Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Totally Blown Away – Workshop with Faten Salama & Randa Kamel
Yes, I had attended workshops in my local town of Chicago. Raksanna always brings in top notch talent from all over the world for her students and the local community to broaden there knowledge of middle eastern dance. But, this was the first time I was going to a workshop in another city…WITH MY TEACHER.
I had no idea what to expect. I wanted exposure to folkloric aspects of the dance as well as oriental. And, I wanted a chance to study from teachers that had such an impact on my own teacher.
I was totally blown away!
After a gala performance Friday night featuring top dancers from around the United States including our very own Raksanna AND the past winners of the Queen of Raks Sharqi competition, Saturday opened with Faten Salama teaching in the morning: How to work with a live band. She took us through a typical performance starting with an entrance with veil and working through the taksim. The one thing she kept emphasizing was that the music was in charge and, with a live band firing us up, it certainly felt that way.
Randa Kamel followed in the afternoon with classical oriental dance choreographed to a modern song. The folkloric aspects of Raqs Sharqi were apparent throughout the choreography. I kept telling myself, “You WILL finish this dance and you WILL NOT embarrass your teacher!” Half way through the choreography, Faten had those of us in the front switch with those in the back. It was at that point that Randa had us perform an arabesque followed by a turn that some girls around me did not recognize. “What was that? What did she do?” I heard a gal behind me say. “Oh, that’s a turn from Reda!” I found myself saying.
I then realized that those of us who have the good fortune to study with Raksanna really ARE getting good training. And, I realized how truly fortunate we are. I told her, “Deep down I knew how special what we have is but, I didn’t KNOW! Understand?” She said that yes, she DID understand.
Raksanna trains her dancers in the Egyptian style dance and is committed to excellence. More importantly, she has the respect of other Egyptian artists and continues to bring that passion for the art form and the commitment to excellence to her students through offering workshops with artists equally as dedicated to preserving middle eastern dance.
To that end, she has several upcoming workshops for me to look forward to:
April 17th, she has Amani from Atlanta coming to present the difference in Iraqi and Saudi Khaleegy styles and tasty Cairo combinations. In May, Faten Salama comes to Chicago to offer her Al-Massrweya! An intensive 18-hour certificate program in Egyptian belly dance aimed at the intermediate/advanced dancer. Finally, for ChicagoRaks this year, she is bringing in Momo Kadous who will teach a range on choreographies from Saidi stick to drum solo culminating in a Gala performance.
So even if I CAN’T travel to another town for a workshop, there will still be many exciting opportunities to broaden my dance horizons right here in Chicago.
One thing Faten Salama said was that now EVERYONE is accessable where by years ago you definately did have to travel, often overseas, to study with top- notch middle eastern trained teachers. Now, workshops are EVERYWHERE and with resources available over the internet, fairly easy to find.
You can search the MECDA website for teachers, bookmark their websites, and get on their email lists to be apprised of upcoming events. There is also shira.net, Zagarheet Magazine, The Guilded Serpent and other resources to get information on upcoming workshops.
AND, don't overlook our very own Spark People. Ask your fellow Sparkling Belly dancers where to look and they will tell you what they know.
Belly dance has been a crucial part of my weight loss journey. I think it is important to help spread the love of this beautiful artform and support dancers in need of teachers.