Monday, November 23, 2009

Lorna in Luxor

Just in case it hasn't come to your attention yet................... I'm going to be one of the headlining teachers at the Farha tour festival in Luxor 22nd-29th Sept 2010.

Me and Eman Zaki and Kazafy- not a bad line up frankly!!!! I am really excited about working alongside with these fabulous dancers!

Book now............ see you there!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Last night many grown men cried in the streets when Egypt lost in the football to Algeria.

I wasn't too happy about it either! I had a fabulous dance planned. White saaidi galabeya with red bra and head scarf and back the Egyptian flag.... I entered on a saaidi song we then played a 'Masr' song (all about wonderful Egypt and how much we love her!) then into the saaidi again. It was a show designed to enter the spirit of the night................. and the band were great, and the costume looked great..

BUT just as I was dancing towards the stage to start it all.... you know what happened......... Algeria scored!

No matter what I did, the show was completely flat and no-one even had to tell me what had happened- I knew from the faces of the band, the staff, the customers... everyone was as low as they could be and I couldn't have possibly had worse timing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had been so proud of myself too, doing something new and different and fun within my show like that. How frustrating! !

Wat surprised me was that when Algeria got their goal... everyone acted instantly as though all was lost... but there was still over half an hour to play. My theory is that its not over til its over....... but EVERYONE around me had faces tripping them instantly. It's one thing to accept your fate and yet another to give up too soon. I am guessing if the players had the same attitude as everyone around me did then that might the the real reason why my streets home from work were not full of screaming celebrating fans last night!

Also - another thought, by an Egyptian friend, was that if people could get as excited about politics as they do about football, blocking the streets and practically bringing the entire city to a standstill, then maybe things would be very different in Egyptian government!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nile group festival Opening show last night!

It was PACKED!
I've never seen that many people before at any of the Gala Dinners at the Nile Group festival (Pyramisa hotel, Dokki).

The sound system was the best yet... but unfortunately the lighting wasn't so great- so i will apologise in advance of writing about these dancers and costumes, that there are no photos. Anyone reading this who has pics of the event- please feel free to forward them to me to include!

Nancy (Egyptian was 1st up). She has put on a little weight since last time, and it suited her. She was relaxed, bubbly, cute. She had a lot of lovely moves in there... and some facial expressions and arm movements which reminded me of Suraya. But I guess both of them were taught by Raqia Hassan in the beginning. The first costume was very glittery, disco ball inspired bra belt with black chiffon skirt. The chiffon is unusual to see in 'modern' Egyptian dance, and nice. The last costume though was not so flattering. I guess it was 'Egypt' inspired since it was red white and black and she danced to a song all about 'Egypt' in it! Unfortunately it didn't flatter her figure the way previous costumes had. Last night was the nicest I have seen Nancy dance.

Tito's show was next, starting with a pharonic dance with everyone (all his 'backing' dancers) dressed in gold and blue. Was visually eye catching.... and I guess works well for tourists in sharm.... but didn't really inspire most of the dancers I talked to about it last night! However, Tito on his own, in both his stick dance and his tabla solo, was on FIRE ! VERY VERY good. Best i have seen him. Slightly more technique than usual... but mainly what was impressive was a phenomenal stage presence that had even me weak at the knees at times. Well done that man! Sometimes when male dancers perform it is spoiled for me because they look like they are trying to be women.... when Tito danced these 2 dances he was 100% masculine.

Camelia blew everyone away! She started in a relaxed way... but that lasted all of maybe one minute before she was up to full speed and high high energy. Even taking her hair and spinning it round helicopter style half way through the 1st dance! LOTS and LOTS and crazy hair flinging in all of her show. Especially of course in the Khleegy which had lots of new things in it- and a lot of jumpy steps from Iraq too! My favourite dance as usual from her was the Shamadan (the candleabra on the head!) maybe because she does, by neccesity have to, calm down slightly in it! Her gold/balck costume she wore for the shamadan dance was my favourite costume of the night too. LOVELY ! The thing about Camelia for me , is that her crazy energy is the thing that is equally the best and worst thing about it! You cannot help but smile the entire time she is dancing....... but I would love to see how she would tackle an omm khalsoum or baladi takisim or something!

Liza was last on the bill and incredibly relaxed after both Tito and Camelia. Her final show was the most different thing with a stunning assuit dress and tribal style headdress and belt with metal and pom poms! The dance had sections of haggala, saaidi, baladi, nubian you name it- it was all there. Her drum solo at the end was using a duff to hit various parts of her body with. I spoke to people who thought she was their favourite show of the night. I felt she got better as the show proceeded and I enjoyed the last song, and costume, very much!

Of course, when i got home at 3.30am... i thought- great - an early night... but then sat up for 2 hours discussing the entire show with the 2 dancers ( Norwegian and American) who are staying with me just now!

Great day today- Teaching a private, receiving a private and then going to see a show. How bellydance a day can you get?!!!!! Life is good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Drunk on football!

so... there is a football match on tonight. Egypt v's Algeria. and don't we know it.........

Cairo has gone crazy.

Everywhere is covered with the Egypt red white and black. Flags, hats, hooters, you name it have been sold at the roadside for 3 days now. Most cars have been sporting their flags since yesterday. It was hard to believe last night coming home from work that the match hadn't already been played and won by the partying that was going on in the streets! The shouting and cheering and horn honking went on in gamet dowel street til 3am! All this- for a qualifying match? I dread to think what the streets will be like tonight if we win!!!

Seemingly it is a fairly big deal since Algeria and Egypt have always been at war when it comes to football. I heard that in Algeria a cartoon of Egypt and Algeria was published with Egypt as the bride and Algeria as the groom. What that symbolises I wouldn't like to say! Advertisierng ads have been cashing in on it too, with one restaurant's poster having an image of 2 men, one in an Egypt shirt and one in Algerian, sitting in front of a table full of wonderful, tasty looking food. The slogan being that not even these 2 would disagree on how good our food tastes!

I plan to walk to work tonight..... even the taxi drivers are getting out of town. The taxi driver that brought me home from work last night was telling me how he as going early this morning to Alexandria today, since there was no point in working as all the roads would all be at a standstill! He also described the people already celebrating as 'drunk'. He didn't mean literally that they had been drinking alcohol, but that the frenzied atmosphere was as if they were, and I agreed! As long as that frenzy stays positive then all will be well. The worry is if the crowd turns... it could be nasty. I've arranged for a friend to collect me from work tonight as I really don't fancy trying to make it home alone!

Whatever you do today, if you are in Cairo, don't wear green!!!

Performing experiences of the last week or so....

Last night I felt i danced well. This doesn't happen very often... i think it has something to do with being a bit of a perfectionist! It was mainly because I danced to a song I haven't for a long time and I was able to completely lose myself in it... Alf leila we leila. I love this music and had forgotten quite how much until i was dancing last night and realised, at one point in my dance, that i had totally forgotten there was an audience watching me! Because it started on a high like that the rest of the show went really well too. The audience was totally with me. One woman asked the management for my number because she wants me to dance at her daughters wedding. Guess i know what song to perform to if that wedding happens!

A few nights ago I had, on the same sail, the worst and best of audiences. The boat had been chartered by a company IBSE. Now, I don't know what that actually stands for, but by the sour attitude of the 1st deck i performed to it could well mean IBS Egypt! All Egyptians, but distant and acting as though i didn't exist. Even though I wasn't dancing fairly well I thought!!! Of course, i was then dreading the 2nd deck, since it was the same company ... however... there were about 4 guys in that group who were incrediably enthusiastic- and it lifted the entire experience for us all, performers and audience. I was dancing my heart out and they were shouting out the names of famous dancers i reminded them of when i did certain moves. In one song i was Soheir Zaki, Fifi AND Dina....... seemingly !!! At one point in my show (during my tabla solo) I actually had to raise a finger to my mouth and tell them to shuush ('iskut' in arabic!) because their praise was louder than the drum! They obediently did as they were told, then as soon as i did the slightest move after that, they erupted into shouts of appreciation yet again!!!!! I have never felt so powerful, or appreciated, I tell you! It was a wonderful night. Thankfully the good audience was 2nd not 1st- so I left the night with a good feeling about myself, my dance and the whole world!!!!!!!

As part of my show, if there are a lot of tourists in the audience, I often get some of them up to dance with me. I try to be encouraging and get them to do moves they can manage. I don't go out my way to embarass anyone as I have seen in some shows ( in Turkey- not in Egypt). In one show last week there was a young Japanese girl sitting at one of the front tables and she had been watching intently throughout, when I tried to get her up she was too shy, but her big sister (I presume- maybe wrongly) agreed to get up too to keep her company. It didn't take long to find out why! They were amazing!!!!!!! Both of them followed every single move I did- and I threw in some difficult ones when I saw how well they were coping. This little girl who was maybe 8 or 9 years old, was doing beautiful hip drops and shimmys and you name it, her sister too! I strongly suspect that wasn't the 1st time either of them had bellydanced! In the past when i was going to watch shows here in Egypt, I always used to wonder how a dancer felt when she pulled me from the audience, unsuspecting that I was a professional dancer, only to be surprised that she couldn't 'embarass' me or use me to make her look even better. Now I know. And I have to say- I LOVED it !!! It was so wonderful to relax and dance with these girls and watch the amazed expressions on the faces of the Egyptians in particular. Well done those girls!

Belt up!

Flying back from a few days break in Sharm last week,on Egypt Air, my friend Nick and I were horrified by what we saw. All the adults were being checked to make sure they were wearing their seltbelts, but there were children, not only not belted in for take off or landing.... but standing up in the aisle and being passed between family members throughoutit all!!!

I tapped the woman in front of me on the shoulder and helpfully, i thought, advised her that her child (under 3 years old) should also have a belt on and she replied that she had asked and been told it wasn't neccesary! Indeed the air stewards were walking past the child, who was standing up, and not making any comment. We were dumbstruck!

Trying to understand it we came up with a few theories as to why this attitude was so different in Egypt than in UK. (remembering that this is a country where you see entire families, babies included on the back of a moped with no helmets and no safety precautions at all)

1- Egypt air maybe just doesn't have child belts on that particular flight... so in order to cover this failing they say it's not neccesary?

2- Inshallah laws- ie if its God's will that the child will live or die then who are we to question or do anything about it? although that doesn't explain why the adults were carefully belted in?

3- We are on a plane, and truth is that if it's likely to crash- they none of us will survive anyway whether belted in or not? So rules are broken , cos they are deemed silly anyway?

4- Egyptian children often get their own way in every situation..... and no-one likes to be belted in... so their freedom on the flight is more important than potential safety hazard? anything so the child doesn't cry?

5- If a child dies it's not important cos you can always have another one? (I KNOW this can't be the case the way children are treasured here!)

6- The child didn't pay a seperate ticket therefore isn't entitled to the same safety?

7- Maybe its all just over protection and no-one really needs a belt but we are all belted in because of silly, over cautious laws impossed, probably by the west, on all airlines and since deemed silly (a bit like traffic lights in Cairo) then promptly ignored wherever possible (indeed the mother herself wasn't belted in for landing and no-one said anything to her)!

8-.........??????? any rational reason??? if you have any other ideas I would love to hear them........

I had been hoping to persuade my sister sometime while she is holidaying in Sharm to fly to Cairo to see how and where I live, but if my nephew has to fly without a selt belt... I think I'll tell her not to until he's old enough to be in his own seat with its own belt!!!!!!

Otherwise, I quite like Egypt Air.