What is the story behind BanatMazin.com?
Produced by Shining Peacekeeper
Project Dates: September 2021-Present
The idea for this project started after hearing Khyria mention in Yasmina Ramzy's 2015 YouTube interview series, that she dreamed of opening a dance school. I don't remember exactly when I first watched the interviews but the comment sat there in the back of my mind for a long time. I had already been studying raqs sharqi (aka "oriental dance" or "belly dance") since 2005 and I had become really interested in the historical roots and supporting folk dances of raqs sharqi within Egypt around 10 years into dancing. I'd been introduced to multiple interpretations of the Banat Mazin dance style while performing with dance companies around the American Pacific Northwest and was in the middle of a project focused on historical awalim/ghawazee dance when the pandemic hit.
As classes started shifting online in force, a dozen fantasies I'd been entertaining about the things I wished someone with more resources would create with Khyria started to connect and I saw the map of this website printed on the whiteboard of my mind. The thought came: "I can make an online school for her." I didn't know how I would be able to complete it with my limited resources or even if it's a project Khyria would truly be interested in, but I was pulled like a magnet across the planet to try. I began with a month of one on one lessons (I had previously only had the opportunity to take two private lessons and a group lesson with her in 2019) and interviews to establish a base of understanding regarding her technique, musicality and what she viewed as essential or important in dance.
I also wanted to ask questions I wished earlier researched had thought to ask, verify things I saw in that research that hadn't been fully detailed and find a way to make learning the Banat Mazin version of raqs shaabi (traditional dance) more accessible to students who would never be able to visit Egypt. During my time here in Luxor I also started to facilitate international online workshops for Khyria. To date we've had 5+ workshops in English, Brazilian Portuguese, and Czech languages.
My work and this website is not at attempt to save the dance, or preserve it like a time capsule (we know all things end or change) but Khyria and I do hope that it will be a way for her family to be remembered, and for people to learn in a deeper and more direct way than would otherwise be possible. I have tried to keep the information here in her voice and perspective as much as possible, adding my perspective only where I think clarification will help people absorb the material more efficiently.
Videos, interviews, photos, digitized cassettes from Khyria's collection and other relevant materials presented here are done so with permission and compensation. Accessibility is the main goal of this project, so if you would like to contribute translations of materials into other languages, scholarships for learners with financial restrictions, or have ideas on other ways to improve elements of this website please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm always happy to correct or update old information so if you see something, send me a screen shot and the suggested corrections for consideration.
Shining is a respected performer and instructor internationally recognized for her research and reconstructions of Egypt's traditional dance forms.
She has committed to providing interesting and educational shows and seminars with nearly two decades of personal investment in her craft including studying with artists and instructors from the Egypt and other MENAHT countries as often as possible. Her work has a strong emphasis on the historical and cultural aspects of Egyptian dances as elements which contribute depth and creativity to their presentation.
In June 2021 she moved to Egypt to expand her understanding of Egyptian culture and arts with a focus on social dance, ghawazee and awalim traditions.
Learn more at shiningbellydance.com