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Gilded Serpent presents...
Much, Much More
by Margo Abdo O'Dell


Please do not call me a belly dancer.

Because for me, it is not just a flip of the hip, the wink of an eye.
It is not just the sparkle of jewels, the want of applause. For me,
it is much much more. The dance began as Grandpa stomped
and swayed to the music.He twirled his cane while the family
clapped and sang the only verse they knew.

Please do not call me a belly dancer.

Because for me, it is a journey to discover the lost - a journey
back to my roots. It is not the latest fad, a thing with which to
dabble. No, for me, it is much much more. From girlhood to
adulthood, I have always danced. To gain the confidence, to
love myself, to know I can express what is in my heart. The
dance has freed and challenged me. It is a gift from which I
have lovingly indulged.

So, please do not call me a belly dancer.

Because I am well aware of the sly glances and easy images
that provokes. From Salome, to James Bond to Xena the Warrior
Princess, the negative images abound. Hollywood has smeared
my art and pidgeon-holed women of the east. A sexy dance trollop
or veiled subservient women, is all Hollywood allows us to be.

It does me no good and you no good to put me in that box. I could
have been a singer, a painter, a writer, a film maker, to say what I
needed to say. But the choice was one that comes from the body –
the arms, the legs, the hips the head. It is the same, just different.
Respect the art, respect the artist.

Please do not call me a belly dancer.

Because it isn’t about my belly. Is the flamenco a foot dancer?
The ballet impresario a leg dancer? Do not dumb it down.
As Dr. Said said,“….in many ways it is the opposite of ballet,
its Western equivalent as an art form.”

I have talked to my ancestors, embraced universal pain, celebrated
the feminine divine. I have fought it, questioned it and rediscovered it.
I have crossed oceans to study and learn. The history is rich, the story
is complex and the meaning is deep in the soul. The dance heals,
the dance gives birth, the dance frees the caged. So don’t be fooled
by the imposters – because they dress in my clothes, use my name.

Can you understand?

May heaven be my witness, I did not write this to start a discussion
on what to call this dance. It has other objectives than any hip shaking,
on any body, anywhere.


Grandfather's nuclear family- boy in  middleHave a comment? Send us a letter!
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Ready for more?
4-20-06 Photos of Saturday Workshop & Evening show from Aida Nour & Magdy El-Leisy Workshop 2006 Photos by Lynette Harris & staff sponsored by Little Egypt held on Feb 25, 2006 in Los Angeles, California- CASUALS- Show photos still coming!

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Not so fortunate are those people who feel threatened most of the time, limping from one extreme response to another.

4-12-06 How to Prepare for a Superstars Audition by Samira
Also, remember that a professional troupe is a business. So if mixing business and pleasure turn you cold, this may not be the right artistic outlet for you.

4-11-06 Adventure Amid the Tempest: The Biloxi Fest's Near Brush with Hurricane Katrina, by Sydney
Consequently, we did not allow Hurricane Katrina stop us from driving 450 miles to immerse ourselves in and perform with Mark and Ling Shien Bell of Helm! MORE PHOTOS ADDED!

3-30-06 Interview with Magdy el-Leisy by Lynette
Ballet gave me freedom to create my own style. I didn't go to folklore school as a child so I have more freedom to express my own style.


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