Gilded Serpent presents...
Devalia taught different styles of Indian classical
and folkloric dancing.
Amani’s Oriental Festival
Lebanon, June 14-19, 2005
celebrated leading performer, Amani,
launched her Oriental festival this year. The five day intensive
brought together some of the hottest and most talented teachers,
choreographers and performers who are trendsetters in Lebanon
today. The festival marks an annual calendar date for Oriental
dancers who have anticipated working more deeply into their art.
were accessible as a package or one by one, and prices varied,
depending on length and teacher. Participants were able to plan
a vocational course through the material.
placed strong emphasis on the folklore and identity of Oriental
Dance when compiling the program and offered touring to assist
in blending technique with emotion.
are from such a romantic, spiritual era!” she says. “I want to
preserve the identity of Oriental dance as it merges between the
dancing, the music, the folklore, the East and the West.”
theatre director, Gerard Avedissian, took each
attending dancer through stage and technique analysis, and Georgette
Gebara founder of “Ecole Libanaise de Ballet” taught
The Adaptation of Oriental Dance to Ballet and Back.
The strong love of folklore and pride in the culture came through
during one of the most valuable workshops I have ever attended;
choreographer Sami Khoury brought his immense
passion and vitality to teaching us the Lebanese Dabkeh dance
and rhythm. Franscois Rahme taught both a Bedouin
dance from the Baalbeck Region and an Andalusian dance workshop.
Mounir Maaleb, founder of a leading Lebanese
folkloric group, and Sameera Hadad, who is skilled
in cane dance for cabaret, taught different styles of Indian classical
and folkloric dancing.
and the teachers- from the left- Sandra,
Mounir Malaeb, Georgette Gebara,Natasha
Devalia, Amani in a traditional
Lebanese costume,Sami Khoury, Francois
Rahme and Samira Haddad
covered rich ground by opening the first session with a sword
dance by the “Courtesan” that was used to advance her concepts
for bringing dance to a large stage. In so doing, she shared
her first-hand knowledge. In contrast to the traditional sword
dance, she taught choreography that was released on her recording
“Amani El Omr” recently. The choreography seemed to me to be
vibrant, modern, and included dancing with a veil. Her final workshop
addressed various styles and rhythms of the Egyptian folkloric
dances that some dancers confuse with Oriental dance. Amani’s
relentless study into these subjects has reached a crucial understanding
through many years of research. Her training and teaching
combine logic with instinct to produce what is essentially the
Oriental montage, based on rhythms, costumes, gestures, background
analysis and the feelings and emotions behind the dance and the
people who created it. Amani captivated me with her storytelling
while delivering her instructive materials. I see Amani as a gifted
communicator because she is easy to follow, comfortable in interactions,
and fluent in English as well as French and Arabic.
own dancing,” Amani says, “depends on a good understanding of
culture as a path to reach into the authentic world of Oriental
Dance”. While exploring emotional meanings and moods, Amani
took us on excursions to places where the Oriental dance and
folkloric traditions have flourished in the past.
We found inspiration
in the actual mosaic walls and crumbling vistas of some of the
most important ancient sites in the world! Each group toured with
a fantastic guide who helped Amani present an exquisite historical
tale that nourished our sense of the arts with Old World inspiration.
Remnants from Pharonic, Roman, Phoenician, Greek, Arabic, Crusade,
Ottoman and Hellenic cultures have brought a wealth and diversity
to Lebanon. Amani said, “My choice of monumental places (Baalbeck,
Beit el-Dine, Deir el-Kamar, Ksara and the Barouk Cedars) has
been made due to the blending of cultures and the majestic human
el-Dine Palace Court
back row- Nour, Janet, Kioko with hat, Chica,
Maya behind, 6?, 7?, 8?, 9?,
Tomoko, Saito, Rafia and Allegra,
front - Beverly,
Ali, Catalina, Yukito, Amani , Mimi,
7?, 8?, 9?, 10?, Hiromi,
Gisella and Dalila,
In the Palace
called “Beit el-Dine,” we explored every inch of beauty and felt
as if we had become courtesans of the court, finding playful innocence,
in the gardens and beside the fountain. We toured through the
elaborate bathhouses and into the prince’s chambers. Amani performed
an impromptu dance, during which, thanks to imagination, years
seemed to have slipped by as if in a time warp!
el-Dine Interior in the "Prince Room"
Names-Kioko, Sa-ra, Chihaku, Taeka, Gisella,
Allegra, Chica, Catalina, Lena, Suran, Haruka, Hiromi, Dalila and Amani in front
the ruins of a thousand upon thousand-year project rose majestically
in fine scalloped detail on the pillars remaining and those scattered
by our feet. The figures and sculptures dancing from the dust
told the story of a house of prayer likened in design to the great
temple of King Solomon. To my eyes, most exquisite part
of this particular day trip was the timing: at sunset. The sunset
had a particular orange that seems to hold within it all the mysteries
of the Middle East.
places like this, visions of the past creep right into you,
and create the sense of our belonging to time. I felt a strong
connection across it.
While in Amani’s
care, in Lebanon, I felt well looked after and pampered. Our hotel
was the first five-star hotel ever built in the country. Calling
the Regency Palace “home” was a luxury. In addition to our
gorgeous sea views, the use of the Caesar’s Palace Theatre for
workshop sessions inside the complex (and also the stage for the
performances) was a fortuitous choice.
glittering opening night brought camera crews and press as each
master teacher presented his or her work.
night was exceptional because workshop participants had the opportunity
of entering a competition. On the same bill, Amani danced excerpts
from her new world-touring show “Amani around the world.” If I
had flown over only to watch her show live, it would have been
well worth my trip. Amani’s performances are radiant with strength,
skill and spirit.
in the queen dress, danced excerpts from her new world-touring
show “Amani around the world.”
names: 1, 2, Amani, 4, 5
Winners of the Competition: 1st runner up
in green- Hiromi Hukoyama, the winner in
white- Suran Negishi, Amani,
and the 2nd runner up- Lena Astrid
Cutting the cake with the president of the
professional artist's syndicate in Lebanon, Mr.
Ihsan Sadek, Amani , Silvana
Mardini, the winners and the participants on stage
I was impressed
also with the level and diversity that each workshop participant
shared. There was also a strong sense of bonding among participants
that we could attribute to many factors. Our course material caused
us to watch each other move, and we released our inhibition through
folk dance. Amani’s team facilitated each move with genuine
concern, and Amani’s hosting was considerate, caring, and an asset
to all who are interested in Oriental Dance.
has struggled with war for the past seventeen years and now
is rebuilding its good reputation. Its population is well educated,
warm and filled with a Joie de Vivre!
the festival, we felt safe and charmed by Lebanon’s high standard
of living, and enjoyed all that the area had to offer. Downtown
Beirut has a festive atmosphere that the Lebanese enjoy as part
of their daily life, with street cafés, the aromas of water pipes,
late and luxurious dinners, and dancing ‘til dawn. In fact, the
city never sleeps! Its wide, modern streets are fabulous for shopping,
with outlets carrying all major international brands, as well
as local designs. Visiting the nearby souk turns up all sorts
of wonderful items including gifts, and costumes at fair rates.
I recommend a visit to Byblos’ age-old marketplace. Go in your
bargaining hat and drive a hard bargain!
festival timing--mid-June--seals Lebanon’s reputation as a hot
spot for many dancers who are touring through the summer festival.
It is only one stop before Cairo. Amani has met a demand in
opening up this beautiful country to dancers, and she aspires
to issue this invitation with a genuine interest in education.
are an opportunity to study with Amani and experience first hand
her wealth of knowledge. It is an inspiration to dancers of all
levels. “I want to help beginner to professional dwell into the
deep soul of Oriental dance and discover what they may have missed
as new Oriental and folkloric styles emerge,” Amani says. Lebanon
is now open for discovery, and Amani’s team is obliging towards
a totally enriching experience.
more information on Amani's Festival see: http://www.amaniorientalfestival.com
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
3-26-05 “My Aim in Organizing
a World-inclusive Oriental Dance Festival” by Amani
Amani of Lebanon Comments, "Oriental dancing has become a
widespread art; it is now found all over the world, and among
all levels of society in all the five continents! "
Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2005, Cairo
a review and diary by Leyla Lanty
Monday night, the opening gala was a great success in all senses
of the word! It was one of the best large scale events I've attended.
How to Analyze Dance Styles by
a long time, the term “style” was something that I
didn’t really understand.
The Nile Group Workshops in Cairo
it sounds! How could we, in a small country that a lot of people
couldn’t even locate on a world map, compete with her enormous
festival in Cairo?
5-4-04 Belly Dance in Israel by Orit Maftsir
dancers are the hottest trend at the moment, unlike the totally
frozen attitudes towards the Arab culture in Israel.