|The Creative Centre & Essence of Baladi Dance|
Image passed from dancer to dancer to dancer...
Credit: unknown. (Leave a comment if you know this artist.)
Baladi (Arabic: بلدى):
"The word Baladi (you may also see it spelled balady, beledi, beledy, etc.) can mean several things:
1. My country, of the country or of the people.
2. It can be used a complement as the balad are considered the salt of the earth or a slur when referring to somebody as unrefined, like calling somebody a hick.
3. In dance it refers to the dance of the everyday people, raqs baladi as opposed to raqs sharqi.
4. In dance it can also refer to a particular music and dance construct, also called baladi taksim, or ashra baladi.
5. In American belly dance and in the Levant it also sometimes used to refer to a particular variation of the rhythm masmoudi saghir."
-- from Egyptian Baladi and the Baladi Taksim, by Shems
I generally tend towards the outside world & bioregionalism when I share Full Moon poetry, but of course the protracted Alaska winters tend to provoke a turning inward. The end result then, is that inevitably some winter Esbat poetry winds up being more personal. This is one of those times.
Since just after midwinter I have been quite preoccupied by dance studies with a new instructor/mentor (I have mentioned her before). This is an exhilarating, expansive & somewhat terrifying experience. I have completely thrown myself into the fire this time. On purpose.
This week we began "Baladi studies" in earnest.
And this is only some of what she has to say about Baladi:
"...It´s all about the FREEDOM of speech – literally – but not a mental speech made of ideas and stored data in my brain – it´s a HIP speech...HIPS CAN TALK...
After watching, teaching, correcting, stimulating thousands of dancers from different nationalities, it´s obvious that most women are totally disconnected from their hips (and the organs, muscles, creative energy, sexual impulses, LIFE inside it). It´s a problem if you wish to dance a mean, juicy, (im)proper baladi piece but it´s an even bigger problem if you wish to enjoy life and use all your potential as a human being.
Here´s what I call my hips: “MY BELOVED POWER HOUSE“. They expand with time – literally and metaphorically speaking – and are the source of my power, inspiration, love, passion, drive, ambition, dreams, pleasure and and and and. And then some. My hips are queens, goddesses, mother and father as well as their children; my hips sustain me when everything seems to go down the toilet and are a fountain of endless joy, discoveries, strength and divine pleasures.
If your hips could talk, what would they say?...
...Women who are disconnected from their hips (or carry around a hate relationship with them) cannot be fully creative and alive – they just can´t. One thing – love for your hips – leads to the other: the FIERCE willingness to be yourself and move ahead in life outpouring love and pleasure..."
-- Joana Saahirah, Hips don´t lie (we agree, Shakira!) – BALADI DELUXE
But this dance is so much bigger than even all of that -- with cultural context & nuance to grasp, technique to study, vocabulary to build, rules to learn & then break... To add to it, there's a unique musicality to be understood as well.
And in the end, it is about getting down to the essence of your being, feeling & communicating your raw, honest truth through the art of movement we call dance.
Today I was asked to dance an improvisational Baladi for her. She told me to dance with gratitude for something I really love, really enjoy, letting my hips speak for me.
So I did. As I danced, I forgot about being under pressure with her eyes on my every move, every moment, because I was dancing with gratitude for wild mushrooms in cream sauce. My wild mushrooms... mushrooms I picked, cleaned, dried, soaked in wine, sautéed & bathed in butter & heavy cream & maybe some fontina or...
When we reached the end of class, she told me (not aware of my particular gratitudes) that I had indeed just danced my very first Baladi.
And it made me wonder: what could I create if I danced Baladi for the Moon?
Hence, the Poetry for this Esbat. (I do love successful multi-tasking... or is it syncretism?) When I read this poem, I said to myself, "This is about a Baladi. A Baladi for the Moon."
By Spencer Kluesner
(poem inspired by the painting "Moon Dancer" by artist Julia Watkins)
She dances to the drum's rhythmic pulse.
Until we are entranced.
Until we begin to feel as if we were with her
A part of her
Living through her
Anticipating her next move
And she twists
With an instinctual certainty
An aquarian dream
An ancient dance to the female cycles of the moon
Knowing her next move without thinking
Feeling her next step while dreaming
I want to be her
I want to feel the infinite forces of energy
Flowing through my being
I want to let go into that space
As only a women can
And I may
But if my body can't dance
My spirit still can
And I'll connect to the infinite
To the nothingness that is really the everything
The whole of our existence
The energy of all that was
And all that will be.
Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.