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Grandmothers Secret [Paperback]

Rosina Rawi
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 10 2000
Come, sit next to me, says Grandmother. Take this chalk in your hand. Now draw a dot and concentrate all your energy into this one dot. It is the beginning and the end, the navel of the world. So Fawzia Al-Rawi describes her grandmother's first lesson about the ancient craft of Oriental dance. Grandmother's Secrets always circles back to this grandmother and this young girl, echoing the circular movements of the dance itself. Al-Rawi has written a strikingly graceful and original book that blends personal memoir with the history and theory of the dance known in the West as belly dancing. It is the story of a young Arab girl as she is initiated into womanhood. It is a history of the dance from the earliest times through the days of the Pharoahs, the Roman Empire, to the Arab world of the last three centuries. It is a personal investigation into the effects of the dance's movements on individual parts of the body and the whole psyche. It is a guide to the actual techniques of the dance for those who are inspired to put down the book and move. Al-Rawi conveys in this book not only the history and technique of grieving and mourning dances, pregnancy and birth dances, but the spirit of these age-old rituals, and their possibilities for healing and empowering women today. Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi grew up in Iraq and Lebanon and was educated at the Universities of Cairo and Vienna. She is an expert in Arabic studies and ethnology, and the author of Golden Sky, Red Earth: Women's Lives in Palestine. She lives in Jerusalem and Vienna, where she teaches belly dancing.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Library Journal

After recounting her own childhood and coming of age in the Arab world, Al-Rawi reviews the history of women's dancing and reflects on the individual movements used in this ancient art form. In a section titled "Variations and Rituals," she describes nine different dances (e.g., the Wedding Dance, the Birth Dance) and sets them in context. Photographs evoke the mood of each dance, suggesting a general impression rather than step-by-step instruction. The narrative, however, supplies enough detail that the interested reader may wish to try a dance. Throughout, Al-Rawi relates movement to ideas and art to philosophy so that, in her words, "belly dancing becomes a source of inspiration, a means of collecting and strengthening oneself, and a clear and dynamic way of discovering...and understanding oneself." An interesting glimpse into a culture, an art form, and a means for women's healing and self-expression; suitable for most circulating collections, especially those whose readers are interested in Arab culture, dance, and women's studies.ACarolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
"When I look back on my childhood, four characters catch my inner eye: my grandmother, my grandfather, and the two pillars of my childhood: Adiba and Amina." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book, simply put, is charming. Though I would not recommend it to those not devoutly interested in Belly Dance, I recommend it for everyone who is!
It's a sweet coming-of-age story of an Iraqi girl and her relationship with her grandmother. This part of the book is charming. The second part of the book no longer focuses on the author and her family, but on specific dance moves and their cultural meanings - fascinating.
Very interesting short read if you like the history of belly dance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small but very significant book for all Dec 30 2005
By A Customer
I loved the book and would definitely have it on a list for belly dancers to read. Belly Dance is a healing art and that fact should always be close to the heart and be the basis when dancing and honouring the cultures of its origins.
The West, America in particular, has taken belly dance and everything for that matter, due to its cultural programming, makes everything unecessarily competitive. Competition lowers the class of the dance form actually, is quite pathetic to observe, but is the nature of the beast I guess. I see that competitiveness as a lack of self esteem, insecurity about one's Beauty, and low self worth, actually bred and programmed into western society- sad indeed. We have the luxury to think and be different, so why not be different and not buy into the programming?
True Power is not about domination- surprise!
Dance as an art, a healing art for that matter is much more significant than what I have seen in western culture, where I was born and raised.
I loved the book, every word is wonderful because I feel dance is a healing art, not a competition. It is of course a book about the healing power of belly dance!
Fawzia uses wisdoms she gained from the elegance of the old world and its many traditions, and also acknowledges today's world with its harsh realities and yet promising future if we all drop the need for greed, false power. Enough money can still be made as we get in touch with the real hungers for more understanding and love.
Her references to us being sisters in dance was like listening to a respected sister telling me stories, sharing her wisdom. What a treasure!
Whoever feels negatively about this small, but significant book is limiting themselves and those around them immensely of a very special gift.
If you do not like the book, give it (or resell) to someone else who will gain the valuable message and use it to evolve a bit more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Feb. 20 2011
Love this. The review of dances. If you are interested in Belly Dance and the women of the middle east then this book is it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about belly dance April 29 2004
By Anya
I got this book because I have been belly dancing for over 10 years and wanted to learn more about the history and background behind the dance. This book did not disapoint! It was a wonderful look into the beauty and power that can be found in belly dance, and the bonds of women.
This is a great gift for anyone interested in learning about belly dance and life in the Middle East. It is a great book for belly dancers, as the section about dance moves is very interesting and full of insights about why the movements are important.
Overall it was also an easy book to read and the style was great, even with the translation, it came across well. I really enjoyed reading it, and it has helped me with my dance practice as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book not only for Dancers........... April 10 2004
As one who has been making dance costumes for years and now (at 50) starting to learn the American Tribal Style of dance, I must say.....I found this book exceptional ... a nice doorway to what I have always felt. I feel that to say a new or beginner to this dance form would not get much out of it or would not understand what that the author is trying to get not a truthful statement. I believe what the author is saying.....Dancing is in is part of is the doorway to finding who we are...and a way to feel the past.. present and future that lives in all of us. GREAT BOOK.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A joyous and transformative experience June 26 2003
By A Customer
For me it was, anyway. This writer provides a glimpse into a culture I can never fully relate to, but more important than that she shows me the things I CAN relate to and cherish about women everywhere. A beautiful book, one I will insist my belly dance students read!!!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars So-So May 7 2003
By A Customer
Hummmmm...I liked having this book on my bookshelf more than I liked reading it.
It's less a book about belly dancing than it is a meandering journal of a woman's recollections of family life in the Middle East and how she was exposed to dancing...
That said, there are nice passages about the spiritual center of a woman's body and how that is also the center of this dance...I'd recommend this book as a good read for those who like a more spiritual quest in their dancing...
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4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT HISTORY April 15 2003
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