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Thread: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance




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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    ARGH...so this is perhaps the 15 billionth time that this has occurred. Often when I have students in my classes who attend with other teachers, these students ask for clarification/verification of certain "rules" that they were taught. More often than not, these "rules" are sweeping generalizations that either have no basis in fact (ME dance "urban legends") or else have only limited applicability to certain cultural contexts.

    So recently I had this one (and not for the first time): "Women NEVER lead a debke line." Well, what if it's a women-only group or party? And never mind that I have seen Lebanese women in my city WITH MY OWN EYES leading mixed-gender debke lines.

    And another one: "In raqs sharqi, NEVER show the palms of your hands to your audience...it is very insulting." Well, how many videos have we all seen of various famous Egyptian dancers with their hands palms-out toward the audience?

    Perhaps I can turn this rant into a more productive expereince:

    Please post your favorite "urban legends" of Middle Eastern dance. Perhaps we can create a Snopes-like page to debunk some of this crap once and for all.

    [/rant]


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    Ultimate BHUZzer Suzana's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Last edited by Suzana; 07-29-2008 at 10:25 AM.


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    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    How about "professional dancers ALL choreograph. You have to do choreography is you want to be a professional."
    ,f::
    This only comes from teachers who don't DO improvisation. I understand and support having a preference, but there is no need to misrepresent the truth to your students. I think it's great to be able to do both. There is a time and a place for everything, ya know?
    Fifi, Mona, Shoo Shoo....they never choreographed. Dealing with audiences in a club- no point in choreographing.
    When something is choreographed down to the eyelash- it usually loses all the spark. When someone improvises and they don't know how- it looks "muddy"... They are both important useful skills.
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    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance



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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by Zana View Post
    "Pointing your toes is completely Western and ballet-influenced, so Middle Eastern people don't like it. Everyone knows this is really a folk dance, so if you point your toes your dancing is inauthentic and they won't accept you."
    GAH!!!!!!!!!! I have heard a related one: "Raqs sharqi dancers do NOT perform on releve."

    BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!


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    Ultimate BHUZzer Suzana's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    But of course! They NEVER do (says Teacher 1)...except that they ALWAYS do (says Teacher 2). Is it any wonder students get hopelessly confused?


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    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Anything and everything concerning "The Goddess," the "feminine divine," childbirth, Wombyn Power, or utopian matriarchal societies where men were subordinate and everyone worshipped their feminine curves.

    Nothing wrong with using spirituality to enhance your personal practice, but things start getting hairy when wishful speculation gets confused with fact, or when goddess talk unnecessarily alienates potential new students of different religious backgrounds.
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    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Hows this? Beginning a hip circle with the pelvis pushed forward will get you arrested in Egypt but not in Turkey.


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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by Zana View Post
    But of course! They NEVER do (says Teacher 1)...except that they ALWAYS do (says Teacher 2). Is it any wonder students get hopelessly confused?

    Yes...I am now to the point that when students ask me about these things, I try to debunk the myth, but then I offer up that, while there ARE general guidelines for what is culturally appropriate/traditional/whatever, it is important to bear in mind that whatever dance "rule" has been formulated, there is a famous Arab dancer out there somewhere who is breaking it.

    Nisaa


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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    Anything and everything concerning "The Goddess," the "feminine divine," childbirth, Wombyn Power, or utopian matriarchal societies where men were subordinate and everyone worshipped their feminine curves.

    Nothing wrong with using spirituality to enhance your personal practice, but things start getting hairy when wishful speculation gets confused with fact, or when goddess talk unnecessarily alienates potential new students of different religious backgrounds.
    Ah, yes, wimmin and the matriarchy. 'scuse me while I upchuck.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer artemisia_danst's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    seeing lucy's show in cairo shattered most of the "egyptian dancers never do's" i was taught: floor work, dancing on tables and taking costuming pieces of on stage.


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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by anala View Post
    Hows this? Beginning a hip circle with the pelvis pushed forward will get you arrested in Egypt but not in Turkey.
    Holy moly! I hadn't heard THAT one before!


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    Established BHUZzer LeylaFahada's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    I was once told that flipping your palms up or gesturing with your fingers (the way I've seen many dancers do when they want people to clap) was a signal that you were ready to take bids on who to go to bed with.


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    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    THAT one was told to me by my first teacher and I perpetuated that myth for 2 years myself before I actually got the Legends series and found out different.


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    Advanced BHUZzer Rosette's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    To be really good, you MUST dance in shoes. The real pros do not dance with bare feet; that's for amateurs!

    That poor Dina! I guess nobody ever told her. ..l;,
    Rosette
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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    All of these are making me


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    Master BHUZzer BreaMorgiane's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Hey! I asked about that palms-up thing on here and orientaldancer.net and I was told there was truth in it! Now I"m confused.

    How about the use of the zaghareet as applause? The dancer that taught my students the above myth (darn it, I KNEW it was a myth!) considered me a lesser teacher because I don't teach them to do that as applause.

    Goddess stuff is the most insidious myth there is. That one is the worst in my opinion.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by anala View Post
    Hows this? Beginning a hip circle with the pelvis pushed forward will get you arrested in Egypt but not in Turkey.
    Well, duh....we all know that Egyptian dance is always refined and all Turkish dance is amateurish, uncouthe and totally vulgar. A hip circle with pelvic emphasis could totally fly in Istanbul because all Turkish dancers are prostitutes!

    Heard a few variations on this one before, from somebody who is presently teaching....some people really should get their dancing licenses suspended until they can speak with an open mind about the stylistic diversity of Middle Eastern dance.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    "It's a shoulder shimmy, not a boob shimmy."


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    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosette View Post
    To be really good, you MUST dance in shoes. The real pros do not dance with bare feet; that's for amateurs!

    That poor Dina! I guess nobody ever told her. ..l;,
    Rosette


    You're killing me!

    I've actually heard this one, too. Also, that if you dance barefoot, it'll look like you can't afford shoes.

    ..c::

    How does this bode for male dancers? Do they have to break out the stilettos, too?


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    Mega BHUZzer aazura's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by LeylaFahada View Post
    I was once told that flipping your palms up or gesturing with your fingers (the way I've seen many dancers do when they want people to clap) was a signal that you were ready to take bids on who to go to bed with.
    ..l;, Never heard that one before!! Well, then, let the bidding begin!! ..l;,
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    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    Also, that if you dance barefoot, it'll look like you can't afford shoes.
    A widely-repeated urban legend says that this one started with Samia Gamal, who wore European-style high heels to make a statement that she could afford them. Other dancers then started copying her affectation in the way that people often copy what the star is doing. However, Samia debunked that particular urban legend in a 1968 interview: http://shira.net/about/Interview-sam...68-kawakeb.htm
    Last edited by *Shira*; 03-02-2013 at 01:48 PM.
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    Ultimate BHUZzer tahiradancer's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    I had an Egyptian dancer tell me about the shoe thing. She also told me about the hip circle thing with the caveat that you could do the starting with the push forward IF you weren't doing the hip circle straight on to the audience.

    Flipping your palms up? I haven't heard that. I have heard that, with palms up, you shouldn't lift your middle finger. It's like flipping the bird.

    {{{HUGS}}}


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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by Shira View Post
    But that doesn't mean there's a rule saying you must copy Samia Gamal. I'd rather see an individualist who is confident in her own style than a poor copy of someone else. Which is why I like watching Dina but get bored with all her imitators!
    Agreed.

    Also, I've heard the other extreme on this..."Only barefoot dancing is authentic" which leads to teachers sending students out to dance on hot pavement or dirty restaurant floors with no shoes. Duh.

    Personally, I often wear shoes for safety and/or aesthetic reasons. I get students a lot from the "barefoot camp" who are shocked and disturbed to envision a belly dancer performing in shoes.


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    Advanced BHUZzer Egyptdancer's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by nisaasaintlouis View Post
    And another one: "In raqs sharqi, NEVER show the palms of your hands to your audience...it is very insulting." Well, how many videos have we all seen of various famous Egyptian dancers with their hands palms-out toward the audience[/rant]
    My first Egyptian teacher told me this.
    She said it was kinda like saying "Pffffh! Back-off, I'm the dancer."
    She also said she had seen some dancers doing this during a shoulder shimmy
    to signal that they are available after the show. ..c::


  26. #26
    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Oh, here's one more. Someone 'round these parts told students that the assaya is a phallic symbol.

    Sometimes a cane is just a cane, lady.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by nisaasaintlouis View Post
    Oh, here's one more. Someone 'round these parts told students that the assaya is a phallic symbol.

    Sometimes a cane is just a cane, lady.
    I nearly fell out of my chair. I've got no words.
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    Mega BHUZzer mahsati's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by nisaasaintlouis View Post
    And another one: "In raqs sharqi, NEVER show the palms of your hands to your audience...it is very insulting." Well, how many videos have we all seen of various famous Egyptian dancers with their hands palms-out toward the audience?
    [/rant]
    I've actually had the palms thing confirmed to me by a number of people from Egypt and Lebanon. It isn't any glimpse of the palms that they said is offensive, just the straight arm "Stop in the name of love" pose which is kind of a "F off" kind of gesture. I tell my students that and that it varies from region to region, so what is offensive in one area may be perfectly normal in another - to just be aware and adjust your movements for the specific audience.

    The other two things I generally warn about are presenting the soles of the feet (again - not just a glimpse, actually putting the bottom of your foot to face the audience) and the hand outstretched with middle finger up or down (fine when anywhere other than pointing directly at an audience member - at which point the finger means the finger). Those are the only ones I have had confirmed by multiple people from the Middle East, so I mention those - Some of these other things I have never even heard of.


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    Master BHUZzer tattood1's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    i think it's interesting how many bd urban legends center around sex & prostitution. we wonder WHY people think this dance in disreputable. to ME if you bring this stuff up in class EVEN if your intention is to "educate" there will be one student who will be put off. tinah


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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Rant...teachers making up "rules" a.k.a. "urban legends" of the dance

    Quote Originally Posted by mahsati View Post
    I've actually had the palms thing confirmed to me by a number of people from Egypt and Lebanon. It isn't any glimpse of the palms that they said is offensive, just the straight arm "Stop in the name of love" pose which is kind of a "F off" kind of gesture. I tell my students that and that it varies from region to region, so what is offensive in one area may be perfectly normal in another - to just be aware and adjust your movements for the specific audience.
    This is a useful qualification. "Stop in the name of love" hands CAN be off-putting. I think it is the "NEVER, EVER EVER show the palms" bit that gets me.



    The other two things I generally warn about are presenting the soles of the feet (again - not just a glimpse, actually putting the bottom of your foot to face the audience) and the hand outstretched with middle finger up or down (fine when anywhere other than pointing directly at an audience member - at which point the finger means the finger). Those are the only ones I have had confirmed by multiple people from the Middle East, so I mention those - Some of these other things I have never even heard of
    The soles of the feet rule is a valid one, but as you said, a glimpse is no big deal. The middle finger one I have also heard validated by Arabs.


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