Wednesday, April 18, 2012

‘As Ma Han’, or Asmahan if you are not singing it!!

I was surprised to see in the Nile group festival only 3 classes on the program that were not teaching a choreography. It is always useful to learn someone else’s dance. That way you learn how they hear the music and gives you an idea of how to put steps together in a different way. However, I much prefer classes where you learn technique and information about how to interpret the music so you can make up your own dance.

This is what Asmahan was teaching this morning in her workshop. She gave (in English and Spanish) very clear guidelines on how to do technique and where the moves should come from and also one to one attention to check everyone had it right. She had fun music, blend of Arabic with salsa and with rap and had us do very simple routines to practise the technique she was going over. After all these years I didn’t think I could learn new things about even basics like the hip drop, but I did and feel inspired from it.

Asmahan had such a relaxed gentle, yet commanding attitude while teaching that everyone loved her. She made everyone look at their dancing anew and talked about ‘us’ as bellydancers, what ‘we’ should do and how. It was lovely. Like being part of a team.

Mergance is the entrance piece for a dancer’s show and Asmahan talked about how  this is the only music actually composed for the dancer. She talked about the importance of not dancing everything in 4’s or 8’s rather to mix things up and make surprises for your audience. She had lots of fun, hard, ways to drill moves and i could feel how effective they were even though I had to run out half way through the workshop because I had a lunch sail on the Pharaoh.  I was very sorry to have to leave, but i did feel like I got a lot out of the class. I liked when she talked about attitude when you dance- but mispronounced it’ actitude’. I liked that- the idea of acting your way through it! Also she talked about ‘nefis’ (Arabic for  breath) being when a dancer is comfortable in her own skin and takes time within her dance to take a breath!

So much information generously given (I wish I’d been there for the whole 3 hours!). Well Done Asmahan. A very good teacher!

 (and a lovely person- she went out her way to introduce me to people as a professional dancer here in Cairo, which she didn’t need to mention at all)

Good news for people wanting to see her show is that Asmahan will be back performing on the Nile Maxim for this next month and then again in the summer.

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