I am at home, online, drinking “mate”, but sadly I’m reading some comments and statements on facebook. The topic seems to be “Argentinian Style or Egyptian Style?”. Is not bad at all if people exchange views and discuss an issue, but I feel a great sorrow when I see that there is a lot of “disrespect , irony…” in some comments… I feel that I must to say somethings… just because I’m from Argentina, I live in Egypt and I’m a dancer.
What is this? well, here we need to separate “what is this or what means this for each person”:
-For many people it’s an invention or a distortion of the dance, it’s a deformation because is not oriental.
_For other people it’s a “breakthrough”, innovation, something just amazing.
In my opinion all these things are true, except for the word “deformation”, because for me the art in all it’s disciplines can be (and in fact it is…) “transformed”. Talking about “deforming”, and more if you talking in derogatory way, it’s talk about something ugly, not nice for the eyes… And the Argentinian Style is not unpleasant to watch!
Here some examples of great exponents of this style and great Argentine dancers
An impeccable reference for what we call “Argentinian Style”. With her legs showing unique flexibility, moving on stage with gran elegance, that everlasting smile, and those famous “camel reverse terminated with a head hit”. In my country many have learned in her school and others “accidentally wanting”. In Argentina many tried to imitate her, so far, with no results… How many dancers got injured by trying to do what she does? Her amazing floor work? Even the smile and the expression of her face many tried to imitate. I don’t know in other countries but in my country it was so. Few people have joined to criticize her… I wonder why they do this? Because she is not “oriental”, because she is not “Egyptian”? She doesn’t need this! She have her own style… And this is what a dancer should do: Find a style!
In my opinion, in my country she is the most “oriental” or the most “Egyptian” of all. She is a bomb. You look at her and you get desperate! She comes then turns around and you’re like saying: “Wait! Where you’re going?!” Even since I first saw her was always that way, with this “enjoyable aggression”… Today many people notice that because it seems that “Egyptian Style” it’s a boom in Argentina. But she was always so, with that demeanor on stage, with those feet stomping and screaming “Tierra!”.
What to say about him? Literally “master of masters”. He was the master of the dancers mentioned above… including me… blissfully!
Amir is a great “Art maker”. Someone we can call “interpreter and teacher”, because one thing it doesn’t means the other. There are many amazing dancers and performers but they are not like that as teachers and viceversa. Amir is great performing and teaching because he is “human” and “humble”, he gets next to you and talks to you without any arrogance. I remember being in his class and get excited to tears! To watch him on stage or in class is simply a delight.
In Argentina we are a melting pot of races, we come from many places but we are all Argentinians. We have descendants of Arabs, Germans, Italians, Spanish and more. It’s in our nature that diversity, that mixture, no one can be 100% Italian or Arab. Yes, you can have more or less forthcoming ancestry but you are “Argentinian”… period! And I think that is the reason why we fight in the 90% of the cases for nonsense… Like “Argentinian Style or Egyptian Style”…
“The oriental dance should be like the Egyptians dance!”, “Those dancers who make fusion are not real dancers!” By making these kind of comments it seems that they are competing to see who is the “Idiot”. Enough of divisions! Art doesn’t need them! Everything is so divided… the purpose of ART is UNITE.
I have some news for many: Just come over to Egypt it doesn’t make you an Egyptian, even if you live here. I live here since a long time and learned many things, one of them is that I am and always will be “Argentinian”. It doesn’t matter how many “Mahshi” or “Molokheya” I eat, or my arabic… It’s true that here you learn many things that are priceless and that nowhere, except here, you will learn… true! But this it doesn’t make you better than anyone! There are many who never set foot on Egypt and they are excellent dancers… they study, they rehearse… they love to dance! AND There are many who speak because they came here or they live here and they believe that this single fact transform them into some kind of “Mahmud Reda or Fifi Abdo Reloaded”… They are wrong! what a shame!
Things that do not make you a good dancer
_”Having an Arabic surname or a Syrian or Lebanese grandfather” Bring something in the blood it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be the best! You can approach your ancestors and their culture as much as you want but the oriental dance goes beyond the progeny to which you belong.
_”Having a degree from an institution or school”. In my country is widely used and there are many schools. But on stage is seen what you know…
_”Come to visit Egypt”. I agree that coming to Egypt causes a before and after in the dance but that doesn’t makes you a interpreter or a great dancer… that would be “magic”. If you think by stepping the floor of the Pharaohs will “make you”, and you can get on a “smoke camel” and look down on to all your colleagues you are an idiot.
_”Living in Egypt”. This land is very generous, it opens for all the “bees” who come to learn… The people, the noise, the music, the food… are a delight for the senses. Watch the little girls dancing at the celebrations, can drive anyone crazy! Because there is no dance schools for girls here, however they can steal the show… And that’s when you understand: You study so much to do what they are doing naturally. You live in Egypt, you are not Egyptian.
_”Being called to give a workshop in any festival in Egypt”. Today is very easy to call people, we are fully connected. Many people will have a surprise if they know that teaching here is not so hard. Different it was before when the teachers were really called and not like now where you just “bring a group” to have your class. I know that with this many people will get angry with me but I really don’t care because I never had to meet “certain requirements” to be in events where I was. Somebody told me: “Oh! Magda but how you want we bring people to the festivals! Here you know the Egyptian people they will not attend! This is HARAM! We have to put some conditions if the people want to teach!”… well, my answer to that is that in this way you are not really calling the teachers because of their professional skills, you are just counting the people they bring to your event! that’s called “swap”… Many here know that I don’t bring groups to ANYONE, I’m a teacher and a performer, if people wants me for what I am “fine!”… But I don’t do “swap”.
All these things, by themselves, are nothing.
Just by saying “Egyptian Style” you are saying that is not yours. In other countries we can use “Isis Wings, swords, fan veils…” whatever… I said it before and I will say it again: In Egypt people don’t like these things because they are waiting from you an interpretation, not a “circus act”… I don’t believe that it is a “circus act”. I used to dance with wings or sword, which also requires preparation I’m just telling you what Egyptians think about it. Because also for them it is assumed that you understand the lyrics so you can interpret it, so like this you don’t need the elements. In Argentina, however, by a matter of language the lyrics went to second place and dancers focused on “show and fusion”… Today many people are worry about the real meaning and they are translating the songs! … that’s great.
The Egyptians hear “Om Kholthoum” in a taxi! They grew up with this music, It’s part of their lives and language not just from “the dance”.
Egyptian dancers of today are very different from the dancers of the “Golden Era”. Nothing have to do the steps and the way from Randa Kamel with Samia Gamal. In the same way that you can not compare Dina and Aziza… And I can get tired of giving examples. Dance is diverse! even among Egyptian dancers! And they are criticized by the Egyptian themselves for many reasons, the most obvious is the negative image of the dancer or a matter of taste.
I had the opportunity to hear some Egyptian teachers talking about the “Argentinian Style”: _ “All Argentinians are crap when they dance! They don’t know how to dance! They are cold and they just know to do show”. And of course this has hurt me a lot, not because I consider myself an exponent of this style, but because the same people who say those terrible words is the same people that year by year bring “Argentinian teachers” to their events! Just because they can bring a group… How we can call this? mmmm… commerce and cynicism perhaps?
Everyone can dance in the way they feel! With or without choreography, Mixing Flamenco and Oriental steps… why not?
Some people know me and some people saw me dancing… and I’m sure many people don’t know nothing about me. I’m not gonna start to write what I did year by year with my career, I know what I am and what I’m worth. I have no Argentinian Style or Egyptian Style, I’m a mixture of both. And I’m constantly growing and evolving. I don’t copy anyone but yes, I include in my dance the best of every artist I admire… Although many people tell me “Magda you don’t look like anyone! I love your style!” I don’t know if I can speak about MY style now, because I feel that for that you must to walk a long way, and even I walked far I feel that I can always improve.
The stages you step on and the experiences are shaping you constantly… Since I’m in Cairo I added to my technique the feeling and other things that were missing from my dance… I’ve been incredibly transformed, and I’m still… everyday.
I had a great teacher, and I had others too… The best lesson in my life I learned from a teacher in my very early start… Want to know the story?
“We were in class rehearsing for the annual festival. Every time we finish our teacher used to stay alone to rehearse her solos, so we always try to stay just to watch her! I used to admire her… Well, that day, as usual, she started to dance and we were there watching her… loving her. When she finished we gave her a big hand and then she said: “Someday you will dance like this…” That day I learned what I don’t want to be. Because if there is something you should never lose it’s HUMILITY”
Never forget where you come from, from who you learned something, there are lessons of all kinds… arrogance it’s useless! Respect your colleagues, Respect their sacrifice and their trajectory… To all the people who criticize I need to tell you this: There is nothing more evident than envy and resentment.
You don’t like a particular style? Perfect! you can say it without attacking and despising… Choose another style, find YOUR style… Dance and let others dance!