Dancing in Cairo

Performing at the Ahlan wa Sahlan Festival in Cairo is a wonderful opportunity to dance with a ten piece Egyptian orchestra, for an audience of over 300 including dancers from all over the planet. The musicians were so kind to meet with me hours before show time for a rehearsal of my music: Oum Koulthoum's famous Dikrayati. If you're not familiar with this song please check it out, it is one of the most delightful pieces to perform to and a real crowd pleaser! The band was interested to present this classic piece and we went through all the intricate changes so I would know how they were going to play it. I then awaited the evening's performance to begin. I arrived backstage in plenty of time to warm up and get in my costume: a turquoise beaded dress with a full satin skirt. The evening would feature a dancer from Germany, myself (Californian), a woman from Siberia and one from Japan. What a fun international mix! As the German dancer was performing I was waiting in the wings with the Siberian and Japanese dancers. Dance was our only common language, and as I was now fully warmed up I began busting some moves. I noticed the other two observing me so I did a couple of suggestive Turkish moves, then laughed and waved my hand in a "just kidding" way... The Japanese dancer covered her giggle with her hand, but the Siberian dancer looked very intently at me. I hoped I had not offended her with moves not generally done in a family situation - rather saved for the "women's quarters"! Anyway, my moment had arrived, I was being announced and was taking to the stage... and the band began to play Hakim's "El Salam"!! Now, this is a fun song; I use it in San Francisco. But it's not particularly challenging, just a fun up tempo piece with few changes - and not the song we had rehearsed! The band sped it up at the end, then finished - and it appeared that was the end of my performance! I had to take a meeting with my band; seem familiar, veterans? I spoke to the leader and reminded him of our rehearsal, he concurred and spoke with the drummers, the singer was upset because it was going to be instrumental... but the song began to an immediate roar of recognition and approval from the crowd. There's a funny end to this story: The Siberian dancer was after me although I missed her performance while changing. When I got back to my table I was informed that she did those naughty Turkish moves! I guess she thought I was serious!!

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