July 5, 2007 at 7:18 pm #22766
Heavily into this and was wondering… a while back Michael said “Belly Dance IS middle eastern qigong”. Can this be expanded on a little? Mind you most of the BD crowd work with chakras and the standard New Age stuff, but was that remark based on anything else you actually have seen or heard of?
Thanks, NNJuly 5, 2007 at 11:36 pm #22767
I’ve been watching my wife, daughter and some professionals bellydance for a few years. I note with great interest that many of their routines and techniques are about structural alignment; the particular application is also optimal for the flow of qi. Hands/arms are frequently held in embrace the tree/belt channel postures, the hips are tucked in slightly, and the head is frequently held as if suspended by the golden thread. There are also several hand routines that almost appear as direct copies of the female deer exercise.
I think that the union of the two disciplines is ripe for exploration, something I plan on doing in the fall. I think the initial approach will be the addition of intent to the movements and clarification of energy flow from the qigong perspective. Friends are opening a bellydance studio here in Madison, WI (US) and I’m providing some business guidance. I’ve also been asked to teach there (I’ve taught tai chi for ~10 years). The head instructor is a real form fanatic and is interested in exploring things from her side.
-MichaelLJuly 6, 2007 at 6:35 am #22769
I’d be very pleased to hear about the results.
About the head instructor who is a ‘form fanatic’ – is she tribal or oriental? The tribal ladies it seems to me are much more into the energetic side of things and curiously (considering it’s a recent American-invented form) the posture is very very energetically aligned, more so than what the Cabaret people from Cairo will use.
I would hope that energy work could be integrated into performances as well, to give a strong ritual element – I’ve seen this done sporadically.
NNJuly 6, 2007 at 8:11 am #22771
It is said that bellydancing originated as temple dance in the Middle East and I think that quite possibly there is an Atlantean connection.
It was banned for a long time since it is a method of empowering women.
The more I know and understand about feminin sexual practice the more it makes sense to me.
Some of the bellymoves for example are related to ovarian compression practice. Some of the arm/hand movements clearly bring the energy up the spine.
Through the ages bellydancing has been spread and preserved by gipsy’s and that is how bellydancing was mixed with folklore, wich makes for some of the more grounded moves and a vast variety of styles.
Lately I find that I have incorperated some qigong moves into my bellydancing and some bellydancing moves in my qigong practice.
But then I find that all movements can be gigong movements. And that realisation seems to break ground. There is not only belly-gong but there is also chi-ski and yoga-surfing.July 6, 2007 at 8:36 am #22773
>>And that realisation seems to break ground. There is not only belly-gong but there is also chi-ski and yoga-surfing.<<
It reminds me of the 'Chaoenergetics' practice of Steve Wilson, which (like improv dance such as Butoh) which simply move in accordance with feeling.
Bringing in the performance aspects returns the ritual element more consciously to theatre which I like as well.
NNJuly 7, 2007 at 8:59 am #22775
There are Egyptian dances for men, some use sword but then many women use a sword too. There’s also stick. Some men are now doing regular or tribal bellydance and many women say they are inspiring. One of the few places in the world where you have to work twice as hard as a man to be accepted amongst the women! Myself, I stick to drumming.
I saw a wonderful female improv sword dance the other day, it looked more like yoga than qigong, very slow asana after asana. People are mixing in Balinese or modern moves into it, a very exciting subculture, transcultural in the end.
Is it being taught? If you mean bellydance in general… keep up dude. NNJuly 7, 2007 at 2:30 pm #22777
Mona N’wal, the head instructor here, teaches classical style bellydance. Her mix includes Egyptian, Lebanese and Persian. The tribal forms I’ve seen don’t appear to focus too heavily on proper form, so I might not have exposure to the same ones you’re describing. Traditional Egyptian style can be quite different than contemporary. Alot of the contemporary has devolved into ‘hoochie-koochie’, not too far away from stripping.
-MichaelLJuly 7, 2007 at 2:36 pm #22779
There is one male dancer here in Madison, and there is at least one professional associated with Suhaila – one of the top bellydancers in the US/World. There are some great male BD instructors: checkout Zaza Hassan:
He looks like he’s having a great time.
-MLJuly 7, 2007 at 3:35 pm #22781
It’s the tribal fusion forms that have good posture and alignment I think, not ATS. I have not seen really good trad Egyptian style *ever*… but alot of not good. NNJuly 7, 2007 at 4:30 pm #22783July 7, 2007 at 10:55 pm #22785
Ahh, yes, OK. I’ve probably seen ATS performers. I have seen Rachel Brice on DVD, she looks great. Have you seen Nourhan Sharif and her husband Yosry? They’re based in NY. I wouldn’t say that she has the best form from a qigong perspective – I’ve seen a lot of joint locking out – but she’s an amazing performer. Her husband is considered one of the best teachers in the world.
-mlJuly 8, 2007 at 1:41 am #22787
I made the remark based on my experience of practicing bellydance at a local music festival. whenever i got there, i take the bellydancing classes, they are more fun than anyone else. of course, most bellydancers don’t hve quite the same internal awareness of advanced qigong practitioners, but still many similarities.
mJuly 8, 2007 at 8:31 am #22789
… but unless they travel I wouldn’t cos I live in London. Of course I know Rachel Brice, in fact Kim (whose vid I just posted) studied with her. NNJuly 8, 2007 at 8:33 am #22791July 9, 2007 at 5:19 pm #22793
I thought I would pipe in since my comments about belly dance were what drew out Michaels response.
In discussing these things it is useful to know what you mean by “belly dance”.
What I mean by belly dance is sometimes called, american tribal style, tribal fusion, tribaret (tribal+caberet). It is characterized by more elaborate costuming loosely based on tribal costume which includes long skirts, a lot of heavy jewelry, midriff barring “cholly” tops and more. More often performed in small groups than solo. Often including improvisational solos with the “chorus” backing up the solo artist.
Caberet style or Egyptian style is usually done as a solo and usually involves skimpy custumes. I find that this style is usually lacking in “juice”. It is smooth but not full of energy.
If you have seen different tai chi players you know that some styles or some players have less power, or intensity or energy in their movements. I find this to be the case with dancers as well. As a generalization the caberet style is not focused in on intense movements or fine hand positions. I find that the best “tribal” style dancers work involves really good structure especially in the hand and arm positions. good structure makes the difference between mediocre and …wow!!!
The accepted high priestess in the pantheon of tribal dance is Rachel Brice. I recommend you start on youtube with a search by her name watch some of her stuff. following related links should give you a good exposure to what the tribal dance scene is all about. She does things with her body which truly need to be seen to be believed.
I am not an expert on this subject, I just see it from my perspective which is colored mostly by the physical culture of asian martial arts / chi kung. Those who know more may correct my misplaced terminology on this subject.
The overall concept of “body mastery” is an important one. Which path is taken to achieve body mastery can vary, but this is part of what we are all after, and so admire when we see it. I admire it in someone who has studied ballet for ten years or belly dance, taekwon do or Tai Chi.
Finally I think there is something within tribal belly dance which taps into a primal source and can therefore be tremendously empowering to women. I am not sure if it would be empowering in the same way for a man, but I have also heard women talk about how good this or that male instructor is. As for me, I too have been thinking about ways to transmit chikung concepts and intent into belly dance. My wife is heavily involved in BD and also Yoga, and one of our best friends teaches BD and it seems like I am acquainted with a lot of the people in portland who are in this subculture.
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