I finally had time to listen to Farida Fahmy's seminar on Teaching yesterday. It was such an exhilirating experience. I had registered to attend the seminar in person in Cairo December 2017 but ended up not making it back to Egypt until January. Luckily I was given the audio from the seminar but free time did not lend itself to me to listen until now in August 2018.
To find that I have been teaching her technique and philosophy all along, these many years, was very reaffirming. That yes, the arms move from the wrists, not the elbows, that the legs need to be straight and not bent, that the posture be relaxed, that everything is centered in the pelvis, surrendering to gravity, pushing from the heel, and most importantly, that Raqs Sharqi can not be regimented like other forms of dance can.
As well, Farida said that ultimately there is no correct or incorrect steps or expression of the dance if the basic principals are intact. That the soul of Raqs Sharqi has some unique characteristics that separate it from all other forms of dance. Within this soul of the art, each Raqs Sharqi artist creates their own steps and expression.
I feel like I have been liberated and am breathing a sigh of relief that I was in line all this time with Farida Fahmy. Happy camper here.
Often my Beginner Technique classes are half attended by those just starting and half by seasoned pros. It has never been a problem having both in the same class for me. Actually on some level I felt it was beneficial for both groups to learn from each other. This situation appeals to those who understand that art is a journey with no ending. But this situation is often not understood in our modern race/work through life (with shortcuts where possible) mentality. I believe that a dancer can become stunted if she/he believes there are real levels to achieve.
In the West, we love attaining goals and knowing we have accomplished something. It is especially appealing if there is an award or certificate at the end. This method is appropriate for many things in life but I believe not so much when it comes to art, and even less so for the Raqs Sharqi artform whose very nature is organic and boundless. You know when you have reached a stage in which you are creating art that is authentic. A certificate can not measure up to this realization. The ovation, smiles and tears from your audiences as your reward makes a crown pale in comparison.
I find myself more and more telling new students, seasoned or not, that they are welcome to attend all levels. Now that Arabesque Academy is on a smaller scale with only me teaching 11 out of the 13 classes a week it is not necessary to stick to a standardized curriculum. For quite a while I have been teaching in a responsive manner to whoever is in attendance and their needs.
After listening to Farida Fahmy, I have decided to revolutionize the Arabesque Academy Curriculum and not to have have official named levels. Now I will have categories instead of levels and all are important at different times or all the time in one's learning journey
What differentiates Raqs Sharqi from other dance forms is its cultural and emotional nuance which is reflected in its mysterious and effortless technique. The infinite tapestry of riches in this ancient artform are woven into your BODY, HEART and SOUL throughout the dance journey.