A first column in a once-a-month series: GS is
proud to present this passionate and knowledgeable expert in
the field of Middle
Eastern Dance; she is an artist, pioneer, and creator of the
International Bellydance Conference of Canada. Readers
are welcome to submit dance related questions of any nature,
As always, GS strives to be inclusive and give different points
of view for controversial issues. Go ahead: Ask
Kalthoum, & Cover ups
I receive questions everyday by email from students both
in and out of town or country, and if I do not have the answers,
I usually find the appropriate expert who can answer the question.
It is my hope to share these answers with as many readers as
possible through this monthly column as I find many have the
same questions. My 28 years performing in the Middle East, teaching
around the globe, and directing a Middle Eastern Dance company,
orchestra, school and conference has fostered a deep love and
respect for this awe inspiring art form that I love to share.
I hope to be inclusive of different styles of Belly dance and
offer different points of view on controversial issues. If you
have a question, please ask.
Question: Do you think Bellydance is evolving? Should it?
answer is "yes" to the first question and "of
course" to the second. Any kind of art by definition,
is in constant evolution. Bellydancing has been evolving since
it began - whenever that was - and I am sure it will continue,
hopefully forever. My own personal 28 year journey is nothing
but a constant evolution. My style, technique and approach
has always been in a state of flux. This flux is influenced
by other inspiring art like music, a painting, a movie, and
by personal life drama. Most of all, by other dance and movement
art, even martial arts. Every dance form evolves. This is what
has kept me interested for 28 years.
there will be a very dramatic transformation, so dramamtic
that a completely new dance form is created as was the case
in the evolution of Ballet to Modern Dance (which incidentally,
Middle Eastern dance played an important role) and perhaps
Bellydance to Tribal. Many Ballet companies today are inspired
by the Modern Dance approach while the foundation technique
of Modern Dance is in Ballet. It may be that Bellydance and
the Tribal approach could have a similar relationship as well.
within Egyptian Style Bellydance (the one I am most familiar
with), there is a basic technique and aesthetic but how dull
it would be if Samia Gamal, Naima Akef, Sohair Zaki,
Nagua Fouad, Fifi Abdou, Saha Hamdi, Dina and now Randa
not all added their personal contribution to its evolution.
Question: Hello, I am a dancer in Canada and I was wondering
what your rules were on covering up before and after a performance.
am not sure what you are asking but if it is concerning
what your attire should be when you arrive to a performance
in a night club or wedding reception etc., then here are some
thoughts. It is best not to reveal your costume or even
your face before the performance. This way, you do not loose
the impact on the audience when music, dance and costume all
come together with a big impact. Likewise, it is best
not to show your costume after the performance as well because
the magical memory of the show will be destroyed. It is
generally best to stay out of sight of as many of the audience
members as possible before and after the performance.
Whether in costume, street clothes or gallabeyah on top of
your costume, try to leave the audience's last memory
of you as the magical Bellydancer. As long as mystery
surrounds you, they are more inclined to want you back,
again and again. A side note....it is also best not to socialize
with audience members, ever. This is looked down upon in the
Middle East for a wide variety of reasons and a huge topic
on its own. Just because you are asked, doesn't mean it is
a good idea to do it. Hope that helps.
Question: Is a dance artist only of a certain caliber allowed
to dance to
the music of Oum Kalthoum and
are there some pieces of music held with more reverence that
should not be danced to at all?
is relative who has the where-with-all to dance to Oum Kalthoum.
It also depends upon the audience. An Arab audience will have
a more discerning eye for the artistic interpretation of this
music and a much stronger emotional investment. All of her
songs are of equal importance - some are more famous and popular
and many have been adapted for Bellydancers. It is said only
a Maalema (Maalema = dance master - feminine -, sometimes a
teacher and/or director of an ensemble) can dance to the
music of Oum Kalthoum but that does not mean it has ever stopped
anyone and everyone dancing to it. Who does the music justice
is in the eyes of the beholder.
following are some issues to take into account on this subject.
The music of Oum Kalthoum is often quite difficult with rhythm
changes and thus a beginner dancer will find it difficult to
apply short cut elements like combos that can easily be used
with pop music. The music is generally slow and emotional,
often in a sad maqaam so emotional expression is an important
factor. Dancing to an original recording of Oum Kalthoum
singing live may seem disrespectful to some who revere her,
it is best to use a recording by another singer or a musical
arrangement. Many of her songs are 1-2 hours long so often
the musical arrangements that are popular are only a small
part of the song, often the beginning or just the musical parts
which do not include the melody of where her voice would be. Non-Arab
dancers should note that when an Arab audience is listening
to the musical arrangement of Oum Kalthoum music, they hear
in their head the memory of the original version with her live
voice and the profound lyrics, just like you hear Robert
voice when a cover band plays Stairway to Heaven. Thus
it is important to listen to the original before dancing to
the musical arrangement so the dance artist can portray the
same emotion and musical nuance the audience is experiencing,
otherwise the audience may feel the dance artist does not understand
the music. To know more about Oum Kalthoum, see the film "A
Voice Like Egypt"
Have a question for Yasmina?
Send her a letter!
a comment regarding this article? Send
us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
First Mid East Gig by Yasmina Ramzy
we landed in Amman, we were greeted on the tarmac by solid lines
of soldiers on both sides leading to the doorway of the airport,
machine guns pointed towards the passengers. I don't recall ever
seeing even one Canadian soldier in the flesh and blood, let
alone a gun, let alone so many big guns and pointed at me. I
don't think I blinked during that endless walk. We were clearly
not in Hawaii.
Gala Peformance Part 1 of the International Bellydance
Conference of Canada video and photo report by
include: Lopa Sarkar, Sacred Dance Company of Victoria, Nath Keo,
Roshana Nofret & Maria Zapetis of Bozenka's BD Academy, Ensemble
El Saharat of Germany-
Mayyadah & Amir of Germany, Ferda Bayazit of Turkey, Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra
the Veil by Yasmina Ramzy
I excused myself first and then asked her “why
on earth would someone obviously not of Middle Eastern heritage
actually choose to wear the veil?”She smiled knowingly
and gave me an answer that still keeps me thinking today.
Have All The Cover-ups Gone? by Ashiya and Naajidah
happened to professionalism? Mystery? Decorum and good taste?
Summer School of Khaleegy Dance, Dance Style from the
Saudi Arabian Penninsula, by Yasmina Ramzy
police”and hotel security watched every move I made. All
my phone calls were monitored. I was not allowed to talk to or
get into an elevator with an Arab man.
Report on the First International Bellydance Conference
of Canada Part One- Lectures, Workshops, Panel Discussions by
Diane Adams Photos by Lynette
18-22, 2007 Toronto, Ontario. Hosted by Yasmina Ramzy of Arabesque
Academy in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this International Bellydance
Conference of Canada, the first ever on the Canadian dance scene,
proved to be one of the top dance experiences in this reviewer’s
of the Universe Competition 2008, photos by Carl
in Long Beach, California, on February 18 & 19, 2008, produced
by Tonya and Atlantis
Bellydancer of the Universe by Mia
Rico is kind of a small island, not that we’re cut off
from the world or anything, but we don’t have huge hafflas
or competitions here. In fact, after about two years of classes
and training we have to travel outside our country to keep up
with the whirlwind of innovation that is bellydance.
You Want to Dance in Cairo? by Leila
dancers who negotiate their own auditions with hotel managers
usually find themselves seated at his private table in the nightclub
month after month while he promises that next week he will make
her an orchestra and give her an audition.
Fashion, American Style: The 2nd Annual Decotach Fashion
Show Report by Tanna Valentine photos by Brian
this year’s fashion event, Ms. Lambru chose to display
her costumes in the context of a Berber wedding.