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The Art and Science of Middle Eastern Dancing

I have had the pleasure of meeting a vast variety of Middle Eastern dancers throughout my dancing career.  Many of whom are technically brilliant yet lacking emotion, while others are captivating in every way. I think what makes this dance form unique in every sense of the word is the uniqueness of each dancer; the uniqueness of each interpretation of the music and of course the delivery of the emotion through the dance. Not one dancer is the same, not one costume is the same; yet we are all “moved” by one powerful aspect: the Music.

In April this year the opportunity presented itself for me to attend some workshops with local extraordinaire, Ava van Aarde, the fabulous internationally acclaimed Turbo Tabla native Egyptian drummer, Karim Nagi and the legendary dancer of ALL dancers, Bozenka.

All three artists have such a passion for what they do and seeing them in action is such an inspiration. I think the most profound ‘lesson’ I took from these memorable experiences was that dancing is not just about the melody but the emotion.  Melody brings about movement and most importantly: Emotion. Certain instruments for example the accordion in a baladi taqsim and certain melodies/rhythms for example the Saba convey a specific emotion.  To dance to a melody and simultaneously portray the emotions of the music to your audience are the key elements that differentiates a good dancer from a great dancer.

The challenge for western dancers like myself is to shift our focus from being mechanically perfect and technically correct but rather to embrace the nuances of expressive imperfection. It is this challenge that makes belly dancing an art form and not a science.

** Therein lies the reason why we keep coming back for more**