Gilded Serpent presents...
dance photos by
Bob McKeand of Honolulu
We got up
at the crack of dawn to get to the San Fransico airport three
hours before our 9:10 AM flight.
curb side check in and my short detention by Security (too
much silver jewelry and an electric tooth brush!) we arrived
at our gate for the usual "hurry up and wait " cycle
that is so much a part of flying at this time in human history.
extremely smooth flight, we arrived in Honolulu at a little
after 10:00 AM Hawaiian time. Shadia’s
husband met us at the airport with a comfortable air conditioned
van that actually had enough room for all of our luggage!
arriving at our hotel, we had time to get organized and relax.
We met with Shadia around 2:00PM to plan our evening which
would revolve around a visit to a restaurant called The
Pyramid Cafe at which one of Shadia’s students, Melia would
Cafe is a delightfully decorated restaurant in Honolulu not
too far from Waikiki. The customers were numerous for a Tuesday
greeted at the door by a very friendly hostess and sat at a
table where we could easily view the performance.
in a stunning purple costume designed and made by Alexandria,
and gave a strong performance demonstrating excellent isolations
and a very polished cane routine. I was extremely impressed
with Shadia’s teaching as well as Melia’s ability
as a dancer and performer.
we coped with jet lag and planned the Music Class and Hafla
scheduled for that evening at Shadia’s home studio.
been studying percussion under the expert guidance of Noel
Parafina, Alexandria’s husband.
the afternoon we proceeded to Shadia’s house.
I had discovered
earlier that the large def I had transported to Hawaii had
gone completely flat from the moisture, even after heating
it that afternoon. I knew I would have to find a way to keep
it heated and dry--which turned out to be holding over a lit
burner on Shadia’s stove at frequent intervals during
6 P.M., members of The Near Eastern Dance Company of Hawaii,
of whom Shadia is the director and teacher, began to arrive.
During the two and one half hour workshop Alexandria and I
introduced them to balladi, macsoum, bombi, and malfoof on
tamborines, def, zils and dumbek. Members of the class experimented
with the different instruments while practicing the rhythms.
Most of them were quick to understand and begin to play the
different instruments we had. We demonstrated Saidi, but thought
it might be a little too complex to teach in a class already
inundated with so much material
class we ate, talked, laughed, played music and danced into
the night. When we
returned to our hotel, we were completely exhausted -still
jet lagged- but full of enthusiasm for our upcoming workshops
and performances. The excitement and ability of students in
our class was a predictor of our other successful endeavors.
morning, I got out of bed early and walked to Waikiki Beach
which I was surprised to find unchanged since I had visited
it when I was fifteen. I passed the early part of the day swimming
and relaxing on the beach, which became a regular part of my
days before noon. Afternoons were too warm to be on the beach.
evening, while shopping at the International Market place,
we had the opportunity to see a show featuring local dancers
and singers. Some of the performances were well executed, although
Shadia said that they lacked authenticity. There was one segment
combining Polynesian Dance with a hip-hop groove. This piece,
in which the dancers were dressed in red and used uli-uilis,
definitely captured and held my attention.
evening we had our performance at Anna Bannana’s,
a popular venue for local people. M.E.D.A. Members, Middle
Eastern Dance Teachers and students, as well as others who
enjoy Middle Eastern Dance attended the show. Performances
included Saidi performances by Shadia’s students, Egyptian
Cabaret solos by Shadia, Melea, and Alexandria, and a great
Ghawazee Performance by Shadia and Alexandria. My two solos
included floor work since that was to be my focus in our workshops. Ruth
Cutty, popular M.E.D.A. member in Honolulu, who gave
an enthusiasdtic well received performance, was our guest dancer.
The audience was enthusiastic and attentive. Judging by the
comments of people who approached us after the show, and attendance
at the workshops the following two days, they thoroughly enjoyed
workshop was from 1:00 P.M.-4:00 P.M Saturday. 12:00-1:00 was
devoted to vending. Alexandria sold costumes imported from
Egypt, tapes, and instruments. She also took some orders to
hour of the workshop was devoted to floor work. People of various
ages and levels of flexibility participated. I offered several
adaptations of each move geared to the different levels in
the class and stretches to improve flexibility. The approach
I use is to help people validate what their body can do and
never to force it. Floor Work is a moving Yoga, and as in Yoga,
one must let his/her body grow into more flexibility which
develops with practice. Several students purchased tapes I
had put together of music for Floor work, so they can continue
to practice. People were happy with the workshop and seemed
pleased with what they could do.
next two hour, Alexandria presented a dazzling array of Egyptian
Cabaret moves which were enthusiastically received. Although
the workshop was full, she was able to give individual feed
back and many suggestions for improving the quality of movement.The
Sunday workshop was an Ethnic Dance Sampler. Although I have
had the pleasure of working with Alexandria for three years,
I was not aware of the tremendous depth and breadth of her
information. She kept everyone engaged, entertained, and enthusiastic
as they explored Egyptian dances of the Ghawazee and Saidi
which we introduced by playing the rhythm on dumbek and def.
She also taught dances from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morroco with
great expertise. Over the years I have taken too many workshops
to count or even remember, but I have never been so impressed
or enjoyed one so thoroughly. I experienced
no fatigue or thought that creeps in occasionally which goes "When
will this be over?" At the end of the class I was energized
and felt as though I had learned a tremendous amount. The comments
made by other participants echoed the same impression and feelings!
No none could believe it had been a three hour workshop.
overall, was a refreshing break in my usual Fall routine. It
is lovely to sit by the ocean, having drinks and hors d’oevres
at the elegant Royal Hawaiian Hotel, or walking down the beach
at night sampling different shows which are poolside at various
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