experimental or tribal fusion?

Aziyade

New member
Well I think at its WIDEST possible definition, people would say it's a movement vocabulary, consisting of torso and hip articulations. That's enough for people who believe it to be only a movement vocabulary. You can't ever really get people to pin down HOW MUCH bellydance movement needs to be in it, though.

A more narrow definition would depend on if you consider it to be an ethnic dance. If so, it needs to be done to culturally-connected music, and presented in such a fashion that a person OF that ethnicity would recognize it as such.

But pretty much EVERY online forum has discussed it, over and over again. The magazines I have from the 70s were discussing it. Apparently there were some instructors in the 70s who were heavily into Orientalist fantasies, and just made up a lot of stuff, and performed with stage names like Fatima and Sheherezade, leading the public to believe this WAS the kind of dancing done in Ottoman Turkey or 1920's Cairo, or modern day Iraq, or whatever.


Cheart, I think when you're thinking about placing your personal style, I'll tell you what worked for me and what I believe.

I believe this dance STARTS with and CULMINATES in the music. I think if Egypt had developed a type of music that sounds more like Chinese folk music, you would not see the kind of movement and musical interpretation that you do. I believe the music comes first, and the dance comes from the music. I believe this because I can see how when the music changes, the dance itself changes. I can see the evolution in the dancer's physical response from a small takht to a large sectioned orchestra. Su'ad Mazin danced the way she did because of the music she had to work with. I've seen comparable parallels in other folk dances.

Now, I have to say I don't dance to American music, or heavily Western influenced music. Hakim is as pop/Shaabi as I get, and I don't really dance to him at all much anymore. I don't enjoy dancing to American music -- at least, I don't enjoy trying to HEAR American music like a bellydancer anymore. I love clubbing -- but that's diff. :) I fell deeply in love with old-school Turkish folk music and Armenian Kef music, and 80s style Turkish dance is still one of my first loves. I was enchanted with Saidi music -- I felt like that was what I was born to dance to, when I first heard it. And from there I fell in love with Egyptian Raqs Sharqi music and now again, Baladi music. The more I understand about the MUSIC itself, the more I love it, and the more enjoyment I get out of dancing to it. I get bored dancing to western music like Marco Polo now. It doesn't feel as full to me.

What advice I would give you is to spend a couple of months POURING over music. Listen to everything you can. Make notes. Keep a record of the music that really makes you want to move and moves YOU. You may surprise yourself. I was fully convinced I was going to be a Turkish style dancer, thus my stage name. But Egyptian music came along and swept me off my feet. (Well, and seeing Sohair Zaki dance -- she was the one who really made me decide I HAD to do what she did.)

While you're listening to the music, go back and watch GOOD DANCERS of all styles. Dani Boustrous and Amani. Sibel Baris and Tulay Caraca. Alexandra King and Cory Zamora. Carolena and Paulette. Naima Akef and Sohair Zaki... you get the drift. What moves you? Whose musical interpretation do you really DIG? Whose is closer to what you WANT to be dancing? I think that's the best way to figure out what our own eventual styles will become. But it's always a work in progress.
 

Pleasant dancer

New member
I believe this dance STARTS with and CULMINATES in the music. I think if Egypt had developed a type of music that sounds more like Chinese folk music, you would not see the kind of movement and musical interpretation that you do. I believe the music comes first, and the dance comes from the music. I believe this because I can see how when the music changes, the dance itself changes. I can see the evolution in the dancer's physical response from a small takht to a large sectioned orchestra. Su'ad Mazin danced the way she did because of the music she had to work with. I've seen comparable parallels in other folk dances.


:clap::clap::clap: Absolutely agree! The best thing I ever did when I first starting dancing was to listen to the music (in my case Egyptian and some Lebanese) over and over again for months - no, years. I've been dancing for 9 years and for the first 5 I seldom listened to any Western music. At first I didn't really understand it or know what I was listening to, let alone how to dance to it (I was never taught this at my first classes), but eventually understanding came (I think/hope!) - helped by quite a lot of research! :)
 

Miranda Phoenix

New member
...I kinda wonder -- would you all consider Kaya and Sadie's "Snake Charma" video to have the spirit of bellydance? Yea or Nay?

Or is it bellydance just done in the worst possible scenario? :)
This is the argument you use to justify limiting the term "bellydance" to only that done to a narrowly-defined genre of music? The "dancing" in that video hardly qualifies as anything more than simple gyrating!

I have a hard time taking the argument "it's not bellydance!" seriously sometimes. *shakes head*
 

Aziyade

New member
This is the argument you use to justify limiting the term "bellydance" to only that done to a narrowly-defined genre of music? The "dancing" in that video hardly qualifies as anything more than simple gyrating!

I have a hard time taking the argument "it's not bellydance!" seriously sometimes. *shakes head*

Well first of all, I would hardly call the pan-Mediterranean music to choose from "narrowly-defined." Unless you would consider country line dance music to be narrowly-defined. ?? But I think you misunderstand my intent.

The argument has been made that bellydance is a collection of movements. Hip drops, undulations, etc.

If Kaya and Sadie's performance contains hip drops, undulations, etc. then why is it not bellydance, by that definition?


I agree that there is a "spirit" to bellydance that separates it from, say, the Arabian sequence of Nutcracker, which in our choreography uses hip drops and undulations. But it's a nebulous term, likened to Justice Potter's famous description of obscenity. We know it when we see it.
 

Mya

New member
I have always explained to students in my fusion class that should they venture into the land of traditional belly dance to NOT use such posturing and movement as in that setting it would not be appropriate..
that's an excellent thing and i wish more fusion instructors would do that.

so am debating just cutting it down to Caribbean Fusion. I just want belly dance to get the credit it deserves. Currently I describe it as "Belly dance movement vocabularly blended with caribbean music, movement and culture". I try to make it clear that I am using a lot of belly dance movement but that it does not make it belly dance.
i think that's a really great idea - like i said before, i would have really really enjoyed your performance under that label!:clap:

I started doingthe fusion because I didn't like what caribbean dance was evolving into, namely dancehall. My family is Jamaican. That is my heritage and my culture, and I love it. However as proud of it as I am, I am not prepared to get on stage and get on my head and pop my crotch the air, especially if there are children in the audience. THere is a lot of good in caribbean dancing, but it is getting lost.
that's soooo true...it's how i feel about chutney dancing in trinidad if you're familiar with it. i think your intentions are lovely, you're just as you said having some labelling issues, which once you've worked out can only do good things for dance in your culture, even if not in ours. unfortunately t&t is going through moron-phase where they feel the need to ecclectically choose the worst aspects of things and make them into the newest fad.


THat being said I do like to experiment but I do my best to try and "label" my dances as appropriately as possible. I'm young, I've made mistakes, but at least I've learnded from them and do my best not to make them again.

i think everybody here who has genuine care for the dance has gone through this and or still is. i personally think it's a sign of a dancer with character and rep your post.

Mya
 

Mya

New member
That rachel brice video bored me silly! she's amazingly skilled technically but it all looks the same to me after about 45 seconds. but kill me dead i'm a cabaret girl so i'm largely biased.


incidently :

Calypso traditionally was done in long tiered skirts.
i beg your pardon? please clarify what you mean by this and or if you're speaking of a Jamaican version which developed or evolved after the original T&T calypso (as in the musical artform characterised by artistes such as the mighty sparrow and songs such as the legendary Jean and Dinah).
 
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MissVega

New member
That rachel brice video bored me silly! she's amazingly skilled technically but it all looks the same to me after about 45 seconds. but kill me dead i'm a cabaret girl so i'm largely biased.


incidently :



i beg your pardon? please clarify what you mean by this and or if you're speaking of a Jamaican version which developed or evolved after the original T&T calypso (as in the musical artform characterised by artistes such as the mighty sparrow and songs such as the legendary Jean and Dinah).
Hmm I must have just been exposed to a more "commercial" trend in Calypso, perhaps
THis is the sort of costuming I've always associated with Calypso and have seen with it.
YouTube - Calypso Dance.
I dont' know if it was a Jamaica thing or what?!? looks more latin inspired than anything else.
Long skirts are very common in Jamaica, 2 of my first Jamaican dolls were in long gypsy like skirts with off the shoulder tops.

Love Sparrow...Congo Man is probably my fav though over Jean and Dinah. I can't listen to Congo man and not want to dance, plus it makes me laugh.

I'm assuming by your reaction it's a different costuming in T&T, similar to carnival clothing (or lack thereof LOL) maybe?

Also question, since you're living in the birthland of soca, is soca just a spin off from Calypso similar to how in Jamaica reggae seemed to give birth to dancehall, or are they still considered one in the same. I have always thought of (and been told) calypso and soca aretwo diff genres. I'd love to hear what you know about it.

I've always considered long skirts to be universal in dance, I've seen it in so many different genres, I don't think any one dance can claim it. I dont' think I'd be comfortable performing in something other than my skirts, they allow total freedom of movement and cover up how jiggly my butt is lol.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
You know something, there is a common theme running through a few threads on OD... all of them are connected to culture and dance.

For years I have watched people at haflahs having fun with various fusions etc. but the reality is, most know nothing about the dances they are fusing and basically just create a weak cultural pastiche based on some form of cultural stereotype.

The problem is, (and it happens with this dance all of the time) people of those cultures are now reacting by saying...'WHOA! whats that??' :mad:

I have seen every form of fusion over the years, and continually wonder where people actually learned all of those dance forms??..

my realisation is (99%) never have!... they learned them in a 'BELLY DANCE' class and where taught by teachers whom have never studied those dance styles ever. Now I know this is not the case all of the time...but lets be honest here, it is all too common.

A common story...a teacher hears a piece of music and loves it, it has a Brazillian lilt or something and the next thing, they are teaching a 'belly dance Brazillian fusion'...all based of course on what they think Brazillian dancing is (based on two youtube clips or something.

Now standing back and looking at this, do people think that is right? is that actually acceptable to people?

Some call it 'evolution' others call it 'bastardisation' but..

the point is, we do have to think much harder about what we are presenting in the name of this dance (and other peoples culture) because people are no longer prepared to just sit in polite silence...and rightly so I would say.
 

maria_harlequin

New member
This is the argument you use to justify limiting the term "bellydance" to only that done to a narrowly-defined genre of music? The "dancing" in that video hardly qualifies as anything more than simple gyrating!

I have a hard time taking the argument "it's not bellydance!" seriously sometimes. *shakes head*
Would you still call hip hop "hip hop" if it was performed to Portuguese fado? Would you still call flamenco "flamenco" if it was performed to a Green Tara chant? Would Argentine tango still be Argentine tango if done to pop music?

Cultural and ethnic-based dances are so heavily reliant on the music...why should belly dancing be any different?
 

lizaj

New member
Would you still call hip hop "hip hop" if it was performed to Portuguese fado? Would you still call flamenco "flamenco" if it was performed to a Green Tara chant? Would Argentine tango still be Argentine tango if done to pop music?

Cultural and ethnic-based dances are so heavily reliant on the music...why should belly dancing be any different?
:clap::clap::clap:

It'sno wonder we cannot achieve the status others dances do if we cannot hang onto the cultural connections.
 
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Aziyade

New member
Would you still call hip hop "hip hop" if it was performed to Portuguese fado? Would you still call flamenco "flamenco" if it was performed to a Green Tara chant? Would Argentine tango still be Argentine tango if done to pop music?

Cultural and ethnic-based dances are so heavily reliant on the music...why should belly dancing be any different?
My Flamenco teacher told us that the music and the song and the rhythm and the dance cannot be separated. We had long lessons on rhythms and the musical genres before we EVER got up and did any dancing. I like this approach because it really makes you understand the dance itself, when you look at it in connection with the music.
 

Kira_Majeric

New member
Ah, but what is the "spirit" of bellydance? LOL.

A'isha used to call it the Essence. Sausan calls it the Nephis. It's a tricky concept -- like Tarab, I think.


I kinda wonder -- would you all consider Kaya and Sadie's "Snake Charma" video to have the spirit of bellydance? Yea or Nay?

Or is it bellydance just done in the worst possible scenario? :)

well, Maybe the spirit is the moves and the flow. i'm not too familiar with that video, except the behind the scenes part. I have talked to many dancers or all sorts, and I work with a ballerina who also did tap and all of those styles. Each style has it's own flavor, its own technique, its own spirit. This spirit can be fused with other styles of dance and music, where it would be labeled "Fusion". But there are quite a few dances I have seen that do not hold on to the spirit of belly dance..... I think I'm just rambling now. Does any of this make sense??

I have never danced any other style, thinking for the longest time that "I am the musician. I will play the music, not dance to it." ^_^ (my way of saying "I can't dance.")
 

Kira_Majeric

New member
My Flamenco teacher told us that the music and the song and the rhythm and the dance cannot be separated. We had long lessons on rhythms and the musical genres before we EVER got up and did any dancing. I like this approach because it really makes you understand the dance itself, when you look at it in connection with the music.

that is another thing I see a lot. Dancers who can not follow a drum. ^_^ It is so wonderful when teachers remember how important that is. ( Again, this is coming from a musician. )
 

Aniseteph

New member
Would you still call hip hop "hip hop" if it was performed to Portuguese fado? Would you still call flamenco "flamenco" if it was performed to a Green Tara chant? Would Argentine tango still be Argentine tango if done to pop music?
And another :clap:

And what does it say when you tell the hip hop, flamenco and Argentine tango afficionado that what you were doing WAS (insert dance form here), and furthermore a development or evolution of it?
 

Jane

New member
Belly Dance is from a living culture. The dance is growing and changing in it's countries of origin. Right now. This whole time.

If people don't like real belly dance music, movements, and aesthetics of the Middle East; why are they choosing belly dancing in the first place? What's the motivation? Why not just do something else?

Don't change belly dance to suit an individual, instead express your individuality through belly dance.
 

Mya

New member
Just googled image searched calypso dancer to see what came up
and this is it again, tiered was probably the wrong word, perhaps I should have said ruffled.

by this is what I've always known as Calypso costuming
http://ozmanagement.com/images/photos/Carribbean Calypso.jpg

http://www.isisandthestardancers.com/images/Calypso.jpg

http://heritagetrails.stcroixlandmarks.org/html/dancers.jpg


Is it entirely different in T&T??

not to thread hi-jack but kill me dead if i ever saw one of those costumes in trinidad! closest thing i'm familiar with would be the Bele. lol.

calypso is really dated but i kind of look at it like it is to soca kind of what beledi is to bellydance. you don't hear too much genuine calypso music outside of dimanche gras and the calpyso tents for carnival.

Also, in my limited experience (i'm only 24) i'm not used to seeing dancers typically accompany calypsonians. i mean perhaps they did at some point before i was born or old enough to remember but any footage and such that i've seen has been of solo vocalists possibly accompanied by a live band.
 

Kira_Majeric

New member
Belly Dance is from a living culture. The dance is growing and changing in it's countries of origin. Right now. This whole time.

If people don't like real belly dance music, movements, and aesthetics of the Middle East; why are they choosing belly dancing in the first place? What's the motivation? Why not just do something else?

Don't change belly dance to suit an individual, instead express your individuality through belly dance.
I would not want to change the dance, I love the dance. I also love all sorts of music as well. And I totally agree, with your last sentence.
 
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