Monday, April 23, 2007

Workshops I attended at the Nile Group Festival!

well- I went to lots of workshops this week- and am feeling all refreshed and inspired by it all... heres a wee summary of who's who and how they were (in order of when i took the class during the week)

Mona Mustafa (who used to dance in the Reda troupe) taught us a lovely Melaya choreography. It was a very small class which was wonderful, although despite that we all still seemed to hit each other with our melayas! A fun 'wrap the melaya round your hips' move that was new to me…. Very enjoyable in all. Just wish I had taken my video camera with me since she (in fact all the teachers this week) have been totally fine with us recording the choreography at the end of the class!

Nesma Oriental dance. She is from Spain, but danced here in Egypt for about 5 years. It shows; fantastic elegance and grace… with depth of feeling and fun you only see in dancer who has spent a long time in Egypt! If she lived in Cairo I would take lessons- for sure! She reminded me a lot of Nour (the Russian dancer who is popular at weddings here- although is not at this years festival since she was pregnant at the last one!) I liked the way she taught- giving us the choreography but encouraging us to adapt it to suit our own styles and giving us ways we could do our own thing within it. She had the teaching skills of a European and a very strong ballet influenced style with the understanding of what is needed for the Egyptian stage; A lovely combination. She was also able to explain the difference between what makes a move 'oriental' or 'folklorique' and show how one move could be done in a variety of ways. I bought both her cds too- and I recommend them (

Hassan Khalil Modern oriental. He is 70… and choreographed for the likes of Naima Akef. Lovely fun, simple routine- but what stood out most was his fun charater and positive mental attitude to the dance. Very empowering- every one of us left his class feeling better about ourselves! He is only part based in Cairo- but when he is next in town I'll be hoping for some lessons. He is usually in Belgium and has teaching programs there and all sort of things…( ) He thought I was Russian by the way I used my arms- I took it as a complement since all the Russian girls in the class were ballet trained and very graceful!!!

He had a lovely theory about why although men can make good teachers and choreographers, the best dancers are women- Because the feel for this dance comes from deep inside a woman- from her womb- and that creates an essential difference – men and men – but women are 'womben' !!!

Neveen Ramez Oriental. I didn't have a clue who she was before I went to this class… and in the beginning I worried I had chosen the wrong one as she mixed up her rights and lefts a bit- however- it transformed into one of the best workshops ever- REALLY enjoyed her energy and musical interpretation (even though I would probably have added a fair bit to it if I was performing it to make it more oriental and less folklorique) but the idea for patterns and feel were very useful and enjoyable. She turned out to be a very strict teacher (in a good way!). Mind you – she was the trainer for the Reda troup for 30 years and was its manager too- so she knows her stuff!

Dandash Oriental technique. Wow. Raw powerful, cheeky, mischevious sexy fun dancer. Truly inspiring. When I grow up I want to be like her!!!! Dandash starts as she does with every workshop with a choreography- but soon starts changing and adapting it- and in the end (well- by a third of the way through) we are watching and copying rather than doing choreography. Much better. At one point she started a number with such power and passion that everyone knew instantly that we just couldn't keep up- so we all sat down and watched her perform for us instead! Wonderful. My favourite 3 hours of the festival!

Lubna Emam Oriental routine by another of reda troups dancers turned teachers. I have already written in the blog about the wonderful saadi workshop I did with her last time. This one was fantastic too- fun and punchy and a very complex routine to get through in the allotted time. A talented teacher. So many people I want to try and arrange private classes with- and she is def. one of them. It was such a shame her trip to Edinburgh had to be cancelled- people do not know what they are missing- she wouldn have been worth every penny and more. Ah well.

Sameh el Dessouki Modern Oriental. Sameh was a folklorique dancer in Cairo for many years before moving to live and teach in Moscow. His style is very modern- using contempary dance steps to 'jazz up' oriental choreography. I really enjoyed the choreography (to a Nancy Agram number) and got lost in it a few times (as in really felt I could dance to the music and do someone elses choregraphy- something which Never happens to me since I usually improvise!!!) Good bits of basic technique revised and drilled. Very enjoyable.

Unfortuantly many of the other workshops I would have liked to attend were fully booked even though I arrived early on first day of registation- so best to book online if you intend to come next time (June!) I would have loved Aida Nour, Lizza, Zeina and Hassan Khalil's 2 veil workshops as well but couldn't get in. Ah well, saved me some money this time round I guess!

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