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The Gilded Serpent presents...
Second Annual
Giza Academy Awards
by Amina Goodyear

The Second Annual Giza Academy Awards of Middle Eastern Dance Videos was presented by The Giza Club on Sunday, December 6, 1998.

The Giza Club is a non-profit cultural organization devoted to the study and understanding of the Middle East. In the bimonthly meetings various subjects regarding the Middle East are discussed and key or expert people in that area present either lectures, slides, videos or lead discussions. The people who have participated read like a Who's Who of Middle Eastern culture: travelers, doctors, teachers, anthropologists, musicologists and, of course, dancers. Events may be formal, featuring lectures on music, dance, literature, food -- even fashion and everyday life and Middle Eastern film festivals, including and especially The Giza Academy Awards of Middle Eastern Dance videos. There are also field trips, potluck parties and The Giza Cabaret, where dancers and musicians are provided performance opportunities.

All the judges were either members of the Giza Club or had spoken or made a presentation for the Club. All of the judges view all of the tapes in their entirety in all of the categories. They keep an open mind. No political or dance preferences are allowed, nor are any prizes given for most money spent; however, the videos do have to be clear and well thought out.

The judges seldom agree the first time around. So begins a process of arguing the various merits of each video performance as it pertains to the category for which it is being considered, until finally a consensus is reached.

The key is: fairness and honesty to the dance and a commitment to the presentation of the dancer's work on a medium such as video, so that others may enjoy and experience the art.

Also, in the interest of fairness, no videos are admitted with direct connections to
Amina, The Aswan Dancers or any of the judges.

The Academy Awards Ceremony was held Sunday, December 6, 1998 at El Valenciano in San Francisco. The Arabian Knights Middle Eastern Band turns El Valenciano into Salamat Sundays every Sunday with traditional and popular Arabic music for dancing and also belly dance performances by Anke and Shara. The evening began with old time black and white videos from the Middle East and with The Aswan Dancers doing their versions of the old time dances. Throughout the evening The Aswan Dancers performed short dances thematically in keeping with the categories awarded.

Linda Grondahl, mistress of ceremonies, explained the functions of The Giza Club and introduced Gregory Burke, who spoke about why the Giza Club wants to encourage dancers to use video to record and preserve their performances and contributions to the art.

The Documentary Award was given to: National Geographic for "Cairo Unveiled" (Honorable Mention),

Lifetime Achievement- Morocco - for documenting Middle Eastern dance in a serious, scholarly, educational and entertaining manner and

  • Amaya for "Amaya's Gypsy Fire".

Ma Shuqa Mira Murjan announced the winner of the Instructional category,

  • Hadia of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In her video, "Oriental Dance, Raks Esharqui" Hadia performs a dance she choreographed and then teaches the steps in the sequence as it's performed facing front, slow motion and with her back to the camera.

Baraka, winner of last year's Instructional category, announced

  • Gypsy Caravan of Portland, Oregon winner of Best Troupe of 1998 award for their video "Initiation".

Jeanette Cool, of Amorfia, awarded Most Promising New Star to

  • Marzue of Santa Barbara for his performance in IAMED's First Annual Awards of Belly Dance produced by Suzy Evans of Los Angeles. As with all the awards, short video clips were shown so the audience could see the winning entries.

Marsha/Shamira awarded the Live Performance Solo Dance Interpretative to

  • Cassandra of Minneapolis for her Zar performance in IAMED's First Annual Awards of Belly Dance produced by Suzy Evans of Los Angeles and
  • Best Belly Dancer to Delilah of Seattle, Washington for "Live and Wild".

Amina talked of trying to locate Lucy, of Cairo, Egypt, voted Best Traditional Dancer from the video "Cairo Unveiled". Amina had someone in Cairo trying to contact Lucy, only to find she was in Los Angeles awaiting the birth of her child.

Tina O'Neill showed part of a video of footage she had which Dahlena had edited of Bobby Ibrahim Farrah. She spoke of her memories of him and read a letter he had written to her regarding dance.

Alexandria Parafina announced two winners for Choreography for the Camera. The first was for the innovative category for Delilah's dance Sacred Circle in "Live and Wild". The second was for the entire video "Initiation" by Paulette Rees-Denis and Gypsy Caravan.

It was interesting to note that although many videos were entered from throughout the United States and Canada, three received double awards.

After all the awards were announced The Arabian Knights with Susu played for dance performances by Ma Shuqa Mira Murjan and Jacques al Asmar.The evening ended with music for everyone to dance.

If anyone is interested in The Giza Club or in participating in The Third Annual Giza Academy Awards of Middle Eastern Dance Videos, please contact Amina at

More by Amina? Amina is now a regular columnist!
Read about Amina's experiences on North Beach in San Francisco in the 60's and 70's
Read about the 1999 Giza Awards! The 1999 Giza Video Awards! by Aileen

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