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Good Riddance 2018

by Alessandra on 12/06/18

The last post of the year I always like to do a little year in review summary. And well, for this year, I think the title of this post says it all. This past year was an incredibly challenging and difficult year for me and I'm more than happy and ready to say good f*cking riddance to 2018.

To just jump right to it, 2018 saw the end of my marriage and 11-year relationship. Separating in this manner brought along with it a host of other problems; the loss of my beloved maltipoo, a highly stressful financial situation with trying to sell my house in a faltering Seattle housing market, a less than amicable divorce with my ex due to an inability to agree on division of assets, and of course just the general sadness and depression over losing a long-time partner, friend, and confidant.

Twenty-eighteen was also the year that the job I once found a considerable amount of joy in satisfaction in took a turn for being incredibly stressful and unfulfilling.

And even when it wasn't the big things, 2018 seemed to be the year where things just went wrong on all levels, whether it was getting a speeding ticket or locking myself out of the house to the tune of $300 to get back in.

You know when people say, wow, didn't this year just fly by? I know, there's been many years where I've said it myself. But not this year. I feel like I've been living in this year forever.

All the stress and sadness has definitely taken it's toll on my mental, physical, and emotional health. So I am more than ready to say goodbye to this year. I'm ready for a reset and a new start on so many levels. I'm ready for an energy shift and to start operating at a happier, more positive and higher vibrational level. I'm ready to bury this year and leave it behind me.

Twenty-nineteen, you can't be here soon enough. I'm ready, let's do this.

Performance Pics and Video From Snoqualmie Railroad Days

by Alessandra on 11/01/18

Last August, back when the sun was still shining and the weather was warm (ahh, fond memories...) I did my annual performance out at the Snoqualmie Railroad Days festival. It's one of my favorite events to return to again and again. Here are some pictoral and video highlights from that sunny afternoon.

Folkloric Dance Regions of Egypt

by Alessandra on 10/08/18

Egypt, the birth place of what is commonly known as modern day belly dance. A land of rich cultural traditions and heritages. Many of the movements in modern day belly dance can be traced back to having roots in various Egyptian folkloric dances. In this month's post, I want to take a summary look at what those eight regions are and the some of the main dance forms originating there.

The six main regions of folkloric dance in Egypt are Cairo, the Delta, Nubia, Siwa, the Suez Canal, Sa'id, the Eastern Desert, and the Western Desert.

Many famous dancers have called Cairo home, including Badia Masabni and both of the Egyptian National Dance Companies, Firqit Reda (Mahmoud Reda's troupe) and Al Kowmeyya al Funun al Shaabiya. As the home of Egyptian cinema and media, Cairo can really be attributed as the locale in Egyptian that took raqs baladi ("dance of the people") and created theatrical folkloric dance, as well as raqs sharqi, or modern day belly dance.

The Delta
The Delta is the area including and surrounding Alexandria in the north. It's an area that encompasses a diverse population, and thus draws dance influences from diverse sources, including rural fellahin ("farmer") and Ghawazee. Two famous Ghawazee groups hail from this area: Sumbati Ghawazee, who are famous for floorwork with Shamadans and being able to balance a chair in their teeth, and the Ghawazee of Tanta. Also due to this area's proximity to Greece, there is some inclusion of Greek dance forms. Raqs sharqi from this region is typically bouncier and more energetic.

Nubia is the area bordering Sudan. The basic step of this dance is to the right foot in front stepping down on the best, the ball of the left foot in back stepping on the "and" of the beat, while the arms move loosely and symmetrically. Men will lean forward, while women stand up straight. Hip work is not traditional.

Siwa is an oasis located in the far west of the country. Siwa people are of Berber heritage. Traditionally a very private people, if you check out Tamalyn Dallal's book, 40 Days and 1,001 Nights, you will definitely get a more in-depth picture.  Dance in this region is only performed in public by males, in which the backside of the dancer makes circles, punctuated by a down hip accent.

Suez Canal
While originally an area populated by Bedouins, with the building of the canal, international dances were brought in and influenced the traditional dances of this region. Dance from this region is typically bouncy and performed in a "turned-out" position, almost as in ballet. Musical instruments from this area include the traditional Simsimeya, but then evolved to include a European style of hand-spoons and a variety of drums.

Sa'id is the area running along the Nile in the middle of Egypt. The most popular and well-known public dance of the Sa'idi people is raqs assaya ("stick dance"), which has been widely incorporated into belly dance. In this dance, the dancer carries a "stick" (a cane) and performs the well-known basic footwork of stepping to the side on one and lifting the opposite foot and knee up and slightly across the standing leg on two. Raqs assaya has a basis in Tahtib, which is a style of martial arts performed by men in which they fight with sticks. Other styles of dance from this region include Kafafa and versions of raqs beledi.

Eastern Desert
The Eastern Desert is populated by the Beja people. In Beja dances, the men carry a sword, while the women do not. The inclusion of what belly dancers refer to as "camels" is a common movement, as well as frequently tilting the head backwards so that the face is parallel to the sky.

Western Desert
The Western Desert region is predominately comprised of people of the Awlad Ali bedouin tribe. Once a nomadic people, they are presently mostly settled, however still living in tents. The famous Haggalah dance is from this region, which is performed by a female dancer and incorporates frequently use of the Haggalah style of hip shimmy.

P.S. Want to really dive deep into folkloric dance in Egypt? Then consider signing up for Sahra C. Kent's Journey Through Egypt courses. Another option is that there's two days left (until October 10th) to purchase the online learning Bellydance Bundle that over 27 dancers / teachers / contributors have come together to offer.

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