Singing bellydancer with finger cymbals

SajiaSultana

New member
Because of my left knee bursitis, which comes on and off depending on circumstances, I haven't been able to drill as much as I'd like to, but I've been able to grab at least a few minutes of dance improv each day. It's been demoralizing not to be able to put in enough practice, but today I decided I would motivate myself to polish my dance by posting a new Youtube video every few days and using that to see what needs work.
In the video I'm singing with a electronic tanpura drone (I've studied a bit of Hindustani classical music, though my vocal technique is also more fusion), and dancing with finger cymbals (Saroyan's Turkish Delights). I hope you like what you see, please be gentle - I'm aware that I need a more dynamic technique, which is why I'm posting the videos to keep track of my growth.

[video=youtube;8lxFzMfPEWw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lxFzMfPEWw[/video]
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Kudos to you for learning finger cymbals! Here's my suggestion for the "next step": Move your arms more/use different arm positions when you play the cymbals. If you always play with your arms in the same position, that is where your finger cymbal playing will be locked into. Nice voice, BTW!
 
My best advice - do one thing at a time.

If you want to improve your dance technique, then focus on your dance. Don't distract yourself by adding in finger cymbals and singing. Your brain can only handle a few things simultaneously. If you are approaching your dance technique correctly, your brain is already fully occupied, thinking about keeping your posture correct, holding your core, keeping your weight in the right place, and doing each movement properly. You will make much faster progress if you let it work on those things and don't overload it with extras IMO.
 
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SajiaSultana

New member
Thanks, Oz! Thankfully I don't have to perform in public again for a couple of months - I took a sabbatical of sorts for several months while recovering from gallbladder removal last July, and did a house concert last Wednesday.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I can't agree with Oz though I do take her point. The human mind is capable of learning more than one thing at a time or none of us would ever make it through school. No better than my brain cells are, I managed to learn to dance, study voice, and work my way through college science courses without ending up in a heap. Time management and independently practicing each facet of what we want to learn helps. that is to say, practice the dance moves in one session then practice zilling in another rather than trying to do both simultaneously before you can do either with some skill.
 
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... independently practicing each facet of what we want to learn helps. that is to say, practice the dance moves in one session then practice zilling in another rather than trying to do both simultaneously .
Shanazel, you do agree with me, it's just that I expressed it badly!

I meant what you said. If the OP's objective to polish her dancing, as she says, then the solution is to work on her dancing on its own. By all means, she can practice zilling and singing separately, but combining them just means she will slow her progress in all of them.
 
Thanks, Oz! Thankfully I don't have to perform in public again for a couple of months - I took a sabbatical of sorts for several months while recovering from gallbladder removal last July, and did a house concert last Wednesday.
If you don't have to perform for a couple of months, then I think all the more reason why you should separate your zilling, dancing and singing practice, because you've got the time. By practicing each skill separately you'll progress much faster, then you can put them together again the last couple of weeks.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Shanazel, you do agree with me, it's just that I expressed it badly!

I meant what you said. If the OP's objective to polish her dancing, as she says, then the solution is to work on her dancing on its own. By all means, she can practice zilling and singing separately, but combining them just means she will slow her progress in all of them.
Gotcha, honey! Sorry for the misunderstanding. :cool:
 

SajiaSultana

New member
Thanks for the clarifications, everyone! I do have plenty of time on account of being chronically unemployed, so it's just a question of using the time in the best way. I was thinking:
1. singing practice
2. zilling - basic patterns (singles, 3, 313, 337, 373, 3513),
zilling to "Yearning" (Raul Fernando)
3. dance drills
structured improv to "Yearning"
I was thinking of using "Yearning" because it has a fairly simple structure but is dramatic, but if it's not suitable for zilling I would appreciate suggestions.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
The one suggestion I'll make about Zill practice is to KEEP MOVING! It doesn't have to be complex, and it doesn't have to be the dance you're working on, but you MUST keep both your body and your arms moving. Otherwise, you'll end up zilling in T-Rex arm position.
 
The one suggestion I'll make about Zill practice is to KEEP MOVING! It doesn't have to be complex, and it doesn't have to be the dance you're working on, but you MUST keep both your body and your arms moving. Otherwise, you'll end up zilling in T-Rex arm position.
However, doesn't that assume you've already mastered the rhythms and can do them all comfortably? When I started learning both castanets and zills, the method was - first, practice standing still until you've got the rhythms (you can vary the position of the arms, but don't move while practicing). Then, practice those rhythms doing lots of different arm movements, until you can do them all smoothly and without tension. Then add the body.

I picked up my castanets again recently after someone at bellydance class asked me how they worked. If I wanted to play them again, I would definitely need to spend several sessions practising the rhythms without arm or body movements first - and I played castanets for about ten years.
 
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Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
...you can vary the position of the arms, but don't move while practicing...
You don't have to move in time or rhythm, and you don't have to move fast - but move. Walk slowly while moving arms slowly...

That's how I was taught. YMMV!
 
I was thinking:
1. singing practice
2. zilling - basic patterns (singles, 3, 313, 337, 373, 3513),
zilling to "Yearning" (Raul Fernando)
3. dance drills
structured improv to "Yearning"
I was thinking of using "Yearning" because it has a fairly simple structure but is dramatic, but if it's not suitable for zilling I would appreciate suggestions.
I guess it depends what style of belly dance you do. I can't imagine zilling to "Yearning", because I associate zills with joyful, upbeat pieces, never slow dramatic ones. Likewise, if I was practising alone and recovering from illness, I would choose cheerful, infectious music with a beat I can't resist dancing to, to keep my energy up. Have you got some dance drilling DVD's?
 
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SajiaSultana

New member
I think of myself as a fusion bellydancer, although I like studying oriental and folkloric. I was thinking alternatively of doing "Balady Ala Accordion", because I like baladi music and I've worked with the Ranya Renee DVD. I have plenty of drill DVDs, no problem there, and there's always Datura Online if I get in a rut.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Sajia, please take the following in the spirit in which it is offered from the aspect of someone who has been involved in dance for four decades, who has loved teaching belly dance, and who wants with all her heart to see students excel:

It's nigh on impossible to create an effective fusion from styles one isn't thoroughly familiar with. Too often people announce they do fusion when what they mean is they haven't bothered to learn a classic style or the appropriate music for that style. Hindustani classical music, for example, is not appropriate for belly dance. Neither is Voodoo, Santa Baby, Hips Don't Lie, Non regrette rien, or Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and heaven help me, I've seen "belly dance" done to them all.

If you want to express yourself in a dance unique to you, do so whole-heartedly and be proud of your creation without attempting to somehow legitimize it by connecting it with the name of an established dance genre. What you are doing right now is very interesting and occasionally very lovely indeed. Performance art, creative dance, creative movement to world music, Sajia's dance of the soul- there are many descriptive names for what you are creating. Belly dance is not one of them even though part of your movement vocabulary is borrowed from belly dance.

Bottom line: if you want to be a belly dancer or even a fusion belly dancer, then first you have to learn to belly dance.
 

SajiaSultana

New member
"Creative dance" - I like that. Thank you. Can I still come here for critiques? Because I found what everyone had to say extremely useful.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Neither is Voodoo, Santa Baby...
NNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

At least one dancer will do Santa Baby at a Christmas hafla every blasted year!!!! Just shoot me now...

With that said, I know a "Goth Tribal Fusion Chick" who does a darn good job with Voodoo - but it isn't pure Belly Dance as she'll be the first to tell you.

 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Oh, yes, yes, YES! You are one with the forum folks and I wouldn't give you or your videos up for the world.
 
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