R: Raqs Bedaya

In 2011 I choreographed and produced a full theatre production that featured the Big Band, the Saba Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble and ensemble soloists. If you’ve watched any of the videos I’ve re-posted about the show during the A-Z in April blog posts,  you’ll have noticed right away that this was a really fun show.

Everything about it was fun!

Including this dance.  And there is a story behind this dance (of course!). As you may know, I have quite an extensive DVD library. I often buy a DVD and then find that I already know the material. But that’s okay because even if the material isn’t new to me, I can glean a new perspective on it or find a different way of presenting the material in class. And I enjoy just putting on a DVD and dancing along … it’s nice to follow somebody else’s lead instead of being the leader all the time. Makes for good drills.

So anyway, at the back of one of these DVDs there was a very nice choreography taught to a song that I have liked for a long time called Raqs Bedaya off of one of the Yousry Sharif Wash ya Wash CDs.When I heard the song, I said “I know that song -I LOVE that song!” So I watched the performance. While the technical material was intermediate, the choreography that she tied it all together with was quite advanced.And I loved it! I absolutely loved everything about it! I loved her cheeky attitude. I loved her lightness of step and heaviness of hips.

I could see myself in that dance.

So … I learned it! I followed the chapters and learned the combinations one by one. While I was learning each combination, I allowed myself the freedom to change it as I pleased. In the end, parts are definitely Jenna’s and parts are definitely mine.

The piece is a hybrid of choreography that I had an absolute blast learning & doing. And – best part yet – it is a blast to dance! Fun fun fun!

The Big Band makes an interesting back drop, eh?

And of course there is the perk of being able to wear that outfit. Today, 4 years and 30 pounds later I don’t know if I could squeeze my big toe into it!

One of my favourite moments in the dance…a cute undulating backwalk, Saiidi style.
If you’ve made it this far, maybe you’d like to see the actual dance?

Raqs Bedaya from Rockin’ the Casbah, Act I: Casbah Cabaret. March 19, 2011.

RI’m participating in the Blogging From A-Z challenge.  One blog post for each letter of the alphabet, each day of April (except Sunday).

C is for the Casino Opera Choreography

IMG_1590.JPGI’m participating in the Blogging From A-Z challenge.  One blog post for each letter of the alphabet, each day of April (except Sunday).

 

 

C is for the Casino Opera Choreography!

The inspiration for this particular choreography was Badia Masabni, the founder of modern Egyptian dance as we know it today, and her famous nightclub, called The Opera Casino, which opened in Cairo in 1926.

Here, Egyptian dance was taken from street entertainment and chaabi (popular dance) and put on the stage in a theatre/nightclub setting for the very first time.  Soloists began showcasing props and dancing in front of “chorus lines.” Another first, important for today’s modern bellydance troupes, was the beginning of choreographed ensemble dancing. For the first time, audiences saw groups of Egyptian dancers performing choreographed pieces together on the stage.

One of the very first choreographies I wrote for the dance troupe (Saba Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble) was inspired by Madame Masabni’s Casino Opera.  This piece was written in 2002 or 2003. This performance was filmed in 2006.

I won’t criticize the work. It was an early attempt and pretty good, considering. Simple. But then, so were the early ensemble dances at Badia Masabni’s establishment.

I based the costume for the choreography on the 1940s style chiffon skirt and matching chiffon covered bra  typically worn by  Samia Gamal and other dancers of that era.

The music is Nebtiti Minin el Hikiya, from Jalilah’s Raks Sharki 5 cd.

Enjoy!

Throwback Thursday: Bellydance & Big Band

Two of the things I miss the most all wrapped up into one pretty package!

I miss the creative expression that choreographing for the troupe allowed me to indulge in. And DAMN I miss playing that big band music!

From 2011: Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps: a cane dance, choreographed by me and performed by Saba Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble & The Big Band.