Dance As Inspiration

A Raqs Sharqi Valentine

I know there is a debate among some collage artists concerning digital vs. conventional collage techniques.

The collage, “A Raqs Sharqi Valentine” is a digital work. It was inspired by my love of Egypt and Egyptian Raqs Sharqi.

The photo of the Pyramids was taken the last time I visited Giza. The stamps are from a letter I received. The cyan design element is from Egyptian money. The dancer on fire is from a photo I manipulated in PhotoShop. The Arabic writing says “Egyptian Moon”, the name of the Egyptian Moon Dance Company.

I am a dancer. I danced from the age of three…first at a neighbourhood Dance School in Brooklyn, New York…then on to the June Taylor School of Dance in Manhattan. I studied Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, the dance also known as Belly Dance first while living in England and then in Egypt and the United States. I have had the pleasure of dancing with our Troupe,  Troupe Raqesi al-Qamar al-Masrion, for the last eleven years. I have never met a group of women more pleasant or dedicated.

The first time I saw an Egyptian Dancer I was captivated. Such a variety of interpretations…The balletic style of Samia Gamal, the passion of Tahia Carioca, and the fluidity of  Sohair Zaki, the fire of Nagwa Fouad, the strength of Fifi Abdou. I could see in their Dance the Art I translated from heart to eye to paper. They formulated pictures with their movements. They made the music visible. They drew from their passionate hearts and told a story…the same as I had on paper.

It was a powerful, women’s dance. It was magical. I wanted to be part of it.

I have always loved the Middle East. My Mother was an Egyptophile. My Father did business with several Middle Eastern countries. My interest in the Dance was a just a natural extension of the influences I was exposed to growing up.

Back to the collage, I feel digital work is on par with conventional. PhotoShop, my scanner and a computer is no different to me than scissors, Matte Medium, and art papers. It’s just another form of cut and paste.

I suppose the debate will go on…but for me, I have my feet planted in both camps.

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