Experience with Mahmoud Reda:
Aloha goes a Long Way
by Tammy Yee
In this age
of rampant tribalism and fear-mongering, where we are reduced
to "us" versus "them," it is easy to forget
that 200,000 years ago we were all part of the diaspora out
of Africa. We share commonalities that make us distinctly human
– morality and family values are not the exclusive property
of right-wing demagogues. I have yet to meet a culture which
does not share Maslow's hierarchy of needs or one that does
not treasure family. If anything, the extended family and social
structure of other cultures take better care of the young and
the old than we westerners do.
So begins my
surreal experience with legendary Egyptian choreographer, Mahmoud
Reda. Ric and I met Walid and Morwenna
Assaf, of the Dance
Academy in Ocean Beach, California, at the International
Belly Dance Convention in Las Vegas. Organizers asked Walid
the open stage
and my husband Ric, having the only dumbek available at the
time, offered his instrument. In turn, Walid offered guidance,
enthusiasm and encouragement, inspiring Ric to take his drumming
to the next level. We exchanged business cards and promised
to show Walid and Morwenna some "island hospitality" on their
upcoming trip to Hawaii.
I know that Walid would be in Hawaii for a Mahmoud Reda workshop
that I was taking, and that he and Morwenna would be judges
at that evening's NATCMED Belly Dance Competition. The event
was graciously organized by Kauai's Miranda,
who was ever-present, making sure everything ran smoothly and
that her guests were comfortable. Mahmoud, of course was fabulous,
his choreography flawless and challenging –a lot of turns and
arabesques, and a lot of folk inspiration. With Walid's help,
Mr. Reda stressed that the proper translation of Arabic was
essential to Egyptian dance interpretation.
I enjoyed most was how, decades ago, Mr. Reda traveled Egypt
to learn and preserve folk dance. Strangers welcomed him
with open arms, even offering to move up the date of an upcoming
wedding so he could witness the traditional dancing.
how this change in wedding plans would be accomplished, Mr.
Reda's host strolled into the village square and fired his
gun into the air – whereupon the villagers came running to
see what the commotion was about. Once the village was gathered,
the host calmly announced that the wedding would be moved forward
for Mr. Reda's benefit.
afternoon we took Walid and Morwenna on an island tour to Iolani
Palace where the Hawaiian Monarchy was overthrown; to the Pali
where Walid was thrilled at the gusts of wind rushing up sheer,
verdant cliffs; and finally to Kailua Beach, where we watched
wind surfers perform aerial stunts. As we drove back into town,
Walid made dinner reservations at Pyramids Restaurant on the
outskirts of Waikiki.
dim interior, we spied Mahmoud Reda with Miranda's party. Beside
him were chairs apparently kept empty because Walid made reservations.
Issam Houshan, drummer for the Belly Dance
Superstars, was there too, having completed a drummer's workshop
belly dancer Malia. Ric and I sat next to Mr. Reda, Walid and
Miranda. The Arabic was flying. Walid ordered for us and for
Mr. Reda. That evening we learned more about Lebanon, Egypt
and Syria, and the distinction between Arabic dialects and
culture, than we could have ever have imagined.
the end of the evening Ric, Walid and Mr. Reda were huddled
like little boys, telling naughty jokes. Ric, of course,
telling jokes beginning with "There are three friends, an Egyptian,
a Lebanese, and a Filipino..." These jokes, surprisingly,
initiated my Mr. Reda himself, who from the workshops I
had taken to be a distinguished and refined gentleman.
like old friends.
If only we
could have more such evenings, where all that is exchanged
is laughter, music, dance, culture and good food, instead of
bullets. So share the aloha. In whatever language you speak.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Dina Show! Photos by Catherine Barros, Slideshow coding by
sponsored by Little Egypt on May 28-30, 2005 at the Crowne Plaze
in Miami, Florida
Found at Habibi Hawaii 2005 A Report by Tammy Yee
skies and sun-kissed palms provided the perfect backdrop for
Habibi Hawaii, Honolulu's Premier Bellydance Festival and Celebration.
Profile of a Costume Designer by Michelle Joyce
When I asked her if she would soon retire, she just frowned and said that there
are too many mothers who need her to stay in business for the good of their families.
Belly by Tatseena
example: a promoter is thinking about planning an event and is
talking to a friend and says, “I can’t help it if
some other teacher has planned a show on the same day or night;
they are different styles anyway.”
Report on the First International Bellydance
Conference of Canada Part 2 - Sunday Club
by Denise Marino and Lynette
orchestra, Randa, Amir, a packed house and very festive mood.
How could it be any better?
Part 1 A Brand New Idea for Belly Dance: The Festival
Idea in its Formative Years by Amina Goodyear
speaking of a festival and its promoters that promised more than
they were able to deliver.
Devil's Details, Show
Ethics for Professionals Part
4 - What
NOT To Do by
Show up drunk or stoned. No more needs to be said.
International Belly Dance Congress told by Salwa
of Belgium and the winner of the contest professional
September 28-30, 2007, in Bogner Regis, England Gala photos provided by Josephine
Wise, others by author.
being able to prepare my planned choreography properly for the
Oum Kalthoum song, which is not easy to interpret to begin with,
I quickly turned to emotions in order to fill up the space.