Friday, July 13, 2007

Evening news article wed 11/7/07

well- Elspeth's suggestion that I let the Evening News know I was coming back from the real pyramids, to the ones on portobello beach worked- Thanks for the PR advice speth!!! while I was home they interviewed me and photographed me for this article which I have copied and pasted for those of you who missed the evening news on wedensday night.
I've also edited it slightly... (my comments are in brackets in this colour!!!)

Porty's Lorna wobbles way to Cairo fame (shaky intro me thinks!!!)

THE dancer casts her audience a sultry look from behind a sequin-edged veil as she gyrates barefoot on the Cairo restaurant boat's tiny dance floor. Her close-fitting gold Saaidi dress shows off her hourglass curves as she moves.

As she tosses her head seductively, the light reflects off her cascading dark locks. In a mesmerising movement, her hips circle to one side, then low down and up fast on the other side, and the audience of Arab diners is left spellbound.

Despite her skill, the dancer working on the Golden Pharaoh restaurant boat on the Nile is not an Egyptian who has been belly-dancing all her life. The stunning performer is (age missed out thank you very much!) Lorna Gow from Edinburgh, who has been wowing Egyptians with their own art form since she arrived in Cairo 15 months ago.

It's a world away from overcast Portobello, where she is staying this week on a visit home to see family and friends.

Born and bred in Edinburgh, Lorna became the first Scot to belly dance professionally in Cairo when she emigrated there just over a year ago - quite a feat for someone who had never tried any type of dance until she was 21, and only took up a belly dancing nightclass as a fun way to keep fit.

Lorna works on the Nile and Golden Pharaoh boats, cruising restaurants that cater for both tourists and Egyptians.

She says: "I love it, dancing on stage every night to an audience that, because of the culture, understands and appreciates what I'm doing. It's great working with Arabic musicians too. You are really interacting with them and the dancer plays a big part in creating the music."

Lorna was working for the Department of Work and Pensions (in my day it was called 'the benefits agency' - didn't realised it had changed?!!) in Wester Hailes when she began her journey into the exotic world of belly dancing.

Quickly realising she had an aptitude for it, before long she was called upon to begin teaching.
She became one of the main belly dance teachers in the area, taking around 20 classes across Scotland.

Her love affair with Cairo began on a dance holiday to the city ten years ago, and it cast such a spell over her that she returned around 20 times in 11 years, even organising trips for her students.

Then came the opportunity for a long-term stay. "When I was thinking about auditioning for the job I really wasn't sure I'd be good enough," she says.
"But numerous people I spoke to said I should go for it. I asked one of the top choreographers, Raqia Hassan, how long she thought it would take before I'd be capable, and she said I was good enough now, which gave me loads of confidence."

Despite having a fiance in Edinburgh, Lorna moved to Cairo in March last year, originally for six months. Those six months have grown into 15 but Lorna has been relishing the experience.
"It's a mad, chaotic, crazy, dirty city, bustling with life and passion," she says. "I love it. It feels real here. People are very hospitable and the weather is a heck of a lot better.

"They live the day during the night in Cairo, because of the heat. They do things during what we might think of as unsociable hours. For example, after a show at about 1.30am, I will phone a friend and arrange to go for a meal. Shops are open until midnight. It's a 24-hour city.
"It's so huge you can't have everyone rushing around at the same time, so I suppose they do kind of shift living.

"The hardest part has been learning the language. It's getting easier though. None of my musicians speaks (much) English so, for about six or seven hours each evening, I have to speak Arabic."

Lorna performs her half-hour show up to six times a night and the number of performances requires a high level of fitness.
"Physically it's very demanding and especially in the heat - it can be 30 degrees at one in the morning," she says.

"But I know I am very lucky, finding something I am good at and that I love so much."
She also credits one of her teachers, Sara Farooq, as having helped the credibility of her performances. "She is fabulous at helping me get into the heads of my Egyptian audiences and really understand what the songs and music are about," Lorna says.

As well as the boat tours, she also performs at weddings and private parties. With her brown hair (naturally blonde, she dyed it when she arrived in Egypt) and dark eyes, many people assume she is Egyptian.
However, she says it doesn't surprise people too much when they learn she's Scottish.
She explains: "Around half of the top belly dancers in Egypt are foreign. Egyptians have a feel for dance that you strive to get. But foreign dancers are generally better trained and perhaps have better technical skills."

Lorna says another obstacle apart from the language has been the bureaucracy and red tape she's encountered. "You really need to know people to get anything done, so obviously that is getting easier," she says.
"Another thing I find difficult is the hassle from men.
"Just walking along the road is like walking past about 20 building sites at once, and it is really wearing."

Lorna returns to Edinburgh every three months to see family and spend time with her fiance. She met Khalid, who owns the Moroccan Restaurant on Dundas Street, when she performed at the opening night.
So how does she cope with such a long-distance relationship? "Thank God for MSN!" she laughs. "We talk every night. He comes out to visit and I return to Edinburgh regularly.
"It can be trying for a relationship, but I think if we can survive this, we can survive anything."

As for the future, she is not making any set plans. "When I first came I meant to stay for a summer, and have now been here for 15 months," she says.
"So I don't want to make any promises about coming home. I've achieved what I set out to do, but there's always another step.
"First I wanted to dance in Cairo, then to get a work visa, then to dance with a band. I've done all those things, but now I want to dance with an orchestra - which would be amazing. You simply can't plan in a city like Cairo, it doesn't work like that, but that's partly what makes it such a special place because you just never know what's next."

BELLY dance is a Western name for an Arabic style of dance developed in the Middle East. It consists of percussive movements of the shoulders contrasted with slower fluid moves of the hips and torso.
It is big business in Egypt and the Middle East, where the top dancers have their own orchestras and limousines.
Dance teacher Hilary Thacker, who runs Hilary's Bazaar on George IV Bridge, which sells oriental clothes and dance costumes, is holding summer classes at Chi 36 on George Street and South Leith Parish Church, starting on July 24. Visit her website at or call 0131-556 7976 to book.
Dance Base in the Grassmarket, where Lorna Gow used to teach, also runs belly dancing classes. A new term will start in September. For more information call 0131-225 5525.
Participants should wear comfortable clothes and bring a scarf to tie around their hips.
This article:

The article had a photo too.... although I have a few more from that photo shoot which I'll add later (literally just in the door from the airport just now!)

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