I went to part of the Nile group competition night last night. Of the dancers I saw (and we only stayed a couple of hours) there were three performances that really stood out for me personally. Athena, from Greece. An elegant graceful dancer who looked stunning in a beautiful Hallah costume and carried herself with a lovely calm confidence which did create to her simple and effective choreography. I like it when a dancer’s personality comes across on stage. When i look and think, yes, i’d like to be her as a friend! Too many dancers can put on a personality for dance. Pretend to be something that they think a dancer’s should be. If it’s not you though, it just doesn’t work. All it does is create a barrier and show the audience that you don’t want them to know the real you.
A group, i think from Korea who looked absolutely amazing. Full glitter drag queen eye make-up, stunning , matching, black and white costumes and multi coloured fans. It wasn’t bellydance by any stretch of the imagination... but it was by far the slickest, tightest, most beautiful group dance performance I have ever seen on that stage. I was speaking to Aleya about it, and she promised to upload the film she took of it onto youtube soon, so watch this space.
The third performance that really captured me, also surprised me. I have to admit that i personally, do not enjoy watching men perform bellydance. Sorry. I know i may upset people by saying that. I am all for male teachers. Often a man does totally know what a woman should do to make the most of herself. And I like watching a man dance folk, or even oriental, when he is dancing as a man. Not as a man trying to be a woman. When a man starts dressing like a woman, and doing hair flicks and cute hand covering the mouth coquettish moves etc, I just switch off. I can learn from it, yes. I can appreciate the technique, yes, but for me the mood is ruined because I feel they are trying to be something they are not.
So, with that in mind, Hassan (i think his name was- I will get confirmation of this an add asap!) performance I expected I wouldn’t enjoy. He wore a turquoise catsuit, with pharaonic style gold belt and shoulder piece. His hair was in a pony tail and most bizarrely he carried his fairly ‘cuddly’ body in a strange manner which gave him a sway back, really thrusting his chest forward and his bum out. You couldn’t get more man trying to be woman. In fact, seeing a waiters shocked face I called him over to ask what he thought and he answered my question with a question, it that a man or a woman?
So with all my prejudices in mind, i should have hated him yes. No. He was amazing! His movements were soft, elegant, with the most amazing spins i have EVER seen on a dancer. His gentle shimmying figures of eight travelling across the stage were something that quite frankly samia gamal would have been proud of, and probably inspired. It was very golden era-esque and the timing and feel of the moves was just perfect with the music. I kept want to hate it, but i couldn’t. In fact, when i just persuaded myself not to look at his face I could kid myself that it really was a woman and possibly one of the most impressive dancers I have seen on that stage. Big statement eh?
When he came back to do a second dance wearing a black galabeya that was fitted on top but with a full circulur skirt and hip scarf, he lost me though. Physically he did everything right. However, in a song like ana fintizarek i wanted to connect with the soul of the dancer, and well, I just couldn’t. There was something about his facial expressions that pushed me away rather than drawing me in. A little too much effort there. Trying too hard. All in all. I’d love to watch him again, and I’d love to learn from him.
I know this blog entry will probably create some heated opposition, since it’s not very ‘pc’ to say outright that I don’t usually like watching male bellydancers. I have no issue at all with any man dancing...... like a man, Thats great!
But the truth is i don’t like any dancer who looks like he , or she, is trying to be something they are not.
I have no issue at all with any man dancing... like a man.