The Great Maharani A. K. A. MICKEY OF MIAMI

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Belly dance is a Western term for a traditional Middle Eastern dance form. Some American devotees refer to it simply as "Middle Eastern Dance". The term belly-dance is a creation of Orientalism, and is first attested in English in 1899, translating French danse du ventre.

There are two forms of belly dancing. The first is called raqs baladi, a social dance performed by people of all ages and by both sexes, during festive occasions- such as weddings- and other social gatherings for fun and celebration. The second form- the more theatrical version- is called raqs sharqi, and it is this type that is most popular in America today. Like raks baladi, raks sharqi is performed by both male and female dancers.

Where belly dancing is a native dance, boys and girls learn it from an early age. As with many social dances, children learn it informally, by observing and imitating their elders during family and community celebrations, as well as during informal gatherings with friends.

The Great Maharani --- Mickey Of Miami

Mickey's education began in 1959 when she was first introduced to the art of tribal dance by a Moroccan teacher known as Allahia. Mickey took to the dance and her career was born. Taking the stage name thrust upon her when she went to Egypt in 1960 was that of Maharani. She was later after traveling the world so named by her compatriots of the Dance The Great Maharani. But in America all just call her Mickey Of Miami.

Mickey of Miami is a Psychic, Medium and paranormal columnist, who resides in Miami, Florida. Mickey has been a professional psychic for many years and has investigated Haunted Houses, Haunted Cemeteries and Haunted items. Mickey wrote an astrology column for Middle Easter Dancer Magazine called Star Dancer for many years. And was well received where ever she went and hailed as a leading Psychic and Astrologer for over the past 30 years.

She used the Belly Dance stage name of Maharani. Appeared 6 nights a week at The Meridien-Heliopolis Hotel, Cairo, Egypt in the early 1980's. She has appeared in several "Belly Dance" video and DVD's. And is also hailed as the Queen of the Psychics.

As a Belly Dancer in the 21st century, Mickey has danced and shared the stage with such Belly Dancing greats as Morocco, Helen Noreen, Amaya, Delilah, Bert Baladine, Aziza, Shalimar Serene, Aliza and countless others. The ever fantastic Bert Baladine commented once about Mickey in an interview. "To Belly Dance on the same stage with Mickey Of Miami is to dance with a goddess unleashed."

Mickey has always been called the most popular Middle Eastern Dancer of the 20th Century and now the 21st. Her expressive and explosive moves have made her Style and beauty known to generations of dancers from around the world. Each year Mickey still takes on aspiring students and still turns out the best dancers in the world. Recently her star pupil Sanzibabah has gone on to dance in egypt, Turkey and is now on a world tour along side Mickey and also has become an internatiaonal Star on her own.

Mickey collects vintage Tarot Decks, fine art and has been the subject of many fantastic paintings by several well known artist from around the world. A large Mural adorns a local Miami building of the fabulous star.

She also is involved in Paranormal Investigating of Haunted Houses, Cemeteries and Buildings and has worked as a sensitive along side many of the great names in Ghost Hunting Today. Mickey has a second sight where as she can see and hear ghosts as if they were still alive.

Now a days she can be seen attending several Santeria and Haitian voodoo rites in the Southern Florida area, and investigating real spirit possession. She also read Tarot cards for the public and was the star featured reader at the well known Athene Bookstore.

Mickey is constantly helping people with her ability to communicate with those who have passed over to the Other Side! She is also known to many as a great survivor and as one who has faced incomputable odds and still keeps smiling.

As a member of the world community Mickey loves helping those that she says are guided to her by the supreme powers to overcome their personal obstacles to attain the rewards that they so richly deserve. That's is why she makes herself accessible to the public to contact her directly to her from this site.

 

The Dance Oriental

Because the most popular venue for the dance remains night clubs, (as well as the proliferation of video and DVD recordings of popular Egyptian dance celebrities), it is this version, rather than the folk or social versions of the dance that is most popular. The costume now associated with this dance is called bedlah in Arabic (meaning "suit") and was adopted by dancers in Egypt in the 1930s, from where it spread to other countries in the region. It owes its creation to the harem fantasy productions of vaudeville, burlesque and Hollywood during the turn of the last century, rather than to actual authentic Middle Eastern dress. An enterprising dancer, singer and night club owner in Cairo named Badia Masabni is credited with adopting this costume due to the fact that this was the image that Western tourists came to expect, rather than the native costumes which covered and concealed the contours of the body, with only a scarf or belt tied around the hips to highlight the movements.

The mainstays of costuming for these styles include a fitted top or bra (usually with fringe of beads or coins), a fitted hip belt (again with a fringe of beads or coins), and skirt/s (straight, layered, circular, or paneled). In the western world a "veil" may also be used for an entire dance, a three-and-a-half to four-yard piece of fabric, or in part of the dance to move about and frame movements for the dancer.

In the 1940s King Farouk of Egypt employed Russian ballet instructor Ivanova to teach his daughters, and it was she who first taught the great dancer Samia Gamal to use the veil to improve her arm carriage. Most Egyptian dancers use the veil as an opening prop which they discard within the first few minutes of their routines.

In Egypt, dancers will also wear full beaded dresses, to do the folkloric and baladi routines. These types of outfits are also used by American and European dancers when performing folk dances. These dresses in Egypt, however, are designed according to the dance and the tradition. Western dancers have more freedom and may choose freely according to taste and fantasy.

Raqs Sharqi belly dancing consists of movements that are executed throughout the body. The focus of the dance is the pelvic and hip area. It is, fundamentally, a solo improvisational dance with its own unique dance vocabulary that is fluidly integrated with the music’s rhythm.

Raqs Sharqi dancers internalize and express the emotions evoked by the lyrics and the music. Appropriately, the music is integral to the dance. The most admired Raqs Sharqi dancers are those who can best project their emotions through dance, even if their dance is made up of simple movements. The dancer’s goal is to visually communicate to the audience the emotion and rhythm of the music. Raqs Sharqi translates from Arabic as "dance of the Orient" or "Oriental Dance". This is the oldest dance in the world. Belly dance is a misnomer as the all parts of the body are involved in the dance, and the most important body part is the hips. The dancer’s goal is to visually communicate to the audience the emotion and rhythm of the music.

Egyptian-style raqs sharqi is based on Baladi an later the work of belly dance legends Samia Gamal, Tahiya Karioka, Naima Akef, and other dancers who rose to fame during the golden years of the Egyptian film industry. Later dancers who based their styles partially on the dances of these artists are The Great Mahrani "Mickey Of Miami", Sohair Zaki, Fifi Abdou, and Nagwa Fouad. All rose to fame between 1960 and 1980, are still popular today, and have nearly risen to the same level of stardom and influence on the style. The most important non-Egyptian forms of belly dance are the Syrian/Lebanese and the Turkish. Both of which Mickey Of Miami is the Master of.

Though the basic movements of Raqs Sharqi have remained the same, the dance form continues to evolve. Nelly Mazloum and Mahmoud Reda are noted for incorporating elements of ballet into Raqs Sharqi and their influence can be seen in modern Egyptian dancers who stand on relevé as they turn or travel through their dance space in a circle or figure eight.

In Egypt, three main forms of the traditional dance are associated with belly dance: Baladi/Beledi, Sha'abi and Sharqi.

Egyptian belly dance was among the first styles to be witnessed by Westerners. During Napoleon's invasion of Egypt (the campaign which yielded the Rosetta stone, leading to the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics), Napoleon's troops encountered the Ghawazee tribe. The Ghawazee made their living as professional entertainers and musicians. The women often engaged in prostitution on the side, and often had a street dedicated to their trade in the towns where they resided, though some were quasi-nomadic. At first the French were repelled by their heavy jewelry and hair, and found their dancing "barbaric", but were soon lured by the hypnotic nature of their movements.

Some mistakenly believe that Turkish oriental dancing is known as Çiftetelli due to the fact that this style of music has been incorporated into oriental dancing by Greeks and Roma, illustrated by the fact that the Greek belly dance is called Tsifteteli. However, Turkish Çiftetelli is more correctly a form of wedding folk music, the part that makes up the lively part of the dance at the wedding and is not connected with oriental dancing.

Turkish belly dance today may have been influenced by Roma people as much as by the Egyptian and Syrian/Lebanese forms, having developed from the Ottoman rakkas to the oriental dance known worldwide today. As Turkish law does not impose restrictions on Turkish dancers' movements and costuming as in Egypt, where dancers are prevented from performing floor work and certain pelvic movements, Turkish dancers are often more outwardly expressive than their Egyptian sisters. Many professional dancers and musicians in Turkey continue to be of Romani heritage as well. (However, it should be noted that people of Turkish Romani heritage also have a distinct dance style which is uniquely different from the Turkish Oriental style.) Turkish dancers are known for their energetic, athletic (even gymnastic) style, and particularly, until the past few years, their adept use of finger cymbals, also known as zils. Connoisseurs of Turkish dance often say that a dancer who cannot play the zils is not an accomplished dancer. Another distinguishing element of the Turkish style is the use of the Karsilama rhythm in a 9/8 time signature, counted as 12-34-56-789. Turkish belly dance costumes can be very revealing, with the belt sometimes worn high up on the waist and split skirts which expose the entire leg, although dancers today are costuming themselves more like Egyptian dancers and wearing more modest "mermaid"-style skirts. The Turkish style is emphasized further by the dancer wearing high heels and often platform shoes. Famous Turkish belly dancers include Tulay Karaca, Nesrin Topkapi and Birgul Berai.

When immigrants from Turkey, Iran, and the Arab states began to immigrate to New York in the 1930s and 1940s, dancers started to perform a mixture of these styles in the nightclubs and restaurants. Often called "Classic Cabaret" or "American Cabaret" belly dance, these dancers are the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of some of today's most accomplished performers, such as Anahid Sofian and Artemis Mourat.[

The term "belly dancing" (believed by some to be a mis-transliteration of the term for the dance style Beledi or Baladi) is generally credited to Sol Bloom, entertainment director of the 1893 World's Fair, the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Although there were dancers of this type present at the 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia, it was not until the 1893 fair that it gained national attention. There were authentic dancers from several Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Syria, Turkey and Algeria, but it was the dancers in the Egyptian Theater of The Street in Cairo exhibit who gained the most notoriety. The rapid hip movements and the fact that the dancers were uncorseted, was considered shocking to the Victorian sensibilities of the day. In fact, there were attempts by many, most notably Anthony Comstock, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, to have the Egyptian theater closed.

Although it is popularly believed that a dancer named "Fatima", also known as Little Egypt, stole the show, and continued to popularize this form of dancing, there is in fact no evidence to support this claim.

The dance performed by the many dancers calling themselves "Little Egypt" was nicknamed the "Hootchy-Kootchy" or "Hoochee-Coochee", or the shimmy and shake. Due to cultural misunderstanding about the nature of the dance and misrepresentations by the many imitators in Burlesque halls and carnival sideshows, the western world considered it risqué, leading to the stereotype of an erotic suggestive dance. Another name for the dance is "danse du ventre", which in French literally means "dance of the stomach."

Because this dance style created such a craze, Thomas Edison made several films of dancers in the 1890s. Included in these are the Turkish dance, Ella Lola, 1898 and Crissie Sheridan in 1897 both available for on-line viewing through the Library of Congress. Another in this collection is Princess Rajah dance from 1904 which features a dancer playing Zils (finger cymbals), doing "floor work", and balancing a chair in her teeth.

In addition, the sensational stories about the pseudo-Javanese dancer Mata Hari, who was convicted in 1917 by the French for being a German spy during World War I, and the fact that belly dancing could be seen only at vaudeville and in burlesque shows gave belly dancing a questionable reputation in polite society. Hollywood did not help the reputation by only having three roles for a belly dancer (those of slave to be saved, a background dancer while the main characters talk, or a deceitful woman who uses her wiles to trick the main character), which created stereotypes of belly dancers that many dancers and instructors today are working hard to overcome. It is due to these stereotypes that many practitioners refer to the art as "Middle Eastern Dance".

While the beautiful classical Raqs Sharqi is still popular in the West, many dancers have created fusion forms such as American Tribal Style inspired by the folkloric dance styles of India, the Middle East and North Africa and even flamenco. Dancers in the United States, while respecting the origins of belly dance, are also exploring and creating within the dance form to address their own needs. Many women today in the U.S. and Europe approach belly dance as a tool for empowerment and strengthening of the body, mind, and spirit. Issues of body-image, self-esteem, healing from sexual violation, sisterhood, and self-authentication are regularly addressed in belly dance classes everywhere.

With its emergence at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, the last four decades of the 20th century moved belly dance in the U.S. more into the mainstream. The current interest in the dance can be traced back to the 1950s and '60s. It was in the ethnic nightclubs in major cities like New York, that most Americans first became acquainted with the dance. These clubs were owned, operated and patronized by members of the ethnic communities of Mediterranean countries like Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. At the time, most of the dancers were Greek or Turkish, but in time their ranks would grow to include Americans as well. One example of this is the dancer "Morocco" of New York, who started her career in the night clubs of Greek Town on 8th Avenue. These American dancers learned the dance by watching and imitating their Greek and Turkish sisters, as well as the patrons.

In the late 1960s and early '70s many of these dancers began offering dance classes. With increasing exploration of the East in the late 1960s, many people became interested in everything Eastern, including dance. Many touring Middle Eastern or Eastern bands took dancers with them as they toured to provide a visual representation of their music, which helped to spark interest in the dance. This had the effect of creating many beautiful dancers who have generated greater interest in belly dancing. The increased interest in belly dancing created diverse names for the same simple movements and the need to have a "style" as each teacher tried to distinguish differences in their way of teaching from other teachers. This has hampered belly dance from acceptance with the more established dance forms because there is no nationally recognized choreography terminology that can be used to create repeatable dances.

A recent movement in the U.S. called American Tribal Style Belly Dance, or ATS, represents everything from folklore-inspired dances to the fusion of ancient dance techniques from North India, the Middle East, and Africa. Created in the early 1990s by Carolena Nericcio, founder of FatChanceBellydance in San Francisco, ATS has a format consisting of a vocabulary of steps that are designed to be performed improvisationally in a lead-follow manner. Pure ATS is performed in a group, typically with a chorus of dancers using zills, or finger cymbals, as accompaniment. The music can be folkloric or modern, and the costume is heavily layered, evoking traditions of any or all of its fusion of cultural influences.

Multicultural trends that have shaped Western and U.S. belly dance are still at work. Ever evolving, this versatile dance keeps absorbing a blend of influences; modern fashion, film and television imagery, the world of rock and hip hop, underground subcultures, and many other contemporary influences. The umbrella term used to describe these hybrid forms of belly dance is "belly dance fusion", including "tribal fusion". One of the newest belly dance fusion trends is gothic belly dance that incorporates many belly dance styles and motifs and seeks to express the darkness of the unknown that has inspired the music, philosophies, and lifestyles of the Goth subculture.

Health and belly dancing
The benefits of belly dance are both mental and physical. Dancing provides a good cardio-vascular workout and helps increase both flexibility and strength, focusing on the torso or "core muscles", although it also builds leg strength. Many belly dance styles emphasize muscular "isolations", teaching the ability to move various muscles or muscle groups independently. Veil work can also build arm, shoulder, and general upper-body strength, and playing the zils can build strength and independence of the fingers. Belly dance is suitable for all ages and body types, and can be as physical as the participant chooses.

Resources:

Jareeda

Jareeda is an International Middle Eastern Dance Magazine

Jareeda is a friendly, quality publication whose subscribers range from professional dancers to students, and even non-dancers who love our art form and wish to know more about it.

Jareeda has the largest known readership of any Middle Eastern Dance journal published in the United States, with 6 issues per year, has an international staff of writers, professional artwork, and great advertisers for all of your dance needs.

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