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Expansive and Refined.
More expansive than Egyptian, more refined than Turkish, pretty arms, high heels, heavy influence from Lebanese folk dance.
Most Lebanese dancers... exhibit a style which is recognizably Lebanese, a style which is probably equally influenced by Egyptian and Turkish styles blended seamlessly and eschewing most of the more idiosyncratic elements of the Egyptian and Turkish styles. It would be rather strange if this were not so, as Lebanon lies athwart the main invasion route between Egypt and Turkey, and both of these states have occupied Lebanon repeatedly from pharaonic times up through World War I. There is much in Lebanese Oriental dance that is reminiscent of American Oriental dance in the 1960's, perhaps because most Middle Eastern dancers in the States at that time were Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese and Syrian (Damascus being both physically and culturally close to Beirut), so Americans learning Oriental dance were subject to the same mixing and leveling influences that shaped the Lebanese style of Oriental dance, as well as the Syro-Lebanese style itself.
Lebanese dancers are luckier than Egyptians and other Arabs in that they are not automatically perceived as fallen women. If a dancer respects herself, and acts like a lady, she is treated as such. Nadia Gamal set the stage for future dancers by being respectable and giving danse orientale a good name. Her death several years ago was a great loss, though Amani continues to be inspired by her.
Modern Lebanese bellydance, often attributed to the legacy of the late Nadia Gamal, of Greek-Italian parentage, highlights the popularity of the raqs sharqui style in Lebanon. In the earlier part of [the 1900s], many Lebanese stars... followed the bright lights of the booming Egyptian cinema industry and found fame. However, these days the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Beirut- known as the 'Riviera of the Middle East' - boasts a glamorous media industry and elite socialite scene. Lebanese bellydancers seem to have retained the classicism of oriental dance with a feisty, modern edge. The style is highly interpretive, yet more energetic and directed at entertainment than Egyptian dance. Recently, costumes have become wildly experimental, with everything from feathers to hotpants making a debut. The extravagant fasion sense of the Lebanese may well be driven by their Fernch connection. It has a very European flair compared with much of the Middle East, with the possible exception of western Turkey.
Lebanese style is busy, more energetic, has much larger steps and travels more than Egyptian, has a backward lean to the torso, large and busy arms, larger, twisting hip rotations, hip shimmies and some pelvic movements.
To the untrained eye, it almost appears as though it [Lebanese belly dance] was a love-child of Egyptian and Turkish Oryantal — but it is very much its own breed. Lebanese dancing incorporates many types of technique: subtle internal movements and quick layered shimmies, but also utilizes movments that are splashy and athletic. Kicks, deep back-bends, splits and even TUrkish Drops are frequently used. Much of the performance music is upbeat and quick-paced, even the typically slower portions such as taxim and chiftetelli... Lebanese belly dancers tend to use a lot of floor space in their performances... Drum solos often ncoude the spine-snapping torso locks popularized by Lebanese superstars Samara and Amani. Both of these women are also well known for making their shows into theatrical spectacles, using many back-up dancers, frequently changing costumes, and exploring fusing belly dancing with other dance forms.
MUSICA lot of Lebanese dance music is debke (line dance) music. And a lot of Lebanese belly dancers use some debke music in their gigs. Solo belly dance dancing to debke music IS done, but your audience may come out on the floor to help you! PS... always know what the words mean. ALWAYS. Music from the following artists (this list culled from various dance boards) can be found online.
DANCE COSTUMINGEdwina Nearing:
Ms. [Howada] Hashem... put more energy into the lengthy shimmy dance that comprised most of her show than all the Lebanese dancers in all the Lebanese films I had ever seen put together. Her music was strong and upbeat, including popular Lebanese songs with the kind of driving rhythms and lush melodies that stick in the listener's mind long after the show is over. Her costumes were like nothing in Egypt or Turkey: richly textured beadwork, layers of intricate fringe in different lengths, each strand of fringe made up of two or three different sizes of beads in varying shades of the costume's basic color; heavily beaded shoulder epaulettes; more layers of fringe covering the hips and upper thighs, virtually burying a whispy microskirt. She wore high heels, and a jewelled fillet bound back her dark, frizzy hair.
Amani has been a professional dancer for eight years and she says that she is constantly changing and growing. Lately, she has been inspired by Egyptian and Indian folklore. Her costuming reflects the mood she's in, and whatever style of dance she is interested in at the time. This has led to a fabulous wardrobe containing everything from ultra-feminine, flowing chiffon to vibrant folkloric beledi dresses, to retro Samia Gamal-inspired costumes. She has her own costume designer in Lebanon, and they work together to plan her dance wardrobe.
Older Lebanese costuming was dripping with fringe, making it appear extremely lush, often using huge, chunky beads... skirts are worn straight slit, or circle-style made of voluminous chiffon... and most of the time, Lebanese dancers are never without their high-heels. Current trends in Lebanese costumin range from fringe-laden to very sleek, but can also veer off into glamorized versions of ultra-skimpy club wear... Lebanon is a very European-influenced country, therefore more liberal and less conservative than other Arab nations.
REFERENCESEdwina Nearing, Lebanese Belly Dance in Habibi magazine, 1995.
Nuria Tahar, Amani, Lebanon's Diva de la Danse Oriental, Habibi magazine, 1995.
Keti Sharif, Bellydance: A Guide to Middle Eastern Dance, Its Music, Its Culture and Costume, published 2005 by Allen and Unwin.
Hadia is an internationally known dance performer and instructor.
Amera Eid (Australia)
Claire Naffah (Australia)
Dina Jamal (Lebanon)
Hawayda Hashem (Lebanon)
Ibrahim Farrah (Lebanese-American)
Nadia Gamal (Lebanese)
Maura Enright, Proprietor
Author: Maura Enright
© by Maura Enright
Last update: 2018.01.07
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