Urban Beledi Course
What is the aim of the course?
To introduce the Urban Beledi dance style both in terms of movement vocabulary and cultural context.
What is "Urban Beledi"?
"Urban Beledi" is used to cover the style of dance brought to, and developed in, Cairo and Alexandria as the fellahi moved off the land and into the cities. It is the dance of the people (awalâd il-beled); not the foreigners, not the intelligentsia. The phrase "awalâd il-beled" includes key concepts of Egyptian identity such as honour, good humour, living for moment, generosity, and a tough worldliness.
In practice, what is performed is an idealization of how a bint il-beled (daughter of the country) would move and live her life. For example, the milâya laff (the large black wrapping which used to envelop all good women when on the streets) is a symbol of a time where women behaved with honour. The concept of honour does not preclude flirtation (often the milâyas were wrapped very tightly) and a bint il-beled was expected to be street smart and fun loving – but chaste.
Another accepted role is the mi'allima, a female leader with a strong character. Usually an important trader or merchant (such as a butcher or coffeehouse keeper) the mi'allima combines feminine coquetry with extreme masculine toughness – both verbal and physical.
Incorporating elements of Urban Beledi style into the study of Middle Eastern Dance expands the boundaries of the dance in terms of movement vocabulary, prop use, and styles of presentation. Indirectly it also addresses issues of self-esteem and body acceptance. Videos shown in class will include performances by a range of Egyptian dancers including those who are older and larger than the Western ideal. Students will also be given time for guided improvisation which will look at how they can make the most of those things they do well.This overview of "Urban Beledi" may also be useful.
What does the course cover?
- an idea of appropriate dance movements for a dance using a milâya-laff
- improvising to a short piece of Egyptian music in a casual setting
- expressing the stereotype of the mi'allima, the flirt, the village girl, the wise woman in simple movements
- exploring the 3 / 4shimmy walk
- layering over basic isolations
- recognizing characteristics of an Urban Beledi performance
- appropriate costuming for each sub-style
Cultural Knowledge & Skills:
- recognizing and moving to common Arabic rhythms
- a chance to watch Egyptian performers
- learning how to wrap & manipulate a milâya-laff.
- introduction to Egyptian words and phrases relevant to Urban Beledi dance
- recent Egyptian history
Who is the course for?
The course is aimed at adult women of any fitness level. This is low impact and would suit those who want to expand their understanding of the dance into Egyptian Beledi.
The course is not heavy on technique but more experienced dancers may find useful material in the course.
The course is not suitable for absolute raw beginners. At least 10 hours of basic belly dance tuition is recommended.
How big are the classes?
Class size is 4-8 students.
How do I sign up?
Send your enrolment with at least a $10 deposit to:
PO Box 18-902
The full amount of $100 is required on the first day. There is a 10% reduction for payment received before the day of the first class.You can print out a form from the site
or you can email your interest - however, as this is a unique course places cannot be held without a deposit.
© Copyright 2007
Updated by JEWEL