In all art styles or any kind of interest, people love to express their knowledge of their favored genre. Which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. The problems arise when this knowledge is expressed in a way that makes others feel bad about themselves. Or if the knowledge is withheld from those who want to learn and only given to the chosen few that are deemed to make the grade.
So how do you make that grade? Sometimes you are expected to pay - lots - which is fine to a point. Teaching is a skill and it takes time and effort to teach and to learn, but it you have paid money and you still don’t “fit”, is it because you aren’t good enough as a dancer? Or is it because your hair isn’t the right shade or you’re too fat or you’re just not “one of us"?
When you fit, learning flows freely - it is joyous.
When you don’t - what you love can be used against you and you might start feeling that nothing you do is worthy and you will never be good enough.
But good enough for what?
Good enough for who?
When I first started to dance everything that was “authentic” was considered good. I looked at my pasty face and thought how could anyone ever consider me an authentic belly dancer?
I didn’t fit either. I felt there was a subtle pressure from the scene - who is this person? I didn’t know the right people, I hadn’t been around long enough and had ended up teaching classes by accident.
It’s an interesting fact that most Egyptians would sight the dancers of the Reda Troupe who were popular in Egyptian film in the 1960’s and 70’s doing authentic and traditional Egyptian dances.
Yet these were trained ballet dancers, who had stylized the traditional dances into their own contemporary version. Mahmoud Reda
has since stated:
"... when you bring them, the real folkloric dancers, put them on stage, they look odd, they look strange. Their costumes, they don’t know where to look, and if they do their things, it’s very monotonous. So what I call my choreography is not folkloric. It’s inspired by the folkloric. There is like 90% extra put on the dance."
Carolina Varga Dinicu (August 2005). "Interview with Mahmoud Reda". Gilded Serpent
. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
Many famous dancers have now taken steps to prove ownership of their dance style. The tribal genre has a whole plethora of “formats” to choose from and subscribe to. These formats in their own way have become traditional – they now meet the criteria of a traditional art form.
This is great!
The same can be said about being your own person and dance moves that you love. No dance move can be copyrighted, you cannot stop another person from using their own body and moving it in a way they can and want to. You cannot stop a person from taking a salsa move and adding a belly dance move after it if they want to.
This dance started as a way for people to ease their muscles and stay fit and healthy so that they could undertake all the jobs needed to stay alive and grow their families.
This is what it's for! Whether you love Egyptian Baladi above everything else or love to make it up as you go along, dance because you love it and don’t ever let anyone stop you.