Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A normal night's work...

So, I am at home today, unable to meet friends, or organise work stuff because I have totally lost my voice. Therefore I am staying home to rest and try to recover! What to do... yes I could sit on facebook all day (and have done for some hours now...) but there must be something more productive to do... that doesn’t expend any energy- I know I’ll write a blog.

Hmm- but I have nothing to write about.

Wait. I performed 3 shows on the Nile Pharaoh boat last night and I have nothing to write about? Really? I do the job that dancers all over the world dream about, but having nothing to say about it? There is no way that could be true!

Here goes, last night’s work:

Of course, I only found out yesterday that I was working last night... so my labisa (dresser) wasn’t answering her phone, for a change so I had to go alone. At least this time I knew I would be alone so I was able to pack costumes that I knew I could get into without help! However- then the lift didn’t work... and I live on the 11th floor... so I had to walk down with heavy costume case. Not a great start to the night.

When I am waiting to go onstage... the band kept playing the beginning of my new Mergance over and over- but without my introduction. Seems the new singer didn’t know, or couldn’t pronounce my name. I was pleased with my dancing, in the very first Mergance- I was using some new moves and trying out some different styling techniques after a day spent watching YouTube and getting some inspiration! Was trying out a more dramatic style after watching Randa and Aziza, and also rounding of softer moves like Soheir Zaki. It was fun.

Then the problems began. The singer suggested Lissa fakir- which is one of my favourites so I agreed and lived to regret it. His voice was shaabi shaabi and he was trying to turn the Om Kalsoum song into a shaabi number. That and he kept messing up the words and the timings.... it was horrific. I tried to pretend all was well and keep a smile on my face- but it was no good... everytime a wrong note was hit my face twinged with pain. I almost wish I was back I the time when live music was wonderful just because it was live. Now I am unfortunately very aware of what makes a good and a bad musician. I should have known when he didn’t know maly willa maly. One of the most famous Warda songs- and one popular with dancers. But yes- I asked him to sing Warda's 'aktib alaik'. He did. As well as he could. I was of course using actions to describe the lyrics and well, his lyrics did not meet my actions! I was singing along... and very soon the audience was singing with me... all of us knowing the words better than he did.

It made me feel strange. That here was I , Lorna from Scotland, understanding and knowing the music better than someone who has lived all his life here and is a ‘professional’ singer (I use the term loosely). The audience saw me singing along and were commenting on how I knew the words... It was both embarrassing (since I hire the band) and also lovely to be appreciated. I felt I had found my place in the world, and I was being accepted. It gave me confidence.

During the night I had one man who kept shouting out encouraging remarks... and who I eventually got up to dance. He was nuts, dancing his heart out, badly but enthusiastically. As if he was in a low class cabaret! However, he knew his place and didn’t try to touch or anything like that.

Another man wanted to get up during my baladi number... which at first disappointed me, since I live that time in my set especially. It is like the calm before the storm of the drum solo. But then I gave him the stick, and he started to dance, and well- let’s just say- this man knew how to dance! But he was dancing with me- not trying to upstage me or anything... just loving the music and the interaction and the dance. How it should be. I almost wished I was in the audience watching that particular 5 minutes!!! I wish I had a camera with me at all times- so when these gems of moments occur I can just shout ‘record’ and then have it on film. I hope my memory retains these times!

Oh- and the Tabal. At the moment I am working with a Tabal who just always wants to do his own thing. He is the band leader- and spends most of his time on stage listening to what the others are doing and directing them, so much so that he forgets to watch me... therefore missing 80% of my accents. It turns me into a lazy dancer, I mean- what’s the point if you are accenting something which isn’t there? I would get rid of him, except for the fact that he is the band leader- so it is impossible to get rid of him without getting rid of the entire band! He is a lovely man, and a good chief... but he could do with giving more attention to his own performance and less to theirs! Anyway- last night he did himself proud. The accents were there maybe 40% of the time, instead of the usual 20%. The drum solos however were MUCH better than they have been before... as if he was actually watching and following me, maybe 80% of the time. We still have a long way to go before I will feel happy with the show, but he was on his way. Maybe of course that was to make up for the fact that he had supplied such a bad singer for me!

At the end of the night, when I was leaving. One family, who had been smiling through the show, but not said anything in particular- asked to speak to me and congratulate me on my fabulous dancing and could their son (a lovely well mannered lad of about 14) please shake my hand. I did of course and his ear to ear appreciative smile melted my heart. Unfortunately, as a foreign woman in Cairo these days, Teenage boys just fill me with dread and fear and loathing. I have to be honest. They don’t exactly show respect, quite the opposite in fact. So to have here a young boy, with his family, being lovely and soft spoken and respectful... it renewed my faith in humanity!

Overall it was a good night. Challenging, but good. Every day I learn. A move here, a look there, a time to pause, a time to relax.

... And then I had to climb all these stairs with that big heavy bag. Damn those lifts!

So- that was my blog entry where I had nothing to say...........Somewhat longer than expected! Hope it made an interesting read anyway!

It is amazing how many of the ‘special’ things about my lifestyle and work I now often take for granted, forgetting that they are not ‘normal’ for most people. The list is so long it deserves another blog entry- but I will save that for another time!

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