It’s so different from Egyptian Dance. ED is very contained and controlled. It’s fairly low intensity, with a lot of focus on isolations and precise movement. It’s a very natural dance; it doesn’t strain your body. African Dance is different. It’s wild with full body motions and huge gestures. It requires real athleticism.
Also the teaching styles of both classes are very different. My ED teacher is a good twenty years older than my AD teacher. Her teaching style is very relaxed and accomodating. She’ll drill a move, but then she’ll stop and talk about the history of the dance or give personal anecdotes. She tailors her teaching to the group of students, focusing on fast moves one class and slower the next. She talks about performance edicate and female empowerment. The class is about more than dance, because you’re learning the history and also about loving yourself. My AD teacher doesn’t do much talking. She really is the nicest lady in the world, but once the drums start going 1)you couldn’t hear anything she said anyway. 2)she starts dancing and she isn’t going to stop until time is up. Basically, she does a move and the class follows along to the best of their ability. The “warm-up” is an hour long. Then she teaches some step from a specific African dance, and then you go across the room four at a time, doing the steps she taught. There isn’t a focus on technique or history, you just lose yourself in the drums and go.
I love the contrast. I love Egyptian Dance with my whole being. And I love my class and my teacher. I have learned so much about the dance, the Middle East, and myself, from being in her class. But, it is low intesity, there is a lot of talking, and I don’t have to push myself often. Which is fine; the class operates beautifully the way it is. But African Dance provides me with the kind of wild abandon that Egyptian doesn’t. I lose all inhibitions when I’m doing African Dance. I think Egyptian Dance appeals to how I am naturally—feminine, contained, cute and sensual but not overtly so. And African appeals to a side of me that doesn’t often get expressed—fierce, loud, athletic and ecstatically joyful. You know, the primal side =)