Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Memory/All alone in the moonlight/I can smile at the old days...

Two plates of baklava = $10.
Tip for the dancer = $5.
Realising that what goes on tour in no way stays on tour and that there are children present* = Priceless.

This moment brought to you by brilliant timing on the part of the photographer and the good folks at the Tur Hotel in Kusadasi, Turkey. Please do visit the 'Nostalgia' page on their website. I have been to Kusadasi, but I am not the woman in this photograph. So far as you know ...

*Note the wide-eyed innocent losing his innocence just behind the dancer's left breast.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Commercial debke

Normally I would never post a viral video that's an advertisement in disguise, but this is too good to resist. Damn you, M&C Saatchi, Beirut Duty Free, and the flash mob at Beirut's Rafic Hariri Airport!

That was the slick, commercially edited version. This one looks like it was filmed by a passerby, and I like the eerie echo the dodgy sound imparts:

I also like the comments from sumthin21 ("60 people don't know how to debke") and basketballdude75 ("Moral of the story; They missed their flight").

Monday, 28 March 2011

Mesa of Lost Women: a connection found?

In one of my other lives I review (usually fairly terrible) movies for the filmwerk site. The older and more terrible the movie, the more likely I am to like it, and if it has a 'spontaneous' dance scene in it so much the better. Mesa of Lost Women is a largely forgotten and forgettable 1953 sci-fi film about a mad scientist, Aranya, who attempts to create a race of superwomen by injecting spiders with human growth hormones blah blah blah.

In this scene, one of the successful results of Aranya's spiderwoman experiments, Tarantella (played by the brilliantly named Tandra Quinn), attempts to lure the drugged escapee Masterton back to Aranya's web. As a side note, there are some obvious parallels with the barefoot dance scene in And God Created Woman:

Now, if you're wondering what all this has to do with belly dance, didn't that performance from Mesa of Lost Women remind you of someone? Particularly when comparing the moment at 5.22 in the clip from the film above with the moves at 4.57 in this clip?

No? Really?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: 27 February 1932 - 23 March 2011

Oud do you think you are?

Aaaaand ... we're back! The laptop doesn't seem quite back to its old self but at least it works now. Let's celebrate with some groovy tunes:

Wow. Maybe not quite that groovy, baby. That's pretty freaky, man. If you ever wanted to know what a stoned camel would look like, now you do. We can only hope that this isn't a tattoo.

This delightfully trippy bit of psychedelia was unearthed at the Music of the Oud blog. Unfortunately the blog looks like it hasn't been updated for some time, but it's an absolute treasure trove of rare and classic oud records, as well as more recent stuff. Head over there now and take notes before it disappears into the internet ether.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Holding post #1: Top 10 Classic Egyptian Belly Dance Movies

This is a "holding post" - the kind of post you do when your laptop splutters and dies in your arms and you roam the dirty city looking for an internet portal - any internet portal - that will take you in and give you a drink and let you pour your heart out. And when you find her and find that you'll have just enough time to update your stupid blog, you're sick on her shoes and she turfs you out into the street. You pass out on the night bus and wake up many, many postcodes from home, and when you next check your blog you've posted this: a straight copy from some other schmoe's blog, just for the sake of keeping your own blog active. <Hangs head in shame; swigs from bottle concealed in paper bag.>

OK, so the reason I've done this is partly because of the aforementioned dead laptop, partly because I think this is a good list, and partly because the Made Man blog is really sexist and awful and I didn't want you to have to go there just to read it, and partly because the original writer copied from a variety of sources anyway. The bit I've highlighted in bold gives you the general rancid flavour of what Made Man is like (please, whatever you do, don't bother looking at the other post tagged as 'belly dance').

But if you like this list, now at least you know where to go for the plot synopses that Din Clarke provided for each film. I've omitted them here so that his post might get some traffic out of this one. 'Kay? Now get the hell out of here. I have a hangover to sleep off.

The following is largely attributable to Din Clarke:

These 10 Old-Fashion belly dancing movies contain the seductive moves of some of the best dancers in history. [The Raqasa clenches her fists and takes deep breaths.] These films show the evolution of belly dance costumes and each dancer's individual style, as well as the beginnings of world wide appreciation of this dance form. [OK, if Din Clarke isn't totally paraphrasing or plagiarising here I'll eat my melaya leff pompom headress.]

A parrot (at right) with Naima Akef. This list is 60% Akef-free! 

1.    Tamr Henna (1957). Naima Akef stars.

2.    Gharam fi al-Karnak (1965). Featuring Mahmoud Reda, Farida Fahmy and Reda Troupe.

3.    Inta Habibi (1957) starring Hind Rostum. ... Naima Akef also makes an appearance.

4.    Shati el Gharam (1950) with Tahia Carioca.

5.    Izzay Ansak (1956). Nadia Gamel.

6.    Khalli Balak min Zouzou (1972). Stars Souad Hosni.

7.    Mawal al Akdam al Zahabiya (1966). Nadia Gamel stars in this comedy.

8.    Aziza (1954). Features Naima Akef.

9.    Alham al Shabab (1943). With Tahia Carioca.

10.  Ahibek Ya Hassan. Naima Akef again.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Got sole(s)

Finally, I've invested in some dance shoes. After a few weeks I'm not sure what I make of them - I'm so used to dancing barefoot that it feels like dancing with hooves! But needs must: the marley floor in the studio where my regular classes are held isn't that well maintained and spins and turns were either impossible or painful.
Some hooves choreographing a forthcoming Riverdance performance.
Already my lack of adjustment has cost me: it's now so easy to turn that my tendency is to just fly in an uncontrolled circle like a little kid, rather than mark time with my feet. The other problem is that if you step on the edge of your veil while you're dancing in shoes you might not realise until you're flat on your face.
And although my resemblance to Bardot begins and ends with being a female human I'm not a rabidly right-wing, Islamaphobic, animal rights activist with devastating sex appeal  the reluctance to part with an unshod form of dancing probably has a lot to do with this scene in And God Created Woman (spoiler alert: Bardot gets slapped about a bit at the end, but I thought it was fair to warn you if you didn't already know):

On a side note, don't forget to keep your problems for our new agony aunt rolling in. (Boy, you're a troubled lot!) Jilly finally has her own email address: architeuthis(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

Monday, 14 March 2011

Watch this space

After months of protracted negotiations, The Occidental Dancer is proud to announce that one of the belly dance world's foremost underwater agony aunts has agreed to write for us on a semi-regular basis.

Her first column will appear soon: if you have a dance-related problem you'd like her unique perspective on, why not write to her care of theraqasa(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk with "Jilly" in the subject line?

Friday, 11 March 2011

Pretentious Tosh or Proper Art? You decide!

Today's question is like one of those stupid reality shows, but with no real-world consequences. So, Simon Cowells of the webiverse, what say you? Is this the bomb or does it just blow?

A Dance Depicting Ancient Egyptian Art: accompanied by a lengthy explanation which may or may not help you in forming an opinion.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Same planet, different worlds
"How can you belly dance if you don't have a belly?"

Anne Thomas Soffee, Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love
From Popeater:
Doing the publicity rounds for 'Black Swan,' Mila Kunis reveals she went on a binge eating spree after months of strict dieting for the film.

The actress went on a punishing diet and exercise regime that sent her weight plummeting to 98 pounds to play the part of a ballerina. According to E! Online, the actress said her weight loss was so extreme it concerned her family.

"My mom freaked out," Kunis said. "She was like, 'You have to promise me this isn't going to affect you.' I was like, 'I promise it won't, but it might take me a little time to be OK with having a little more fat on me.'"

Kunis also admitted she hated looking at her shapeless body in the mirror.

"I could see why this industry is so f****d up, because ... I would literally look at myself in the mirror and I was like, 'Oh my God!' I had no shape, no boobs, no ass ... all you saw was the bone. I was like, 'This looks gross.'"

Kunis continued: "In real life, I looked disgusting, but in photographs and on film, it looked amazing."

As soon as filming wrapped, she indulged in all her favorite meals -- namely burgers and Chinese food. "It took me five months to lose 20 pounds, and it took me hours to gain it back!" she jokes.
And from The New York Times, Alistair McAuley responds to criticism of his criticism of Jenifer Ringer's body:
Some correspondents have argued that the body in ballet is “irrelevant.” Sorry, but the opposite is true. If you want to make your appearance irrelevant to criticism, do not choose ballet as a career. The body in ballet becomes a subject of the keenest observation and the most intense discussion. I am severe — but ballet, as dancers know, is more so.
Not Jenifer Ringer

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The 100th Post: International Women's Day

Welcome to the 100th post here on The Occidental Dancer, particularly to both of my followers, FamousFeline (who signed up today) and RetroKali. It's easy to namecheck all your blog's followers when there are only two, so love to the pair of them. 100 not out! There seems to be some sort of achievement attached to that, but I have no idea what it might be.

Coincidentally and more importantly, today is also the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Looked at one way, it’s a shame that the world still needs it. It’s a brutal truth that how much ‘equality’ a woman has still largely depends on where she lives and her cultural background. Looked at another way, it’s a great opportunity to remind ourselves why we can’t get complacent. When women’s lives improve, so do those of men and children. A world with less violence and discrimination is a bit of a win/win in that way.

Here are ten reasons why International Women’s Day is still relevant to you no matter where you live, or how liberated you believe yourself to be, or in what position you normally pee. In no particular order:

The illusion that by buying into sexism and objectification we are 'owning it'.
I doubt very much that Dr Condoleeza Rice – former champion ice skater, international company director, classical pianist, Stanford University professor and the 66th US Secretary of State – lies awake fretting over her missed opportunities. Leave it to tabloid hack Piers Morgan to get to the nitty gritty of what defines the real Condoleeza: her decision to remain single and childless, despite the fact that she’s “quite a catch”. Thanks for comparing her to a fish, Piers, you meat-headed waste of skin. You can seethe through the interview via the link.

Mail order brides, the ‘Win a Wife’ competition, street harassment, upskirt photography and everyday, casual sexism used to tell us that women trading on their sexuality are strong, independent and morally superior to the rest of us:
The most influential woman ever to work or live in London during the last century, according to readers of London’s Metro, is Leona Lewis. The 26 year-old pop star, who did that one song from Avatar that she didn't write, got 70.9% of the vote, making her a clear winner over former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher (5.14%), Iranian-born humanitarian and businesswoman Camila Batmanghelidjh (4.17%), and Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts on 4.88%.
Also rans (if you’ll forgive the inappropriate horse racing term) included suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst (1.78%), anti-violence campaigner Marai Larasi (1.17%), writer Virginia Woolf (0.15%), and the first (and only) female Speaker of the House, Baroness Betty Boothroyd (0.11%). Even the much loved and lamented Diana, Princess of Wales could only manage a paltry 0.64% of the vote in the face of Lewis’ overwhelming contribution to society and humanity as a whole.

If this is meant to be a joke, I'm not laughing.

Charlie Sheen has been fired from his job as America’s highest paid television actor after his very public meltdown. Somehow it was OK for Sheen to keep his job as long as he limited his bad behaviour to physically assaulting and threatening to kill various women, including the mother of his children.

On a related note to five, this article in The Independent, from my old fave Johann Hari. 

Police in the south of Wales say they are dealing with “record levels” of forced marriages and “honour-based” violence. Whatever that means.

The US Government cuts funding to Planned Parenthood; South Dakota makes moves to ‘legalise killing abortion providers’ and Republicans plan to redefine rape

Last week, 23 year-old Romanian Rifca Stanescu claimed to be the world’s youngest grandmother. Rifca’s 11 year-old daughter Maria gave birth to a boy, Ion, after marrying at the age of ten. “I am happy to be a grandmother but wished more for Maria,” Rifca is quoted as saying.

Early motherhood is fairly common among some Romanian gypsies – Rifca’s mother, also called Maria, is only 40.

According to Save the Children, 70,000 young mothers die every year. Because of their undeveloped pelvises and the need for more medical intervention, girls who survive giving birth are at increased risk of disability and HIV/AIDS. Social problems associated with early motherhood include poverty and illiteracy for both mother and child.


Love on ya, Daniel.

And now, a reason to be cheerful-ish:

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Stars of the 1970s: Nabila Abid

There doesn't seem to be much English-language info about actress/dancer Nabila available and she's new to me - but I like her a lot. If anyone knows anything about her please use the comments to help me out. This is the first clip I ever saw her in and she's very Nagwa Fouad-y. Everything about this floats my boat; the decor, the clothes, the moustache. The poor bloke doesn't stand a chance:

Here she is in a range of clips from various films, some of which look a little later (c. 1980s):

Nabila as she is today in this super-cool megamix - she's at the end:

And here's the explanation of what you've just seen in that last clip, based on that given by The CaroVan:

"First, a Nubian theatre troupe, then a dance competition scene (which is why the three girls dance to the same piece - I'm guessing it was Dancer in Green FTW), then an unknown dancer. The modern bit is from Amr Diab's movie Ebka Kablny. Nabila is interviewed at the end as part of a promotion for an upcoming programme."

If you enjoyed this, have a rummage around at The CaroVan's YouTube channel.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Black Swan gets a bit darker

I love YouTube makeup tutorials.* Sometimes they're a last-ditch resort for figuring out stage makeup but I lack the co-ordination and the patience required, so this made me laugh. She's rightly become an internet sensation, and I hope you enjoy it too:

*No I don't.