Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Dina: Daring, Debauched or simply Delightful?

"You have to be strong. You have to continue your career, you have to be strong everyday."
Exclusive Yoga Travel interview with top belly dancer Dina
By Will Cottrell

As the country's best belly dancer, Dina is one of the most famous women in Egypt. Yet the Egyptian press have regularly enjoyed the eruptions of her personal life. In 2002, a video appeared of the dancer in bed with her third husband. She fled the country, vowing never to dance again. She returned, however, to sue him, eventually also sending the editor of a national newspaper to jail. Six months later she returned to dancing - commanding fees higher than ever.

"Last year happened like a bang. Oh my god. I just stopped everything. It was written in all the magazines. Somebody called and told me. My first reaction was to get out of here so I went abroad. I kind of hid.

A week later I felt less shocked. I closed everything. I stayed at home for two months. Then I started to go outside a bit. After six months I started to act. But I missed dancing. My friends helped me. They said that this has happened and that if you meet any bad guy he can do this. You have to be strong. You have to continue your career, you have to be strong everyday.

And I still have to be strong - but now I feel like I didn't do anything wrong. Everybody eats, drinks, has sex. I have to tell myself this all the time. He was my husband and one day he'll come out of jail, but I don't want to see him. I didn't just have it all in public - I lost my husband too."

You studied philosophy of theatre at university. What did you enjoy about that?
"I liked the Sufistayeen (a philosophy based on the sufi mystical sect). When you say yes, they say no. When you say go out, they say stay in. I really love them. I also like Freud. How women can take care of her child. He put sex in the world. I like the way he talked about how to handle children. I respect him very much."

How does philosophy of theatre help a dancer?
"Philosophy gives you an experience of people. When I'm on stage I know what the audience is like. Then I can adjust my performance to suit the audience - this is very important for a belly dancer. I don't just do what I want - I do what they want."

How has the press coverage of the video affected your life?"I don't hear what people say about me. I'm a dancer - I do it because I love it. When I began I was full of power to do what I like: I didn't hear anyone. I love dancing. I'm not looking to my reputation, I love dancing. I don't care what people say. "

What advice would you give to a dancer just starting out?"Belly dancing makes women feel like they're feminine. That it's good to be a woman: that women are very beautiful. It's in the dress and the movement. For professionals though, they must train, train, train. I train three days a week, another three days in the gym and another one for different dancing - like jazz, like cha, cha. They must take the ballet bar, for hands, for the head, the have to do yoga. They have to keep smiling in the mirror."

How do you see the future of belly dancing in Egypt?
"Things have been going downhill for the last four years. Bars are changing to different styles and there aren't many Egpytian belly dancers coming up. That's what has allowed foreigners to come in. This year I've seen in video clips that they're belly dancing, but they're called singers. It's more acceptable like that.

Actually, I'm not seeing anything new. We need ten or twenty good dancers but there's not even five. It's very bad. If it stays like this then the future is outside - in Europe. In Finland I did a workshop - I was standing on stage and in front of me 800 women were practicing in a hall. And from that thousand some good dancers will come."

Source: YogaTravel

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