Rockin’ the Casbah Notes: Beni wa Benak

Beni wa Benak started life as a “tool kit” choreography for my advanced class. First, I had a handful of combos rumbling around in my head that I wanted to work into 3 or 4 consecutive lesson plans. Next step was a music hunt for something bright and fast-paced that would suit what I had in mind. When I’m doing this, I usually plop myself down in the purple queen’s chair in our family room with my iPod hooked into the CD player with a very long cord and start scrolling through songs. There will be a cup of tea at my elbow and a notepad on my knee with lots of doodles & notes jotted down. Usually of the kind that I can’t make sense of afterwards.

At the same time that I was working out the lesson plans & using Beni wa Benak as the musical vehicle, I was also working on choreography for Rockin the Casbah. I needed a piece of bright Egyptian pop music with matching choreography and, feeling tired and overwhelmed, I decided simply to expand on what I was doing with Beni  instead of creating one more new thing. At this time Beni was simply a string of combos, not what I would consider a professional choreography. Class choreographies are teaching tools, not masterful pieces. Their purpose is as a vehicle to put new movements into context, or work on specific elements such as transitions, musical interpretation, style or genre. This is why I call them “tool kit” choreographies.  

Beni wa Benak is basically a smoothed-over toolkit choreography with some icing on the top. There’s gotta be one in every bunch. It will be a crowd pleaser because it’s bright & cheerful & colourful & flashy, but the dancers may tire of it.

Fabulous lighting by Andrew Smith at the Yukon Arts Centre!

Look at those skirts flip!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!