• by Zara Dance

My Magency - A Fight For Who I Am As A Dancer

Updated: Aug 18


This is the story of how I made my own songs and the crazy stress and ups and downs I had to endure to make the music videos..... However, there is a positive twist at the end that sets up for an exciting future project.

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Hi Everyone how are you? I am soooo excited to announce that I have been working on some really really exciting projects. I have been co-producing my own music.

The first being a fun pop song that mentions my name WATCH HERE and the second being my own Magency WATCH HERE.

What is a Magencey

A Magency is a open piece of music. It is the song that dancers start their set with. A QUEENS ENTRANCE. There are traditional Magencys that dancers in Egypt and across the world use like Set El Hosn (originally for Nagwa Fouad). But as your fame grows in Egypt and you build you own band you are expected to have your OWN Magency a song that has been written and tailored just for you. It is your signature dance. There is also a certain amount of prestige and professionalism that comes with working with your own Magency and not having to use one of another dancer. It is a big deal.

YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT A MAGENCY IS AND HOW TO DANCE TO IT HERE IN THIS DOWNLOAD WORKSHOP

Working On My Magency

So I get to the studio, the guys making my Magency are BIG in the business. The studio is beautiful, the walls are covered in pictures of the main guy Sayed and lots of celebrities has has worked with to produce music, including many famous dancers that he’s made a Magency for and even Albums.

If there is a foreign dancer in Cairo with her own CD and Magency there is a very likely chance he has been involved in making it. Most Egyptian dancers famous enough to have their own CD have their own band so just hire studios to record their music, cutting out the need for people like Sayed.

My singer (who I LOVE and has taken me ages to find) is a good friend of him and manged to get us a good deal on the making of a Magency, these things so not come cheap! They had had a prior talk on the phone to my manger who told them about me, my name, my stage persona, what traditional styles I like to dance to ect…


When we arrive I am under the illusion we will sit down and I will discuss everything with them in person and the music production will start but no! When arrive they have already made my Magency!! And my song!! They have never even met me? I’m taken back a bit WOW. It's a fast service to say the least.

The shock makes me a little defensive: how have you made my Magency with out even talking to me directly first? They reassure me it’s amazing, dismissing my concerns.

They play the songs for me and then ask what I think......... I have to say the songs are REALLY REALLY good, I know I blush a little and get excited as my name is mentioned; A LOT in both pieces of music. And....the songs are quite close to what I wanted. I suppose a Magency follows a pretty traditional outline and formula (a formula they obviously apply a lot to a lot of dancers).

However……. And it is a big however, I tell them they are good songs BUT there are list of things I want to change - for the Magency that list is pretty big. I had a very strong vision for what I wanted, the other song I am less bothered about.

They look at me kind of strangely and decide to humor me and ask what I want to change.

Out comes my list. They are not happy ..... You can tell they are not used to such direction. Maybe a few adjustments but NO I wanted a lot of change. The Magency was good - but that is irrelevant it isn't MY Magency and it isn't what I want.

One, of the many changes, I wanted for example is I wanted some Shaabi/Mahrahgran beats/Rhythms to be included in my Magency. This is something FAR from traditional but to me it makes sense and stays within the rules of what a Magency is. I myself am of Shabbi roots, I love to dance to shabbi music: it is me! Me as a dancer. And actually that is partly what a Magency is a show of who you are as a dancer. Also a Magency includes a meze of different rhythms showing what is to come in the show: TODAY in current times that is undeniably and unavoidably going to include some kind of shabby music. Yes, very far back in the day it didn’t but I'm not a golden era dancer. I work in Cairo TODAY....

They look at me a little taken back by all my demands -but they hey I'm paying they need to give me what I want.

STICKING TO MY GUNS

After about the 3rd time I visit the studio and refuse to accept the song, they realise I am not going to budge on these demands!

My manger is supportive for the main part but also I can see he is uncomfortable with my Magency being so nontraditional. He is thinking from a sales point of view, not an artistic point of view. A bellydancer like every other bellydancer, with a Magency like every other, is a little less scary to market. But hey that is what he has got himself into.

He is also against me wanting to remove the Khaliji part from the song. A lot of Magencys include a Khaliji section. This is as a salute to rich Saudi guests, that often party in Egypt. He sees it as essential, keeping customers happy, to him Khaliji customers = money, his ultimate goal. I argue if they are coming to our country they should embrace our music – I loose this argument and we settle on a Iraqi-Gulf mix part for the song, which actually, now, I really love.

Some how despite all the arguments and a lot of going back and forth to the studio, we finish the songs and I AM HAPPY. They are pretty cool and for the most part what I wanted. I have really come to LOVE THEM.


A deal toooo GOOD TO BE TRUE

Sayed knows that my manager and I plan to go on to make a music clip for at least the Magency. Regardless of his feelings towards me, he is a business man. He offers us a deal to make clips for BOTH SONGS, he is going to film another persons clip and we can come on same day and do ours....


It is such a good deal that my manager takes it, despite the underlying tensions between us all.

We arrive on the set to film. OMG it is not as promised, we were promised a beautiful villa, in an Egyptian Oasis. Instead we get a very dusty, neglected house,"vila" with a questionable pool. Not only that but we realised quite fast why it was such a good deal. Sayed had organised to film not one other clip on the same day BUT: SIX yes SIX music clips for singers and me ON ONE DAY. He aparently did us all a "great deal". It was chaos to say the least.


The day was stressful, my manager and I several times questioned just walking away but in the end we just made the best with what we had to work with. All my ideas for each section of the Magency (that Sayed reassured me would happen) were going to be impossible and most of the time I was only allowed 1 or 2 takes. We were there for at least 14hrs but I probably only spent in total 40 mins being filmed. The last few shots the owner of the "vila" was chucking us all out, time was up, as I was being filmed. The rest was spent waiting my turn.

The video?

When I saw the first edition/cut of the Magency video I cried!!! I really cried, it was not what I wanted or had imagined. It wasn't my dream video. It looked awful, the background looked awful and THERE WASN'T ENOUGH SHOTS OF WHAT I WANTED. My manager and I have another BIG argument. It is not what we were promised and even though it was a really good deal it was still a lot of money, a lot of money I needed to get something from.

Sayed reassures us that all will be solved with a little bit more editing...... I think that is IMPOSSIBLE, regardless there are some parts of the songs we didn't shoot at all. NOT SURPRISING he of course didn't have time on the day and it was as mentioned before COMPLETE CHAOS. After a BIG argument he agrees to do another day of shooting on my boat (the only venue we can get for free).

He comes to the boat with the camera man and stays no longer than a few hours (grumpy). They take the extra shots as fast as they can: he's annoyed he has to do another day of filming for no extra money and pay the camera guy.

A turn for the BETTER Even with the new material, I still wasn't happy (I had dropped all my levels of expectation and it was still awful) I didn't like the editing AT ALL: IT WAS CHEAP. It was all stressful and I again cried several times. My manager, put his foot down, he refused to pay the remainder of the money, until I was happy Sayed gets in an external editor call Rami known for being able to fix anything. (NOTE: not to be mistaken with my ex-phyco-manager Ramy you can read about that story here).


I have to give credit to my manager, it was only his strong willed support and refusal to pay for anything until I was happy that got us through this. I really respected this from him. Otherwise, I would have most probably been ripped off.

I meet Rami and we INSTANTLY CLICK - and I mean CLICK ARTISTICALLY - he is the first person from the beginning of this whole thing that actually gets my vision and understands what I want to do and why. It's a breath of fresh air!

Rami and I work for WEEKS on going through and editing the material. Some times up to 9hr a night: We had to work at night because Sayed refused any more daytime stuido time to a clip, he felt, I was being to fussy over and he wasn't making enough profit on. Ironically, it suited me brilliantly I would finish my gigs around 1am and go to the studio until 10am - Rami was also a night owl.


OMG Rami was AMAZING. Truly, like magic, he made some AWFUL material look good. For example in some shots there was MASSIVE PLUG in the background on the wall - obvious to all we just filmed in a living room of this "vila": He made it disappear... this is one of a 100 things.

With Rami's amazing editing skills and the extra material from the boat we were able to make two music videos I am ACTUALLY VERY VERY PROUD OF . They look good! and considering what we had to work with THEY ARE UNBELIEVABLY GOOD MUSIC CLIPS.

Everything happens for a reason - TRUST THE UNIVERSE

During all this time in the studio I made VERY good friends with Rami and talked of so many of my ideas of things I want to do as a dancer. .... he loved them all and TOTALLY understood my vision. ESPECIALLY for a bellydance channel on YouTube, teaching bellydance in Arabic.

YES YOU GUESSED IT from this horrible experience my YouTube series: YALLAH Nor2os was BORN

When we finished the clips Sayed hated me and didn't want to even have his name in the credits LOL , but I had made an amazing friend, Rami. We had made a deal together to both invest into making a YouTube channel for Arabic bellydance videos... and well you just have to click here and read this blog to find out what happened with the series...

Final words

GOSH it was a crazy journey making these music videos but soooo worth it. I have a Magency I truly believe represents me. I also have two music videos I LOVE - I still can't believe I LOVE THEM!!! And even better, all this hell actually lead to a dream coming true: the making of my own YouTube Channel series. It is a true a reminder that everything happens for a reason, even the bad! Who knows what this next adventure has in-store for me but I'm excited to find out and sure the universe will guide me !

MAKE SURE YOU WATCH THE VIDEOS -and also my YouTube Series!!


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Testimonials  - FAQs -  Links -  zara.abdel@gmail.com 
Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved Zara Dance, Egyptian Bellydancer London,  
part of the Zara's Zouk family
Photography by Evie Kalila
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