Sat, Feb 24, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM
Intro to Belly Dance Special Event
with Olga El
120.00 minutes
Learn popular moves from ancient North African folk dances —collectively known as "belly dance" today— which is known to build flexibility, grace and strength. This class will explore the history of the dance and then introduce the basic movement vocabulary common to most styles. Learn the basics of this dance, created by women, and open to all! More about "belly dance": When most people think of "African Dance" they are actually thinking of a collection of dances from the upper/western coasts of Africa. However, Africa has old and traditional dances in all of its regions and many of the dances have some similarities, particularly within dances that were originated by women with their emphasis on the torso and pelvic region. North Africa has a variety of dances, such as the Guedra (dance/ritual of the Tuareg people now centered in Morocco), the Sudanese Zar (dance/ritual now popular in Egypt), the Egyptian Tahtib (based in a martial art) and the Ethiopian Eskesta (not quite so far north!) The most popular North African dance is what has become known as "belly dance." Popular claims link belly dance to ancient Egypt and archaeology proves that dance was very important in ancient Egyptian life. However, it is important to note that Egypt has had an influx of foreigners and conquerors for at least 2,000 years. The inevitable intermixing with surrounding cultures, makes it difficult to pin down one origin point for belly dance but Egypt is definitely a Mecca for the dance today (while simultaneously at odds with fundamentalist Islam.) North African dance scholars have also noted the survival of birthing rituals (the most likely root of the belly dance movement vocabulary) in parts of tribal North Africa outside of Egypt. The nomadic people of Egypt, the Ghawazee, contributed much to the modern performative aspects of the dance as did the Algerian Ouled Nail women.
About the teacher
Olga El is inspired by her multicultural upbringing and a love of storytelling. Movement—particularly martial arts, aerial arts and dances from North Africa, West Africa and the Diaspora—is interwoven into her work as a performance artist, writer and director. While studying writing at Pratt Institute she directed North African dance troupe Bastet and charitable, community project Belly Dance for Change. In March 2011 she founded the The Kandake—a dance-theatre collective that combines social activism and community engagement with folkloric, modern, theatrical and experimental artistry. She has performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (for Hannibal Buress), Le Poisson Rouge, The Best Buy Theatre (with Iraqi metal band Acrassicauda), Webster Hall, the Mehanata and Bohemian Festivals, The Zipper Factory, The CMJ Music Festival, The House of Yes, Dances of Vice, The Bitter End, Dixon Place, TED MED, The Park Avenue Armory and The Lincoln Center. A musical she wrote and directed entitled 1001 Nights: Love Stories on Death Row (A Rock Ballet) —in which the legendary Queen Scheherazade is re-imagined as a queer, immigrant woman on death row— was commissioned in 2015 by Dixon Place, the Theatre for the New City and the Jamaica Performing Arts Center where her company was honored with a dance residency. The full script was solicited by the Public Theater in 2015. A Spanish language version of the work has won numerous awards including a prestigious HOLA award for "Outstanding Musical Production" and a New York Latin ACE Award for "Best Musical". She regularly hosts free or low-cost workshops and retreats for the community, which are now funded in part by the Citizens Committee for New York City. As a writer she reviews the best in NYC dance and theatre for Broadway World.

Saturday, February 24 at 4:15 pm
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