To set up a show which presents Classical Egyptian dance in its artistic form, reaching out to wider audiences to challenge the stereotypical view of Bellydance. To develop a curiosity in dancers who may not view this type of dance as one which requires such a high level of training and get them interested enough to consider studying this dance in greater depth thus helping to rebuild the wider interest and give more dancers opportunities to develop great careers in this art.
My name is Diana Mehira, I have been studying middle eastern dance since 1998, I began teaching it in Derby back in 2003. During this time I have developed my dance school - 'Mehira's Jewels', performed and taught across the UK at some of its biggest Oriental dance events, and abroad. My skill for choreography and teaching good performance technique has been widely recognised, making me an often requested teacher and performer across the country. I have been lucky enough to have worked with world class musicians and composers of Egyptian dance music and hope to collaborate with them for this show. I started a professional dance troupe 'Arjana' a couple of years ago, formed with two of my best students, we perform together at various events from Weddings to Festivals. It is Arjana who will be putting on the show. I am also a professionally trained make up artist.
To put on a show which will give dancers from across the local and wider area an opportunity to train to a high level and perform to live music in a theatre setting. The Golden Era of Bellydance starts around the 1940's, thanks to a woman called Badia Mosabni, who started a club in Cairo where she presented many types of entertainment including oriental dance, she helped to develop the style we know today by using Russian ballerinas to train her dancers how to use their arms more gracefully and in some movements. Some of Egypts most famous dancers started their careers in her club and went on to feature in many films along with the famous singers of the time. The music created from the 40's-60's is still used in Bellydance today and the style of dance that goes with it is referred to as 'Classical'. The show will pay homage to both the music and the dancers from that time and up to present day showcasing modern composers and dance moves. The Cairo clubs were very 'Hollywood Glamour' style cabaret as Cairo was the 'in' place to be seen in those times among the western elite. The show will pay homage to this glamorous time with beautiful costumes, dancing and music presented in a theatre that will be a modern replacement for the cabaret style setting.
The term evokes images of seductresses dancing to entice men in harems, if I could count the number of times I have had raised eyebrows, sniggers and disapproving looks when I mention what I do I wouldn't need crowd funding! Despite the fact that oriental dance is now practiced across the world by hundreds of thousands of woman and men who train for years, compete nationally and internationally and put on festivals, workshops, shows, we still struggle with the old stereotype.
Performing at various outdoor daytime public events with both my students from my school and Arjana, I know that attitudes can be fairly easily changed. Most people are very pleasantly surprised when they see us perform, my favourite recent overheard comment 'that was really good, looked quite technical'. Yes, it is.
I would like to get dancers into training from a young age, ideally teens so that they can see just how many more opportunities there are for dancers of this style opening up.
With this show I will be opening out the auditions not only to people already attending bellydance classes, but to people attending dance schools who have trained already in complementary areas such as ballet, contemporary, modern jazz, Bollywood etc. I am hoping that by getting performers of other styles interested, it will help spread the word that oriental dance requires just as much training and dedication as any other style, as often it is overlooked and seen as something jokey not to be taken seriously. People often look upon bellydance as being simple and not much more than shaking about a bit, and all one really needs is the sexy costume and anyone can do it... In reality, there is so much more to it, if I can get other people interested either by joining the audition or just by coming to see the show it will be worth it. We will aim to be performing extracts from the show at some outdoor festivals in the city next summer so spreading the word about some of the beautiful music, dance and history from Arabic culture which has crossed paths with ours over the years.