Friday, 11 February 2011

Spiritual dance fashion trends

By Sara Shea
Info Guru,
Sunday, September 26, 2010

The most ancient form of dance known as spiritual dance, can be found in thousands of cultures around the world.

Today, some of these ancient spiritual dances are re-emerging in the world of contemporary dance, coupled with new interpretations, emerging dancers and modern spiritual dance fashion.

The earliest spiritual dance ceremonies and rituals can be traced to Africa. Rhythmic dances from Uganda and Senegal were used during times of celebration. Warrior dances, wedding dances and harvest dances utilizing the concepts of poly rhythm and total body articulation were native to Senegal, Ghana and the Congo. Each dance was made unique from other celebrations with spiritual dance fashion and styles of jewelry and body ornamentation.

Native American Navajo Indians also practiced spiritual dances such as the Fire Dance and the Grass Dance to achieve altered states of reality and enhanced consciousness.

The whirling dances of surfi or “dervishes” in ancient Persia and Turkey were also believed to be a path toward enlightenment.

Even the practice of yoga, which dates back to over 3,000 years ago, began in India as form of spiritual dance that incorporated particular movements, postures and breathing techniques to achieve physical health, meditation, and spiritual enlightenment.

In the United States, one form of spiritual dance in particular has gained great popularity and attention. These spiritual dances, known as plantation, slave or sorrow dance originated with the black slaves who were brought into the southern states from the west coast of Africa during the time of slavery.

During the tumultuous period of slavery in America, many slaves were forbidden by their owners to speak in their native languages. The slaves responded to their hardship and grief through music, song and dance. Despite their bondage, slaves took comfort in reconnecting with their roots by practicing, cherishing and passing down the ancient spiritual dances they had learned from their ancestors in Africa.

Many historians even claim that these early spiritual songs and dances of the slaves lay the foundation for jazz, blues and gospel in America.

In the decades after the civil war ended, as blacks migrated from the South to the North, black pride began to grow. Spiritual dance fashion evolved, with an eye on the past, but a celebration of freedom of expression and acknowledgment of a rich heritage. Black dance and black music evolved to become one of the most highly valued forms of entertainment in America.

Early choreographers such as Katherine Dunham and Alvin Ailey strived to preserve the art, history, technique and spiritual power so unique to spiritual slavery dances rooted in ancient African culture. These pivotal dancers and choreographers helped to found the earliest black spiritual dance troupes and dance theaters dedicated to celebrating African-American heritage. Today many of these dance troupes travel the world, performing in traditional clothing or colorful dance wear.

Without a doubt, these ancient spiritual dances of African cultures have re-emerged in America as powerful forms of artistic expression, and have continued to gain popularity as entertaining and educational forms of cross-cultural communication. These spiritual dances, which have the power to transcend language serve to connect us to our roots, revealing insights into past cultural histories.

Source: Info Library

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Last Egyptian Belly Dancer

Rich Saudis are transforming Cairo's entertainment scene.
by Rod Nordland
May 31, 2008

Abir Sabri, celebrated for her alabaster skin, ebony hair, pouting lips and full figure, used to star in racy Egyptian TV shows and movies. Then, at the peak of her career a few years ago, she disappeared—at least her face did. She began performing on Saudi-owned religious TV channels, with her face covered, chanting verses from the Qur'an. Conservative Saudi Arabian financiers promised her plenty of work, she says, as long as she cleaned up her act. "It's the Wahhabi investors," she says, referring to the strict form of Sunni Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia. "Before, they invested in terrorism—and now they put their money in culture and the arts."

Egyptians deplore what they call the Saudization of their culture. Egypt has long dominated the performing arts from Morocco to Iraq, but now petrodollar-flush Saudi investors are buying up the contracts of singers and actors, reshaping the TV and film industries and setting a media agenda rooted more in strict Saudi values than in those of freewheeling Egypt. "As far as I'm concerned, this is the biggest problem in the Middle East right now," says mobile-phone billionaire Naquib Sawiris. "Egypt was always very liberal, very secular and very modern. Now ..." He gestures from the window of his 26th-floor Cairo office: "I'm looking at my country, and it's not my country any longer. I feel like an alien here."

At the Grand Hyatt Cairo, a mile upstream along the Nile, the five-star hotel's Saudi owner banned alcohol as of May 1 and ostentatiously ordered its $1.4 million inventory of booze flushed down the drains. "A hotel in Egypt without alcohol is like a beach without a sea," says Aly Mourad, chairman of Studio Masr, the country's oldest film outfit. He says Saudis—who don't even have movie theaters in their own country—now finance 95 percent of the films made in Egypt. "They say, here, you can have our money, but there are just a few little conditions." More than a few, actually; the 35 Rules, as moviemakers call them, go far beyond predictable bans against on-screen hugging, kissing or drinking. Even to show an empty bed is forbidden, lest it hint that someone might do something on it. Saudi-owned satellite channels are buying up Egyptian film libraries, heavily censoring some old movies while keeping others off the air entirely.

Some Egyptians say the new prudishness isn't entirely the Saudis' fault. "Films are becoming more conservative because the whole society is becoming more conservative," says filmmaker Marianne Khoury, who says Saudi cash has been a lifeline to the 80-year-old industry. From a peak of more than 100 films yearly in the 1960s and '70s, Egyptian studios' output plunged to only a half dozen a year in the '90s. Thanks to Saudi investors, it's now about 40. "If they stopped, there would be no Egyptian films," says Khoury.

At least a few Egyptians say Saudi Arabia is the country that's ultimately going to change. "Egypt will be back to what it used to be," predicts the single-named Dina, one of Egypt's few remaining native-born belly dancers. And it was a Saudi production company that financed a 2006 drama that frankly discusses homosexuality, "The Yacoubian Building." Sawiris has launched a popular satellite-TV channel of his own, showing uncensored American movies. He's determined to win—but he's only one billionaire, and Saudi Arabia is swarming with them.

Source: Newsweek