You will never see a group choreography doing Baladi improvisation. It is just not done, while in “SHARQI”, there are many group choreography and as a matter of fact, when “RAQS SHARQI” started, it used many back line dancers.
So, what is Baladi then?
Come with me on a little stroll down one of Cairo’s back streets. Not necessarily Mohammed Ali Street, the place were many of the musicians, dancers and entertainers lived and still do since the late part of last century, this is too obvious, let’s go down Haret Zeinhom, in El Sayeda Zeinab district of Cairo. But…who lives there? People who have moved to the city well over a couple of hundred years ago, or even longer than that. These people came from the other cities of Egypt like El Mahalla, El Kobra, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Asyout, Quena, Banha, Damanhour, Domiat, Sohag…. or any other. OK………..Why? to get better jobs and to trade with their produce.
Now, these people are so special, they were not like the city people, however, some were very educated and continue to educate their children. Many of which are now doctors, architects, lawyers, army ranked, directors of big companies or even in the Government. And, even though they are and have been part of the city for a few generations, they are still very proud and are very connected to their roots, and this is what they will always call “HOME”, the city or village they came from. They say I am going back to “EL BALAD” meaning my country, or my hometown.
In Arabic, BALADI means my country, my hometown. But to the “SOPHISTICATED” city people (one of the dictionary definitions of Sophisticated is: Untrue, false) it means something that is home grown, or their country, or the countryside people or even fashionably tasteless clothes or street language. They say Ooo lala this is Baladi. OK. Lets now look at the life of these Baladi people, and let’s take a look at an imaginary young lady and study her day to day living, what is expected of her, what is she expecting out of life, her connections to the world and how she’s liable to make it. Let’s call her. ………Zeinab.
Zeinab’s family are not rich, they live in a poor area, Haret Zeinhom. Father works in a factory earning very little and can hardly support the family, her mom and one other very young sisters and two brothers who are 25 and 23 years old. She is the third child and is 18 years old, fully matured, ripe and would break your heart with one smile or a look from the corner of her eye. Long black hair and a face like a full moon smiling down at you from high above and you can see the respect of the family traditions have been not only bread into her, but also beaten into her by her protective brothers, who are too scared, LIKE EVERYONE READING THIS, each to his/her relevant degree about reputation, honor and respect.
This is ALL the BALADI people have, and this is ALL they give a damn about:
SELF RESPECT & TO BE RESPECTED BY “ALL” OTHERS