This past May I attended Yasmina Ramzy’s final Belly Dance Blossom festival. I was fortunate to be on the panel Raqs Sharqi as Revolutionary, with Christine Sahin and Amara of NYC. It was fabulous, as are all of Yasmina’s events. But the main attraction was Dina Talaat (yes, THE Dina).
Dina taught a workshop each day, was the sole member of a panel discussion, and performed in the show Saturday night.
Her Friday workshop, I gave up even attempting to follow. Saturday brought another two-hour workshop. This time I was better able to follow along (as were many other folks, so I think it was just easier ;).
While I was there, I took a few notes for you.
First, she said some interesting things.
“I never turn from a cross. It’s ugly. No bellydancer should turn from a cross. You have the long skirts, and, uhhh,” she shuddered (By cross, she meant crossed legs. I’m just reporting, folks. We’ve all seen gorgeous turns from crossed legs—like every barrel turn ever).
“You explain the mawaal with your body, so you have to go with the words. You can’t be early. Wait for the words,” ie the movement you make must be hinged to the timing of the words of the mawaal. (Mawaal is vocal improvisation).
“The mawaal is slow, you have to dance slow. It is more difficult to dance slow. The good dancers show what they can do with the slow. Anyone can dance fast.” (I’ve heard this from others Egyptian dancers, too).
“Shimmy comes from the knees (shimmy from the floor is ghawazi). It must be very tiny. Keep legs and feet closed.”
I also noted a few things about her style.
She shimmies a lot (very tiny) on one leg. She shimmies like this on extended vowels from the singer (among other places).
Her mouth is relaxed and open when she dances, even when she demonstrates the moves.
She does these little flat-footed quarter-turn pivots, where both feet appear to be on the floor the whole time, and she often chains then together.
And for that conversation about getting up from the floor, while Dina never went to the floor, but she often did accents or small hip circles all the way down, but she never then came right up to standing—instead she released the head and upper body to the front, so she could toss the hair back and roll up (much, much easier).
And then there was her show…
There’s a reason she’s so famous.
First of all, it was a tremendous outpouring of energy, maybe the highest-energy show I have ever seen. The woman is a powerhouse.
She danced on a recording of her band. The sound quality of the recording wasn’t splendid, but oh well. She was.
She does a LOT of complicated, complex stuff, but it’s just thrown away, part of the whole. She didn’t show off technique.
She loved all of us We could feel it <3.
And the clothes!
She changed costumes four times (link to pix below).
The first was somewhere between chartreuse and acid yellow. It was the most “normal,” simple bra and straight skirt design. It had a big sparkly star around the high slit and a sparkly bra. Her stomach was bare.
The second was a straight blue skirt (like a French blue leaning towards violet), open on one side with funky flat silver decorations. Never seen anything like it. It was build on nude mesh. The bra was half silver and half green and red stones, yet somehow understated. Her tummy was covered in nude mesh.
The third was silver-gray lace, heavily textured, covered stomach (I can’t remember her arms). It was gorgeous and not really sparkly, more subtle.
The fourth. Was black lace and ribbons (I think) on nude mesh. I thank god there is a picture, because I can’t describe it. It was splendid.
So, that’s Dina.
With all my love
All of Ken Dobb’s pix from the Saturday show. If you poke around you can see his pix of all the events from the weekend.