Published in the SAMEDA Papyrus – March, 2008
Workshop Title: “Hala presents “Tito from Egypt” workshop and show 2008”
The events were sponsored by Hala, a well recognized Egyptian instructor and performer in the San Francisco area. The two day workshops were held at the spacious Odd Fellows Dance Hall in Redwood City. The facility was easy to find from the freeway and within 15 minutes of the San Francisco airport. The studio was large, clean with plenty of floor space. In the next room, vendors tantalized us with costumes, music and dance accessories. I was impressed with the organization of the workshops. Hala and her assistances coordinated a smooth running seminar with 75+ attendees daily.
In the intensive 2 day seminar, Tito taught his unique techniques of Egyptian dance – including his famous ‘sit’ turns, big hip circles and traveling moves that identify him as one of Egypt’s Top performers.
Despite his stardom, Tito appears to be a genuine and sincere artist, who strives to perfect his technique and teaching methods.
On the first day of the seminar, we began with a quick warm-up then learned a beautiful Oriental Choreography – full of spice – the Egyptian way. Tito choreographed the piece for the dancer to begin with hands up, back to the audience. Then after completing graceful turns, the dramatic musicality began and the movements gradually emphasized the body down to the hips. The core of Egyptian dance. Tito’s choreography fit the music perfectly and was exciting, yet simple and paved the way for dancers to add their own flourishes.
In the afternoon, we learned a fun Saidi “Raks Assaya” piece. This piece began with the dancer facing the side of the stage, then a series of quick foot movements and unexpected turns. Another interesting way to captivate the audience. We learned some new cane tricks – I’m still practicing these! The choreography was smooth and rich. It appealed to all levels of artists, with opportunity to add more intricate shimmies. During this workshop, Tito also taught us some fun shaabi moves and gestures. Everyone appeared to thoroughly enjoy the dance day!
At 7:30pm, Hala presented a show at the Veteran’s Memorial Center. The Center is an older building with a charming stage and theatre seating. The lineup was extensive with a variety of artists performing dance styles ranging from Turkish, Melaya Luff, Saidi, Shaabi to Oriental Dance. I was honored to perform, but could hardly wait to see Tito. Every time he stepped on stage, the audience was breathless. Tito’s versatility, stage presence and talent was dazzling. His first dance was Raks Assaya with 4 canes. This was the first time I’ve ever seen such a performance to a drum solo. Wow! In the second half Tito performed Tanoura – his sharp turns and tricks were impressive. But the most favored part of the show was his finale. Staged on his derbakke- Tito was unstoppable. His shimmies were strong and endless. His shaabi gestures were endearing. When Tito danced in the audience, we all stood up and clapped as he passed through the rowdy guests. He was exuberant and made us want more. What a grand show. (Note: DVD’s are available at www.haladance.com)
The next day, we learned a sassy Melaya Lef choreography. This prop is a little trickier to master. Tito suggested folding the Melaya in ½ to facilitate movement without striking your colleagues. This is highly recommended for anyone who wants to perform this fun dance in a small venue.
In the afternoon, we learned a shaabi piece, complete with theatrical gestures depicting money exchanges, village ownership, caricatures, and life in Egypt streets. This was a work out! By the end of the day, we were filled with so many memorable dance moves and technique. I felt as if I the seminar was a week long one! I found Tito's workshops to be an excellent opportunity for dancers, who wish to improve their dance skills, learn new techniques and increase their knowledge about Egyptian culture and dance.
On April 12 and 13th, Hala is sponsoring Raqia Hassan, an international legend from Egypt. Madame Hassan is one of the most recognized choreographer and instructor of Middle Eastern Dance. She is a wonderful instructor and if you can attend the workshop, make the worthwhile trip. For further information about the workshops or to order a DVD, please contact Hala at www.haladance.com