Vital elements of bellydance (was Gothic Belly dance)

Aziyade

Well-known member
Wow, Salome! What a great post! Each one of these could be its own thread.

On the music thing:

*music should be Arab, Turkish or a true interpretation of either/or. Alternative music changes everything in my eyes. Because so much of all these points are directly related to the music. The fundamental movements are 'designed' to speak the physical language of Arab and Turkish music. As is the expression, the purpose, the essence... This is one point that I don't see a lot of wiggle room in.
I'm going to come out in the open and say I can't stand new-age music or industrial music. So I'm obviously prejudiced against any performance done to either, whether it's krumping, ballet, or bellydance.

I'm also getting a bit weary of DANCING to modern Arab pop. I like listening to it and driving to it, but dancing to it is somehow unsatisfying. Correct me if I'm wrong, but are there now just two categories of Arab pop?

1. Upbeat saiidi rhythm with what sounds like a drum kit overlay, with a focus on vocals.

2. Techno beat over what COULD be Arab rhythms, but you can't tell because of the driving techno rhythm, and the odd vocal here and there, or techno remixes of old favorites.

When I started in classes, one of the hardest things I found about learning to dance in the Arab fashion was not hitting the obvious 4/4 downbeats all the time. (Think of any Hakim song and trying to NOT dance to the obvious). My dancing seemed to feel more like a step aerobic routine (4 of this, 4 of that, now turn, and 8 this way, 8 that way, and back to 4 again.)

Ironically, using the "harder" (classical) music made dancing easier and certainly less mathematically perfect.

To me, a lot of the "essence" we talk about comes from just being IN that Egyptian music. I feel like I can do basically the same steps to Wahab as I can to Kochak, but the overall feel of what I'm doing is different.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that each kind of music has a different emotional resonance, and part of what makes Egyptian dance so uniquely Egyptian is the emotional response you get from dancing in the music.

Anyone else find this to be true?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Belly dance, etc.

Dear Aziyade,
I like techno music, but do not find it conducive to or having the same meaning as belly dance music, which is very dfined in its ethnicity regardless of musical instruments, etc. Techno is another thing, not related.
For me, since the dance is about the interpretation of the music through the dancer's personal response, as defined by ethnic qualities, I would agree that the music is the dance in esoteric form and must have certain qualities to be succussfully belly danced to.
I think these days, too, that many people are confusing professional belly dance with shaabi, and this is creating a new set of problems. I find nothing in most pop muisc that lends well to a professional belly dancer's complexity, though there are exceptions, like Hani Shaker's pop stuff. It goes without saying that if one is dancing to pop, a lot of movement and expression must fit into the singularity of the pop message in the song. On the other hand music meant for belly dance is a lot more like a tapestry of many colors and different textures, rather than one message. ( I often find this same lack in some of the 70s American/Arabian stuff.)
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Please submit posts and permissions

Dear Group,
Anyone who is interested in contributing to a possible article about what it is that makes their dance form "belly dance" and where they draw the line as far as what the dance is and is not. please get your thougthts to me by next Wednesday. I need to start getting the article in shape! I thank all of you who contribute and I need to have your permissuon to include your point of view.
Could Salome, Aziyade and Obsidia please send me a private ermail saying its okay to use their contributions? (Obsidia, you were going to elaborate on Goth dance for the article, I think??)
Oh, and anyone who would like to contribute a photo, please send it to my private email at aishaazar@raqsazar.com
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Tarik Sultan

New member
First off thanks to Salome for such a clear and percise explanation. I totally agree. I see the Amercab style as the American born child of Egyptian and Turkish parents. Like all first generation kids, it has elements of its parents culture, but expressed with the flavor of the country where they are born. Am I making sense?

Aziyade also makes some good points about the music. There are different types of contemporary music. There is the jeel, Shabbi and what I've heard referred to as Shababi'eh music. Perhaps Uti could shed more light on this. UTI, PAGING DR. UTI, PLEASE REPORT TO THE ELEMENTS OF BELLY DANCING THREAD!

***Dear Aziyade,
I like techno music, but do not find it conducive to or having the same meaning as belly dance music, which is very dfined in its ethnicity regardless of musical instruments, etc. Techno is another thing, not related.

I totally agree with A'isha and Aziyade. Personally I hate it when a DJ overlays a techno beat over an Arabic song whether Shabbi, pop, folk or Classical Arabic because it just kills the spirit. Its like drowning french fries in katsup, (Sp?).

***For me, since the dance is about the interpretation of the music through the dancer's personal response, as defined by ethnic qualities, I would agree that the music is the dance in esoteric form and must have certain qualities to be succussfully belly danced to.

Exactly.

***I think these days, too, that many people are confusing professional belly dance with shaabi, and this is creating a new set of problems. I find nothing in most pop muisc that lends well to a professional belly dancer's complexity, though there are exceptions, like Hani Shaker's pop stuff.

This is true. This is why I call the dance done to classical music, classical Raks Sharki, The dance done to contemporary music, contemporary and the dance done socially or on stage to Shabbi or Baladi Raks Baladi.

***It goes without saying that if one is dancing to pop, a lot of movement and expression must fit into the singularity of the pop message in the song.

Exactly. Each of these musical styles has its own distinct flavor which will dictate the way you dance to it. For example I wouldn't do a lot of arabesques with a very lifted carriage, or enter doing veil or cape work to a really deep Shabbi song, its too earthy for that. The general movement vocabulary might, for the most part be the same, but the flavor of how the movements are expressed will differ depending on the music used.

In my class I start by teaching the basics to Shabbi or pop because I see the social dance as being the foundation of the Egyptian style dance. With this they can learn enough to dance socially at a club, wedding or party. It's important to me that they understand the professioanl dance has its roots in the social tradition and this is why it really is undeniably the product of a culture and as such it has a definate set of qualities that must be adhered to in order to call it a Midlle Eastern dance, as versus a strictly artistic expression. Once I see the students at least understand the concept that this dance uses the technique to express the feeling and emotion of the music, I then use classical music and explain the difference in the nuances of Classical Raks as versus Raks Baladi.

***On the other hand music meant for belly dance is a lot more like a tapestry of many colors and different textures, rather than one message. ( I often find this same lack in some of the 70s American/Arabian stuff.)
Regards,
A'isha[/QUOTE]

Yes. The classical orchestration allows you to express a greater depth of emotion. It is much more elegant and refined. I always start my routine with music which reflects the classical Sharki. I think a routine should always start this way because nothing else alows you to present yourself to the audience in quite the same way. I then move into more contemporary music. This is especailly true if I'm in a club where the intent is to interact with the crowd and get them going.
 

Isetnofret

New member
I think the line between bellydance and something else is very difficult to draw. For example tribal dance is very different from Egyptian style bellydance but personally I think it can still be called bellydancing due to the movement and general feel it has. :confused:

I have seen "fusion bellydance" where the dancer dances to techno music, wearing the kind of dress you would expect to see people wearing when they go out to party at a club, and her dance had a lot of elements from something like show dancing etc. The only thing about her show that was bellydance for me was a hip scarf and a few bellydanceish movements. I wouldn't call this bellydance.

However, I consider myself quite open-minded when it comes to mixing different styles and elements from different kinds of music, cultures etc. Bellydance has been changing all the time and adopting elements from other cultures, for example the two part bedlah we consider so classical doesn't have its origins in the Arab culture - but where to draw the line? When does it stop being bellydance and becomes something else?

I like to dance to music that is inspired by Scandinavian folk music. You can find interesting rhythm patterns and the kind of variation you often cannot find in western dance music - or, for that matter, new Arab pop. However the dance I'm dancing has nothing to do with Scandinavian folk dances (I don't even know anything about them even though I'm Finnish). Obviously the music affects the feel and style of the dance, but I'm only using bellydance moves. I consider this fusion bellydance but I understand some people may disagree.
 
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