Gilded Serpent presents...
Mona el Said in Dallas
Part 2- The Saturday Performance
September 3-5, 2004
Sponsored by Little Egypt
at the Holiday Inn, Dallas Texas
by Catherine E Barros
Part 1- click here)
Saturday evening performance was the highlight of the weekend
even though it was a bit short for us. Just one hour! We
wanted more! But what we did get was great. The energy in
the room was high while we waited for Mona. Miabella (Fort Worth) opened the show dancing to Amr Kamaal's singing
with the band. This helped to generate more energy. During
the open dancing, we were all able to go up on the stage to
dance with all our friends. We were having so much fun and
this fun was contributed to by the presence of several members
of our armed forces participating! The hotel at which all
the weekend activities were taking place just happened to be
near the Dallas Ft. Worth airport. That particular weekend,
there were many members of the
military staying at the hotel awaiting deployment to
Our gracious hosts, Little Egypt (Dee Dee and Ahmad Asad) allowed some to come in to take part in the evening's
activities which included dinner, open dancing and Mona's performance.
I think we acquired quite a few more as the evening wore on
because all the loud music attracted a lot of attention.
was hysterical to see soldiers dressed in fatigues and combat
boots, dancing on the stage with various participants who insisted
on dragging them up on the stage and showing them how to dance
"Middle Eastern style social dance". I think those combat
boots got in the way.
were no combat boots in the way when Mona hit the stage.
"all eyes" focused on the stage to absorb every move she made
and to take in the details of her costumes. Mona did not disappoint
us . . . not in the costumes or her movements! I'm not sure
everyone knows what a "boundaries pushing" dancer that Mona
has always been. The first hint I had was on that old video
I mentioned above. That gold lame bikini-like costume along
with her natural, free and wild way of dancing during the drum
solo has always made me wish that I was so comfortable in my
skin. I still have to say that I want to be like her when I
"grow up". I was wondering what interesting costumes that
I would be seeing during her performance and she had four very
interesting ones to show us. I don't think I've seen any quite
like the ones she was wearing. A description won't do justice
and the photos won't show all the details. I asked Mona about
her costumes and she said that she designs them, the designs come from her imagination. She closes her eyes,
sees herself listening and moving to the music; then the design
comes to her so that each costume she wears matches the music
that she is dancing.
also mentioned that once an artist is established that she
can push the boundaries.
had four costume changes during her performance. She opened
with "Alla Ein Moulaetain" wearing a black dress with a black sheer veil
wrapped around her and black dance slippers. When she removed
the veil you could see that the dress was sheer down the sides
and it looked like she was wearing a black thong underneath.
The back of the dress had long strands of silver beads hanging
from the waist. Her next selection of music was "Lessa Faker" which started with a lovely taksim at the beginning of which she removed her dance slippers.
This piece was very emotional and featured some lovely hand
and arm work. You could see her hand shaking as she drew it
across her body and face. I think this was one of my favorite
it was off for a costume change to a black and silver assuit in two pieces. The top was off one shoulder with
long silver strands hanging all over it. The skirt was basically
sheer with the belt comprised of triangular pieces front and
back. The selection of music was "Barsha, Barsha", which had more
of a folk flavor ,a Tunisian song by Saber el Roubaa. This was followed by a very hot drum solo in
which Mona dropped to the floor (like a Turkish drop but not
so abrupt) with her legs facing the audience and did a bit of
energetic bouncing from this position. I think we were seeing
some more of that boundary pushing (remember, we are all told
not to assume this position in dance) but it just seemed natural and did not continue for a prolonged
period of time, so it didn't really overwhelm the audience.
Now, it was off for the third costume change.
Mona returned, she was wearing a white galabeyah with a transparent triangular section in the skirt (showing
some leg here!!) and a transparent section in the top to
allow the gold dance bra to show. The costume was finished
off with a black hip scarf and a white headdress. As she
was dancing to Saidi music with
a cane, she danced through the audience getting up close
and personal with many of the delighted audience members.
She got up on a chair at one table, did a shoulder shimmy
with one of the Iraq bound soldiers, then danced over to
sit on the side of the stage before making her way up to
the stage. All the while, she had the biggest smile on
her face. She moved from the Saidi,
to "Ya Ali" sung by Rico for which she removed the headdress. This dance had lots
of attitude and was very sassy; Mona sat down on the stage
and pointed her finger like she was shooting a gun. So
cute! Then, she continued with a medley of Pop songs: "Romeo"
by Karika (I saw him at
the Semiramis in Cairo) and "Dinga Dinga"
finishing with a reprise of "Alla Ein Moulaetain".
But, wait, she wasn't finished yet.
returned with her 4th costume change to dance
to Amr Kamaal's singing with the band. This last costume was definitely
an eye-popping costume! It was made of shiny black fabric. The dress was close fitting
with the skirt triangular-shaped, point down. The dress
was open down both sides and down the front with straps/buckles
holding it together. This was the most revealing of
the costumes and I kept referring to it as the "futuristic"
costume because it didn't look like any dance costume
I've seen! I think we got our money's worth in costume
changes alone, but it is so nice that the dancer inside
those costumes was a more than competent dancer, completely
natural and comfortable, and we weren't too distracted by the costumes to see her
dancing! And in one word, Mona's dancing is divine!
She dances with so much passion and enjoyment that she
draws us into her dancing. We feel every movement that
moods follow her moods as she dances and interprets
the music with her movements. Yet those movements
are not too complicated; it is the emotion she shows
that is complicated.
energy from this show spilled over for a long time afterwards.
We didn't want to leave the room. We were all standing
around talking about Mona and trying to talk to her.
. . . oh, yes, and get a photo
with her! Every photo I took had laughing and smiling
people in it with Mona's being the biggest smile. One
of my favorite photos is the one with Miabella and Mona.
all of the weekend activities died down, I had an opportunity
to talk to Mona. She mentioned that after the show,
she was very tired but very happy. And when she dances,
you can read everything in her face . . . all emotions, sad, happy, that she has nothing
to hide. I also got her to expand on some of her plans
for the future, which she had mentioned on Sunday in
the workshop when she played some "new" music for us.
In addition to continuing her work as an interior designer,
Mona wants to create a new dance using new music for
the future of dance.
says that she is not the same Mona from 20 years ago,
dancing in the same old style of 20 years ago. She
says that the dance must change for a new generation,
bringing a new look. She wants everyone to think
about the future of dance and about getting a new
generation to appreciate the dance, matching their
I have to admit some of us were rather surprised about
all this when Mona brought this up during the workshop
on Sunday. Mainly because there are many dancers in
the West who are working hard to present dance using
older style music, classical Arabic music from the early
beginnings of Raks Sharki,
as opposed to just presenting dances using modern pop
Egyptian music. Hadia started up a conversation with Mona right there
trying to explain how many people were trying to use
older music dancing in the older style, but Mona was
adamant that the dance must change. She played us
some of her new music and promised that when she returns
to Dallas, this will be the music that she will use
to teach us. The music was beautiful, but it will be
very interesting how all this talk of new music and
new dance will go over with dancers here.
topic that came up in our conversation was her relationship
with God. She said that she believes very much in
God and he is always at the top of her heart. Mona
says that she appreciates whatever God has given her
and that she has the responsibility to protect it and
not abuse it. He gave her the feeling to love each
person in the workshop and she wants to show this love
by helping each individual in the workshop to learn.
I think that Mona showed us her love constantly during
the workshop as she was very generous in giving to all
the participants. One of my good dance friends, Meleea (a definite "I need choreography" person),
told me she was thrilled with the workshop and thanked
me for preparing her in advance by talking about the
class I took in Cairo. At first, she was worried that
she wouldn't get anything from the workshop, but now
I do believe she is a huge Mona fan! We are all huge
Mona fans. This weekend with Mona was a wonderful
introduction to a passionate, beautiful and down-to-earth , approachable woman, who happens to dance in a way that
inspires us to keep dancing with all our hearts. We
are all anticipating a return to Texas by Mona. And
I hope it doesn't take another 7 years to get her here.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
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