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  1. #1
    Established BHUZzer gotraqs's Avatar
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    Dance Styles and Corresponding Movements

    OK, so I was watching Chellcy's lovely Saiidi dance clip here on Bhuz, and I was wondering, as I have wondered many times before, how does one authentically choreograph, or accurately classify, a Saiidi dance, or a Ghawazee dance, etc.?

    I have learned a few dances that were labeled "Saiidi" or "Ghawazee" over the years. However, if I were to try to choreograph my own dance, how could I be sure that all the moves I incorporated would be moves that actual Ghawazee have used in their history?

    I guess, to me, it is all so confusing when I try to categorize all the different styles because they all have similar influences and origins. Many of the moves used in folk dances are similar, or the same, as those used in cabaret dancing. And, one folk dance style may use moves similar to another folk dance style. And, heck, all this cabaret dancing has its roots in folk dancing anyway! And, then there is all the stylizations for cabaret dancing- Lebanese, Turkish, Egyptian, American, tribal. Oy vey!

    It just seems like to me like there are so few thorough sources for so many of the things we are supposed to know about this dance form! No one knows the exact origins of oriental dance. I have never seen a book about Ghawazee dance, or Hagallah, or any other folk (i.e. not modern, ballet-influenced cabaret) dance that breaks down a movement vocabulary. All you can do is go to some seminars and learn a few dances, and base all of your knowledge of the dance styles on these tiny bits of info you get here and there. And, unless the choreography being taught was created by a native dancer of that style, then I don't even know if the dance is going to be historically acurate anyway.

    I want a flippin' textbook that gives me all the info I want about any particular style, including info about costuming, music and all associated dance movements described in detail! Pronto!

    ..c::


  2. #2
    Official BHUZzer akashablue's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I understand and feel your angst.

    Have you seen the book named 'The Belly Dance Book: Rediscovering the Oldest Dance'? I have that book buried somewhere in my house and haven't seen it in a while. Maybe that may be a start for you??????

    Or you can ask Morocco??? She's like a human encyclopedia on this dance form!! Seriously!!! ..g.:


  3. #3
    I could get used to this! shimmycelia's Avatar
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    I recently did a days workshops with Amel Tafsout and learned an astounding amount about North African Dance - well, as much as she could teach us in a day ! - She is dance ethnologist so perhaps an email to her would give you some leads, Cheers


  4. #4
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Whew, you ask such a loaded question! I'd say your best bet is to get video documentaries of native dancers doing the original folk dance. For example, to see authentic Ghawazee, get Morocco's video Dances of Egypt, Nubia, & the Sudan - that video has the Banat Maazin Ghawazee dancers on it. And so on.

    I'd also suggest attending as many folk technique workshops as you can taught by people like Morocco, Amel Tafsout, and Sahra Saeeda who have spent considerable time doing field research.


  5. #5
    Ultimate BHUZzer bintbeled's Avatar
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    Thanks for pointing out that clip -- I always forget to look at Bhuz videos.

    I think the most important element of Sa'idi dance is being grounded. Bobby Farrah used to call it "having mud between your toes." We spent a long time on that in my Advanced Folkloric class that started this week! (I'm teaching in-depth Sa'idi to start.)


  6. #6
    Master BHUZzer nasila's Avatar
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    Aisha Ali also has documentaries on the Ghawazee...she immersed herself in the culture for like 10 years and has great footage. She often teaches North African dance workshops. From what I've seen, the Ghawazee really don't have a broad range of movements...an authentic presentation would pretty much be variations of haggala!

    I think maybe part of the problem is that the dances all do tend to overlap a bit as they evolve, even historically, so there's no definite set of moves that is totally specific to one area or music style... it's all got a little extra flavor from various influences.


  7. #7
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    As an instructor, I feel like it's important that I know what the heck I'm doing -- to the best of my ability -- before I choreograph or teach a style to my students. Plus I'm just anal. So I work harder than a typical dancer might at a new style.

    In order to create a Turkish Rom choreo & teach it to my students, I spent about 9 months researching first. Here's what I did:

    - Took a workshop with a native & very knowledgable instructor (Tayyar Adkeniz, bless his little heart)

    - Read books on the topic of the people I'd be representing (not dance-specific)

    - Bought & watched documentary films about the people & dance style in question

    - Combed & scoured the web for info & photos

    - Spent months finding assembling & studying youtube clips of the style in question - and related styles - as performed by natives. Those are much harder to find, but when learning, it's too easy to be misled by someone who has fused or created something inauthentic

    - Bought & studied Artemis Mourat's turkish instructional (she's American, but works in Turkey, is Tayyar's partner, and is one of the leading experts on the style.)

    - Immersed myself in the related music, and practiced drumming (badly) the rhythm until my heart beat to it.

    Then I studied the heck out of the youtube clips I had, with a notebook in hand, and jotted down everything I saw -- footwork, combinations, etc.

    Then it was just a matter of putting together those combinations in a way that worked with the music I chose. I hope that all my study & research allows some of the proper attitude/feeling to come through the choreo -- though I don't think I got that fully right. I may try again this year, it'll probably take more than one. But at least I don't have to do all the research over again.

    I realize the above is a little excessive. Turkish Rom was especially difficult because I don't have a local teacher who's well versed and there isn't a lot of video footage available.

    Saiidi has been sooooo much easier, because we get annual workshops with Yousry Sharif, who is Saiidi, and Nourhan, who obviously is really knowledgable. Nourhan's video is excellent, too. There's plenty of video footage of Egyptian dancers performing Saiidi, that helps a lot. I'd stick with studying the Egyptians rather than Western interpretations. Although...Andrea has studied extensively with the Sharifs and studied in Egypt numerous times, I'd set up a private with her (or Diana) if I wanted to learn Saiidi in St. Louis.


  8. #8
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    how could I be sure that all the moves I incorporated would be moves that actual Ghawazee have used in their history?
    Watch actual Ghawazee dancers and take your movement vocabulary from them.

    Khayriya Maazin (sp?) dances in:
    - Romany Trail part 1 (also an interview with her father about the Ghawazee people and lots of interesting background)
    - Bellydancers of Cairo (she's interviewed & performs)
    - Aisha Ali's Dances of Egypt


  9. #9
    Established BHUZzer gotraqs's Avatar
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    BTW, Lauren, have any idea why Nourhan isn't going to be in seminar with Amel here?


  10. #10
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    It's health related. She's cancelled about 6 bookings over the next few months. I understand it's nothing life-threatening, but she won't be flying for a while.


  11. #11
    I could get used to this! shimmycelia's Avatar
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    Going back to authentic styles - the great Farida Fahmy (love her - toughest workshop I've ever had) said in a workshop a few years ago that the Assuit Stick dance she and the Reda troupe performed was accepted as authentic by the local (Assuit) people.
    However she went on to say that she did not know the reason why it was thought to be particularily authentic. Perhaps it's a process of assimilation rather than active learning, as she could not pinpoint exactly what made it absolutely correct - neither - apparently could the locals - it just was correct.


  12. #12
    I could get used to this! shimmycelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    As an instructor, I feel like it's important that I know what the heck I'm doing -- to the best of my ability -- before I choreograph or teach a style to my students. Plus I'm just anal. So I work harder than a typical dancer might at a new style.

    In order to create a Turkish Rom choreo & teach it to my students, I spent about 9 months researching first. Here's what I did:

    - Took a workshop with a native & very knowledgable instructor (Tayyar Adkeniz, bless his little heart)

    - Read books on the topic of the people I'd be representing (not dance-specific)

    - Bought & watched documentary films about the people & dance style in question

    - Combed & scoured the web for info & photos

    - Spent months finding assembling & studying youtube clips of the style in question - and related styles - as performed by natives. Those are much harder to find, but when learning, it's too easy to be misled by someone who has fused or created something inauthentic

    - Bought & studied Artemis Mourat's turkish instructional (she's American, but works in Turkey, is Tayyar's partner, and is one of the leading experts on the style.)

    - Immersed myself in the related music, and practiced drumming (badly) the rhythm until my heart beat to it.

    Then I studied the heck out of the youtube clips I had, with a notebook in hand, and jotted down everything I saw -- footwork, combinations, etc.

    Then it was just a matter of putting together those combinations in a way that worked with the music I chose. I hope that all my study & research allows some of the proper attitude/feeling to come through the choreo -- though I don't think I got that fully right. I may try again this year, it'll probably take more than one. But at least I don't have to do all the research over again.

    I realize the above is a little excessive. Turkish Rom was especially difficult because I don't have a local teacher who's well versed and there isn't a lot of video footage available.

    Saiidi has been sooooo much easier, because we get annual workshops with Yousry Sharif, who is Saiidi, and Nourhan, who obviously is really knowledgable. Nourhan's video is excellent, too. There's plenty of video footage of Egyptian dancers performing Saiidi, that helps a lot. I'd stick with studying the Egyptians rather than Western interpretations. Although...Andrea has studied extensively with the Sharifs and studied in Egypt numerous times, I'd set up a private with her (or Diana) if I wanted to learn Saiidi in St. Louis.
    CCCCRumbs suddenly feeling faintly inadequate - or perhaps just faint at the thot of all that research!!!!!


  13. #13
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Ha! But I do it because I enjoy doing it, not because it's necessary to do all that.

    My point, really, was that there's a wide variety of native resources available to us today. Just immersing in a style for a while answers all questions.

    I don't think I'd try to choreograph in a style based on just a couple of workshops. I'd watch watch watch. Youtube makes that soooo much easier & cheaper!


  14. #14
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Getting a handle on a folk style takes a lot of time. Lauren’s answer is great. Here are some other ideas.

    Study the style with a range of instructors. This gives you different snapshots of what is considered “typical”.

    Include people who are at most one level removed from the real thing. Some years back another local teacher and I studied sa`iidi with Denise Enan. The other teacher had a great ability to mirror in her body what she saw. But watching her teach sa`iidi to her own students a few months later I noticed she had subtly changed the feel of the dance. Not surprising as she had a strong interest in Orientale. However, the teacher that she trained now teaches an even more removed style with little of the earthy guts.

    When watching videos/DVDs be aware that “movies” are not documentaries. Much of the folklore is more fakelore. Go for real footage eg that collected by Morocco, Aisha Ali, or Bobby Farrah.

    Quote Originally Posted by gotraqs View Post
    I have never seen a book about Ghawazee dance, or Hagallah, or any other folk (i.e. not modern, ballet-influenced cabaret) dance that breaks down a movement vocabulary.
    Keep in mind that “Ghawazee” or whatever dance is a collection of related styles by related people. There are many “Ghawazee”, “Bedouin” etc styles. I’ve heard there are hundreds of debkes. So the movement vocabulary is not defined over all but for specific times and places. A few years back Denise Enan gave a workshop on “a sa`iidi woman’s dance” – that is a specific one that was studied in the 1960s. For performance what you tend to do is extract the essence. This is more of an art than a science and does not work well in the written word.


  15. #15
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nasila View Post
    From what I've seen, the Ghawazee really don't have a broad range of movements...an authentic presentation would pretty much be variations of haggala!
    Denise again, mentioned when they initially studied the Ghawazee there were still a number of groups performing and they had a much wide movement vocabulary that what you see today. Even looking at Aisha Ali’s footage you can see a decline in variety from the 1970s to the 1980s with the Banat Maazin.

    However, Ghawazee and Haggala are very different styles!

    Quote Originally Posted by nasila View Post
    I think maybe part of the problem is that the dances all do tend to overlap a bit as they evolve, even historically, so there's no definite set of moves that is totally specific to one area or music style... it's all got a little extra flavor from various influences.
    I think most of the change would have been recently. Stuff all movement historically. My father grew up in Eastern Europe in the 1940s/50s and 17km away was a different place to which only the young adventurous travelled. Think of the distance between Mersa Matruh and Luxor – it must be a thousand kilometres!.


  16. #16
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shimmycelia View Post
    Going back to authentic styles - the great Farida Fahmy (love her - toughest workshop I've ever had) said in a workshop a few years ago that the Assuit Stick dance she and the Reda troupe performed was accepted as authentic by the local (Assuit) people.
    However she went on to say that she did not know the reason why it was thought to be particularily authentic. Perhaps it's a process of assimilation rather than active learning, as she could not pinpoint exactly what made it absolutely correct - neither - apparently could the locals - it just was correct.
    I assume the Reda Troupe would have worked in a similar way to Firqa Kawmiyya – months of filming and studying native dancers in their village. Then going back to Cairo and going back over the film, copying, altering, comparing. I think both troupes had a two year training period for new dancers – that is starting with people who could dance, they would study (5-6 days a week) for two years before performing in public.

    But it is all worth the effort - honest. But, you can see why I was cynical of a local teacher who advertised she taught “all styles” – even her modified “most styles” is ridiculous.


  17. #17
    Ultimate BHUZzer bintbeled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kashmir View Post
    I assume the Reda Troupe would have worked in a similar way to Firqa Kawmiyya – months of filming and studying native dancers in their village. Then going back to Cairo and going back over the film, copying, altering, comparing. I think both troupes had a two year training period for new dancers – that is starting with people who could dance, they would study (5-6 days a week) for two years before performing in public.
    Yup, Mahmoud Reda did fieldwork and studied and filmed dances all over Egypt. I've seen some of his film footage and it's great!


  18. #18
    I could get used to this! shimmycelia's Avatar
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    Eeehm - all I meant was that it really is difficult to pin down exactly - in words especially - what is an authentic style - even after all that field work - i totally agree that the more research you can do the better- didn't know it was possible to see the film of Mahmoud Reda's research - love to see that!!!


  19. #19
    Advanced BHUZzer AngelaDiCaprio's Avatar
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    Wow, talk about passionate...


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