Review: Nadia Hamdi’s 1999 Seminar

Just got back from a fabulous 5-day/4-night trip to New York City to attend the Nadia Hamdi workshop sponsored by the one-and-only Morocco, and boy was it money well spent!!!

For 2 fabulous and fun-filled days Nadia charmed us all with her sweetness, her agility, her willingness to share and her humour.

Saturday’s choreography was an oriental routine, to a modern pop song called “Kamanana” by Mohamed Fouad, which featured SOME shoulder work and lots of hip moves.

On Sunday, we were taught an assaya routine, highlighted by a very challenging cane twirling while hopping and turning move (it was hard to get at first, so it’s just as hard to describe it) as well as some balancing sequences.

Needless to say, we all had great fun twirling our canes, but out of respect for everyone’s safety, we were mercifully divided into small working/practice groups when it came time to actually do it.

But absolute beginners or lovers of the “name that move” club be warned… Nadia’s teaching method is very much Egytian-style, i.e. “see what I do and do it” or “follow the bouncing butt”. Yes, she will break down a sequence when asked, but as is the custom in her native Egypt, the dance is simply performed, not broken down into a bunch of moves assigned some technical jargon à la North-American style.

This however did not detract one bit from my learning the dances or my enjoyment of the workshop as a whole. But then again, I’d experienced this style of teaching before.

On Saturday night, Nadia, Rocky, Tarik, the Casbah Dance Experience (Rocky’s troupe) and several workshop participants *regaled* some 200 New Yorkers with a virtual smorgasbord of dance.

The participants’ performances offered a little of everything… folkloric, avant-garde, fusion, fantasy… with music and costumes to match. Nadia’s first solo, a “Gypsy” routine specifically created for the occasion, was marked with tremendous balancing ability (a basket stayed on her head for most of the show) and ended with Nadia reading selected audience members’ palms…. absolutely enchanting.

The second half of the evening featured Halima of Pennsylvania, performing a wonderful upbeat routine in a beautiful blue dress (I paid close attention to the detailing). Then came Tarik and Morocco, in matching fire-engine red costumes with gold and rhinestone accents, each performing a short Orientale solo followed by a duet, all of which were well received… To watch them perform in solo iS a treat, as a duet they are simply magical. There is no doubting the trust and confidence they have in each other as dance partners, nor the genuine affection which permeates their performances.

On a personal note, it was great to be back in NYC and to renew some acquaintances (Hi Sheila!) … and make new friends. We even had 2 men in the class (3, if you count Tarik)! As an unexpected bonus, I got to meet some med-dance listers in person! It really is nice to put a face to the name (such as the med-dance photo gallery), but it’s even better when you get to talk to people.

If Nadia is coming to a city near you, RUN, don’t walk and do not pass “Go”…. or end up kicking yourself you-know-where for having missed it.

And Rocky, a 1,000 thank you’s for having made this possible.

Until next time! /Aziza/ Layali Shehrazad Middle Eastern Dance Company/ Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)