Thursday, August 18, 2011

Workshop Review: Sahra Saeeda and Roxxanne

I admit that I have gotten out of the habit of doing workshop reviews. Why? Because every one I go to is awesome, and I feel like my readers will be bored hearing about another awesome thing I went to. But I realize even if the reviews are all "Loved All The Things", telling you what those things are might help you decide if you can't attend every workshop ever (and who can).

I have studied with both instructors twice now. I would study with either of them 100 thousand times, in fact I would move in with them and cook their meals in exchange for the knowledge (hint, hint).

If you pass on a chance to study with Sahra please send me your address so I can come to your house and SHAKE YOU! Talk about knowledge. If you want to know about Egyptian dance and particularly if you want historical and cultural insight, then this is the lady you need to see. Sahra applies here degrees and experience in cultural anthropology (that may not be her exact area of study but close) to really delve into the history of bellydance in Egypt. She takes you through all the famous dancers of Egypt from Reda to Dina, supplying you with not just their movements and styling but their motivation for choosing those movements. As in instructor, I find it invaluable to tell me students about Samia Gamal, show them how she danced and have the background to tell them where she came from and why she danced this way.
Sahra also shares with her students the stories and perspective that only someone who spent the time training and working in Egypt as she has can. My long term goal is to attend her entire Journey Through Egypt series. Location and timing wise, it has not her been in the cards for me. If I haven't found a way to attend in the next year then I will plan on going to one of her regularly scheduled classes in California. That will be the farthest I have ever traveled for a workshop.

I first met Roxxanne at last year's Camperet. She is just a really fun person. At Camparet, she taught classes on Debke and Khaleegi. I just want to give a shout out that those classes were awesome. I also took a private lesson with her on Lebanese style which was very insightful.
This past week-end her workshop focused on dancing for an Arab audience and putting together a traditional show/set. If you don't know about Roxxanne, her father was Lebanese and she grew up in his night club in California (where Sahra was a regular performer). The first part of her workshop was lecture and Q&A. She gave us all valuable tips including dos and no-nos. She was very open, honest and not afraid to hurt someone's feelings in they did not like what she said (luckily she didn't at this class). I even resigned myself to be more open to performing in shoes. We went through what sort of questions to ask of the people hiring you, how to work with a band/drummer, and a whole list of better safe than sorry plan ahead ideas.
In the second half we listened and dance to some traditional opening piece songs and talked about how to choose music that is right for you and how to set the tome of your show.
The workshop went well over time and no one cared. We have a 4.5 hour drive home and still would have stayed several more hours to pick Roxxanne's brain.

Both these women are amazing dancers, and amazing educators. If like me you are a nerd first and dancer second then I can't recommend enough that you get yourself to one of their workshop.

And finally - a shout out to Kira's Oasis. Located in Dayton, Ohio, Kira's Oasis is the nicest studio I have ever been in. Every time we took a break I fantasized about one dance owning my own studio. It is clean, gorgeous and just really perfect in every way. The location is also really nice. It is in a suburb near a large mall with plenty of places to stay and eat. I also think it is an easy part of town to get around and very close to the interstate. I think despite the long drive, I will keep an eye on her schedule and try to attend some more events up there.

Roxxanne, 'Azraa and Sahra


Naima said...

I was just talking about Sahra this past month. I got to take the mini version of Journey back before it became such an awesome series. I would love to take more now that it is even further developed.

Amanda said...

If I ever get rich, I'm going to just see about hiring Sahra to come to my house and talk to me for a couple of weeks -- just start talking until she runs out of things to tell me. We can have tea and cupcakes and I'll send out for Indian food.

She's such an amazing resource and a FABULOUS story-teller. I could listen to her talk about the dancers of Egypt all day. Sigh.

Roxxanne said...

Thanks for the lovely review! I had a great time and it was wonderful seeing you:)

I just want to clarify that it is not my intention to hurt anoynes feelings, I just want to share the truth and sometimes the truth can be painful however what you do with that truth is up to you!!!

Now I have some really bad news for you guys.....
Ive known Sahra for 32 years and she hasnt stopped talking yet and I certainly havent stopped learning from her!!