Interview with Ahmet Reefat
"All dancers should practice their technique and then use her/his own style which will be given by their feeling of the music. Each dancer is different."
Ahmed thanks for taking time to share with us some thoughts and information about you. For starters, who is Ahmed Reefat? Who is the artist, the person? Tell us a little bit about you kind of Ahmed Reefat “behind scenes”?
I am Ahmed Refaat Mohamed, born on the 9 September 1975, married with 2 kids. I Have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. My two brothers play music. The oldest used to play the Oud at school and my little brother studied music and now he is a music teacher and a composer. My father at young age was an actor at Cairo theatre group.
So you come from a family of artists. But tell me, how did you become a dancer and where did you get your dance training? and What have been the most crucial points and teacher on your way as a dancer? What does dance mean to you in your personal life?
Initially I was going to be an actor and I was attending a theatre for children. But as the theatre was far away I found near home a sport club that had an acting team and a dance folk team, so tried first the acting team and I start to practise with them. But one time I saw the dance group training and I instantly fell in love with what I saw. I felt I wanted to do like them. Then I went to ask the teacher Mamdoh Kandel (he was my first teacher) to join the group and he welcomed me. So I started my dance career. When I did my first solos as a dancer I invited my parents to come to see my first show and hey could not believe that is me (big smile). And then I kept training for few years untill my teacher stopped training with us. After that I joined another group, whose teacher I heard was very good. And he really was veeeery good. I learnt a lot from him and he pushed me more to advance (thing that I loved). Then I knew and felt I was born to be to be a dancer. With him we did very good dance work and I travelled to Germany, that was my first time out of Egypt. His name was Mochtar Cika, and with his group we travelled to several countries, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain. And we showed our folk dance which was a big success every time. While staying in Egypt we danced in many good places like show theatre, did dance for movies, video clips, took part in the National festivals. My 1st and 2nd teachers were the best and I did not study with others :)))) because they were the best in my mind
You are mainly a folklore dancer, right? What is your favourite style of dance and why?
Yes I am mainly folk dancer but also I can dance other dance style, lLike modern jazz or some other style. In my opinion dance is dance and a dancer can dance anything :))). I love Saidi, Nubian. Eskandrany. About Saidi I love to play with the stick and have the feeling of the Saidi people, I feel proud (smile) and Nubian is such a cute style
What is the most important value and skill a dancer should carry in her attitude towards the dance and in her performance?
You speak about Egyptian or foreigners? Cause it is totally different
Interesting: so both and why is it different?
Cause for Egyptian it's easy to catch the feeling of the dance. But for a foreigner is necessary to work a lot harder to reach the same understanding. Egyptian dancers listen to Egyptian songs all their lives and they have a deep understanding of the meaning of each song. There is something in their blood :)))
But for foreign dancers is a bit hard to understand... Always they have to do a lot more work like translate or try to understand the deep meaning, etc. Dance wise, both of them need much practise in right way and try with different choreographers and get more experience. Some foreigners start learning Arabic just to be able to understand the meaning and get the feeling. This feeling of the song/music will affect the attitude of the dancer. All dancers should practice their technique and then use her/his own style which will be given by their feeling of the music. Each dancer is different. You can find excellent dancers with high quality and great feeling and you can see other dancers who are normal and with no charisma or just a little of it.
In your opinion, where we should go and look for reliable information about Egyptian dance?
Follow the Egyptian artist old or new who has good experience
Do you have any favorite?
Aida Nur. Farida Fahmi. M Reda... And many other'
What countries have you been to to perform and teach? Where do you badly want to go?
I have travelled a lot, Italy. Russia. Sweden. France. Spain. Japan. China. Singapore. Poland. Ukraine, Hungary. Croatia.
What is the most important teaching you give to your students?
Care about the true feeling of the dance, work on getting the skills and respect the art
What do you mean by “respect the art”?
Not as dirty night club style :)))
What is your opinion of the oriental dance in the world today?
In my opinion is we need to go back to the golden time of art.... Now because the life became more modern and open so it affects the style. Look about Samia Gamal or Tahia Karioka or other old Egyptian or new one who follow the same style. Now you can see different feeling and styles, some of them are very close to the Egyptian old style.. And others are really far.
What was the funnniest moment you experienced while dancing?
When I dance fallahi with my friend Badr and he was doing like fallahi woman, he was so funny on the stage
Most beautiful thing you experienced in relation to dance recently?
When I listen people clapping after finish dancing or a class or someone tell me a nice comment about my dance from his heart
Any future plans dance-wise?
I Want to see Egyptian art more popular and I want to open my school in different places
Anything you want to share with us? Space for some free thoughts here
First I give all.my respect to all the dancers around the world who dance oriental or Egyptian folk and spend much of their time and money to learn this art and say thanks a lot for sharing this art.... as an advice: Learn as much as you can and never think that you have learned enough. Watch many Egyptian good dancers and try to catch the feeling. If you enjoy what are you dancing you will be good dancer
Interview by Lucia Aran
Ahmet Reefat on FB: www.facebook.com/ahmed.refaat.