My Teacher, Fahtiem
on stage – embraced with grace and poise, her flaxen hair and
passionate facial expressions, the unmistakable trademarks of
this International Star. She is Fahtiem….
In 2005, I approached
this legendary performer for private classes. Although I was an
experienced, award winning performer, I felt that something was
missing in my dance. Through the years as I watched Fahtiem perform,
I noticed she performed with predictable professionalism, yet
exuded an unabashed, genuine emotion and grace in her movements.
She danced with completeness - a rare quality.
During my classes
with Fahtiem, I discovered she is a genuine, committed and generous instructor with a quick wit and playful
I still recall
my first class with Fahtiem – it was particularly challenging.
Despite my dance experience, I felt as though it was my “first
day” of Middle Eastern Dance class.
the lesson with a “core focused” warm up, which consisted of movements
geared to isolate your major muscle groups, with graceful arm
movements that challenged your hand-eye coordination and balance.
Then Fahtiem watched as I danced to some unfamiliar music. This
was a bit unsettling, but I managed to get through it and quickly
realized that my goal of ‘getting through it’ was very transparent.
It showed in my face, gestures, and moves. I felt uncomfortable
and it flowed through my dance. I wanted to snap out of it and
start over. What was going on here? Did I forget how to dance
This part of
the lesson was a “step one–self realization“ in movement and more
difficult than anticipated. Why?
we tend to often dance improvisation with moves that are ‘safe’
and comfortable. It is often difficult to step out of the box.
assistance, I learned to use and focus on different muscles in
dance, some muscles which had been ignored! She also taught me
how to focus on the energy I was creating and the energy being
created - one step at a time. For instance, enhancing awareness
in my finger tips to toes. This process illuminated incomplete
movements, incorrect and rushed technique. I was learning how
to “breathe life and fulfillment” into my dance. Fahtiem described
some helpful concepts to further comprehend how to evince the
special magic that Middle Eastern music exudes.
It is well known
that in Middle Eastern music and dance, there exists a certain
mystery. Our dance is a communication of the music – subject to
our interpretation, skills and emotion. We cannot ignore this.
Instead, we should communicate this magic by our entire presentation
of this art from head to toe. This process helped me to realize
the many layers in Middle Eastern dance which had not been tapped
exciting – I felt like I was finally learning to move in a way
that I had been searching for: that soulful, oozy and calmly passionate
way of Raqs Sharki.
was to breathe from the heart and dance with your heart. What
a gentle, yet direct manner of instruction. She will correct your
movements and demonstrate proper form. Her antics are hilarious
but memorable. I recall one example of a pseudo job interview
that Fahtiem performed – she pretended to be a potential candidate
for a job at an interview and asked me to decide which person
I would hire: Fahtiem acted as “Person A” – shy, mumbled, unconfident,
slouched shoulders, non committal, confused. Then she acted as
“Person B” – outgoing, happy, confident, exuberant smile and handshake,
great posture and charming gestures. The choice was obvious.
What a difference, the same person with such diverse energy and
expression. We are all capable of being “Person B”. Being a Middle
Eastern dance artist is no different – it just takes self realization,
effort, beautiful thoughts, practice and time.
classes with Fahtiem, I have continued to improve in different
aspects of dance. It is a never ending process and I relish that.
I share this
information with my students with hope it will inspire them and
enhance their dance experience. I also encourage students to attend
workshops, learn from different instructors to further enrich
their technique, skills and enjoyment of dance. We all have such
unique styles – which add to the richness of this exotic, special
art. By selecting and savoring quality instruction, you and those
around you will grow.
If you want
expand your horizons and step ‘out of the box’ in dance, I highly
recommend private or semi-private classes with Fahtiem. You will
not regret this special learning experience.
workshop participants in Richmond, CA, Spring 2007
Click for enlargement. Names?
Soroya 2nd from left front row, Yasmine from frow red skirt,
Fahtiem blond in the middle
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Passage of Time by
Her performance brought tears to my eyes; not only was
she technically outstanding, but she had a whole persona, stage
presence and her aura…no younger dancer could be compared
to her. Many times I went to see the show to watch her again
Egyptian Dance - Has it crossed the line? by Amina
festivals, held in Giza were isolated and insulated from the
people and the Cairo that I know and love.
to Avoid the Executioner: A Journey into Creative Listening by
can ruin an art form as it would the fashion industry—or
any other endeavor based upon creative thinking.
Report on the First International Bellydance Conference
of Canada Part 2 - Page 2 - Friday Main Stage Photos
by Denise Marino
20, 2007 Toronto California. Hungarian Canadian Cultural
Center. Photos of Les Tri'belles, Leyla Zaharr, Amani
Jabril, Ariana Vega, 12 yo Sofia...