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  1. #1
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Default Rhythm specific movements?

    Hi everyone,

    I've been studying middle eastern rhythms and how they are used in dance for a while now and I kind of have a question. I've heard and read numerous times about 'specific movements fitting the atmosphere of certain rhythms'.

    My question: are there specific movements that fit each individual rhythm? What are those movements for say, saidi, maqsoum, malfuf, fellahin....

    I've found it to be quite confusing, since I'm not talking about STYLE specific movements (if there is a distinction here..) but more like movements that are fit to go with certain rhythms. Am I making sense now?

    Any help or insight on this would be really, REALLY appreciated. I hope some of our experts can shed a light on this. Thanks in advance!!
    Last edited by Yshka; 10-23-2007 at 12:24 PM.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    The short answer is watch a bunch of different Egyptian dancers, and not necessarily all professional ones. You'll get an idea of what FEELS right with what.

    Are there specific rules that say "this move goes with this rhythm?"
    Not really, but there are what seem to be TRADITIONAL movement associations.

    Saidi rhythm -- can go either way: Arab Pop or folkloric Saidi movements, like the horsey steps, the side to side hopping. Everybody does the double hip drop with kick thing to Saidi, including Oriental dancers.

    Hip Twist movements seem to be used a lot with shorter 2/4 and 4/4 rhythms, especially Fallahi.

    To make a list would, inevitable, be constrictive. And as soon as I said "don't do this to this rhythm," you'd find a famous Egyptian dancer doing it. LOL

    The following dvds helped me out with figuring out what steps to do with what rhythms

    1. Bellydance with Nagwa Fouad
    (out of print, but if you can find it, it's worth it)

    2. Rhythms of Oriental Dance with Nesma and Khamish
    reviewed here:Leyla Lanty reviews Rhythms of Oriental Dance for the Gilded Serpent
    It's a little dark, but if you watch Nesma you can see what steps she does to different rhythms

    3. Hadia's Raqs Esharqi volume 3 (includes finger cymbals!)

    4. Heartbeat of Bellydance (simple moves for different rhythms)

    5. Any performance video by Hadia or any of the Egyptian greats.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ranya's Avatar
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    Yes, my advice also - just watch, watch, watch and learn. There may not be movements that you MUST do to a certain rhythm, but as you already noticed for sure, there are some movements which "go" with a specific rhythm. For instance, when I hear a baladi (masmoudi saghir) a hip drop automatically appears in my head - though you can do other movements to it as well (and you should coz then it would be pretty boring, wouldn't it?). And some movement just DON'T go with a certain rhythm - if you try to put them in, you simply always will be off the beat.
    Ouf, I am being pretty wordy today but I hope you see what I mean.

    I have the luck to spend most of my time with arabs at the moment, and watching them react to music is definately a good thing, even if they are not professionals. I am just starting to feel the music as they do and it somehow becomes automatic to my body without being too overthought.

  4. #4
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Thanks Aziyade and Ranya for your advice. I'd already noticed indeed that for me it has become natural for some moves to go into certain types of music and I know some moves just fit right with certain rhythms, I'm just having a hard time explaining.

    You see, reason I'm asking this is because I was asked to prepare a lesson on musical interpretation and how to move to different rhythms.

    For me it has become very clear over time and when I dance I just feel the music and respond to it. But point is I'm having trouble explaining all this and making it clear to people who know nothing about Egyptian music and middle eastern rhythms.

    Another question, especially for teachers. Where do you start when teaching musical interpretation to people who are not familiar with Egyptian music? How do you structure this to form a process that makes sense and really lets the students learn something about the music?

    I've started to define music by the way it is built up, in terms of intro, finale, repeating phrases etc. Still I'm finding people are not quite catching the melody, or not even hearing the drumrhythm.

    Is there a way to help people 'hear' the music or to try to get them to recognise a certain structure? I've come to my understanding of music by listening to Arabic music for ages and keeping busy at studying rhythms, zill playing, looking at Egyptian dancers etc. I've had a sort of click with Egyptian music from the beginning and I've learned to understand (most of) it's complexity quite soon.

    I know it is not like this for many people. I'm having a really really hard time trying to explain all this to people who are not quite familiar with it and have trouble hearing the music. It's pretty difficult. I love Egyptian music and I want others to be able to understand as well, but I can't seem to figure out how to do this.
    Last edited by Yshka; 10-23-2007 at 05:04 PM.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Start with the rhythms. Teach certain steps with certain rhythms. Drill that. Get that into the students' heads.

    Then, I thought choreographies worked pretty well. Teach like 3 choreographies to similar pieces of music (or pieces that have the same "feel") That seemed to help me figure out musical interpretation, and it's how I'm learning Turkish Orientale style now. My instructor gives longish combinations, and you can put those combinations with different parts of the music to see what fits and what doesn't.

    Pull out pieces of a Samia Gamal dance or something, and analyze it for your students. We've had threads on analyzing performance videos before. You might look those up.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ranya's Avatar
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    I second Aziyade. Though I only taught beginners' class as I mentionned before, I did rhythms with them from the start. Nothing complicated however, baladi and saidi usually were just enough. But I think it is important because like this they learn to be attentive to the music from the beginning on. They will learn that bellydance is not only putting some randon moves together.

    I wish you all the best! Indeed it is difficult to explain arabic music to someone who is so not knowing it! But I bet you will do great.

  7. #7
    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    Is there a way to help people 'hear' the music or to try to get them to recognise a certain structure?
    I think consistently studying the same piece of music is a tremendous help. And to choose a piece of music that is clear... Like Alf Leyla wa Leyla. To help folks hear it... Without dancing, just listening... I'd say the rhythm outloud, then say it outloud with the music, using your hands to puntuate where the bass beats are in the rhythm. Then have them zill or clap out that rhythm. To start with, assign movement to corrospond with the rhythm and drill that. For dom dom teka tec dom teka tec I might have my girls do hip drops on the dom and shoulder shimmies on the teka tec. Or for dom tec tec dom tec dropping the hip on the dom and lifting on the tec.

    Another question, especially for teachers. Where do you start when teaching musical interpretation to people who are not familiar with Egyptian music? How do you structure this to form a process that makes sense and really lets the students learn something about the music?
    Right away. First we learn the beat, how to find the one and how to identify how many beats per measure. The beat, while the most elementary, is important in teaching students how to anticipate the music, when the phrase is going to change in your drum solo or in the melody. It's also the easiest to identify and dance to so a good way to start.

    We learn rhythms next in the process described above. We learn about the most commmon instruments in Arabic, Turkish and Amarabic Oriental dance music, their sound/texture/quality and generally what movement can corrospond. We focus on the melody next, what instruments are being used (I sing it out, horrible singer, poor students) "conduct" the sound - showing where the pitch rises and falls, we draw it out on paper, I'll start with assigning movement and then move onto having them improv. I've got more to add but have to run out the door. To be continued...
    Last edited by Salome; 10-23-2007 at 06:04 PM.

  8. #8
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    There is a new one out by Tamra-Henna called Arabic Rhythms. She actually has a drummer play the rhythms and then talks about what type of steps and when to move. She then shows some combinations. Its a bit more expensive than the others mentioned but it gives you a wonderful place to start on learning the various rhythms. I do agree with the recommendations of others for DVD's.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Rythm specific movements

    Dear Yshka,
    I have not noticed that there are "rhythm specific movements" as such. Most Egyptian dancers of any note , I think, have usually moved far past the point where they even think about the dance in terms of movement on an intellectual level. You can do just about any movement to any rhythm, though melody and taqsim instruments may have something to do with the way in which a specific movement is used. For example, if I have a very steady, medium tempo drum roll during a drum solo, I can do a fundamental shimmy, but I might like to add to the intensity of the interpretation by adding a hip circle over it or even an undulation. Those movements are not for only slow rythms or for veil work or for interpreting a nai or violin. they work in tandem with other movements to create a fuller picture of the emotional and physical feeling of the music as whole. Now, I might use the very same movements to express what is going on in Beledi that is medium tempo.
    Often tempo will affect what movements you use or do not use far more than rhythm. It is not possible to get too complex when the tempo requires you to move fast around a room, for example.
    I hope this helps,
    Regards,
    A'isha

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    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    You've made my day A'isha! I was getting worried that there would be more 'rules', as my teacher has been working with us learning to improvise using only a few moves, then layering, then changing the music on us and getting us to do the same thing with the same basic movements! It's great fun because it shows how much the foundation movements are embellished, and underneath the ornamentation is this wonderful basis of movement with the rhythm.

    I meant to add that from the very first lesson we have covered basic instruments, the call and response, the scale, the rhythm, the history with each piece of music, so we know what we're dancing to. This has helped me learn so much! And I have to admit that I've scoured the internet and got heaps of information from Shira's site and many others including Hossam Ramzy. And like everything, realise after reading all these conflicting accounts, that pretty much everyone starts with basics, make some rules then go out and break 'em when possible!
    Last edited by adiemus; 10-25-2007 at 02:26 AM.

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