Translation of the Danzahoy.com (DanceTODAY) article about Hala Dance:

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Hala Dance Company
The forbidden dance

by Marie Rose Abdallah (USA)

Translation by: Susanna Farina & Fernando Gonzalez

Since 1999, the school directed by Hala Fauzi offers seminars with guest teachers from the Orient, training classes for students and classes for teachers' training. Her style is influenced by the Egyptian folkloric traditions.

"El raks el sharki" as it is called in Arabic, or more well-known as the "Danza del Vientre" in Spanish, or "Belly Dance" in English, has its origins in the countries of the East. Because of the admiration and respect that have been given to this type of dance in most recent years, many dancers found the courage and enthusiasm to teach this delicate art that is almost like a "work of engineering" for the body.

In antiquity, belly dancers have served as entertainment for sultans and maharajas. A dance whose bad reputation was gained a long time ago has currently lost its stigma in the recent generations. Still in Arabic countries, the practice of dance does not have the same respect that it has today in other countries. The dancer is not well regarded in most cases and is the victim of much prejudice.

Hala Fauzi, teacher and dancer of Belly Dance, and owner of the school, Hala Dance Company, in Santa Clara, California, broke away from these regional and moral prejudices. After working as a computer engineer for ten years, she decided to leave everything to pursue her passion for dance. She studied with distinguished teachers and traveled to Egypt to further her education, and won the battle when in 1999 she opened her own studio to teach what she does best: dance the belly dance.

Influenced by the Egyptian folkloric traditions, her style of dance is rooted in the rhythms and melodies of the Middle East. Hala grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, a city whose cultural heritage exposed her to the customs, historical and native sources of the dance. "Every year I travel to Egypt to continue my studies of style, music and traditions," says Hala. Her professors are renowned Egyptian teachers such as Farida Fahmy, Raqia Hassan, Dina, Mahmoud Reda, Badia'a, Mervat Mongy, Nagwa Fuad, Zizi Mostafa, Hamada Hosam El Din, Hassan Afifi and others.

In 2002, Hala formed her troupe of dancers named the Hala Dance Company as a projection of her own school of dance. Praised not only for the authenticity of form and style but also for the rhythm of her choreographies, Hala offers classes for all ages and levels. "My students are common people who want to learn belly dance" she affirms. "The majority of them are around 20 or 30 years old" but she also says she has students between the ages of 60 and 75. That is, "belly dancing has no age requirement. With good instruction and the will to dance, everything is possible. The key is to have a good teacher."

At first glance, it seems like something easy and simple. However, to execute the movements smoothly and with the grace that they require, it is necessary to have many years of training and practice. Belly dancing, beyond its artistic function, allows the perfection of body posture, coordination, and rhythm. Because the dance is an expressive art, Hala encourages her students to develop their own style and personality. Her method of teaching is based on the Eastern traditions and mixes this training with martial arts, with which she induces a unique posture and technique.

"Due to its beauty and simplicity, belly dancing is accessible to all body types, ages, genders and levels of flexibility," comments Susan, student of the school. Beyond wanting to learn this dance, students choose belly dancing because it's a good form of exercise. Hala provides information and assistance to local schools and other organizations to preserve and promote this dance form.

The method of teaching is based on the cultures of the Middle East by using the images of this culture and at the same time, through analogy and practice instead of focusing on repetitive and mechanical motion. Also, the classes integrate the cultural heritage through the meaning of the songs. In addition, she introduces the class to meditation and developing healthy habits to reduce stress and to allow the body to express itself freely.

The school offers permanent seminars with guest teachers and physical training classes in other areas besides belly dancing. In parallel, the school offers courses for teachers. "I came here for good health and to take care of my body," commented Teresa, student of the school. "Here people come of all ages, body types, and levels of ability and this gave me the encouragement to continue. With this dance we experience a level of freedom that is not accessible with any other form of dance."

Introducing Karim Nagi

Hala Fauzi, teacher & dancer of Belly dance, owner of the Hala Dance Company in Santa Clara, California

Article pictures

Classes are taught at the Hala Dance Company for all age groups and levels, and the didactic method
is based on Eastern traditions

 

Seminars
Atef Farag Workshop & Show:
Location: Odd Fellows Dance Hall, 839 Main St, Redwood City, CA 94063
Time: seminar: 10 am - 3 pmShow: 7 - 9 pm on Saturday
Date: June 4 & 5