Wednesday, 23 July 2008

"I want all the women in all the world to belly dance."

Belly dancing choreographer Hassan Khalil speaks to Yoga Travel.

Hassan Khalil is a professor in the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Cairo. He teaches oriental dancing all over the world, but, ironically not allowed to teach belly dancing in Egypt - it has been banned in public institutions.

"Like any art, belly dancing started with religion. It came from the times of the pharaohs: you can see them dancing in the tombs and temples. The form of their movements expressed their connection to the gods. To open themselves to the gods they used movement from the womb - the most sensitive and holy place in their bodies. Their hand positions too were a form of prayer: putting their hands above their heads and out to one side, for example, meant talking to god. In Pharonic times the shapes they made were a language with which they communicated with the gods.

Belly dancing is all based upon the womb. Where do you think we get the word woman? I am a man, she is womb-man. Belly dancing is the movement of the holy place of the woman - the womb is where it all starts. The secret of belly dance is not in the dance - it's in the woman.

Civilisation today structures how women live - go on the metro, sit at the computer, run up stairs - all things that are contrary to the rhythms of her body. They are looking for the relationship between the power and energy within them and themselves. They're searching for the fine art of their bodies in space.

When I teach the women in Europe I say to them: 'shake your breasts.' Of course they refuse. But I insist: 'Shake them. Shake.' And then they do it and sometimes they scream. They start to feel themselves as a female person. Life is monotonous. But with another rhythm, it can free you from the daily rhythm of everyday life.

Every woman has the physiology. In Egypt we call belly dancing 'the mother' because it gives women the ability to prove the freedom of their body. We did a class in Frankfut with deaf girls. They felt the music through the ground, and they danced. The city mayor was there - he cried. It was the first time they heard their body. And blind women too, they'd never seen the movement in their lives, but they could do the dance - it was a miracle, they could feel their bodies. One and a half million girls in Brazil doing it. This is not fashion - this is women feeling themselves."

Source: YogaTravel

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