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Grandmothers Secret [Paperback]

Rosina Rawi
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.00
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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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Product Description

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
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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars A celebration of feminism. Jan. 15 2002
By A Customer
This book is a joy to read. It's not so much about belly dancing as it is a celebration of being female. This is a very suitable book for any women's group library. Instead of angst and raving against men, her attitude is, "We are blessed to be female and we carry the future generations in our bellies." Very strong message, with an eastern twist.
If you are looking for a book about the finer points about actual belly dancing, you may want look elsewhere. This is a book about feminism, the joy of a female body and how we dance to celebrate. Fawzia talks about how women protect each other, feel proud and survive. She explains why eastern women belly dance and how they encourage women of all ages to dance. This dance is not a "jiggle show to entertain men" as westerners may think.
Now I'm wondering why in the west women dance so stiffly? Who is really suppressed here? Fawzia talks about the ancient history of belly dancing, life in an Arab culture, etc. If you are a dancer, interested in women's issues or interested in the middle east, this book is a must.
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3.0 out of 5 stars enh. Aug. 10 2000
This book has its good points and its bad points.
The firstsection (stories from the author's childhood) is lovely. I only wish it were longer.
The second (the "history" of women's dancing) was a weakly-argued and poorly-supported rant. And while I am inclined to agree with many of her conclusions due to my own opinions and biases, the author didn't make much of a case on her own. Most of what she presents as fact is really conjecture.
The third section attempts to introduce middle eastern dance movements, but the descriptions are not specific enough to follow unless you already know the move. Pictures would have helped; the book has several, but they don't illustrate the moves (with the exeption of the hand posture photo, which was excellent). Not that you can learn any dance form from a book, but this one is unusually unhelpful. This section isn't entirely useless, though. If you're already enrolled in a class, it can give you another perspective on the movements you're learning. I've always found it helpful to have them explained another way.
The fourth section is a description of some dance occasions (birth, weddings, etc.) and the dances that accompany them. However, the descriptions are short and vague, and by this point in the book, I don't quite trust the author anymore, so I'm wary of the authenticity of what she has to say.
I seemed to have bashed this book, but it has its place. The stories in the first section were certainly worth reading. And while it didn't actually teach me anything, this book helped me to add a sort of meaning to my dancing; it gave me a focus and attitude that helped transform what I was doing from just exercising to actually dancing. And that is a valuable and important thing. However, the language is VERY New-Agey. I've hugged my share of trees, but it got to me after a while. If you don't have a good tolerance for that kind of thing, skip this book or only read one section at a time ... END
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
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!
Published on Feb. 20 2011 by soulsurfer
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about belly dance
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! Read more
Published on April 29 2004 by Anya
5.0 out of 5 stars A book not only for Dancers...........
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 ... Read more
Published on April 10 2004 by J. Zacharias
5.0 out of 5 stars A joyous and transformative experience
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... Read more
Published on June 26 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars So-So
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... Read more
Published on May 7 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT HISTORY
Published on April 15 2003 by "tallnsweet01"
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I am really disappointed with this book as it is not at all what I thought it would be. Instead of a view which the title conjured up (that of things bellydance related passed... Read more
Published on March 5 2003 by Audra
5.0 out of 5 stars Unclosing the Essence: dancing from inside out
This book is a mile stone among belly dance books. It uncloses the essence of belly dancing to us Westerners who are learning the dance in a very non-oriental way: in dance studios... Read more
Published on March 2 2003 by "rlsusanne"
3.0 out of 5 stars I felt this book helped me be in touch with my body more
I was child abused many years ago, and therefore split off
from myself quite profoundly. Years of therapy have helped me
heal and get back to me and my feelings. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2003 by Linda J. Schiller-Hanna
4.0 out of 5 stars Belly dance enhances life
Belly dance has long been misunderstood by those who see it more as an erotic thrill than the respectable art form it really is. Read more
Published on June 3 2002 by "endorapaw"
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