“I’m too shy to bellydance!”

The amount of times I have heard this! When you see a bellydancer performing,

Charni from Belly Dance Lessons Online loves performing

she looks confident, sexy, she looks happy and smiles and shows she is comfortable in front of an audience. What the audience needs to know is that she worked hard and trained for years to get that way AND many of them were VERY SHY when they started. Shy of their body, shy of their ability to dance, shy to dance in front of other people. How did they get confident? Through doing bellydance classes! You discover your strengths, work on your weaknesses and get a sense of achievement. As you improve, you amaze yourself with what you and your body can do and the feeling is wonderful! (Warning, it is also highly addictive!) Look up a class near you and go! If you really feel too shy then do your classes in the privacy of your own home with Online eClasses, and when you feel more confident, then you can attend a class near you.

You won’t know until you start, go ahead, you deserve it.

Warda’s ex-husband Baligh Hamdy arrested for bellydance TV station broadcast!

Right on the heels of my last post about the sad news of Warda’s death, comes news that the owner of ElTet TV station in Egypt, Baligh Hamdy (or Hamdi) has been arrested.

Baligh Hamdy and Warda

Baligh Hamdy and Warda were not only married, but worked together for many years as he composed the music she sang.

He had been operating it for about a year and started by using free Youtube videos and broadcast them via satellite from Bahrain and Jordan into households 24 hours a day. (Quite hilarious actually, as he used a big mix of professional videos from concerts to the “at home” filmings of people doing a version of a choreography or just trying out some moves, if it was on Youtube, it was fair game!) The inside gossip is that his station was becoming more and more popular as the competing stations are showing news, weather and very conservative shows. By turning to his station, locals were able to see something fun and familiar. He started filming local girls and helped them to become popular.

His arrest was allegedly on suspicion of operating without a licence, inciting licentiousness and facilitating prostitution. Some Egyptians are wondering if it is because he was becoming too popular in an ever-increasingly conservative society, and with elections coming up, didn’t want anything to sway the vote.

Either way, the poor man must be reeling, he had a close relationship with Warda even after their divorce, so must have been already upset about this news when arrested.


More news when it comes to hand!

Great Arabic singer Warda dies age 73

The sad news has been announced that Warda died on May 17 of apparent cardiac arrest in her home in Cairo.

Warda,, the great Arabic singer, has died age 73 on May 17 2012

I defy any bellydancer who has not danced to, practiced to or listened to one of her songs as there were many. Her style has had an influence on many especially the work she did with her second husband, composer Baligh Hamdi. I am attaching a Youtube video of one of my favourite songs; Batwanis Beek.

Farewell, Warda, you will be missed.


World Belly Dance Day 2012

Last night I had the privilege of being a part of World Belly Dance Day

Charni was a part of World Belly Dance Day 2012 celebrations in Melbourne

celebrations for OMEDA in Melbourne. Every year around the world fundraisers are held for different charities using belly dance. We raised funds for Red Cross. Of a total amount of (drum roll please) $694.00!

It was a great night with many dancers donating their performance in aid of the charity as well as stall holders who had a variety of good to tempt as well as massages! Thanks for all those who helped make it happen!

Akon song “Bananza (belly dancer)”

Maybe I’m behind the times. I admit I don’t know the latest top 40 songs. I will also admit to not being much into rap, r’n’b and hip hop music (though some of it is totally cool and catchy).

I was at the gym (yes, I like to work out as it makes me a better, stronger dancer) and MTV started playing a song. I didn’t take much notice at first, I was watching the other screens with subtitles, but something caught my eye. It was a girl gyrating around a black guy wearing what looked like a sparkly bikini with a hip scarf. I did a double take, then thought, well maybe it’s just for show. No.

This dancer from Akon's Bananza (belly dancer) video clip seems to forgotten her skirt, or to learn how to belly dance!

She did a little wiggle with her hips (not belly dance or raqs sharqi!) and then a bit more wiggling and jiggling,a nd then a whole group of scantily clad “ladies” all wearing underwear and hip scarves (note the absence of a skirt!!!??!!) starting thrusting their hips, and I thought “No, please let it not be so!”, then the title of the song flashed up “Bananza (belly dancer) by Akon. The video got worse. I couldn’t hear the lyrics, so I was unsure how it all was supposed to relate to belly dancing. So I wrote down the details and waited until I got home and looked it up.I think the term "belly dancer" is used loosly for these girls in the Banaza clip, who forgot their skirts.

Well, the only connection with a belly dancer is in the lyrics “Don’t be shy girl, go bananza, shake ya body like a belly dancer.” I then found out this song came out in 2005, so I apologise for my belated shock. I mean really???????

1. no belly dancer would forget her skirt
2. those girls were not shaking their bodies “like a belly dancer”
3. Bananza to rhyme with dancer. The word is Bonanza and the expression is Go Bananas.

You spend years and YEARS studying, practicing, being an embassador to your dance, making sure you teach and project the right image and keep it classy, then some lazy guy who doesn’t know how to rhyme (you should see the rest of the lyrics, it’s just sad) says “hey I know how to see a few records, let’s use belly dancer in the title! (Or something along those lines but with less correct grammar.)

I will end my rant now. I promise. Jeez Louise! Give us a break!

Belly Dance Props

There are a variety of props used in raqs sharqi, some are “traditional” and some have only been used for the last few decades, years or months!

Some of the more “traditional” (I am putting this in brackets as traditional dance is such a big topic that what a lot of people think of as traditional is not at all – see Morocco’s book “You asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice About Raqs Sharqi & Raqs Shaabi)¬† zills (finger symbols also known as zagat or sagat),

The cane or Assaya is a traditional prop used in Raqs Shaabi, mainly from the Upper Egypt or Saiidi region.

the cane or stick (Assaya) was used only by the men in a “fighting dance” and was taken on by women and turned into a playful, joyful dance, they are essentially saying “I take your weapon and use it for fun!” so it is quite cheeky. Swords and knives were traditionally used , once again by man as a mock fighting dance, and women used them in a playful manner, balancing it on their heads. However, the manner in which a sword is used can be quite modern with balances on the chest or with laybacks being only done in Western culture. The ever popular “veil” is a tricky one. While it is documented that kerchiefs and flowing pieces of material were held while dancing, however, the long flowing piece of material that is used either as an entrance prop and then discarded, or as a whole piece using “veilwork”

Charni from Belly dance Lessons Online Performing with a Double Veil

this is a totally modern and American invention. Since then it has evolved to be quite showy with beautiful spins and wraps, and also a very tricky double veil (holding and dancing with two equal sized pieces of material).

Props considered traditional¬†are: the candelabra (known as shamadan) tea-tray (seneyya) which often has lit candles on it balances on the head. In reality no record has been found of these dances being a part of traditional Middle Eastern dance, and in fact there is account of the first dancer Zouba in the 1890’s who danced with a lantern on her head which became such a hit that she made it her signature, and others copied it.

Very modern Western props used nowadays include: Isis Wings (Brightly coloured concertinad shiny material with a loop around the throat and sticks in the hands), Poi (silk scarves on balls attached to the hand with a string and twirled and swung around), fan veils (chinese or spanish fans with a length of silk extending out, so can by fluttered and swirled), snakes (yes some dancers have a snake for dramatic value – it essentially stays wrapped around their body while they dance). You will also find the odd gimmicky prop used by somebody for dramatic effect, here is a video of a dancer using hula hoops!! I’m not quite convinced that it will catch on!