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  1. #1
    Mega BHUZzer dinavienna's Avatar
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    Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Hi everybody,

    I stumbled across this clip, and apparently Amani has an oriental dance festival. I had never heard of anyone of you guys travelling to Lebanon I noticed when watching the video. Most Western dancers travel to Cairo for lessons, festivals, competitions, costume purchases it seems.
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEsywrpq5V0&feature=related]YouTube - Amani's Oriental Festival[/ame]

    have I just not heard about your trips to Lebanon? If the initial assumption I had that there is very little bellydance tourism so far from the US to Lebanon is correct, why do you think that is? Have few "older masters" discovered Western bellydancers are a very good business, like Raqia Hassan and many others discovered in Egypt, and make a great business out of private or group classes, choreography workshops etc? Have former star dancers not understood (yet) their workshops could be very profitable if they chose to come out of dance retirement and offered their knowledge to Western dancers? Is Amani very big on the workshop scene at all?
    Could it be that on the "local end" of the relation in the US more Egyptian Americans are, and therefore the natural connection of workshop teachers or dance trips to the Middle East is Egypt and Egyptian stars? Are there just not so many Lebanese stars (what about choreographers and teachers, who need not be in the spotlight themselves?)?

    I am very curious whether you go to Lebanon at all - whether you've been to Amani's festival maybe.. whether Egyptian style is just a huge trend these years, and therefore Lebanese do not catch as much attention etc etc etc.

    What puzzles me, inter alia, is also that in principle Lebanon could be a more prosperous environment for Western bellydancers, even.. thinking of how it is one of the freest societies in the Middle East.. I can't wrap my head round the idea why Beirut should NOT be a "bellydance Mekka" as much as Cairo, maybe even more if Egyptian society were to get more conservative from now on.

    Thoughts?


  2. #2
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Possibly because a lot of us tend to associate Beirut with war, and war breaks out there a lot? The last one was four years ago...


  3. #3
    Advanced BHUZzer gisela's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    My dance teacher went to the festival maybe five years ago and got a third place in the competition. She had a very good experience there from what I can recall. That is the only one I know that has gone there.
    Me I am not so crazy about Amani's dance style or Lebanese style in general, and I think that is why I haven't wanted to go there.


  4. #4
    Mega BHUZzer dinavienna's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Interesting..

    War? Hmm I don't know, for the Lebanese community in Germany or France my impression was that belongs to another era (the civil war). This view impacts upon how other Arabs and also Europeans perceive Lebanon IMO - general perceptions would be rather modernity, amazing city and night life, very open minded and often very revealing to raunchy celebrity behavior etc etc than civil war.

    I also do not associate Israel's relatively short lived attacks on Lebanon with a constant image of Lebanon I hold in my mind. So that's a surprising perception of Lebanon to me! I would not have associated it with insecurity or violence at all.. (at least not in our time - I am aware of political assassinations, of course.. my impression of them has been Lebanese in Europe and their relatives may be angered or frightened by these events, but they have (thankfully) been to isolated to impact upon their daily lives).


  5. #5
    Advanced BHUZzer jocelyn's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Lebanon

    The U.S Department of State does not recommend that Americans travel to Lebanon.

    I think that this would be a major part of why travel there isn't as frequent as travels to Cairo.


  6. #6
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    nods My MA supervisor, who is Lebanese, got stuck there in the 2006 conflict and always said to me that I would really like Beirut but that I shouldn't visit till it's safe.

    Also, I think it's fair to say that there has been such emphasis on Egyptian BD in the past couple of decades that people naturally gravitated to the place where US dancers had been going to study and perform - and then the teachers realised there was a market to be tapped and got into the festivals.


  7. #7
    Mega BHUZzer dinavienna's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahsima View Post
    Lebanon

    The U.S Department of State does not recommend that Americans travel to Lebanon.

    I think that this would be a major part of why travel there isn't as frequent as travels to Cairo.
    Wow I did not know that! It is not the image of Lebanon I held at all.. given European Lebanese travel in and out of Lebanon all the time.. but it is probably different if you have ties to locals..


  8. #8
    Mega BHUZzer dinavienna's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    And what about bringing Amani or Samara for workshops?
    I have never heard of them teaching like so many Egyptians do on large scale event. I know the organizers of many of the major events have ties to Egypt, so that would be logical for them to focus on their country of origin and countrymates.. but if there were demand to study with these instructors, there would sure be efforts to bring them too.

    What puzzles me is especially that I find the popular American cabaret styles a bit closer to modern Lebanese than Egyptian style - the flamboyancy, floor work, sometimes roughness and size of movements etc. So while I am sure there are many who do not love this style a lot, I'd be surprised if there were not a substantial crowd in the US potentially interested in the likes of Samara and Amani. I used to think both were not actively dancing anymore until a youtube channel called "Amaniteam" started uploading mid to late 90s clips of her in good quality. Then I saw this festival ad and thought she may have started this business. and well then I wondered how come I have not heard of her or Samara teaching workshops in the US etc.

    So what's your thoughts on them teaching abroad rather than foreigners going to Lebanon? Is that happening, if not why you think that is so (so far)?


  9. #9
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Amani has given workshops in the US, and she was the headliner at the first International Conference on Middle Eastern Dance in 1997. There aren't many domestic teachers here who specialize in pure Lebanese style, and hence, not a lot of corresponding student interest, so that is probably one reason why you don't see more workshops with visiting Lebanese teachers. Because of the political situation, it may be more difficult for Lebanese dancers to get visas to travel to the US, or perhaps they are not personally interested in cultivating a student fan base in the US--could be lots of reasons.


  10. #10
    Ultimate BHUZzer meissoun's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Amani has been to Stockholm, I took her workshops there.
    But it's very expensive to hire her, so obviously she's not everybody's first choice...

    I've been to Lebanon 4 times.

    The first time was about 18 years ago with my former dance teacher and two fellow students. My teacher's boyfriend at the time was a Lebanese musician (he also gave me my dance name). We mostly stayed in the Chouf mountains because that's where his family lives.
    A one-day trip to Beirut back then was a very depressing affair... It was shortly after the war and you could see a lot of bombed buildings and general destruction.

    Then 6 years ago, after having watched a lot of Lebanese dancers on video, I decided that it was time to check the scene out in person.
    I gathered what little information was available and went to Beirut for a week without knowing a single person there.
    I found a wonderful place with friendly, hospitable people. A great place to party, go shopping and take a LOT of dance lessons.
    I have an article online, but it needs to be updated:
    Travel to Beirut
    Or in German: Reisebericht Beirut 2004

    Pictures:
    May 2004
    Beirut

    October 2004 (yes, I liked it so much, I went straight back!)
    Beirut

    June 2006 (during the last football world championship)
    Beirut 2006
    Two or three weeks after I left, they started fighting again...

    So far I have always been safe. Two friends of mine arrived in Beirut just a day before the bomb on Hariri. Not good timing, everything was shut down...

    I will go again this October and then update the articles about Beirut to give you all the latest information.

    MEISSOUN


  11. #11
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    Quote Originally Posted by meissoun View Post
    Amani has been to Stockholm, I took her workshops there.
    But it's very expensive to hire her, so obviously she's not everybody's first choice...
    Is she more expensive than someone like Dina or Randa? I assumed it was always an expensive proposition to entice any of the major stars out of the Middle East and onto the workshop circuit.


  12. #12
    Mega BHUZzer dinavienna's Avatar
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    Re: Festival tourism - Lebanon?

    wow what a nice article!! Beirut sounds great indeed!

    I'm loving the pictures!
    Last edited by dinavienna; 06-06-2010 at 10:56 AM.


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