Belly Dance Video Pod

August 17, 2008 at 4:32 pm (Belly Dancing, Performance) (, , , , )

I’ve become a Pod Person… IPod, VodPod, I’ve been Podified.   I have to tell you it makes me a bit nervous when you consider all the existing pod references in my head…

Pod Chairs, Egg Pod Chairs (yeah, baaaby), Alien Space Pods, and Alien Space Prison Pods. Even Alien Pod People you can grow yourself.  Not to mention the Pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the more contemporary soulless urban pod person

So… Do Not Worry, All Is Fine.  I’m only here to VodPod you…

Ok, really, there’s no body snatchers.  What there is, is a collection of belly dance videos from places like YouTube, Google Video and DailyMotion.  Mostly these are belly dance, but I’ve included a few that are other dance forms, and the occasional one for comic relief.  They’re not in any particular order yet, just what I’ve added lately.  Eventually I’ll get to organizing them… in the meantime, browse and enjoy.

From time to time, I’ll post a special one up directly, here are a couple to get you started…

I love this but don’t know much about it…

Dina in Melaya Leff (gotta love the dingle balls on her dress)

An Arabic man who is pure pleasure to watch

A dance based on Quan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy

and finally Sharon Kihara… ooo so exotic…
MySpaceTV Videos: Sharon Kihara

For more, see the VodPod link on the right, or pod yourself here.

Enjoy, Aziza


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Is that weird?

August 17, 2008 at 7:40 am (Belly Dancing, Performance, Transformation) (, , , , , , )

It’s a question that comes up a lot.  Sometimes in the form of “I want to use this song to dance to… is that weird?”  Sometimes it’s “I want to borrow from this style”, or “I don’t want to dance for people I know”, or “I think I’d like to perform”, or “I don’t want to tell the people I work with…”  Sometimes it’s about an emotional reaction to a piece of music, or liking or disliking a song.  Sometimes it’s about trying to figure out how the dance fits in your life.

So let me answer the question for you… but the real question.  It’s not “is this weird?” But “am I weird?” 

The answer is Yes.  You are.  You’re weird.

Ok, take a deep breath… you’re weird.  We’re both weird, and there’s no getting around it, so you might as well embrace it.  Once you do, you’ll feel much better, I promise.

This afternoon, a friend and I were looking at websites for universities for a project she’s doing.  We were trying to get a sense of their individual presentation styles, of how they identified themselves and set themselves apart, of what they were doing to attract students and make someone interested in choosing their school over others.  The more schools we looked at, the more we realized they all looked the same… frighteningly so.  Like they’d all been designed by the same person.  Like they’d all been drinking the same Kool-Aid.  It was a little creepy.   I started thinking about why they would do that, every single one trying to look like the others… herd mentality, no one daring to stand out, no one setting themselves apart.

No one daring to be different, lest they look weird.

Rather gave me the willies, actually, everything so uniform from state to state, coast to coast, every one almost exactly alike… 

Did you ever notice that sometimes when you go to a big show, it seems that after a while the dancers all look alike?  Egyptian after Egyptian, tribal after tribal, after a while they begin to run together.  Sometimes a dancer’s look stands out, or her costume, or more rarely her performance, but far too often they begin to blur, one so much like another.

Did you ever notice when someone new and interesting becomes the rage, how everyone begins to look like them?  Some dancer appears on the circuit and soon enough everyone looks like her.  For a while, it was 15 new students starting a week, every one of them asking “can you teach me to dance like Shakira?”  Now everyone wants to be Rachel Brice. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Shakira and appreciate the boost she gave the dance, and I think Rachel Brice is brilliant.  But the world only needs one of each.

And because there is only one of each, they are, by definition, Weird.  Unusual.  Outside the norm.  Not like everyone else.

I mean, think about it, when was the last time you saw someone who was completely, absolutely, thoroughly middle of the road vanilla typical normal… did it make your pupils blow wide open and your heart beat fast?  Did you say, “Oooooh!  I want to be just like THAT!”?

I’m going to guess not.

I’m going to guess not because I already know you’re weird… after all, you’re taking BELLY dance classes, for gosh sake!  There’s proof enough right there. 

So you might as well get used to the idea… seeing as it’s already true, and it’s too late to get out of it.

Ok, now here’s the good part… you can’t be better without being different.  And you certainly can’t be unique without being different.  You’re already a mile down the weird road just by taking up belly dancing, don’t wimp out now and try to be like everybody else.

Remember the Dr. Pepper commercials that went, “Don’t be one of the crowd, be a Pepper!”?  Don’t be one of the crowd, be one of the… er… crowd.  Those commercials always made my head explode.

So I say embrace your weirdness.  Find the weird that is uniquely, precisely, completely you.  Discover the ways you are like those you admire, but also discover the ways you are different from everyone else.  Become the complete constellation of yourself, the unique combination of choices that is truly only you.

The more you can find your unique way with the music, find the dance that is authentic to you, the better your dance will be.  It’s called integrity… how much a thing is consistent with itself.  When you embrace your likenesses and your weirdnesses with equal enthusiasm, when you trust that weird is an important and valuable part of who you are, then you are on your way to being fully, freely, actively and completely yourself.  And that self will be interesting to watch on stage.

It’s like Sungha Jung.  He’s 11.  He’s been playing the guitar for two years.  He takes a couple of days to learn a song to performance quality.  He composes his own music.  He creates his own arrangements. He plays with the soul of someone four times his age. And frankly, that’s just weird.  In a truly wonderful way.

Enjoy these videos of him embracing his weirdness.  Links to more about him below.

Here’s to the truly, deeply, wonderfully weird.  Aziza

Sungha Jung playing Manha Do Carnaval

Sungha Jung playing Kiss From A Rose (Seal)

More videos: Sungha Jung on YouTube

Sungha’s YouTube channel: Sungha Jung


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Bilge and the Belly of a Dancer

August 9, 2008 at 11:38 pm (Belly Dancing, Performance, Transformation, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Bilge.  It’s about bilge.  Its the water that washes over the gunwales, sloshes over the decks, runs down in the cracks between the carefully tended bulwarks, sweeping along the detritus, the litter, the discarded and unnoticed scraps.  It seeps and trickles and drips carrying the untended chaff and refuse, the spent engine oil and sweat and dirt down into the belly of the ship.  There it gathers, that bilge water, in that lowest chamber, the smelly, murky runoff. 

<< Whatever IS she on about? >> you ask…

Bilge water.  And green living. 

<< Ah, it’s about recycling, then?  Alternative power sources? >>

Well, yes.  And about dance.  It’s about why we dance, and what dance is made of.  It’s about recycling bits of our experience into performance.  It’s definitely about alternative power sources.

So… bilge.  It’s that mucky, oily, smelly water that’s sloshing around in the belly of a ship.  It gets there because sometimes the water is too deep, the waves too high, the rain too heavy, the storm too strong to keep it out.  Sometimes the waves crash over onto the deck.  It runs down in the cracks because the defences are not water tight.  It accumulates in the belly of the ship, building up, adding weight, pulling the ship lower into the waterline.  If enough builds up, the ship can lose it’s buoyancy, can be swamped and sink.  It’s mass sloshes and rolls counter to the ship’s movement.  It interferes with maneuvering, it’s momentum trying to carry the ship on it’s previous course, resisting the effort to turn.  With enough bilge, the momentum can roll the ship if it tries to change direction fast.

It’s that mucky, oily, smelly emotion that’s sloshing around in the belly of your life.  It gets there because sometimes the water of your life is too deep, the waves too high, the storm too strong to keep it out.  It runs down in the cracks of your awareness because your defences are not water tight.  It acumulates, building up, adding weight, destryoing your buoyancy.  If not tended it can pull you lower in the water until you swamp.  It’s momentum can make it difficult to change, pulling you on in the same course, resisting your efforts to turn.

<< So, you’re saying I need a bilge-pump? >>

Perhaps.  Or maybe you just need to see that mucky, oily, smelly bilge water as the great gift and resource that it is… 

Think of it as Alternative Fuel For Belly Dancers.

Out of that bilge water, you can pull the power for performance, for power on stage, and for transformation. 

Ever notice how sometimes a song will tap into an emotion, something that comes up strong and out of nowhere?  That’s the bilge water rising up, carried on the music.  That’s some emotion, some event, some bit of your story that’s been washed down into the belly of the ship.  It may have been washed away by the water on the decks, swept clear enough you’ve forgotten it was ever there.  And yet, there it is, still sloshing around, washed back into experience by a tremor of qanun, a whisper of ney or the rumble of drums.  A feeling so strong it shortens your breath, takes your voice, brings tears you barely catch, fills your chest with a tension or an ache or a swelling sense of the rising feeling… all brought on by the simplest of things… a sound.

What power there is in such a simple thing.  The breath of a musician through a reed, the touch of his fingers on a string and up rises that feeling…

What magic there is in being a human being… to be able to react with such power to such a simple thing. 

And what a gift it is to a dancer, that rise of feeling, that momentum, it’s fuel for movement and performance.  If you can take that rise and turn it into movement, if you can stay with that, ride that, be swept along in it as you dance, your performance will be transformed.  The integrity and power of that submerged emotion can be remarkable.

If you want to create a feeling in your audience, create it in yourself.  If you want to move them, be moved yourself.  Nothing creates feeling like actually feeling.

That bilge water, it’s potent stuff. 

And as an added green-living bonus, the more bilge water you recycle into performance, the less you have to carry around.  Every ounce burned in performance lightens your load, raises your buoyancy, lets you float a little higher in the water, adds to your maneuverability.  The more of the oily, smelly, murky stuff you feed into performance, the stronger your performance is and the lighter your life is… now that’s recycling at it’s best.

So here’s to belly dancing, and bilge water.

– Aziza

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