Wonderful, effervescent, dramatic Mona el Said is the final dancer in this series, and she holds a special place in my dancer heart because I idolized her for years and then finally got to meet and study with her in person. A dance dream come true, and I hope I am doing her valuable lessons justice, as I share her wisdom with you. This part of the series is longer because there was just so much I wanted to share from my time working with her!
This is a longer multi-part baladi that incorporates accordion as well as nay improvisation. Note the different treatment with the quality of each instrument, and how she uses her breathing and feeling. Also her super-precise accent technique. And the postural aspects that show that transformation from home-style to stage-style.
Live with band in London -- for reference only, hahaha! Watch for the breathwork on the pops and locks, see if you can figure it out. I go over these moves in the drills too.
Mona el Said was the first dancer I saw dancing to baladi on video, when I was starting out. I became hooked on Egyptian style around that time, in no small part because of Mona - her grace, her uplifting feeling and her playful earthiness underneath that. She definitely played a big influence in the development of my own style.
Later, in 2007, when I was doing research in Egypt and getting costumes made for my first instructional DVDs, I took a flight to Mona's place on the Red Sea, where I took 10 hours of life-changing private lessons with her over two days. I've been lucky to work with her on a few occasions since then as well. She is a powerful figure, and she has been a powerful, honest teacher for me. Not to mention all the delicious moves!!! I'm excited to pass along some of her wisdom about technique and performance, to close this volume of the Baladi Salon Series.
Mona's route to stardom as a dancer was different from Fifi's. Mona told me some of her history when we worked together, and these reflections are from her account: From the Sinai peninsula, Mona did not grow up around the musicians and dancers of Cairo. Over the objections of her father, she sought a career in dance, and, at age 12 (!!!!!) went (accompanied by her mother) to Lebanon to dance in the clubs there, because she was too young to legally work in Cairo. During the Arabic club boom in London (1970s-1980s - I will check on what years exactly), Mona opened a nightclub there, and lived there for 18 years. She also owned a gym at one point! (...and I'll tell a little about that on my video training warmup video!) I think she gets her cosmopolitan, "bigger picture" perspective from her time spent in London, and that makes her a great communicator in English in teaching the art of oriental dance.