The Power of Challenges by Joana Saahirah

This was the first, and only, video I´ve shot since I moved to Bali. As everything I do, it reflects Life as I experience it.

Living and sharing what I learn from living has been one core pillars of my career and one of my biggest pleasures. I hope this video inspires you towards a more interesting dance and, more importantly, life ❤

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On Sensuality (being Alive)

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A brand NEW Online CourseSensuality in Baladi (out of the box, crazy and fabulous, as usual) – is coming to Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School and with it come a set of subjects I hold dear to my heart.

Sensuality, as freedom, love, creativity, courage, inner strength, passion, and integrity are some of the subjects at the core of my work.

The first, a highly polemic and misunderstood topic, return to our school with a bang.

What is Sensuality and why is it so important in Egyptian Dance and, let´s not forget, in life?

For me, Sensuality is about BEING ALIVE and in APPRECIATION of every gift life´s offering us.

For me, Sensuality is about BEING ALIVE and in APPRECIATION of every gift life´s offering us.

Sensuality is about putting our phones, computers, and other machines aside and actually take a sip of this blessing which is being here, alive and thriving.

Most of us ignore the pleasures our bodies, and lives, provide – the feeling of drinking fresh water on a Summer day, resting after a long journey, waking up with air in our functioning lungs, touching a loved one or/and being touched, a sunset, the sun falling upon our skin, and so forth.

We ignore Nature, ourselves, other people; the simple (big) things in life.

Most of us live inside gadgets, not inside ourselves, present in our lives.

Being ALIVE means BEING in LIFE – your life. Body, mind, heart, and soul. That presence, more than anything else, is the definition of Sensuality.

Ask yourself:

HOW PRESENT AM I IN MY LIFE? Am I letting life slip away?

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❤ Follow the link for more information on our NEW Online Course

“Sensuality in Baladi – Posture, Technique, & Choreography”:

https://joanasaahirahworld.com/2018/07/21/17443/

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NEW VIDEO “Do you believe in Magic?” by Joana Saahirah

Enjoy this video “Do You Believe in Magic?”, a part of the original bonus material offered with Joana Saahirah´s Online Course “Enta Omri, a Journey of Soulful Egyptian Dance & Self-Love” available, fully recorded, at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.

This is the course I wish someone had created when I first started to learn Egyptian Dance!
Much more than an Egyptian Dance course – an opportunity for personal, dance, & life TRANSFORMATION.

***Follow the link for more information: https://joanasaahirahworld.com/2018/05/03/enta-omri-a-journey-of-soulful-egyptian-dance-self-love/

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Old veggies served at a 5 star Moroccan restaurant? I don´t think so.

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The night was young and we, me and a group of friends, were ready to rock Marrakech.

We left our riad, a building with fresh corners, a courtyard, and birds which drank directly from our hands, hidden in the labyrinth of the old medina, towards the famous Jemaa el Fna.

Jemaa el Fna is that way, that way, that way! – Strangers would yell at us, pointing in the wrong direction. Invariably.

Morocco was new to me and, yet, it wasn´t. The Arabic Culture, the North of Africa, the Chaos & the Colorful Mysteries of Life have been the core of my life for too long. Normality, if it exists, is exotic to me. Madness & adventure aren´t.

We settled for dinner at a 5 star restaurant, half lit, warm, pretentious. Girls dressed as “bellydancers” were swirling around, shaking their tired, apathetic hips in our direction.

I ordered my usual “vegetarian tagine”. What I received was a plate – steaming & depressed – of old, heated, over-salted veggies. 

-Hey, sir. Can you please come here? – I called one of the waiters. 

-Yes, miss. – He approached our table, pulling his “tarboush” towards his legs.

-This plate is unacceptable. You´re cute, the restaurant is gorgeous, but these over-priced veggies are uneatable. They´re old, heated, and over-salted. Take them back, please.

My friends were surprised. The waiter was surprised. I think the “bellydancers” were surprised. I wasn´t.

Whenever I feel disrespected, I say it so. Respectfully, but assertively.

I was being overcharged for a plate of uneatable vegetables and there was no way I´d shut up – “don´t make waves, girl; don´t make waves! – mamma used to say” – and eat something that hadn´t been properly prepared.

I wasn´t upset. In fact, I joked with the waiter the whole evening; I accepted an apology dessert, and I laughed my heart out. But I didn´t pay for that tagine and I certainly didn´t eat it.

Self-respect is a sign of SELF-LOVE. Without SELF-LOVE there´s no love. No love for others, no love for what you do. No love at all. Period. Love, and respect, start with ourselves.

Whenever you´re served an old, heated, over-salted plate of veggies, remember to set the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable for you, and don´t be afraid to make yourself respected.

It´s not a question of creating conflict, or being mean to others; it´s a question of justice, clarity, and evolution. For you. For everybody.

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P.S: This was the only time I was served a lousy plate of food in Morocco.

Moroccan gastronomy is amazing and, if you´re a foodie, like me, you should try it.

 

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Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

 

What is The Invisible Dance?

products-energy-webinar.jpgIt all started before I moved to Egypt to start my career.

I was a very young, curious, dancer who traveled to the Land of the Pyramids, first with Shokry Mohamed, my first Egyptian Dance teacher, and then by myself, to rediscover the Sacred Art of “Raks Sharki”.

As I´ve researched, took classes, attended shows – from the cheapest to the 5 star nightclubs -, participated in family celebrations, and observed, I realized Egyptian Dance was more about what WE CANNOT SEE, BUT FEEL, THAN THE MATERIAL, PALPABLE, VISIBLE MOVEMENT.

At first, the prominence of the soul over the physical stroke me as odd. I´d been educated, as a Classical Dancer, to believe Dance was essentially a physical activity and, therefore, to be oriented by its visual aspect.

The focus was on what the eyes could see – how each movement is executed, the beauty of the lines, the drawing of patterns, the physical tricks, and the technical details.

My first trips to Egypt showed me there is another side of Dance, the Invisible Realm, where The Magic resides.

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I was reintroduced to an whole other concept of Dance and Life.

Instead of asking:

How does it look? (Focus on the external/skills´exhibition)

I started asking:

How does it feel? (Focus on the internal/feeling)

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Yes, the visual side of the dance is important; yes, physical fitness, the correct execution of movements, what I call “clarity of speech”, are important and my students will confirm how demanding I am on that level. But what I call “The Invisible Dance” – a term I introduced in my book “The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life & Beyond” – is the most important side of Egyptian Dance.

More often than not, the best Oriental Dancers aren´t the ones who have the best technique, the sharper movements, or the most intricate choreographies. The best Oriental Dancers are the ones who are emotionally moved and are able to move the audience. They know about feeling, energy, aura, the “Duende” Flamenco dancers know so well; that which can only be perceived with the heart, beyond rational understanding. Those dancers move from their soul and, therefore, reach the soul of their audience.

They are Sacred Mirrors, Bridges, the offspring of Hermes Trismegistus,  the Messenger who runs between the sky and the earth, delivering messages from humans to the Gods and vice-versa.

We live in a material world, ruled by competition, appearances, power, and money. In this world, the Invisible is a joke, a myth, something only crazy people believe in.

What authentic Egyptian Dance brings is the opposite of what we witness, nowadays. It´s Ancient Wisdom – eternal and more urgent than ever.

Soon, I´ll share a NEW VIDEO about The Invisible Dance at Joana Saahirah´s Youtube Channel. For now, I challenge you to stop for a minute and think about the following questions:

What is ENERGY?

What is LOVE?

How does THE INVISIBLE manifest itself in your dance and in your life?

Are you aware of your SOUL?

Do you dance from you SOUL?

What is more important: do you LIVE from your SOUL?

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The Fear of Ridiculous & The Happy Monkey by Joana Saahirah

 

The Fear of Ridiculous & The Happy Monkey Exercise by Joana Saahirah.

Video dedicated to my students at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School; part of the bonus material offered with “Tabla Solo Discovery Journey – Level 1” Online, Recorded, Training available at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.
Follow the link for more information: https://joanasaahirahworld.com/2018/02/08/new-tabla-solo-creative-discovery-series-joana-saahirahs-online-dance-school/

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Education Versus Personal Exploration

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“Education is safe – you learn what others have already created, mastered, tested and approved of. If you decide to stick with what you´ve learned, and never go beyond it, you´ll become a correct, universally applauded mediocre copy machine. There is comfort, and certainty, in this choice.

But is that what you want? Can´t you see you are, and can do, so much more than that?

Self-exploration is risky, uncertain, mysterious – you´ll embark on adventures you cannot fully control; you´ll face your demons, limits and potential; you´ll test your waters and see how far you, not your teacher or an institution, can go. You will give birth to yourself without knowing how the baby will look like. What if the child is born with deformities? Or – oh my God; I cannot believe it; oh, so damn – ugly? Or just mediocre – a plain kid with no sparkle in his eyes? A regular Joe, perhaps.

Remember births can be painful and/or orgasmic. And the product of our creativity – may that be a human child or a dance piece – can disappoint our expectations. 

If given the choice, most of us will prefer to receive The Answer, or Magic Pill, from the hands of our teacher than to find it ourselves. I´ve had a few students who got mad at me because I told them they would have to use what I was teaching them and discover who they are in the process.

– Copying me won´t do the trick. You have to go into the desert by yourselves. – I told them.

They wanted to twist my neck. Who wouldn´t? A teacher who sends you off, alone though with tools in your travel bag, is not to be trusted. Is she/he?

(…) 

Explore, go within, try new things; use knowledge to empower you, not to limit you.

A good, professional, teacher will know how to guide you towards self-exploration. But, then again, YOU have to want to go there.

Curiosity cannot be taught – you awaken it in you or you don´t.

The courage to see what´s out there, inside of you, cannot be taught.

The perseverance, the discipline, the guts to find your own voice cannot be taught.

The willingness to face your limits and, what´s even scarier, your infinite potential, cannot be taught.

You, my beloved, have to get on the camel, pack your essentials, and leave for your cross of the desert.

I´ll meet you on the other side or, who knows?, in an oasis, because I, too, have my desert(s) to cross. We all do.

You´re alone on the road and you´re definitely not alone.”

Excerpt from The Egyptian Dance Booklet by Joana Saahirah (soon to be published)

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“Going to school gives the illusion that knowledge is what makes an artist. It´s like knowing how to write English perfectly. It has very little relation to the art of writing.”

My Life and Times by Henry Miller

Believe you deserve to be happy

Art by Anna Kapustenko.jpg“The more I observe myself, and others, the more I find universal patterns, wounds and dreams. We are unique in many ways – we´re also astonishingly similar.

One of our common wounds is the sense of UNWORTHINESS. We believe we´re not worthy of happiness.

We don´t actually say it: I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. Nope. That would be easy to identify – we would notice the nonsense, the suicidal impulse and our ego would lose the battle.

We don´t say out loud – we just believe in it, and act accordingly, which is more than enough to screw us up.

Have you caught yourself feeling guilty when you´re happy? I have.

“Too happy for my own good”, I´ll whisper, fearful of what will come.

We set a Happiness Limit, seasoned with needless obstacles and drama, and we´re terrified of going beyond it. It´s a ceiling we build for ourselves – one we refuse to surpass. As if by doing it we would be defying the Gods and they would punish us as a consequence.zeus.gif

-I´m feeling too happy. Should I be worried?

Worried about what, exactly? That´s the golden question.

In grew up with amazing, yet pessimistic, parents who believe life is hard. If you ask me how I define life, in one word, I´ll answer “Adventure” without blinking. If you ask my parents, they won´t blink – we have than in common-, but they´ll start describing my concept of hell. Are you ready? Take a deep breath and dive.

Life is:

A burden;

Obligations;

Sacrifice and pain;

Hard work;

Routine;

A series of unfortunate events nobody can, or will want to, avoid.

Their parents carried it too – the pessimistic, unworthiness, self-sabotaging bug. It gets into your genes  – it´s heritage passed on from generation to generation like blue eyes, high cholesterol or crooked noses.

Believing we don´t deserve to be happy – not beyond a comfortable, usually mediocre,  level we have set for ourselves – is an invisible trap most of us fall into. We´d rather be unhappy – remain on familiar ground, even if that ground is a mud pond infested with alligators and foul smelling frogs – than risking punishment for being happy beyond our measure. Our measure – take that in.

In theory, we want it. We may say we deserve it, write in notebooks, sing and preach. But, when we check under the carpet, we find the (ugly) truth: we fear our own greatness; we avoid annoying the gods with our arrogance, our ambition, our childish belief that the garden of heaven can exist here, right now, on the palm of our hands.

I´ve learned it the hard way: we cannot be happy if we keep feeding the belief we´re unworthy of it.  We have to grow up, literally, by paying a visit to the monster under the bed. It may be an imaginary monster but we act as it is real.

Imaginary monsters rule our lives.

Dare to go into the dark room, the one your father warned you against, and look under the bed. Don´t think too much. Just do it. Get on your knees, look.

The only thing you´ll find down there is dust. Dust, my friend. Bloody, fucking, ridiculous dust. Grab it and put it where it belongs (you know where).

You – we – deserve to be happy. It´s not a crime to experience life at its fullest.

If we´re able to receive unconceivable amounts of pain, and disappointment, we´re also able to receive unlimited happiness and pleasant surprises.

We were born to reJOYce, not to be punished.”

Excerpt from chapter of a book I´m currently writing.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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The world owes you nothing

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Working on one of my books. One word on a never ending loop: coffee – coffee – coffee.

Here´s something the Crazy Brigade – artists, writers, freelancers, dreamers who turn ideas into deeds – is fully aware of: nothing is guaranteed; nobody will pat you on the back – not forever, anyway -; circumstances change – today you´re the king and tomorrow you´re the beggar; there´s no 1+1=2 in life. Infallible equations, logic, and predictable outcomes work in math, not in life.

Instead of getting furious at life – you know what happens when you throw rocks at a wall, don´t you? – , claiming the world is evil and it doesn´t SEE YOU, I propose you roll with it while changing it, lovingly, with your actions.

Dance The Dance using your own steps.

Roll with the punches using your own fists.

Be, and do, your best with less expectations. Use your resources. Give it all you´ve got for the fun of it. Be on fire. BE FIRE. If a rock is everything you have at your disposal, turn it into a diamond. Alchemists have been doing it for centuries.

Show up for what you wish, do your part, be present. But never, ever, presume something is owed to you.

Repeat after me: Life owes me nothing. When you say it out loud, there´s a weight immediately off your shoulders:

-Ah… – A sigh of relief rises from your gut.

Dealing with rejection, falls & failures, frustration and injustice – or what we consider an injustice – is an integral part of this human experience. And being human is hard – the toughest job I can think of.

When you accept the premise – Life owes me nothing -, everything you get is a gift, a bonus, a blessing you didn´t see coming, a reason to smile. Pleasant, or unpleasant, results are overrated – just two sides of the same coin, the condition for being an active player in this game without rules.

See it as an Adventure – you fall so you can rise higher; something is taken away from you so you can earn something better; you are rejected so a more interesting thing, or person, can come into your life.

From the moment you assume life owes you nothing, you´re a chronic winner instead of a chronic blaming finger. Nothing will have the power to pull you off your center. 

Stop asking: what does the world owe me?

The real question is WHAT DO YOU OWE THE WORLD?”

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Excerpt from one of the books I´m currently working on.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED