Old School Versus New School

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I've been watching quite a few shows online due to the pandemic, and I get opportunities to see a lot of dancers I never saw before from all over the world, which is a wonderful opportunity. I've seen all styles, both vintage and modern, and I've noticed that on the more vintage, old school styles, dancers who have been educated in these areas "get it" when vintage style dancers are featured, but the modern dancers don't always understand what the old school dancers are doing, as much of this style is not taught anymore, nor is the history of that dance.

I am more vintage style than modern myself, and I have to say when I do get complimented, it is by the dancers who have been around the last thirty or more years. I feel bad that the history of the old school/vintage style dance is being lost and the significance behind these styles.
 

Suzanne Azhaar

Active member
Prefer vintage style dancing, for viewing and performing. There's a cohesiveness between the music, movement, costume, and expression. A local group has a modern style to their dance, and do a really good job performing. But more often I don't understand what modern dancers are trying to convey.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
Prefer vintage style dancing, for viewing and performing. There's a cohesiveness between the music, movement, costume, and expression. A local group has a modern style to their dance, and do a really good job performing. But more often I don't understand what modern dancers are trying to convey.
I think they like to add a western fare or in the case of some eastern European countries, add their mark to it. But to me, the dance is all about the Middle East, not anywhere else.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
But more often I don't understand what modern dancers are trying to convey.

Too often they are just bodies moving through space conveying nothing more than "watch these cools things I can do." Too many dancers are terrified of standing in front of an audience without a fixed script/choreography. Instead of allowing themselves to respond viscerally to the music, one can almost hear these dancers counting time as they move. Part of the problem is they've learned to dance via learning movements that fit particular choreographies instead of learning movements and then learning how those movements fit together to express emotions and rhythms conveyed by the music. Then there is the music- too many people want to dance to whatever is familiar to them and aren't willing to listen to music from countries wherein belly dance first arose. Once upon a time I was stunned to come across a" belly dance teacher" who didn't appreciate or use Middle Eastern music. Now it is almost unremarkable, which is perhaps the saddest comment of all.

But- what do I know? I'm so vintage I'm bordering on antique.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
I consider myself "mostly" old skool (note spelling!), and on the occasions I get complimented, its often either by another old skool dancer (I can tell you were taught by old skool teachers...) or by new school dancers and/or baby bellies who have "never seen anything like that, cool!". Its pretty bad when I perform in a show and I'm the ONLY one who plays finger cymbals - or if there is another zillist, its the headliner!

Belly dancing to non-Belly dance music is a particular pet peeve. Its Ok for certain situations, such as veil routines and skirt dances, but it usually doesn't work well. It doesn't have the same feel at all, is un-inspiring to dance to, and boring to watch.

Years back, there was a local show that encouraged traditional dancing. One gal did a beautiful old skool routine - she was THRILLED that I noticed things like zills on while doing veilwork, an inclusion of floorwork, and other little details!
 
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Lunahabibi

New member
For me I find that I am in the middle. I tend to let the music tell me what to do. That is how I create all my choreographies. Even non middle eastern music has a feeling to it. I enjoy showing people that belly dancing is fun and yes you can do it to something in the radio. I use all kinds of music from traditional to viking. I love it all and it all has a place on the stage.
I agree that a lot of the history is lost unless you pay thousands of dollars for teaching traditional style. The web can help or hinder sometimes.
 
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