shot from video project
The Choreographies of Raqia Hassan
Astryd Farah deMichele
Egypt is beautiful in a very dynamic way. Equally,
her people are beautifully dynamic. One such character is the
incomparable Oriental dance choreographer, Madame Raqia
Hassan. Full of life and energy, she is always “on”.
many years now I’ve had the pleasure of studying with Madame
Raqia, appearing in two of her videos, Volume 7 and
the most recently released, Volume 9. While working
with Madame Raqia on Volume 7 (2004), several epiphanies
took place for which I can thank her and her profound sense
new feeling emerged about how the music truly is the
dance, it creates the dance… the feelings behind
Egyptian music, the soul of the music, are that which we
experience as artists and dance to; for performers, so
that it can be visually displayed.
song she choreographed in Volume 7 and which
I perform, is an eloquent love song from the 1950’s by Mohammed
Abdel Wahab, titled Koulli Dah Kan Leih, meaning
“all of this why it happened?”. Abdel Wahab sings asking
why all the things happened after he saw her eyes…his heart
was leaning toward her…and he was busy thinking about her.
this choreography Madame Raqia trained me to feel and sense
how each opposite camel and vibration shimmy sings the
music for the love song. The musical arrangement we worked
to was a modern rendition without lyrics - yet we danced
the lyrics anyhow - which is typical in Egyptian Oriental dance.
will find many old songs played from singers such as Oum
Kalsoum, Abdel Halim and Abdel Wahab used
in nightclubs without singing, but with dancer and/or audience
fervidly dancing and singing along. Working on the choreography
for this particular song was a profound experience, through
sweat and tears that music really became a part of me…and
so did the choreography, the feeling, the sensation of
9 she again had me work to a love song. I seem
to be a magnet for dancing the love stories…or perhaps
it’s just that so much of the most popular Arabic music
is love songs! She happened to choose one of the latest
by my favorite modern Arabic singer, Fadl Shaker,
a Lebanese singer using the Egyptian dialect. The song
is titled Illi Enta Shayfouh, roughly meaning “what
you see [make]”. A bittersweet song, he sings about
a love story ending and the lyrics tell his lover to just
break it off… “cut [break] my heart now, not later…no problem…I
will cry two tears for you, for two days only…”. Very impassioned,
Fadl has one of the sweetest voices of pop singers out
there – he is true, with talent and finesse.
the choreography Madame Raqia showcases many of her signature
techniques including opposite camels, arabesques, interesting
footwork, gestures, shimmies, and of course snazzy hip and
pelvic locks. She has her very own style, feeling and
energy…emitting an earthy, strong sense (gathered by pushing
energy up from the floor through the body), while keeping it
soft and sensuous…emoting and enjoying the art of displaying
the music. Performing her lovely choreographies is a “velvety”
experience…the movements flow one-into-the-other, and each
phrase gives you the sense of the song.
with Madame Raqia has changed my dance significantly; helped
me not only to gain more and better technique, but also
to allow myself to feel more, to express more, to
delve into that mysterious place where the emotional and
physical meet and understand the musicality of Arabic songs.
choreography she clearly paints a picture of the essence of
Arabic music – whether old or new.
as Cairo herself, Madame Raqia is one-of-a-kind!
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
off the Plane from Cairo, A Workshop Review of Astryd
Farah deMichele by
how does Astryd select the signature moves she wants to teach? What she
looks for first and foremost is being entertained
and Power, A Weekend Workshop with Raqia Hassan, Gala
Performance Show, Review and Report by Rebecca Firestone
April 21 and
22, 2007, Odd Fellows Hall, Redwood City, CA. Her personal style was an oddly
elusive mixture of street attitude and elegance, both "fierce
and friendly" as one person said.
Open Criticism: A Student’s Question about Feeling
Humiliated by Najia Marlyz
is wrong with our form of dance today is a direct result of the
current trend for treating dance students as if they were in therapy
or grade school (or both).
the Facts, In Response to: "MECDA Breaks its Silence
by Rachel Lazarus" by Doyne Allen
have never accused anyone of stealing money. We have brought
to the MECDA Board’s attention the waste and bad management
Matrix: A Long Journey, The Belly Dance Scene in Taiwan,
by Lisa Chen
one might have to admit that learning only choreographies might
lead students and dancers away from learning the essential elements
of traditional Belly dance.
North Valley Belly Dance Competition- 2007, Photos
by Michael Baxter
on November 10, 2007, in Oroville, California, event produced
by Carolee and David Tamori. It was an exciting contest, covering
five categories: Novices, Intermediates, Troupe dancers, Solos
and Live Solos. Live music was provided by Doug Adam's amazing
3-11-08 Serpentessa –Do
not try this at home…. DVD review of "Belly Dance
with Snakes: Embody Your Inner Serpent" Review by
There are things in this video I can get behind and things
I can’t. A blessing and a curse of this video is that there
is so much information that it is difficult to navigate through it
and Belly Dance, Two Books Review by Rebecca Firestone
Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism & Harem
Fantasy edited by Anthony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young & Choreographic
Politics: State Folk Dance Companies, Representation, and Power
by Anthony Shay
the Recession Affects Your Classes And What You Can
Do About It by Mira
major issues with attracting students are ever-present. They’re
just more pronounced during hard times. Here’s what you’ll
likely start hearing from your current and prospective students.