Dahlena with Maria
Note: Faces with a white shine are probably wearing
sunscreen which reflects the camera's flash
The Classic Style Prevails
April 29, 2007
San Francisco Studio
Review by Rebecca
workshop came hard on the heels of a 2-day with Raqia
Hassan (which I also reviewed) I had a hard time separating
the two experiences in my mind. But the important thing is, what
was it like to be there?
a smaller, more intimate setting, with 20 people crammed into
basement studio. We all knew each other, very few collisions.
big movements were hard to do in that limited a space. Her daffodil-yellow
costume was fetching, if only the skirt had been a little shorter;
it obscured her feet.
mechanics and interpretations were different from Raqia's. A week
after Dahlena, Amina was teaching her usual performance class,
giving her take on Raqia and Dahlena... and it was totally different
from what I had picked up!
does everything from the knees, and Dahlena said not to do that!
What's a girl to do? (Pick whatever works best on your body,
like every dancer has a different approach to arms and upper body,
and even the visual images, the lines of force, can be worlds
apart. Dahlena' arms express straight and powerful lines, making
her seem bigger on stage. She sure knows how to project! A caricature
would make the arms stiff but would lose the energy. She talked
about moving arms from the center of the chest. It seemed like
the shoulder joint was the main pivot, with fingers and palms
slicing out to infinity. She would often have her arms in a V
shape, palms down, fingers gracefully extended out.
is an "expired" ad of Dahlena's. Same lady, same
gorgeous stage presence.
often looked angular, and she used a lot of bends at the elbow
as well as at the shoulder. Some of her arm movements looked almost
Uzbek or Armenian. I gained some insights into Uzbek dance from
watching her, actually. It also resembled the classic East Indian
diagonal/oppositional pull. Her bio says, "early ballet training"
- that's probably where she gets her big carriage, her far- reaching
arms, and her floating torso. Her torso was very strong, and very
integrated. No slackness, no flubber, no casual slouching from
lifted arms and torso combined with relaxed lowered shoulders
make her torso and arms appear to float. Maintaining this posture
can take away from the hips, because you must expend some energy
keeping the arms up, instead of letting it all go to the hips
or chest area for isolations. Mechanically, you have to make
a choice. If you want big eye-catching abdominal pops and locks,
you have to draw your arms and elbows closer to the body and
cave your chest in a little so you have someplace to pop out
FROM. Some dancers also lift their shoulders to better isolate
the torso. This can invite bad habits, because letting them
stay there all the time looks distorted.
to think of any classical movement form that mandates high shoulders
or a crooked spine as the "home" position. They bend
from various joints but tend to preserve the integrity of the
spinal curve, both front to back and side to side, despite various
twists that may occur.)
rather short, with a shortish torso. Her authoritative posture
makes her seem a lot bigger than she is, and means she doesn't
have to do much to command attention onstage. If you have a nice
posture or can strike a sculpted pose, no one will ever know what
you forgot what to do next.
teach a big elaborate choreography, but did do some combinations:
horizontal hip 8s and such. She covered entrances and arabesques,
including several nice variants of the "swimming entrance"
often seen in high-glamour Egyptian style soloists. Now I can't
remember what else she did for those 3 or 4 hours!
style was pretty accessible: nice personality, no breaks, not
overly methodical, but moving at a good pace. She spoke in a high,
almost nasally voice. She watched us all carefully; rather than
correcting individuals, she would make general remarks based on
what she was seeing us do.
over time, because she was late after getting a bit lost on the
way to Amina's house. None of us were sorry about the extra time!
I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose, so much in so short
a time. My brain gave out after a while and I hoped that my body
learned, like Amina, from daily observation of native dancers-
in America, and later on in the Middle East as well. She was
diplomatically accepting of differences. She remarked that many
dancers who perhaps had less exposure to native Middle Eastern
dancers, ended up doing what they THOUGHT they saw, and "now
it's a new step!" Maybe it was a way to side step the whole
"American belly dance" debate.
had the bandwidth to even play her instructional DVDs yet. I did
buy her performance videos, VHS on sale for $10, and watched the
one labeled 1980s performances. In these, she wore glamorous and
shiny costumes, and showed very exemplary styling and musical
interpretation. If you want to learn to dance to real Arabic music
and fill a big stage, her videos would be very inspirational.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
North Beach Memories- Dahlena
CD Reviewed by: Rebecca Firestone
On one of the
mailing lists I'm on, there was recently a heated discussion on
whether there was such a thing as "Balkan bellydance".
Ballet Afsaneh and
Carmen Carnes Dance Ensemble Reviewed by: Rebecca Firestone
Circle Little Theater Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA February
16, 2007 And
since when was Rumi associated with Mother Earth?
Sunday Morning Panel Discussion
at Carnival of Stars, November 11, 2007 Transcribed from video
Panel members discussed Fusion in Belly Dance. Members included:
Jihan Jamal, Shareen El Safy, Dahlena,
Debbie Lammam, Amina Goodyear, and Edwina Nearing
Chapter 5: Listen to the Music
by Amina Goodyear
wanted us to look exotic, like we were from the Middle East, so
he made us stay downstairs, look available and wear sexy, skimpy
pantaloon outfits or diaphanous caftans when we were not dancing.
How to Charge What You
Are Worth by MIchelle Joyce
first step to becoming an effective negotiator is to emotionally
detach yourself from the outcome. If you can’t walk away
from the deal, you have already lost.
The Devil's Details, Show
Ethics for Professionals, Part 1- Booking a Party by Yasmin
When a dancer
looks good, she, or another, will get called back to perform again.
When she looks bad, customers might be turned off to our lovely
art form forever. Therefore, a bad dancer not only ruins things
for herself, but for all of us