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  1. #1
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    Default Moving from fusion to 'cabaret'/oriental- advice?

    Hi guys

    I've mainly been focused on tribal, tribal fusion and other fusion forms for as long as I've been dancing, with some side forays into Egyptian, AmCab and Orientale, but only very minimal exploration of these really. I've read a lot of history, do listen to Arabic music and and watch dancers from all styles, I've just only danced fusion with any consistency.

    I'm finding myself drawn towards learning AmCab, and Turkish, they both seem to be bold dances and crowd pleasers (I guess that's the show-offy tribal fusion dancer in me :-D ). I totally get I need a decent understanding of Egyptian music and stylisation too, as both Turkish and Egyptian come into AmCab, yes?

    Where do I start? DVD recommendations? My teacher is starting us on a more classical Egyptian style piece next week with the idea being to do a set piece moving from a veil entrance, into some beledi and a drum solo. I'm keeping up Tribal and Fusion, but letting it take a back seat for a bit.

    What pitfalls should I look out for? Am I going to massively confuse my brain? If I'm drilling more oriental stylisations and moves, will I lose all the TF crispness I've developed? Will my Tribal arms and posture infiltrate my oriental dance?

    Advice pelase lovelies? And feel free tp point me towards youtube videos you feel I'd learn stylisations etc from watching!

  2. #2
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    I think there is a huge benefit to having started out with tribal and that's posture, I love the tribal posture and arms. And it doesn't look bad in the cabaret styles in my opinion. I started out with cabaret and posture is my weak point.

    One thing that you might find an issue is that maybe you would fall back into repetitive movements, but that's also an issue for cabaret dancers when they improvise (the going automatic pilot thing)

    ETA: as for DVDs, anything you cabaret you can get your hands on it would be useful to get heaps of performance DVDs so you get to see a lot of variety in styles, choreographies etc, it would help to choose what particular style you like best. Though I was never able to choose just one!

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    Sounds like you already have a good teacher, listen to lots of Egyptian and Turkish music, and watch lots of dancers in the style you want to emulate. Those would have been my first words of advice.

    I don't think you will lose the technique you have developed as a fusion dancer, but you will want to modify your technique when you perform other styles. American Cabaret is a good choice because it shares roots with the Tribal styles, specifically the Jamila Salimpour style which grew into the Masha Archer style and then into the Carolena Nericcio/FCBD style and onward from there into the many variations of ATS, ITS and tribal fusion. You might enjoy finding clips of the old style Jamila dancers and early FCBD on line and watching those, to see similarities and differences with the fusion styles you know.

    I do think the tribal-style arms are a giveaway when dancing cabaret style, but ultimately, you want to make your dance style your own. You don't have to be an imitation of anyone else. But it's good to understand the differences and make informed choices.

    Also, try to learn as much as you can about musical interpretation, fusion is a whole different breed of cat in that area, I think.

    A lot of tribal fusion dancers seem to like Princess Farhana. Mesmera, Delilah, Cory Zamora and Lee Ali are wonderful examples of American Cabaret style, look them up. Artemis Mourat is great for Turkish style.

    Have fun in your explorations! American Cabaret is my favorite style, though I love Egyptian, too.

  4. #4
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    With all due respect to Dunya, for whom I have great respect, I have to disagree about the commonalities of AmCab and ATS. They are completely different styles and one can't become a good AmCab dancer by studying any form of tribal style. AmCab has its own integrity and adding tribal style arms or music slides drags the style back into fusion rather than simply putting a dancer's special signature on AmCab.

    Salome's videos are nice examples of modern AmCab, now mostly known as American Oriental. Find Morocco's videos and check out Scott Wilson & Elena Lentini, 1981 - YouTube for Elena's dance at Serena Wilson's celebration for old style AmCab. Also look at Kamala Almanzar belly dancing in the 1970's - YouTube for Kamala Almanzar to see some almost forgotten and now largely discredited vintage AmCab floor work. There are all sorts of examples, none of which bear any resemblance to tribal.
    Last edited by Shanazel; 11-28-2013 at 06:06 PM.
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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdlight View Post
    My teacher is starting us on a more classical Egyptian style piece next week with the idea being to do a set piece moving from a veil entrance, into some beledi and a drum solo.
    Minor point - this sounds more like an AmCab piece than an Egyptian. (And Egyptian Classical is a specfic style again) Egyptian veil tends to be more enter with a veil and toss it within a few bars. For an entrance piece you might do some beledi - but also run the gamat of other styles as well. If you are only doing beledi ie the music doesn't bring in khaleegi, sa`iidi etc then it is whatever style of beledi the music calls for (there are several). This will be done within the movement vocab of that style but generally speaking no dancing with your arms and limited upper body movement (basically only shoulder shimmies and chest heaves). And of course for Egyptian beledi you would wear a dress - not bedleh.

    Quote Originally Posted by Birdlight View Post
    What pitfalls should I look out for? Am I going to massively confuse my brain? If I'm drilling more oriental stylisations and moves, will I lose all the TF crispness I've developed? Will my Tribal arms and posture infiltrate my oriental dance?
    I have had a number of students doing Orientale with me and Tribal elsewhere (and one who also did folk). Problems I have observed includes the arms which are so wrong, a limitation of movement vocab (what they have is often excellently drilled - but limited), a total inability to really improvise to the music, and a lack of emotional connection to the music.

    And I have got complaints coming back the other way that X's shimmy is too loose (duh - that's what a shimmy is) or she has too much movement in her hips. (Is that what is meant by crispness - tiny movements?)

    Basically you need to treat each class as a different style. When in Tribal use their arms, movements, techniques and vocabulary. When in Orientale ditto. I think it is a mistake to either say "it's all belly dance" - or just worse "if it isn't Tribal it must be Orientale (which is all the same)". There are many different Orientale styles - plus heaps of different folk styles. Beledi is your overlap style - people from both camps do it - but in each case influenced by their major interest.

    To improve your Orientale, first pin down which type of Orientale you want to explore. Then find videos of the best of that style performing. Please buy the videos - don't just use YouTube and suck up the bandwidth - because for each example you need to watch it over and over. An overview. Then how s/he interprets the music. How her hips move. How she positions her arms etc. Then move with her - several times. Then find another performance of the same dancer in the same style and repeat. After a few examples go back to the first performance. Now, find another dancer etc.
    Last edited by Kashmir; 11-28-2013 at 11:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Minor point - this sounds more like an AmCab piece than an Egyptian. (And Egyptian Classical is a specfic style again) .
    Excellent, good to know I'm going to be learning what I want to be learning, if that makes sense! I appreciate understanding the difference.

    As regards 'crispness' it can mean tiny very neat movements in TF vocabulary, or just a very defined larger movement. Generally, from my experience, its down to moves being powered differently- e.g. shimmies from the glutes versus shimmies from the knees. that was my main concern about starting to drill different ways of powering the movements- that I'd lose the ability to do the way I initially learned it. I'm hoping if I drill the TF way here and there amongst my new ways of doing it, I'll be able to do both and become more versatile.


    Thanks everyone, some very good advice here! Appreciate all the video links and dancer tips too :-)

  7. #7
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    I don't think you will loose the 'crispness' of tribal if you practise both. I really love those crisp movements, sadly I can't do them due to a medical condition I'm just not build that way (I always thought it was due to having started out with classical Egyptian, but just recently found out what the problem actually is) so the Egyptian fluid style suits me better. Though I so wish I could do those super crisp movements!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    With all due respect to Dunya, for whom I have great respect, I have to disagree about the commonalities of AmCab and ATS. They are completely different styles and one can't become a good AmCab dancer by studying any form of tribal style. AmCab has its own integrity and adding tribal style arms or music slides drags the style back into fusion rather than simply putting a dancer's special signature on AmCab.

    Salome's videos are nice examples of modern AmCab, now mostly known as American Oriental. Find Morocco's videos and check out Scott Wilson & Elena Lentini, 1981 - YouTube for Elena's dance at Serena Wilson's celebration for old style AmCab. Also look at Kamala Almanzar belly dancing in the 1970's - YouTube for Kamala Almanzar to see some almost forgotten and now largely discredited vintage AmCab floor work. There are all sorts of examples, none of which bear any resemblance to tribal.
    Thanks for the respect, Shanazel, I appreciate the points you are making. The point I meant to make is that my style of American Oriental is rooted in Jamila Salimpour's technique, which pre-dates "Tribal" but is one of the "ancestors" of tribal. I still use many of the steps I learned in the '70's and I find that ATS and ITS dancers do similar steps. Of course, there are other strains of American Oriental, like East Coast style or people who studied with Bert Balladine back then. But here on the West Coast I can see how the Jamila technique traveled and morphed and became a foundational technique for ATS and ITS. Carolena and others added stylizations that made the arms and posture quite different from the older style, but there are common roots there.
    Last edited by Dunyah; 11-29-2013 at 04:44 PM. Reason: clarify

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdlight View Post
    As regards 'crispness' it can mean tiny very neat movements in TF vocabulary, or just a very defined larger movement. Generally, from my experience, its down to moves being powered differently- e.g. shimmies from the glutes versus shimmies from the knees.
    Glute "shimmies" are unique to a few styles. And there are two very different leg (not "knee") driven shimmies. One pushes the hips up and down and one forward and back. :-)

    What is also used is shimmies from the lateral flexors - or mix of lateral flexors and legs. It's what makes it all so interesting different looks for different music.

    If you have the glute shimmy in your automatic movement vocab I can't see you losing it. More likely you will use it when it is not appropriate.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Zanbaka's Avatar
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    Kudos to you for branching out into other styles of bellydance! Speaking from experience,
    you can definitely do more than one style and do it well as long as you're willing to put in the time and effort and also learn how to breakdown movements into basic components.

    Being able to execute an isolation by a variety of methods is going to give you more dance vocabulary, which is a really wonderful thing, as long as you use it appropriately with regard to whatever style you're exploring. Doing one does not diminish your ability to do the other as long as you practice both, practice with intention, and research which "body of movements" are generally associated with each style.

    For example, a even, percussive up and down hip isolation where the hips stay in the same plane: can have an emphasis on originating from the glutes, obliques, or a combination of muscles in the legs.
    All can be varied by tempo, range of motion, and degree of "softness" or "sharpness". But some versions and variations you'll only see in a particular style and you'll soon be able to recognize the differences.

    Continuing to practice what I call "strong arm positions" that are common in tribal fusion and ATS, will not prevent you from executing softer arm shapes and movements that are more common to AmCab, Egyptian Style, Oriental etc. You'll eventually learn how to adjust your arms, depending on what context you're dancing in.

    Muscle memory is not limiting, it's limitless and our bodies are very intelligent.
    Never underestimate that.

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