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It's the week before the start of term and it turns out I have two classes to teach, for the first time in four (I think) years.

My regular Tuesday class got converted from Improver level to All Abilities a couple of years ago, and this year I've got more noobs than returning students. Maybe they're being a bunch of Last Minute Mary's, maybe there's been a shift in the space-time continuum, maybe there are just changes in people's lives...

I also got asked to plan a dance/exercise course for Guildford, to use a specific space, in the last throes of the planning process, so I planned myself (as I was the easiest tutor for me to deal with!) and, to be honest, I planned it pretty much on the basis that it wasn't very likely to actually happen. But blow me down, I've got 7 Beginners on it. So now all I have to do is keep them enthused, and get them to love belly dancing.


Ooer, I appear to have accidentally booked myself some JoY workshop places!

It's only because of Sahar, but there was only her Oum K/Tara workshop left, so I had to book other things (Serena Ray's Classical, Saqra's Shimmy Pocket Dictionary).

This just goes to show me that I need to be in the loop a heck of a lot more than I am right now.

Ok, any flisties need a room mate at the ibis?


Jan. 25th, 2018

So I went to a dance thing tonight, and it's got me all riled up. I swear I'm not judging the students but I'm sure as hell judging their crappy crappy teachers.

First off, don't let them wear crappy ebay costumes that consist of a regular bra with a bit of sequining sewn on the front. Don't let them wear crappy ebay costumes that consist of chiffon tops with a sparse bit of crocheted coinage sewn on. Dont let them wear crappy ebay harem pants that consist of the flimsiest chiffon with more of the sparse coinage sewn on. Just warn them off buying crappy ebay stuff altogether. It'll only fall apart after a few wears. And it looks crappy.

You can buy half way decent student costumes for £50 or so. Or you can sew nicer things, for much cheaper, if you can be arsed to make a tiny little bit of effort. So make them wear something nice and give them some pride in their troupe, ffs.

And before having the troupe costuming talk, rehearse them until they're all doing approximately the same thing. And tell the ones in the back to look at what the ones in the front are doing and try to keep in time with them. It's OK to copy. Especially if your crappy crappy teacher is hawking you around as if you were a top professional troupe.


I said I'd never do it...

 I've signed up for an Arabic language course!

I am quite realistic, and know that one term isn't going to have me translating Oum Kalsoum songs. In all likelihood, I'll learn about as much as I already know from my visits to Cairo. But I'm looking forward to it! 
Last night was Video night for my students. I try always to cover lots of different styles, not just Egyptian. But I was always going to show some Suhair Zaki. Because Suhair.

Anyway, we came across this BONKERS!!!! number:

It had me at giant kittens. But I fell hard for the travelling orchestra. And the Tales-of-the-Unexpected Riq. Then there was the support dancers, doing what Egyptian Movie Support Dancers have been doing since time immemorial, i.e. all dancing slightly out of whack with each other and looking uncomfortable in their costumes, which are never as nice as the star dancer's costume.

Suhair herself is a delight. She's at her sweetest, wholesome-est best, and apart from the dodgy motif placement on her hip belt, she's wearing a really stunning costume.

Here was the playlist for last night. It's not in any order, but I've kept it public:

Help me find a Youtube clip?

I can remember seeing on Youtube, many years ago, a clip of a lovely and very acrobatic American dancer doing goblet dancing, where she ended up going into the splits, ON the goblets, above the ground. I *think* she was performing as the lead dancer in a trio, and I *think* they were all doing a rather intricate zill choreography which then segues into the goblet solo.

Can anyone remember her name, or point me in the right sort of direction on what search terms I could try? Because "bellydance glass dance" "bellydance goblet dance" don't seem to be finding her.


Prepare for some major gushing...

Tonight has been a complete and utter delight. I was at the National Theatre, watching Twelfth Night, featuring the delicious Tamsin Greig, Doon Mackichan and Oliver Chris.

This is your archetypal Shakespeare comedy - basically there are identical twins (separated), girls dressing up as boys and everyone falling in love with the wrong person, until it all comes right when everyone marries the right person.

I have to confess I would love Tamsin, whatever she was doing, but oh man I love her even more now. Her physical comedy is so skilled. She can say so much with just the way she holds her shoulders. She is fearless.

The actor playing Viola, Tamara Lawrance, was a revelation. Her transformation into Cesario was so convincing. And Olivia (Phoebe Fox) was smashing, just the right side of petulant princess. But the whole cast was amazing, they were a delight to watch working together. It truly was an ensemble.

The set was impressive in its versatility. As M said, she wants a house just like that, and she's an architect so she should know. And the Music... It was woven into the piece seamlessly and there was a fab saxophone/flute/general woodwind player who stole the show.

So yeah, I quite liked it!


Flower costume love

I adore this Dina costume! I wish I could get away with anything like it. I could maybe wear the same sort of thing in an opaque, but part of its prettiness is the transparency. https://www.instagram.com/p/BRzDgYfA9DI/ - for video no title

YouTube's Playlist Policing

I've just shut down ALL my youtube playlists, and taken them private. I had a load of playlists featuring the current dancers, like Sahar and Ghazal and Shakira. I've had three of those lists deleted by YT, for "breaching community guidelines". Which of course they didn't, they consisted of perfectly ok dance videos, nothing indecent, nothing fetishistic, nothing weird. But there's no appeal procedure, as far as I can see. So I can't complain to YT (I have done a very annoyed tweet, though!)

I wanted to keep all my playlists intact, because I like to know where I can find stuff, especially when I'm "researching" for teaching purposes. I can't afford for people to be reporting my playlists and them getting deleted for no reason, so I've made all my playlists private, and never mind building community. Sorry to anyone who's ever checked out any of my playlists.

If any of them gets deleted now, it's a breach of my privacy and I'll have the civil liberties lot on them!

And now I have to painstakingly rebuild those playlists.


So, farewell then, Arabesque Nights

I went to the last ever Arabesque Nights Showcase last night. It's the first time I've had any dealings with the bellydance world in ages. I did enjoy it and it was really nice to see some of the London crowd.

I have realised on reading my notes back that I haven't named many names. That's partly because I didn't actually know a lot of the names. I'm so out of the loop.

There was Baladi. Quite a lot of Baladi. Mostly not very good. But I absolutely loved Jennie's taqsim progression which, to me, really had the spirit of Baladi. It fair warmed the cockles of my heart. The others didn't have the soul and they particularly pissed me off by wearing bedla rather than a galabeya, when there's really no excuse. Also there seemed to be a basic lack of knowledge of the meaning of the song they were dancing to. But then Lorna as the star dancer of the evening did an absolutely cracking Shik Shak Shok in her first set so I felt a lot better. She was saying it's far and away the most requested song she danced to in Egypt. And people online are so sniffy about it being “done to death”!

There was a Turkish dancer, Candan, and she did a lovely piece. I don't know enough about Turkish, to know exactly what it was but it had the traditional 7/8 rhythm and even I could recognise the Gypsy folklore elements. She had a sweetness about her which I really liked. Also I had skirt envy. It was a really pretty black lace/ed sequin affair. Another dancer I really enjoyed was Soraya, I can't remember what music she danced to but it was pleasingly traditional and she danced it with love. She was also wearing a glorious pale pink costume which made me want to wear pale pink, even though I know it would kill me stone dead.

There were two shaabi performances and I liked them both, but they could not have been more different. The first one was from an inexperienced dancer who seemed to have all the right components but somehow they weren't stringing together correctly. It looked like she was dancing somebody else's choreography. Her moves didn’t quite flow from one into another, but I really like that she was doing proper mahragani moves and was dressed in the right way with grungy t-shirt and sneakers. The second was a much more accomplished dancer, more polished and elegant in her dancing, but that allowed her to give the piece more “abandon”..

Of course, there were a few tribal, or at least tribal inspired numbers. Sorry I don't really remember much about them. You don't really want to hear my views on tribal anyway.

One thing that I found very irritating, and quite a lot of the dancers did this, was to stick a blooming drum solo on the end of every piece. It's not compulsory, people! If you pick a nice piece of music why don't you just finish when the music ends?

Being Arabesque Nights, there were a few off the wall numbers. Ishtar did Charleston to music from Bugsy Malone. Actually that was really fun and brilliantly well done. Infinity (dance troupe) did a routine in Mrs Santa outfits and gold leggings. There were a couple of burlesque routines.

And then there was the Donald and Melania routine from Lou and Itsumi. That is going to live on in our collective memory for a very long time. I've seen many comedy bellydance routines in my time and this is the one that's made me laugh the most. Lou was disturbingly good at playing Trump. I really hope that it gets onto YouTube somehow.

Lorna closed the show with some fab saaidi stick, dressed in her Santa costume, all red sequins and white fur, with a Santa hat at a jaunty angle. I do love her stickwork, it's just so damned Egyptian.

Now I’m very sad that Arabesque Nights is gone. It’s had a bloody brilliant 6½ years. I’ve always enjoyed it, as a performer and as a punter. We’re all hoping that Natalie & Jennie won’t be giving up on events completely, but that they have a nice rest from it for now - it’s well earned - and maybe come back to it some time in the future. Well, we can all hope!


I was looking at the date this morning, and wondered why the date was familiar, whose birthday, or what anniversary it might be.

Then I realised - I was thinking of 26th July Street in Cairo!

I'm going to the Ballet!!!!

In February. I'm going to see Red Shoes, which is the new Matthew Bourne/New Adventures ballet. It's touring the provinces before its London run, and I shall see it at Woking. Row D11, so fairly up-close & personal.

This is going to be a lovely post-Christmas treat to look forward to.


I'm loving Dina's tourist instagram photos of London.

Feeling very inspired

Clearly I *needed* to come to Cairo. I've spent the last few months feeling jaded and meh about dancing and performing, but these last few days have been the jolt of electricity that I needed. Proper posts will follow when I'm back and can type on my laptop, but I am feeling the dance love so hard right now.


Ahebbak Ya Cairo

We're both here and have ordered costumes. The internet is sporadic so will post if I can.

Packing for Cairo

I'm not a naturally organised person. But as the date of travel approaches, I need to work out what I have to pack for going away.

I'm going to be away for 12 days, the days are Spring-warm, but the evenings cool, so I have to choose accordingly. What I take has to be suitable for traipsing around dusty Cairo streets, and going out to restaurants & nightclubs in the evenings. So quite a mix of clothing needed.

I started by making a list of clothing. It included 10 tops, 8 bottoms and 3 dresses. I trimmed it down yesterday 8 tops, 6 bottoms, still 3 dressess. Today, after more and more trimming, I've got the list down to 6 tops, 5 bottoms, 2 dresses. I think that's as good as it's going to get.

I had to text diva_c to check whether I should take a swimming costume (yes, just in case we decide to go for a nice relaxing afternoon round the pool).

International adaptors, including the clever one I bought last time I was flying that includes a USB charging point. Corkscrew. Scan of my passport plus address of the British Embassy (7 Ahmed Ragheb Street, Garden City, telephone 02 2791 6000). Teabags of my favourite licquorice & peppermint tea from teapigs.

It's all starting to pile up on the sofa!



A lovely heart-warming teacher moment

I've been teaching a veil choreography, we're about half way through, and I've reached a point which I'd been looking forward to all along, a big set-piece bit of cuteness, where we're all in a left-hand star, and we close and open the veils. It's been in my head for ages, and now that we've actually started to work on it, I think it's going to be fab.

The thing that made my little choreographer's heart sing tonight, was that while they were doing it, they automatically did a sort of rise and fall with it. That was going to be a refinement that I'd planned to add when they'd got the basics under their belts, but, oh happy happy joy joy! they did it without even needing to be told to!

Cairo Countdown

I've just sent Kay my flight info, and confirmed the hotel choices for Cairo.

Whheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm getting all excited!


End of term

The last lessons of the year are done and that's one less thing to stress about. I've even managed to upload the choreography notes to my website so my students can practise over the holidays. All I need to think about now is the end to this choreo, and what angle to take with the non-choreo elements of next term's courses.

The last sessions of term are traditionally video nights. I was slightly stymied by technology for the beginners' class, but managed to pull something together from the video clips I had on my laptop and the use of two flashdrives and a smartboard. The improvers' class went more smoothly. I did my usual henna for those who wanted it:

PS I'm trying another phone app, ElJay, which does seem to be a lot easier to use than the official LJ app and doesn't capitalise everything I write. This may possibly lead to me actually posting a bit more.

A not very Béa Choreography

I am on half term this week, which has meant no teaching. But I've been trying to work on the new class choreography for the Improvers. At the moment I'm still trying to work out the music.

It's to a piece of music called Nefsy, which I have absolutely no information about. It's a music file that Lulu Sabongi gave me. It's not any of the songs you get when you google "Nefsi". It's a bit cosmic and woo. I was thinking I might go Veil with it.

It's proving a bit tricky to choreograph. This is very much not my normal sort of choreo. It's very slow and sort of solemn. I can dance it for myself, no problem, It's all long lines and beautiful power. But trying to pin it down to an actual routine that I can teach to other people is difficult. Also, in my head it's a massive production number, with big silk veils and feather fans, and I know I can't rely on enough students to do my imaginary number justice- I've only got 9 in the class and it needs about 15!

Sigh. I'll find the way with this, I'm sure.

Blimey O'Reilly!

Safinaz has subscribed to my YouTube channel! I suspect this may be to do with me having a Safinaz Playlist.

JoY driveby

I'm chilling and waiting for nail varnish to dry before driving back to Victoria Hall, ready for the show tonight.

Today's workshop, which was the one I was least sure about, turned out *really* well, so now I'm panicking about the stick one tomorrow, which I thought would be a piece of cake but now I'm thinking is the one I should have been worrying about instead...

Tonight I debut Tigi Tigi danced solo. The only bits that really impacts are the intro and finale. I can adapt the intro easily enough, to make it solo-friendly. The finale is a bit trickier, but I think I can make it sufficiently interesting.


Balance. I haz it not.

I've never been very good at getting proper balance into my life. I go from nothing to too much in 7 seconds flat.

Curriculum Managering work is far too much. Today I was in the office until 8pm, because stuff needs sorting out, and quickly. There's an important deadline on Monday, and I'll be lucky if I make it. Any other weekend, I'd come in on the Saturday and work in my own time, but this weekend I'm off to JoY.

Teaching is back to being exhausting, just because it's two nights per week, and I'm getting old.

I've also booked myself onto a sewing course, which I'm *really* enjoying, but takes up another weeknight, and I know I'm going to have to miss at least two sessions of it, because of Curriculum Managering duties. And also another one because I've volunteered to model for one of the Photography courses, in costume, on a time for CD basis, because it would be quite nice to have some up to date dance photos. The last lot of studio pics I've got are the ones Maani did for me FOUR years ago. I have got a lot fatter since then! Also I have other costumes since then. So it's about time I got some photos done.

Performing? I'm currently not feeling the performing love. Mirage are due to dance at the Weybridge Hafla at the Hall, and I'll do the Mirage performance with them, but no solo, I think. Unless... I might have to do something in my capacity as a role model to my students. Gawd, it's murder being a good teacher!

A silly idea, but it made me smile

I was walking home from work the other day, along the river, and I saw a boat coming into Dapdune Wharf.


It's a "community boat" that you can rent. And I was just looking at the overall shape of it, and it reminded me of something...

It's not identical. It's more covered up, as you might expect for a UK Autumn, compared to a Cairo Spring, but I swear with a few lines of fairy lights and a nasty tinny sound system blaring out some sha'abi music, we could have ourselves a Cairo party boat on the Wey. Just think how it would annoy the neighbours!


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