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  1. #1
    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Please, describe the characteristics of each of these styles of dance: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret. The ones I am most confused about are Arabic and Egyptian.

    Thanks,
    Apadana


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    Master BHUZzer shems's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Well, I'm working on a styles primer for my students, it's still in first stages but here is a link, it will give you a general idea:

    More About Shems and About Belly Dance - Shems - Professional Belly Dancer serving Washington DC & Baltimore


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    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    I just finished reading Shems's primer, and I like it a lot. I think it's a great starting point to help with your questions!


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    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by shems View Post
    Well, I'm working on a styles primer for my students, it's still in first stages but here is a link, it will give you a general idea:

    More About Shems and About Belly Dance - Shems - Professional Belly Dancer serving Washington DC & Baltimore
    Hi Shems,

    Your descriptions of the characteristics of the different styles is very comprehensive. When I first began belly dancing, I pretty much knew my style was cabaret- love veil work. But was always confused to call myself an Arabic performer because I didn't know what that exactly meant. Does being an Arabic performer mean the dancer performs the dance of that specific Arabic country?

    I was taking a class from a "superstar" (Egyptian dancer) and once asked her to teach us some Arabic moves. Her remark was she was teaching all Arabic moves. This left me even more confused.

    Really appreciate your help on this...

    Apadana


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    I could get used to this! samsied's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by apadana View Post
    Hi Shems,
    When I first began belly dancing, I pretty much knew my style was cabaret- love veil work. But was always confused to call myself an Arabic performer because I didn't know what that exactly meant. Does being an Arabic performer mean the dancer performs the dance of that specific Arabic country?
    Apadana
    Hi Apadana, I have noticed dancers in different areas use the term "Arabic Belly Dance" in different ways. It seems like some dancers use it for the style of vintage oriental/Am. Cab. that is rooted more in dance styles from Arabic countries as opposed to Turkish. It seems it is experienced American dancers who do that (around the 70's?). Artemis has a great article that partially clarified that for me... Her article is on "Turkish Dance, American Cabaret and Vintage Orientale" and found at the following link Turkish Dancing


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    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by apadana View Post
    [B]But was always confused to call myself an Arabic performer because I didn't know what that exactly meant. Does being an Arabic performer mean the dancer performs the dance of that specific Arabic country?
    Hi Apadana! Let me see if I can help.

    When most people talk about "Arabic" dance, they are referring to how belly dance looks throughout all the countries where Arabic is the primary language. Egypt is one of these countries, so that's why your Egyptian teacher told you that all her moves were "Arabic".

    In her article, Shems talks about Egypt and the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, etc.) All of these would fall under the generic use of the term "Arabic dance", as would North African countries where Arabic is spoken such as Morocco. As Shems notes, in each local country some moves from the local folkloric traditions sneak in - debke in Lebanon, schikhatt in Morocco, Saidi in Egypt, etc.

    What unifies "Arabic dance" is that the Egyptian movies starring Tahia Carioca, Samia Gamal, and others were shown throughout all Arabic-speaking countries and brought some influence with them. The social class of people who could afford to see movies was also the social class of people who would go to nightclubs to watch dance, so local dancers would adapt their performances to incorporate influences from the movies. Ie, show the audiences what they expect/want to see. So the dance as portrayed in those movies became a unifying factor of "Arabic dance". However, each country has subtle nuances based on what its traditional folk dances were like, who its locally-famous stars (if it had any) were, what kind of people were its primary local audiences for the dance (tourists vs royalty vs rich business people) and so on.

    In the U.S., dancers presenting "Arabic" dance may have incorporated a bit of influence from Lebanese, a bit of influence from Egyptian, etc. It's the melting pot concept.

    I hope this helps!
    Last edited by *Shira*; 04-08-2008 at 01:25 PM.


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    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Apadana, I think the most important thing to realize is that the language attached to our dance is still evolving. Those words mean different things to different people, they don't have a set meaning.

    Some Americans will use the word 'cabaret' to mean 'sparkly bellydance that isn't tribal' and to those people, Egyptian and Arabic dance are both part of the 'Cabaret' designation. Some of us use that word to mean a specific, Turkish-influenced style that developed in the U.S. during the 60s & 70s. Most europeans won't use that word at all because to them a cabaret is a disreputable night club more likely to feature nude women than bellydancers.

    The term 'Arabic dance' or sometimes 'pan arabic' seems to mean "I try to dance in authentic ethnic styles but I mix and match moves & music from a variety of countries." In that case, Egyptian would be part of Arabic, so any Egyptian dance would also be Arabic (but not all Arabic dance would be Egyptian.)

    In terms of the specific movements used, there's a LOT of movement vocabulary that's common through all those styles -- and others you didn't mention. The differences are often in costuming, music choice, and the way the dancer interprets the music. S


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    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    LOL - once again, I could've waited for your post and saved myself some typing, Shira. Love your response.


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    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?



  10. #10
    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shira View Post
    Hi Apadana! Let me see if I can help.

    In the U.S., dancers presenting "Arabic" dance may have incorporated a bit of influence from Lebanese, a bit of influence from Egyptian, etc. It's the melting pot concept.
    Hi Shira,

    This finally makes sense!!!

    Thanks,
    Apadana


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    I could get used to this! SuhaDeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Hello,

    From an Arab perspective: When I say my moves are 'Arabic' I'm not just referring to geography - it's a concept of movement and an approach that's different to that of the West. I say that my style is Arabic because I'm old-school, and don't have Western influences or a Western approach to dance. The biggest examples of this that I can point out without being able to physically demonstrate -

    Westerners often talk about 'layering' - but many times it looks like they are 'stacking' unrelated movements on top of each other. The Arabic approach to layering is different. An Arabic dancer might acknowledge something rhythmic with the 'main' movement, and add subtle layers to acknowledge some of the other instruments and what they are saying. A Westerner is more likely to do one hip circle, then 'stack' a head-slide on top of that. The movements are incongruous to someone who thinks like an Arabic dancer.

    Westerners can seem uncomfortable with asymmetry! I don't know why this is, but I see many Western belly dancers do four steps this way, four steps that way, two of this, two of that. They seem afraid to dance outside a framework that's not so mathematically correct!


    I also hear many Westerners pay a lot of lip-service to internalized technique and muscular movement, but they don't do it to the extent that the old-schoolers did - especially if they have taken Reda-style which isn't Arabic in concept or approach. Rather, it is Western dancing that has been 'Arabized.'

    Arabic dancers pick up on the smaller cues, whereas Westerners often look for the more obvious musical cues. I think this has to do with the worry that they will look like they're not dancing to the rhythm. Again, it's the comfort-zone factor in dealing with music that's alien to their ears. More experienced dancers get better at interpreting music.


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    I could get used to this! SuhaDeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    ps. Apadana - I cannot know if that is what your teacher meant, but this would be my answer if someone asked me the difference between 'Arabic' dancing and 'Western' dancing.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer Suzana's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    I think Shira, Lauren, Samied and your Artemis reference have covered this very well, but just to add a footnote and confuse you further:

    For some people, like my Iranian friends, "Arabic dance" is used very generically to refer to anything and everything that falls under the "bellydance" umbrella in the US, whether it's Turkish, Egyptian, Lebanese, Am Cab, tribal, whatever. This isn't the most common use of the term or even (I would argue) correct, but you may hear it so I thought I'd mention it.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zana View Post
    For some people, like my Iranian friends, "Arabic dance" is used very generically to refer to anything and everything that falls under the "bellydance" umbrella in the US, whether it's Turkish, Egyptian, Lebanese, Am Cab, tribal, whatever.
    I too have have the term "Arabic dance" used by Persians in exactly the way you described. They use the term to distinguish between belly dance and Persian classical dance (which is beautiful in its own way).


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    I could get used to this! Varuza's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Shems - I've been really curious about all of this myself and have read all sorts of different articles and web sites about it, but it's all a kind of mish mash in my head. I decided tonight that I was going to head over to youtube and do different searches to try to find examples of the different styles that I could actually see. It would be doubly useful for me as I don't have any clue what the different kinds of music are involved (and my current teacher is teaching to modern American music).

    Well, I decided to check out your link anyway, thinking that reading is still useful and I might pick up more. How delighted I was to see those links to youtube videos in each section!

    I would have had a hard time, being so new, and thus likely to run into lots of stuff that was mislabeled.

    So, thank you!


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    Advanced BHUZzer deelybopper's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuhaDeeb View Post
    Hello,

    From an Arab perspective: When I say my moves are 'Arabic' I'm not just referring to geography - it's a concept of movement and an approach that's different to that of the West. I say that my style is Arabic because I'm old-school, and don't have Western influences or a Western approach to dance. The biggest examples of this that I can point out without being able to physically demonstrate -

    Westerners often talk about 'layering' - but many times it looks like they are 'stacking' unrelated movements on top of each other. The Arabic approach to layering is different. An Arabic dancer might acknowledge something rhythmic with the 'main' movement, and add subtle layers to acknowledge some of the other instruments and what they are saying. A Westerner is more likely to do one hip circle, then 'stack' a head-slide on top of that. The movements are incongruous to someone who thinks like an Arabic dancer.

    Westerners can seem uncomfortable with asymmetry! I don't know why this is, but I see many Western belly dancers do four steps this way, four steps that way, two of this, two of that. They seem afraid to dance outside a framework that's not so mathematically correct!


    I also hear many Westerners pay a lot of lip-service to internalized technique and muscular movement, but they don't do it to the extent that the old-schoolers did - especially if they have taken Reda-style which isn't Arabic in concept or approach. Rather, it is Western dancing that has been 'Arabized.'

    Arabic dancers pick up on the smaller cues, whereas Westerners often look for the more obvious musical cues. I think this has to do with the worry that they will look like they're not dancing to the rhythm. Again, it's the comfort-zone factor in dealing with music that's alien to their ears. More experienced dancers get better at interpreting music.
    Suha - thanks for this post...enlightening, as ever!..g.:


  17. #17
    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuhaDeeb View Post

    Westerners can seem uncomfortable with asymmetry! I don't know why this is, but I see many Western belly dancers do four steps this way, four steps that way, two of this, two of that. They seem afraid to dance outside a framework that's not so mathematically correct!
    Hi SuhaDeeb,

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive explanation for my question- so informative and helpful!!!

    Oh, my gosh your comment about instructors teaching symmetrically was a revelation to why sometimes I felt like the choreographed dances I learned felt like I was dancing like a robot. Rarely did I have an instructor say listen to the music but they emphasized the movements- until I found Marta Schill.

    I am a salsa dancer too. An instructor was giving a free workshop to get new students- all levels of abilities. The Cumbia lesson he taught was choregraphed- many moves and difficult. A few years later I went to Costa Rica and went to a nightclub. I noticed the dancers were only doing a few moves to Salsa, Cumbia and etc. but dancing to the rythym. The moves were very repetitive but they were all keeping time to the beat of the music, unlike what I am used to. I have been told by instructors that I don't keep time to the music;I think that is because I am so focused on doing the steps and keeping up with my partner that I don't pay attention to the music.

    Thank you again...
    Apadana


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    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuhaDeeb View Post
    The Arabic approach to layering is different. An Arabic dancer might acknowledge something rhythmic with the 'main' movement, and add subtle layers to acknowledge some of the other instruments and what they are saying.
    OMG that's what I always tell my students!!!! The "main" movement is linked to the rhythm, and the "extras" are acknowledging instrumentation/phrasing/etc. I'm so glad to hear you say that, Suha!!!!! I always wondered/hoped I was really capturing an Arab understanding of layering.

    Off to go skip gleefully through my day...

    Nisaa


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    Mega BHUZzer elljay's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    I won't quote it 'cause it takes up too much room, but SuhaDeeb, your post was excellent. Arabic style of dance is not something that I've been able to achieve. I see Arabic dancers and want to capture that something in the expression of the moves, and it is so elusive to me. You just brought me to a whole new level of understanding! THANKS SO MUCH!!


  20. #20
    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuhaDeeb View Post
    Hello,

    Westerners often talk about 'layering' - but many times it looks like they are 'stacking' unrelated movements on top of each other. The Arabic approach to layering is different. An Arabic dancer might acknowledge something rhythmic with the 'main' movement, and add subtle layers to acknowledge some of the other instruments and what they are saying. A Westerner is more likely to do one hip circle, then 'stack' a head-slide on top of that. The movements are incongruous to someone who thinks like an Arabic dancer.
    Please, is there a DVD/video that demonstrates layering? This is the first I have ever heard about this dance concept.

    Thanks again,
    Apadana


  21. #21
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Layering just means 'doing more than one thing at the same time.' I mostly hear the term used to refer to shimmying while doing another movement (like a hip circle or figure 8).

    But here, I think Suha is using the term to mean any time you're doing more than one thing. So your hips might be keeping time to the rhythm while your arms are expressing the melody line of the flute. (ummm...hope I got that right... Suha, feel free to correct me!)

    She's right, I've taken workshops where I felt like it was only being done as a 'parlor trick,' like rubbing the belly and patting the head.


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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuhaDeeb View Post
    Westerners can seem uncomfortable with asymmetry! I don't know why this is, but I see many Western belly dancers do four steps this way, four steps that way, two of this, two of that. They seem afraid to dance outside a framework that's not so mathematically correct!
    Thank you for mentioning this--I was critiqued recently for not being symmetrical. But I liked what I was doing, so it's nice to hear that I wasn't necessarily on the wrong track with my interpretation, in fact may have been on exactly the right track ,r:;


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    Established BHUZzer jmdruadh's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by shems View Post
    Well, I'm working on a styles primer for my students, it's still in first stages but here is a link, it will give you a general idea:

    More About Shems and About Belly Dance - Shems - Professional Belly Dancer serving Washington DC & Baltimore
    The primer is great, and your YouTube playlists are a GOLD MINE!!!


  24. #24
    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by badriya_al_ahmar View Post
    Thank you for mentioning this--I was critiqued recently for not being symmetrical. But I liked what I was doing, so it's nice to hear that I wasn't necessarily on the wrong track with my interpretation, in fact may have been on exactly the right track ,r:;
    Hi Badriya al ahmar,

    Do you think that SuhaDeeb meant that always dancing symmetrically is too predictable?

    Apadana


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    Advanced BHUZzer badriya_al_ahmar's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by apadana View Post
    Hi Badriya al ahmar,

    Do you think that SuhaDeeb meant that always dancing symmetrically is too predictable?

    Apadana
    Yes--that and if you hear the music calling for something different, go ahead and do something different. You don't need to be locked into repeating steps. If your audience understands the music, they will understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.


  26. #26
    Master BHUZzer norma's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    SuhaDeeb your post is right on! It really comes down to listening and interpreting the music. It's as if the instruments are all having a conversation with each other and the dancer is participating in the conversation as well.

    So your hip might be moving in time to the drum but the shimmy is following the quanoon but your arms are listening to the ney.


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    Advanced BHUZzer Mosaika's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    This is wonderful! Yay! I have so much trouble dancing in set symmetry, I am "thinking" all the time, and end up stuffing up somewhere, because my body wants to move "naturally" in some other way. My Instructor tells me I think too much.

    Australian teachers ( the ones I have had instruction from so far) tend to do everything symmetrically, I have never really thought about it until reading this thread.

    I have just started classes with another instructor ( only 1 class so far - so can't comment on how she teaches) This lady is Lebanese, so it will be interesting to note her teaching methods. One thing I did notice is most instructors teach the 'step or start on the right foot. My new instructor said she is a left foot instructor, and this for me seems natural. I have tended to automatically ( when not thinking - LOL) to step/start on my left foot, which of course throws one completely out when doing a choreo. I think my new instructors methods of teaching will be very interesting. After reading the info here I don't feel "so hopeless" anymore LOL!

    Thanks for all the great info!


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    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by sagira View Post
    This lady is Lebanese, so it will be interesting to note her teaching methods. One thing I did notice is most instructors teach the 'step or start on the right foot. My new instructor said she is a left foot instructor, and this for me seems natural. I have tended to automatically ( when not thinking - LOL) to step/start on my left foot, which of course throws one completely out when doing a choreo. I think my new instructors methods of teaching will be very interesting.
    Sagira, it may interest you to know that Sausan posted a message on tribe.net stating that Egyptian dancers are typically left-footed and left-hipped. Here's a link to that thread: Left Sided or Right Sided? - Egyptian Style - tribe.net


  29. #29
    I could get used to this! apadana's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by sagira View Post

    Australian teachers ( the ones I have had instruction from so far) tend to do everything symmetrically, I have never really thought about it until reading this thread.
    Hi Sagira,

    Many of my American instructors teach in the symmetrical manner. It didn't dawn on me until SuhaDeeb brought it to my attention. I wonder if that is why I felt I was dancing like a robot?

    I am curious to see how your Lebanese instructor teaches, as far as asymmetical vs. symmetrical?

    Apadana


  30. #30
    Advanced BHUZzer Mosaika's Avatar
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    Re: Arabic, Egyptian & Cabaret styles?

    Thanks Shira will read Sausan's article. I definitely find things move easier on the left, yet I am right handed ... one has to wonder if there is some ancient genetic memory floating around in there

    Apadana I will let you know after a couple of lessons how Mya ( instructor) approaches this asym Vs sym. I think I will actually ask her if she tends to follow the western way or does she stick exclusively to her roots. Maybe she a little of both.

    I have just returned from a class with my long term instructor and she was taking us through some exercises as practice to changing steps/direction etc and one set I was getting right into it ( not thinking LOL) and stepped out on my left foot, I ended up being a contortionist trying to get back into the right direction that ended up looking like I had tied myself into a knot and we all just dissolved into laughter. As my instructor said, my own little drummer was playing around in my head again


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