Day 7: Classical Oriental and muffins

Today we woke up early enough for a 930am class, which means we had time to grab a muffin (or 5) in the dining room to start the day. Although I’ve eaten more bread here than I have in the past year of my life, it seems to be the safest choice. Our conference organizer said she has had the most sick girls of all time this year. I’m convinced it’s something lurking in the breakfast room, perhaps the juice.

Our class was a three hour classical oriental workshop with Gamal Seif, the same teacher who taught our awalum class. Gamal is an excellent teacher, it’s easy to see how he displays movement and it is so effortlessly conveyed when he dances, and yet he exudes strength. I loved taking class with him.

I felt a little foolish throughout class, 7 days into Egypt I could barely keep up with the brisk athletic movement and I found myself wishing this had been the first class I’d taken before I got sick. I very much wanted to give it my all. I knew my technique and ability were lacking. They probabaly would have been lacking even if I’d been at full strength. The movement was challenging but beautiful. It’s important to take classes above your level on occasion, because it’s how you push yourself to grow. Melissa and I agreed that intensive study with Gamal would probabaly change our dance lives forever (and that he’d probabaly forbid the muffins we were sustaining our lives with for our own good. I’m ok with that). I can’t wait to take class with him again someday. We were able to chat with him a little after class and he is just such a kind and charming person.

I took the afternoon to nap while Melissa did her laundry. Each time one of us does laundry a good layer of sand is left in the shower. The dust permeates the air here, and although my clothes could use a good machine wash I’m thankful for this luxury of mostly clean clothes.

After the nap we decided it was time to finally hit this beautiful pool around our room. Our third roommate was sick so we unfortunately had to leave her behind. 

The weather was so breezy and beautiful outside. With weather like this it’s hard to leave. Although some consider egypt to be blistering hot, it’s nothing like the heat I’ve been experiencing back home in arizona. With my history of UTI infections and an entire week left of travel Melissa and I decided it would be better to just let the water travel up to our knees.  

We sat and talked for a long while about our trip, and future ideas for dance excursions and even a non-dance trip back to Egypt to experience more of the culture and space. We are feeling much more confident about our safety and how to move around in this country.

The evening concluded with a final evening gala of dancing. I really feel I’ve gotten a taste for the  Egyptian dance style and how different it is from American Cabaret. I’m not sure it’s something I can explain so well in words, but only show through examples. The deep muscular style with its tight locks, pauses, and powerhouse shimmies is so different from the earthy but sometimes lifted and ethereal style in American Cabaret, which because of its location has lots of ballroom and ballet influence.

We tried to make it through the whole show but 6 hour shows are pretty difficult to sit through even with a dinner break. We went back to our room to pack up the last few things and have our last sleep in Cairo. 

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