luggage and the nonsense associated with this dance.

Now here´s a funny thing: I´m not free of prejudices. I, too, can presume to know what I don´t know. For some reason only a good shrink would identity, I presumed the person who wrote the critic to my last performances in New Zealand was a man. Raewyn Whyte is her name and the person who called my attention to this fact was Angela Mott (thanks, Angela). There goes my hope of a male enlightened creature where Oriental Dance and dancers are concerned.

For now, my gratitude goes to the critic from the New Zealand Performing Arts who reviewed my last performances in Auckland. A woman, no less. A sister. A soul who could see my soul. A pair of eyes who could go past the stigma, the pre-concepts and the burdens Oriental Dance has been carrying around for so long – a woman who saw It. 

My appreciation also goes to Candice Frankland who organized the event and all the students, dancers and collaborators who made the event possible. 

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Photo by Ronald Winstone

Here´s a sneak peek at the critic on my performance (WOWZA!):

“Her dancing seems largely improvised yet is clearly well informed by a rich understanding of the structures, elements and values of traditional and conventional Egyptian dance. Her movements show utter control of her own body and all the refinements of shimmy, shiver, quiver, vibrate, and ripple, back bend, head whip, arm ripple… and so on that you could possibly imagine, all interlaced with the gestures and signifiers of metropolitan living which flicker through via micro-movements. As you watch you feel as if there’s a whole city there with her on stage, street sweepers, policemen directing traffic, a haughty camel, old ladies sleeping in the sun, street kids taunting one another with vulgar gestures, market sellers haggling over prices, suave businessmen seeking to charm, a socialite sipping a cocktail, beggars, backpackers, protesters… And you’d swear that the musicians to whose recordings she dances are right there on stage with her, so responsive is she to the nuances of their recorded tracks.

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Photo by Ronald Winstone

She looks like a rock star, and certainly owns the stage, moving confidently and freely in any direction, and taking everyone’s eyes with her, no matter where or how she moves. When she comes down off the stage to dance amongst the audience, her charisma is palpable and I am sure that some aspects of her approach to dance and choreography will infuse the locals who take her workshops following this evening of performances.”

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Photo by Ronald Winstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow the link to read more: http://www.theatreview.org.nz/reviews/review.php?id=9365

Bali, baby!

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Daily public offerings to the Gods & Goddesses (gratitude) are a way of life in Bali. Love this!

– Where is the reception? – I asked, at the entrance of the SPA, mesmerized by the beauty of the statues (Krishna, Saraswati, Ghanesh), the luxurious nature – shamlessly wet, green, stubbornly sensual – and the aroma of different incenses burning, simultaneously.

-I am reception. – A Balinese lady told me in her rough, yet efficient, English.

-I AM RECEPTION…- I repeated after her, in a whisper only I could hear, wondering at the lesson she´d just offered me without noticing.

What do I do when I land in Bali? I search for a full goddess body treatment in an old SPA in Ubud – that´s what I do, that´s what good daughters of Venus do.

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Jet-lagged and ready to be pampered at a traditional SPA. Always protected by my faithful friends ❤

The name of the lady who received me – claiming to be THE RECEPTION – was Katut (number 4), the fourth child of a family. I loved the sound of her name and spelled it aloud, like an excited child, learning her first words:
KA-T-U-T. The last three letters drummed on my tongue – TUT! – and made it tingle.

She took me to the massage parlour, a piece of heaven in the midst of Ubud´s hub – and I struggled not to fall asleep. I was exhausted. It took me so long to arrive to Bali: endless hours of flying and waiting between flights. In and out of consciousness…half awaken and half asleep…mixed up brain due to time zones´changes…the frontier between reality and dream vanished.

It seems to me that arriving to Bali is an Initiation the country demands from its visitors. The trip doesn´t start when you arrive to the country – it starts when you head to the country. In just 2 days, I caught 3 airplanes, 2 of which with long flights enough to review my life from birth until the present moment; I had lunch in Paris and breakfast in China. I even visited downtown Guangzhou, in China, between flights. Jet-lagged, foggy and cranky, I still roamed with the flow.

My brain endured  – and eventually adapted to – 3 time zone changes.

If you successfuly arrive to Bali after this long, long trip, your brain is already stripped of any logic, sense of reality or balance. You´re literally out of your mind. And I wonder: how bad can that be? Losing our mind is not the worst thing that can happen. But that´s just me, a Madness child, talking.

-Am I awakened? – I asked, while sleeping.
-Am I dreaming? – I asked, while awakened.

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Saraswati, Goddess of Art and Knowledge by Raja Ravi Varma

I arrived to Bali not knowing which day it was. The taxi driver answered before I could ask:
-You arrived on Saraswati day.
-Ah…ok. Fair enough. Not Friday or Saturday, just Sarasvati day. Some folks know what´s important. – I smiled, a happy zombie on her way home. Another home.

Although she assured me she was using coconut oil, Katut´s hands smelled of rice. And her silence was loud.
Even stuck between dream and reality I knew: another school term had begun.
The eternal student is back to school!

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Detail of my first Balinese dance show: Kecak and Fire Dance Trena Jenggala

More informations on Saraswati Goddess: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saraswati