Amir Thalib on youtube

Tarik Sultan

New member
Whatever else can be said about Amir's performance, I was enthralled by what I'd call a kind of skirtwork in the beginning - way cool. Most males of my aquaintance minimize shoulder work because they consider it "feminine" - yet the "Belly Dance is feminine" crowd here considers it "masculine". Interesting!
I think the general public thinks shoulder shimmies are womanly because they think its the boobs shaking, not realizing that its coming from the shoulders and with women the friends just come anlong for the ride....Not like they could leave them at home with the baby sitter could they:eek:

By the way, here's a clip of some Ethiopian dancing, kind of long but worth watching the whole thing to see some outrageuos shoulder work and chest drops. I wonder if Amir was inspired by this type of dancing.
 
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Tarik Sultan

New member
Dear Tarik,
I thought many people would call him a belly dancer, though no one here seems to have...??? I would not call his performance in that clip belly dance. What would you call that particular performance? Middle Eastern inspired performance art, maybe??? Sedonia says that on his website, he claims to be doing Arab dance, but boy, that's pretty vague.

Regards,
A'isha
:confused: I don't know what to call it. Its not fusion, its not fantasy. It does use an aspect of the movement vocabulary, but is limited. We do use our shoulders, just not as extensively as he does. I guess I would say Middle Eastern influenced dance performance for want of a better term.
 

sedoniaraqs

New member
:confused: I don't know what to call it. Its not fusion, its not fantasy. It does use an aspect of the movement vocabulary, but is limited. We do use our shoulders, just not as extensively as he does. I guess I would say Middle Eastern influenced dance performance for want of a better term.

I don't know what to call it either, but I think that he's an Arab combining traditional elements with his own thing is different from someone outside the culture doing something completely different with a movement vocabulary and costume and calling it gothic belly dance or tribal belly dance, or whatever. CRAP now i need the flameproof pyjamas... (sleepy, going to bed now)

Sedonia
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
Dear Group

Is it really so important to label Amir's dance? Does it have to be belly dance to be good? Does it have to be classical Raqs Sharqi, just because he danced on "Mashaal"? After all he is a guy, and as Tarik said, it is more difficult to put male belly dancing in a pattern, because it is a rather new phenomenon. What matters for me is, that this guy dances fabulous and he harmonizes greatly with the music, even if he dances his own interpretation. What he does, still look very oriental to me, even if it is kind of extravagant. So let us stop with the "brain-fucking" (ooops, I hope nobody is offended by this expression:D It is just my BOB gene;) ) and just enjoy this video clip. For me the most important thing is, if a dancer talks to your heart and Amir talked to mine. If he talked on the video, I suppose he is going to scream if I ever see him live;)
 
Dear Group

Is it really so important to label Amir's dance? Does it have to be belly dance to be good? Does it have to be classical Raqs Sharqi, just because he danced on "Mashaal"? After all he is a guy, and as Tarik said, it is more difficult to put male belly dancing in a pattern, because it is a rather new phenomenon. What matters for me is, that this guy dances fabulous and he harmonizes greatly with the music, even if he dances his own interpretation. What he does, still look very oriental to me, even if it is kind of extravagant. So let us stop with the "brain-fucking" (ooops, I hope nobody is offended by this expression:D It is just my BOB gene;) ) and just enjoy this video clip. For me the most important thing is, if a dancer talks to your heart and Amir talked to mine. If he talked on the video, I suppose he is going to scream if I ever see him live;)
Hi Chryssanthi, I agree with you wholeheartedly, but can I use your br-f---g term. I'm always on the look out to add to my repertoire(that's my kinky gene speaking):cool:
Yasmine
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Amir

Dear Crysassanthi,
I do think it is important to identify what we see in dance. Just because he is Amri Taleb does not mean he should be able to take liberties with the dance any more than should a beginner student, or me, or you take any liberties we want with the dance. If we all were more responsible about really defining what we do, then there would be far less stuff put on the stage in the name of "belly dance" that has absolutely nothing to do with it. I don't think its mindfucking to ask what the man is doing. I suppose I could parade a bunch of my Arab friends up here to my computer ans ask them what he is doing. I pretty much already know what they would say, though. And just because one is Of Middle Eastern descent does not make them an expert at Middle Eastern dance, either. I am more than half French but can not tell you a thing about Can-Can!!
I know I often seem like I am picking dancers apart and that I am very hung up on defining what is being done, but that is becasue there is so much out there that is done in the name of Middle Eastern dance or even "belly dance" that simply has no reality to it. If one is advertised as doing Arab dance, then it should be Arab dance. If one advertises as doing Middle Eastern inspired dance, then that is clearly defining what they do. Maybe he does that, I don't know.
I don't think I am being unreasonable here. If you do, I can't help it. My point is valid and relevant to the situation in the world of Middle Eastern dance today. Kiadorin put up a video in the Other Stuff category where a man stated that when a dancer is doing what is real, you can see it in their bones. I thought that was the most right-on statement in any dance form that I have heard in years!!!!!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Dear Shanazel,
I have a pair of sooper-dooper asbestos lined Union Jacks that you can borrow!!!

Dear Zorba,
You know where I stand on this issue of dance as feminine essenced, etc.... and you know I think men can dance as well as women. I think Mz. Shanazel feels the same. Almost everyone here seems to feel that Mr. Taleb was not belly dancing...what say you?

Regards,
A'isha
Shanazel here, from her secret bunker far beneath the Rocky Mountains, dressed in all sorts of fireproof clothes.

I do think men can dance as well as women. I love all of you guys, love to watch your video clips, will attend any performance you do within two hundred miles of my front door, and will enthusiastically tuck dollar bills in your bedlah if that will make you happy. I am not questioning your right or ability to perform; I do question the billing of the performance as belly dance.

The best way I can think of to explain my point of view is this: once I saw an actress named Connie Stevens perform "If I Were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof, in full Tevye gear and full Tevye dancing style. She did a creditable rendition, but while I enjoyed her performance, she lacked the essence and physical presence to make me believe she was a Russian Jew in the full flourish of manhood.

When I watch a man belly dance, I sense a similar lack of essence and physical presence that makes a dance belly dance. That does not mean it is not equally appealing or interesting or that the dancer is less skilled, but it looks different from belly dance, it feels different from belly dance, it is different from belly dance.

I love what Amir was doing, don't know what I would call it, but I do like things to have names. Truthfully, I have been hanging around A'isha in cyber land long enough that she is beginning to rub off on me and I am questioning more and more how far a fusion or modification can go from the root of belly dance before it is no longer belly dance, but something that deserves a new descriptive name. This really began to come home to me after I watched what was my first live show of Tribal Style and Tribal fusion. I did not see anything that night I considered belly dance. But that is a topic for another thread, and another asbestos union suit, and I digress.

Returning now to my hide away in hopes that Zorba has not located me via satellite...
 
Hi Everyone, Interesting read, but it's beginning to sound like the CD is stuck on playback mode.This often happens, whenever a video is posted on youtube featuring male dancers. Referring back to the original topic-Amir Thaleb. Was he doing bellydance? No. Was he interpreting the music and put on a fantastic show at Ahlan Wa Sahlan.Yes. Has anyone asked him why he didn't perform Classical Raks Sharki? Yes, read Tarik's commentary. Was he effective in demonstrating masculine approach to the music. Yes. Do we have to compartmentalize and label everything before we can enjoy it? No.

I absolutely LOVE to watch to see my brothers dance. It's nice to see a some testosterone mixed in with all this estrogen:rolleyes:
Yasmine
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
Hi Everyone, Interesting read, but it's beginning to sound like the CD is stuck on playback mode.This often happens, whenever a video is posted on youtube featuring male dancers. Referring back to the original topic-Amir Thaleb. Was he doing bellydance? No. Was he interpreting the music and put on a fantastic show at Ahlan Wa Sahlan.Yes. Has anyone asked him why he didn't perform Classical Raks Sharki? Yes, read Tarik's commentary. Was he effective in demonstrating masculine approach to the music. Yes. Do we have to compartmentalize and label everything before we can enjoy it? No.

I absolutely LOVE to watch to see my brothers dance. It's nice to see a some testosterone mixed in with all this estrogen:rolleyes:
Yasmine

Very well said Yasmine:) I absolutely agree. Too much thinking about something destroys the spontaneous joy you would feel, if you could gaze at it with the eyes of a child. I had a key experience, when I wrote my master theses in German literature. I had to analyse two dramas (Antigone of Sophokles and Wilhelm Tell of Schiller), which I loved, when I had red them, but I hated after I had finished my master theses. And the only thing I realized after that experience is, that talking and thinking too much about art forms, destroy the perception of art at the end. The world didn't need my master theses (well, only I needed it in order to get my master's degree:D ) and the world doesn't need endless discussions, about the dance style of a dancer who is excellent and appealing anyway.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Amr Taleb, etc.

Dear Group,
I think there is nothing wrong with eyeing a dancer with the eyes of achild, but I think there is also a time when we as dancers have further expectations about what we are looking at. There is certainly nothing wrong with that either. I think its VERY important to think about dance as well as just enjying it... if one IS a dancer. The audience has the luxury of sitting back and taking it at face value. As a dancer and a dance instructor especially, I do not have that same luxury, because I have to know what I am looking at in order to explain it to myself and to my students. I do not want them to be misled.
When we stop questioning what we see on stage, we are in big trouble.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Reacting spontaneously and thinking things over thoroughly in retrospect are not mutually exclusive. Unlike Cryssanthe, I do enjoy analyzing drama. I never understood King Lear so well as after I worked with a tutoree who had to analyze the play for a paper. I like to know how things are done, how effects are achieved, and how they can be heightened. Knowing how a rainbow is formed lessens its beauty not one whit for me- in fact, it makes it more beautiful. This is, of course, a matter of personal mindset, and I am content for others to enjoy the effect without knowing how it was achieved. If one doesn't enjoy dissection and discussion, it is a simple matter to not read those parts of a thread.
 
Ok, I cant believe that I've been surfing youtube.com and not found this on my own. Anyways...

First of all, Amir Thaleb is an excellent and well-trained dancer, we can all see that. Due to his clear background in Debkeh I can totally understand that if he was to replace anything in "mainstream bellydance stylization", he would lean towards shoulder work.

Being a male dancer puts you in a unique position. You have the following choices:
1) Use the same stylization, technique and movement vocabulary as for ME dancing done by women.
2) do male folkdances.
3) make up your own stuff.
4) do a mixture of all of the above.

I would say that Amir very successfully has created a masculine expression with familiar reference points to both folkdance and sharki without basterdizing the ME concept of music interpretation and expression of dance in this piece. I find the piece fresh and appealing actually. I would not want to dance like that myself as my focus is more towards 1 and 2 as listed above. But I totally dig his polished refined and perfectionated expression.

It would be natural for me as an Indian folklore trained dancer to draw in Indian influences if I was to mix with anything (which I at times do). Just likewise, Amir Thaleb has drawn in influences from his training (Debkeh).

Also a thing that would be important to recognize is that as soon as you get out of Egypt - they do "weird stuffz". Meaning, I have seen dancers like Amani of Lebanon do extremely "excentric" performances at AWS, and from my point of view this was done to signify the clear difference between *her*/Lebanese style and Egyptian style, and to continue to claim the rightful place of Lebanese style as a style in it's own right. A point relevant to make in the "Mecca" of Raqs Sharki - Cairo.

I wouldnt define this specific performance by Amir Thaleb as Raqs Sharki, but it's is very clear to me that the intent was not to represent Raqs Sharki either. It is a "fusion" between ME dance forms, if I may say so.

I wouldnt suggest the same format performed by a female dancer, but then again, if you can pull it off as well as Amir - I think I wouldnt be very upset by it. Appreciation for good movement, yes. Appreciation for good stylization, yes. Appreciation for excellence, yes. All which includes hard work and longterm studies and definition of one's dancing as a performer.

My personal opinion, if we're going to be Raqs Sharki fanatics for a second, this is a much less blasfemic performance by a male dancer to Raqs Sharki than a lot of other blasfemic performances by female dancers to Raqs Sharki out there, no?

From what I hear from well-respected dancers that are my peers and colleagues; Amir Thaleb is an excellent Bellydance/Raqs Sharki instructor. And judging from the dancers I have seen trained by him - bring it on!

DaVid
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Amr Talb, etc

Dear DaVid,
I see no reason not to bring it on, but I do see a reason for clearly stating what you are doing. Maybe he did that here and maybe he did not. As a YouTube presentation, it needs a little bit more of an explanation. Bastardization is bastardization, and innovation is innovation,whether done by males, females, eunuchs or aliens from other planets. the issue here is not his gender. I found the piece fresh and appealing also, but I did not find that I understood what it was supposed to be. Did you? I do not know if it is fusion or what, (He seems to have told Tarik that he was belly dancing with his shoulders.) but it needs explaining when done to that music, which is clearly a Sharghi piece. I think in this day and age, definition and explanation are important, since authentic ME dance is getting lost in the shuffle. ( And yes there IS such a thing as authentic ME dance as opposed to other, more westernized creations. I see nothing wrong with creating one's own thing, as long as one takes responsiblity for doing just that.)
Re the weird stuff... They do weird stuff IN Egypt, too. Witness the insipid ballet influenced stuff that Reda choreographed for Farida Fahmy. SO off the mark for east and west that it's nearly unwatchable!! I have a whole video of it that is unbelievably awful. Nagwa Fouad and her mop and broom dance was pretty out there, too!
Amr Talb is a polished performer, no doubt. Beyond that, I still would like an explanation of what he is performing, especially in light of the fact that he claims to be doing Arab dance. Which Arab dance, then? It is not Arab dance simply because a person of Arab descent is doing it.
Regards,
A'isha
 
Hi Aisha, I can understand your curious nature into Amir's performance. Unfortunately, You Tube presentations, don't often provide the answers. From what i know of the website, anyone can post a video, no matter how stupid or offensive it is. When I launch You tube and type in "bellydancing" in the search box, all kinds of weird videos pop up. Most of which are not true representations of Raks Sharki or any other valid dance styles of the ME. Most likely, Amir probably didn't know it was posted and couldn't describe or label the performance, so that leaves it up to the viewers. Most of the time I just simply choose not to watch such junk.

But I am intrigued about your comment regarding his choice of music. Do you know who composed that piece? And was it specifically composed for dancers or adopted by dancers as a vehicle for Raks Sharki?
Yasmine
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Amr Talb, etc.

Dear Yasmine,
The piece is called "Meshaal" (Torch in Arabic). It has been danced to by belly dancers in the Middle East and North Africa for at least the last 30 years or so. My first experience with it was when I saw a video of Nagwa Fouad dancing to it about 20 yerars ago. I have the original music from that video, but do not know the composer. Hani Mahenna does my favorite version of it and the one that I usually dance to. My impression is that it was composed for belly dancing. This could be incorrect, though that is how it is consistently used in Egypt. I will find my original Mahenna tape and get it translated to see if the original composer is on there. It remains one of my very favorite pieces of music to dance to because it is the embodiment of what belly dance music is all about, having many moods, changes, feelings, tempos, etc; all condusive to great sharghi!!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Maria_Aya

New member
Allien from the Planet Bellydance here !!!!!!!!!!! (Aisha I'm reading and keeping ALL your posts in archive THANK YOU !!! )

David you just cleared for me the options that a male bellydancer have, great great defining!!!

Me now... I still feel mixed about this video, as the first time I saw it, now after reading all these threads I feel that I cant get it, because as Aisha I cant categorize it in my head:confused:

Maria Aya:)

p.s. He remains damn HOT !!!!
 

Zurah

New member
Mashaal

According to the little booklet in the first album of Jalilah's series (Mokhtar al Said's Classic Belly Dance music), the song was written for Nagwa Fouad, if I remember correctly. Can't recall the name of the composer either, but will be sure to post the name when I have the booklet at hand again.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
A. Talb, etc.

Dear Zurah,
I THOUGHT that I had heard that it was composed for Nagwa Fouad, but did not say so, because I could not remember for sure. (That's one of the problems with being 53 years old... all the memory cells in my head are getting too full and I have no way to get in there and do a good cleaning!!). Thanks!
Regards,
A'isha
 
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