ad 4

ad 4

ad 4 Casbah Dance



ad 4 BDSS

Mona dazzles!

Gilded Serpent presents...

Mona el Said in Dallas

Part 2- The Saturday Performance
September 3-5, 2004

Sponsored by Little Egypt
at the Holiday Inn, Dallas Texas
by Catherine E Barros

(For Part 1- click here)

Mona's Saturday evening performance was the highlight of the weekend even though it was a bit short for us.   Just one hour!  We wanted more!  But what we did get was great.  The energy in the room was high while we waited for Mona.   Miabella (Fort Worth) opened the show dancing to Amr Kamaal's singing with the band.   This helped to generate more energy.   During the open dancing, we were all able to go up on the stage to dance with all our friends.  We were having so much fun and this fun was contributed to by the presence of several members of our armed forces participating!   The hotel at which all the weekend activities were taking place just happened to be near the Dallas Ft. Worth airport.   That particular weekend, there were many members of the U.S. military staying at the hotel awaiting deployment to Iraq .   Our gracious hosts, Little Egypt (Dee Dee and Ahmad Asad) allowed some to come in to take part in the evening's activities which included dinner, open dancing and Mona's performance.  I think we acquired quite a few more as the evening wore on because all the loud music attracted a lot of attention.

Karina Rasheed dances with a soldier

It was hysterical to see soldiers dressed in fatigues and combat boots, dancing on the stage with various participants who insisted on dragging them up on the stage and showing them how to dance "Middle Eastern style social dance".   I think those combat boots got in the way.

There were no combat boots in the way when Mona hit the stage.

We were "all eyes" focused on the stage to absorb every move she made and to take in the details of her costumes.  Mona did not disappoint us . . . not in the costumes or her movements!   I'm not sure everyone knows what a "boundaries pushing" dancer that Mona has always been.   The first hint I had was on that old video I mentioned above.   That gold lame bikini-like costume along with her natural, free and wild way of dancing during the drum solo has always made me wish that I was so comfortable in my skin.  I still have to say that I want to be like her when I "grow up".   I was wondering what interesting costumes that I would be seeing during her performance and she had four very interesting ones to show us.  I don't think I've seen any quite like the ones she was wearing.  A description won't do justice and the photos won't show all the details.  I asked Mona about her costumes and she said that she designs them, the designs come from her imagination.  She closes her eyes, sees herself listening and moving to the music; then the design comes to her so that each costume she wears matches the music that she is dancing.

She also mentioned that once an artist is established that she can push the boundaries.

Mona had four costume changes during her performance.   She opened with "Alla Ein Moulaetain" wearing a black dress with a black sheer veil wrapped around her and black dance slippers.  When she removed the veil you could see that the dress was sheer down the sides and it looked like she was wearing a black thong underneath.  The back of the dress had long strands of silver beads hanging from the waist.  Her next selection of music was "Lessa Faker" which started with a lovely taksim at the beginning of which she removed her dance slippers.   This piece was very emotional and featured some lovely hand and arm work.  You could see her hand shaking as she drew it across her body and face.   I think this was one of my favorite pieces.

Then it was off for a costume change to a black and silver assuit in two pieces.   The top was off one shoulder with long silver strands hanging all over it.   The skirt was basically sheer with the belt comprised of triangular pieces front and back.  The selection of music was "Barsha, Barsha", which had more of a folk flavor ,a Tunisian song by Saber el Roubaa.  This was followed by a very hot drum solo in which Mona dropped to the floor (like a Turkish drop but not so abrupt) with her legs facing the audience and did a bit of energetic bouncing from this position.   I think we were seeing some more of that boundary pushing (remember, we are all told not to assume this position in dance)  but it just seemed natural and did not continue for a prolonged period of time, so it didn't really overwhelm the audience.  Now, it was off for the third costume change.

When Mona returned, she was wearing a white galabeyah with a transparent triangular section in the skirt (showing some leg here!!) and a transparent section in the top to allow the gold dance bra to show.  The costume was finished off with a black hip scarf and a white headdress.  As she was dancing to Saidi music with a cane, she danced through the audience getting up close and personal with many of the delighted audience members.   She got up on a chair at one table, did a shoulder shimmy with one of the Iraq bound soldiers, then danced over to sit on the side of the stage before making her way up to the stage.  All the while, she had the biggest smile on her face.  She moved from the Saidi, to "Ya Ali" sung by Rico for which she removed the headdress.  This dance had lots of attitude and was very sassy; Mona sat down on the stage and pointed her finger like she was shooting a gun.  So cute!  Then, she continued with a medley of Pop songs: "Romeo" by Karika (I saw him at the Semiramis in Cairo) and "Dinga Dinga" finishing with a reprise of "Alla Ein Moulaetain".   But, wait, she wasn't finished yet.  

She returned with her 4th costume change to dance to Amr Kamaal's singing with the band.  This last costume was definitely an eye-popping costume!   It  was made of  shiny black fabric.  The dress was close fitting with the skirt triangular-shaped, point down.  The dress was open down both sides and down the front with straps/buckles holding it together.  This was the most revealing of the costumes and I kept referring to it as the "futuristic" costume because it didn't look like any dance costume I've seen!   I think we got our money's worth in costume changes alone, but it is so nice that the dancer inside those costumes was a more than competent dancer, completely natural and comfortable,  and we weren't too distracted by the costumes to see her dancing!   And in one word, Mona's dancing is divine!  She dances with so much passion and enjoyment that she draws us into her dancing.  We feel every movement that she makes.  

Our moods follow her moods as she dances and interprets the music with her movements.  Yet those movements are not too complicated; it is the emotion she shows that is complicated.

The energy from this show spilled over for a long time afterwards.   We didn't want to leave the room.   We were all standing around talking about Mona and trying to talk to her. . . . oh, yes, and get a photo with her!  Every photo I took had laughing and smiling people in it with Mona's being the biggest smile.  One of my favorite photos is the one with Miabella and Mona.

After all of the weekend activities died down, I had an opportunity to talk to Mona.   She mentioned that after the show, she was very tired but very happy.  And when she dances, you can read everything in her face . . .  all emotions, sad, happy, that she has nothing to hide.  I also got her to expand on some of her plans for the future, which she had mentioned on Sunday in the workshop when she played some "new" music for us.   In addition to continuing her work as an interior designer, Mona wants to create a new dance using new music for the future of dance.  

She says that she is not the same Mona from 20 years ago, dancing in the same old style of 20 years ago.   She says that the dance must change for a new generation, bringing a new look.   She wants everyone to think about the future of dance and about getting a new generation to appreciate the dance, matching their needs.

I have to admit some of us were rather surprised about all this when Mona brought this up during the workshop on Sunday.  Mainly because there are many dancers in the West who are working hard to present dance using older style music, classical Arabic music from the early beginnings of Raks Sharki, as opposed to just presenting dances using modern pop Egyptian music.  Hadia started up a conversation with Mona right there trying to explain how many people were trying to use older music dancing in the older style, but Mona was adamant that the dance must change.   She played us some of her new music and promised that when she returns to Dallas, this will be the music that she will use to teach us.  The music was beautiful, but it will be very interesting how all this talk of new music and new dance will go over with dancers here. 

Another topic that came up in our conversation was her relationship with God.   She said that she believes very much in God and he is always at the top of her heart.  Mona says that she appreciates whatever God has given her and that she has the responsibility to protect it and not abuse it.  He gave her the feeling to love each person in the workshop and she wants to show this love by helping each individual in the workshop to learn.  I think that Mona showed us her love constantly during the workshop as she was very generous in giving to all the participants.  One of my good dance friends, Meleea (a definite "I need choreography" person), told me she was thrilled with the workshop and thanked me for preparing her in advance by talking about the class I took in Cairo.  At first, she was worried that she wouldn't get anything from the workshop, but now I do believe she is a huge Mona fan!   We are all huge Mona fans.   This weekend with Mona was a wonderful introduction to a passionate, beautiful and down-to-earth , approachable woman, who happens to dance in a way that inspires us to keep dancing with all our hearts.  We are all anticipating a return to Texas by Mona.   And I hope it doesn't take another 7 years to get her here.

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
11-12-04 Mystery Dancer #1: Iklas
Gilded Serpent is looking for clues to the story behind this lovely dancer! If you have any information, please contact us!

11-11-04 Sunday Afternoon at the Desert Dance Festival '04, Page 2 Photos by Monica
11-9-04 Sunday Afternoon at the Desert Dance Festival '04 Report by Nisima Photos & Captions by Monica Page 1
Consequently, I was a very popular girl all day as vendors called out to me to visit and talk. After all, I was a bona-fide Actual Audience Member.

10-31-04 Dancers Belly Up to Beat Bush, by Grace, Photos by James Dudek & Victoria Seidman
Even in the politically minded Bay Area, the dance community rarely seems to take an activist stance.

10-30-04 Fill-'Er Up! by Alyson
"I'm so glad you came to help me Theify!", Alexandria's Belly Dance Comics tm

10-25-04 The First (and definately not the last!) Tribal Cafe! by Tempest
It was the first all tribal belly dance event sponsored by MECDA IE and took place on August 21st, 2004 in Montclair, California.


 Gilded Serpent
 Cover page, Contents, Calendar Comics Bazaar About Us Letters to the Editor Ad Guidelines Submission Guidelines