I want to commit a bellydance sin!

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For those that cannot be repped, I bring chocolate.
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Actually, I start bellydancing when I hear lots of songs nowadays. Not in public, though, but if I do hear a song, i start imagining my choreo.
I do the same thing. I'll be sitting in a restaurant and some rock song will come on, and I'll think "Hmmm, I can picture a cane dance to this..."

I actually started dancing after hearing Corvus Corax, since they inspire me like no one else. I'm choreographing a couple fusion pieces to some of their music now (which is easy, because a lot of the rhythms they use correspond nicely to familiar bellydance rhythms). Currently I'm working on this one: Corvus Corax - "Oro Se Vie". (It's a Balkan folk song performed in semi-accurate/semi-fantasy medieval European style.)

My first solo, this past December, was to "Gulan Du" by Mari Boine. That's what the picture in my avatar is from.

I usually dance to various types of world music because it's my favorite genre. I always be sure to do my research when dancing to a particular culture's style of music, and join a forum or two for that culture to make sure I'm doing it in a respectful way. (They're usually very nice and sometimes a couple of them tell me that they're bellydancers themselves, or considering taking classes.)

I call my style "fusion." I use entirely bellydance moves because that's what I know (I've taken Egyptian, American Cabaret, Turkish Rom, ATS, and some others, so that's where I draw my moves from...that makes it also a fusion within bellydance styles); I just use what fits with the music. I also always interpret the music when I dance (I read a quote from someone, I forgot who now, that said a dancer should look like she's creating the music by dancing, and that's stuck with me). Usually the music I pick is Middle Eastern inspired, and my costumes are also heavily bellydance inspired, but I like to make sure people know that what I do isn't exactly bellydance.

I just dance to whatever music inspires me. If I understand the soul of the song, a choreography just starts naturally forming itself in my head. If I think it's a great idea and would be entertaining to watch, I perform it.

(I'm also a little paranoid to actually dance to Middle Eastern music in any official style, even though I love it, because I'm always afraid I don't know enough and I'll accidentally do something I'm not supposed to do for that style. Fusion lets me breathe easier.)

I hope this isn't terribly wrong of me.


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Hi Inara,

Of course it is not wrong.

There is bound to be anxiety about ME music because most people have never heard it before going to a class. For many it means nothing when they first hear it. I remember having tapes and not knowing where one song ended or started...it all sounded the same. Without having ever studied music I know more about the structures and types of ME music than I do Western.

I listened and learned and the only way I could do this was by not running back to the safety of Western music and falling for the easy option.

I experience this as a teacher quite often. Students learn a few moves, want to dance, cant understand ME music so run straight back to what they know.. that would not happen in a Flamenco or Salsa class.

This does not mean you cant have more fun with Western music when you learn new dance moves, but it really is not 'belly dance/ME dance' when you do that.

Stick dance to Rock music is a woman dancing with a stick in her hand and whirling it around to rock music, if i saw that i would not have a clue what was going on other than she might look like she is having fun :think:... Raqs Al assaya or Tahtib is a folk dance with a history, it is not some random dance with a walking stick.

What anyone does for fun in their own space and time is up to them.. they can whizz that stick to anything they like any where they like..:D


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I'm quite pleased with myself that I don't feel as much like I want to do ME dance to western music- now that my music collection is shaping up, I have a lot of belly dancing music that I really like listening and dancing to. That said, I just did my first Capoeira class on Friday night and now I'm practicing my gingas to any pop song on the radio :/ Just when you think you're making progress! :confused:


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It is progress! :lol:

What you are saying is totally right. We do rely on what is familiar to us when we start out in this dance and the more we listen and collect music and learn our tastes in Arabic music (which constantly changes the more we grow to love it).

The problem is, if people just shy away from this, they will never grow to love it and stick to what they know... they will never really be able to dance 'belly dance' because it is inseperable from the music.

You cannot seperate the art of flamenco from it's music and dance to 'Take That' instead, this dance is no exception.


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Well put Caroline! I started this dance without knowing any middle eastern music at all, and for the past three years I've mainly listened to ME music so I can get my 'ear' in. I do have music training (classical piano for most of my life!) which may make it easier for me to hear rhythms and to listen selectively to various lines in the music, but the maqam are so different from anything I'd ever heard before.
I've really enjoyed learning that I can pick out a different tune (sometimes within a longer piece, the musicians will insert something from a completely different song, almost like an 'in' joke!), that I can make out the instruments, that I can hear the rhythms. There is a middle eastern piece of music for every mood, just as there is a european piece. But it does take time to learn to hear the music, and because it's more complex than almost any european music (except perhaps some of the baroque or even more obscure jazz pieces) it takes a while to learn it.

I fear that by using 'fusion' music the rhythm variations that form so much of ME music can get lost - most of our fusion music and a lot of sha'abi is in 4/4 timing, because it's easy to do, easier when programming drum machines, simpler to move to - and all those wonderfully complex rhythms might not be incorporated because they do need a lot of technical skill.

It's worth it in the end to persevere with the real deal in middle eastern music, it's richer and more detailed - but I do admit that sometimes I'll let loose in the privacy of my own home to something completely inappropriate like Queen or Dave Matthews - or as I've said before, something reggae!
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