The Giza Awards, and why the
legacy-making process is important to you.
Goodyear and Gregory
distant past, the mid-nineties I'd say, Amina and I were editing
through old vhs tapes, eight-millimeter film, and two-inch broadcast
tapes in an attempt to salvage a documentary history of The Aswan
Dancers. The rationale was simple: was the image on the tape more
prominent than the fuzzy dots? Then we looked at the dancing;
the location and time in which it was done. With the help of first
generation digital editing tools, the video "Hizz Ya Wizz"
became a reality.
with that reality came a realization: the fragility of this
media. At that moment, The Giza Academy Awards of Middle Eastern
Dance Videos was alive and breathing.
A bit of background:
The Aswan Dancers are a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational
and charitable organization with a primary mission to promote
the study and appreciation of Middle Eastern dance, music and
other cultural issues. To that mission was added this necessary
role of encouraging the preservation of dance, recorded not only
in print, but visually on stable media. A note here on what a
non-profit is and is not. It is not a way to skip taxes. It is
being true to your mission in spirit and action. It is about community
outreach: The Aswan Dancers are constantly in schools, arts and
academic organizations, lecturing and performing. They are in
hospitals and retirement and nursing homes dancing for the bed-ridden
and infirm. That means, teaching the children and soothing the
aged. And that brings us right back to The Giza Awards.
tape and disks degrade at a rapid rate--rather like their human
counterparts. The soul of your recorded work must jump to varied
forms of stable media every five to ten years.
needs to be transferred to the archival media of the moment:
usually a disk, with a tape backup. When you think of Middle
Eastern dance in the past, especially of the time between the
great black and white films and the introduction of videotape,
so much has been lost.
Aswan Dancers, as a cultural organization sponsors The
Giza Club, that irrepressible force of iconoclastic individualism,
and The Giza Club sponsors The Giza Awards,
and our message of preservation. After the first awards in December
1997, we commented that The Giza Awards hoped to look into the
history of past great performances and forward into the present
and future so that we may better identify the best of Middle Eastern
dance available on video. One of our major points is that a dancer
must leave a legacy and since video is what we have and what is
readily available, it's the media of choice. Our purpose is to
continue to urge the legacy-making process. The recorded performance
well preserved and maintained is the key to continued generations
of dancers and the preservation and evolution of our art form.
As an independent group, we will never fall into the trap of being
partial to one school of thought. Toward this goal the awards
committee will have five or more judges each year, which may rotate,
and three reserve judges or "tie-breakers."
judges may have no thread of personal connection to the material:
i.e. be not involved with the video personally or professionally.
In this way we have maintained an uncorrupted and clear history.
You can't buy or bully a win. We accept no ads, no special favors
and no gratuities.
for documentary and instructional videos, we want the performance
to determine the nature of the award rather than being made expressly
to fit into a niche. Of course, we look for what is great dancing
and exciting and entertaining, but underneath is this feeling
of time and place and how this work fits into the greater scheme
are simple. Obtain an application form and send in your material
with a small entry fee. This money is used to advertise the awards
online and in print media. Or be submitted as an entry by a Giza
Club member with a sense of "people must see this!"
Then once a year in December we present our selections for the
best videos entered and available. In January, members of the
Giza Club review the finalists and other selections. If a video
did not win, it doesn't mean that there were not great moments
within it and it may merit expanded viewing and comment.
legacy is magnificent: now in our ninth year, with an explosion
of categories and subcategories, there is a "layering"
documentaries that take you to a specific historical
time and location, calling attention to what is important.
the best of beginning instructional videos
through to advanced and highly specialized nuances of the dance,
the collected winners and other selections create a complete
curriculum of thought.
- And finally--The
performance winners, all the dancers that are
indeed "stars," of every style, are represented. Why
they are stars becomes self-evident to the eye. Watching these
great dancers we are reminded how much every one of us loves
the thrill of a live performance. That is not in question here.
With video we are speaking only of a distinctly separate world:
a complete active history of our time to be carried forward
to another time.
would seem that our initial message of preservation may be imbedded
into the audience we intended, so it's time for us to broaden
our vision, perhaps expanding our content and placing it online.
We have always looked forward into the future while gazing into
the past. Consider us revisionists and futurists simultaneously.
We embrace change however roughly it appears. With video we feel
secure in the knowledge that the legacy of the past will never
Giza Awards will always lead in closing the circle, making dance
fully international in scope and prompting the study of the
history and culture from which it developed, and continues to
Now when we
speak of the future, it means delivering a huge and varied critical
perspective of Middle Eastern dance and music in visual images
intact to the next generation of dancers and teachers and into
the next millennium and beyond. It's possible, you know.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Giza Club Lecture,
Wacky Woman Traveler- Leyla Lanty
and familiarity pays off.
Comments On American
Bellydancer Film Review by Gregory Burke
documentary film or video is made up of "real" images
constructed in such a way to reflect the point of view of its
maker. So a documentary film is a fiction, especially when financed
by its key subject..
Make a Giza Club!
to become our first Wacky Woman Traveler...
Annual Giza Academy Awards by Amina Goodyear
1999 Giza Video Awards! by Aileen
Giza Academy Awards
of Middle Eastern Dance Video 2000 by
Leyla Lanty And
the winners are.... Photos added on 5-1-01 take another look!
6-18-05 Gitaneria Arabesca:
A Different Approach to the Student Recital by Vashti,
Photography by John Steele
the student recital. There is nothing like watching fledglings
leaving the nest, discovering their own creative wings and flying
off into the wonderful world of belly dance.
Rakkasah West Festival
2005 Photos- Saturday & Sunday Page 2 photos by GS Staff
Belly Dancer of the Year 2005
Page 1 Duos, Trios & Troupes photos by Monica
May 28, 2005, San Ramon, California.
Noshing around the Bay
by Neran and Nisima
Neran's first visit back to Bay Area a year after relocating to
Knoxville, Tennesee she announced to Nisima, "there are no
and I mean no Middle Eastern restaurants in Knoxville; let's go
to as many as we can while I'm here."