The online studio is open! Take class via streaming video on any device.
For Study Guides, "Zeina" info, and other resources for students and teachers, click through to

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Captive Breeding

“Captive Breeding” was my contribution to a group show, the Zoo, presented by Venus Uprising in the spring of 2010.

Clearly, Captive Breeding  is not traditional bellydance.  The moves, I guess, are Egyptian-ish, although I did try to chinoisify the body line a little.  I think of the piece as a burlesque, although I’m not aware of any burlesque currently happening with as much emphasis on dance.  I would be delighted to see this piece cited as an example of "Contemporary Panda Fusion," "PandCab," "PTS," or something of the like.

The music is two tracks:  Song from Shandong and The Menjiang Girl.  Both are from the CD Chinese Traditional Erhu Music 2 by Lei Qiang.  The entire album is really very lovely, and adding it to my collection was an unexpected side benefit to this project.

My veil is just three yards of plain old polyester chiffon. 

Super Sudoku to Exercise Your Mind and Yahtzee  are available on-line or probably at the bookstore wherever you live.

I do not recommend that you purchase Forbidden Treasure.  Yes, I did read it all.  In the tub.  And I regret every steamy moment of it.  If you really want to know, a reviewer has provided an extraordinarily thorough plot synopsis here.

Eleftheriou’s Chinese peasant costume was purchased from Pearl River.  (I bought a white set and a black set in the largest size available, spliced them together, and then tacked in numerous layers of polyester batting around the midsection).

My top was also purchased at Pearl River; I cropped it to midriff length.  Pants salvaged out of a jumpsuit on the sale rack at Rainbow

My hipscarf, appropriately, came from a hole in the wall in Chinatown.  Observant fans may recognize it as one of the scarves worn by the mermaids in Atlantis.

Eleftheriou Targouisti has the soul of an artist.  He developed his intense love of the Dance in childhood.  After attracting the attention of a benefactress, he studied at L’Ecole du Mime with Etienne Decroux.  In this performance, he combines a love of movement with a passion for animals.  Of Greco-Moroccan heritage, Maestro Targouisti now makes his home in Astoria, Queens.

Other Videos
If you enjoyed Captive Breeding, you may also enjoy Atlantis.  This video is not currently available on YouTube; it is included on the collection Fantasy Bellydance from World Dance New York.  Buy it here.

Egyptian Dance

I’ve been reading on the internet that I am “a ballerina who made a belly dance video,” or that I no longer perform traditional bellydance.  This is not so!  Here’s a video of a performance of mine from earlier this year. 

This performance was filmed on April 24, 2010, at Je’Bon in New York City.  I danced as part of a showcase, “Disco Al Sharq: Al Rabia,” hosted by Mark Balahadia and Leela.

For students, critics, and others who want to learn more, production notes follow.

The dance in this video is an upbeat interpretation of raqs sharqi, Egyptian belly dance.  Although it has a folklore feeling, it is a mixture of both traditional and modern.   I designed this piece for venues where the audience has some distractions, such as parties, or for when the audience is simply less of a “belly dance” crowd, less attuned to softness or subtlety, and best able to appreciate high energy and a feeling of fun. 

The music is Saidi, and the lively footwork and use of the cane are playfully borrowed, in a softened and more flirtatious form, from the region’s folklore.  (There is said to be no pure tradition of women’s dance from the Said,  a conservative area where women do not perform.) The heel-bouncing steps of this style suggest the prancing of horses, which play an important role in the history and culture of the Said; in the music, too, one occasionally hears a “whinnying” sound.  The twirling cane imitates the heavy staffs used by men in Tahtieb, a regional martial art which may also be staged with music. 

I had originally set out to do an entirely traditional Saidi piece, but I couldn’t resist the exuberant feeling of using finger cymbals, a prop more often associated with baladi dance, in the opening.  My dress, too, is baladi.  Because the earthiness of folkloric vocabulary is always more exciting against an elegant counterpoint, I added Oriental moves as well.  A few of the stylistic touches are wholly “Autumnal;” in particular, my use of arms and quick transitions are unlike what is seen in mainstream Egyptian style.  So, while the dance has a lot of traditional influences, my personality and my stamp as both a choreographer and performer come through in the style mixing, dynamics, and my creative touches.

The music is “Saidi Routine,” from the CD Sahra Saeeda.  (Available for purchase here.)  The second half of this track is an arrangement of the song “Ala Nar” with saidi instrumentation.  (Another version of Ala Nar that I like, and have frequently used in the classroom, is on Beata and Horacio’s Oriental Fantasy Volume One. )  "Ala Nar" means "I am on fire."

In this performance I’m playing finger cymbals from Turquoise International, in the “Size B Oriental - 2 ½" diameter” model.

The cane was handed down to me by a retiring dancer many years ago.  I don’t know its provenance.

My galibeyah is by Hanan Mahmoud , with a slight modification—I shortened the sleeves, and used the extra pieces to make my hairband.  The hipscarf has been in my costume closet for more than ten years, but I originally purchased it from Scheherezade Imports.   
Other Videos
Fans of this video may also enjoy Hanady.