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ALI JIHAD (AJ) RACYProfessor of ethnomusicology, performer and composer. He is the author of Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
As the rhythms of Arabic countries percolated through the American belly dance culture, they were both modified and codified, which allowed American dancers and drummers to communicate quickly and efficiently about rhythms.
ARAB LEAGUE MEMBER COUNTRIESThe Arab countries are a subset of the Middle East; not every Middle Eastern country is Arabic.
ASSUIT (Tulle bi telli)AKA asyut, assyut, asyute, asuit, assuite and azute. Silver-embroidered tulle; a beautiful, flexible fabric much coveted by folkloric, Middle Eastern dancers and American Tribal dancers.
From Keti Sharif, Bellydance: "In the early Egyptian cinema industry of the 1930s and 1940s . . . the dancer would often perform in a long black dress emblazoned with delicate pieces of silver . . . the baladi dresses of that era made a very cosmopolitan fashion statement. They originated in a simple town on the Nile called Assyut, which became popular for its production of a fine cotton net fabric with small plaques of silver worked into patterns throughout. It is recognised that this stunning fabric inspired the opulent European evening gowns of the 1920s... Assyuti costuming is normally associated with Egyptian baladi -- the urban folk form of dance done by women. . . Usually worn with a simple coin scarf around the hips and matching decorated headscarf, the assyuti is an elegant, stately dress that speaks of glamour and ethnicity."
Interview with Assuit maker by Priscilla Adum.
Najia Marlyz discusses the history and construction of Egyptian Mummy Lace (or Assiut Cloth), which she descrubes as a version of sprang weaving. She is very specific about the necessity of keeping Assuit clean.
"The first and foremost caveat is to keep Assiut cloth and other vintage fabrics clean and the second is to repair them promptly with 100% cotton thread if they meet with any unfortunate snags. I have spoken with many dancers, otherwise prizing their possession of a hunk of tattered and dirty Asiutte cloth, who never dreamed of simply washing it because they feared it would fall apart. Actually, the contrary is true, unless you have let them get too filthy. All fabrics made of natural fibers are attacked by microscopic pests called 'dust mites.' The mites will eat away at it with glee as long as they are allowed to do so undisturbed by the horror of soap and water -- or even a common detergent and water.
"It is not necessary to wash Asiutte cloth in cold water using only Woolite, as some believe; it works just as well to wash the fabric (by hand, of course) in warm water and a little detergent. Surprisingly enough, one may whiten the white pieces without weakening the fabric significantly by soaking them in a solution of bleach and water for 3-5 minutes. After washing and/or soaking your treasured Assiut or Mummy Lace (one of its names), do not wring it out. Instead, roll it up in a large terry-cloth towel or two and press the excess water out of it. Next, spread dry terry cloth towels on a flat surface. (I like to do this outdoors to freshen the scent of the fabric.) Reshape your piece to its proper size without pulling tightly; just coax it to open the natural holes so that the 'sprang ground' from which the fabric is made opens."
Dawn Devine: "Hand wash, dry flat. [A] vintage textile dealer I know swears by the liquid Arm and Hammer detergent with the BLUE top— called Clean Burst— I like to use Orvus, a PH neutral soap on vintage fibers... use the most gentle cleanser you can find, don't wring! Fill a tub.. swish and bounce in 2 inches or so of water.. drain and rinse until the water is clear. Lay onto a fluffy cotton towel and roll like a burrito to remove excess water. Dry flat on a sweater drying rack - or even, gently fold and lay on a cookie drying rack. Do not let it hang - when wet assiut fibers are QUITE fragile."
♦ AWALIM (Awallum)Singular, Almeh or Almee. It literally means "learned woman." In Arab tradition, an Alawim is a woman educated to sing and recite classical poetry and to discourse.
AZIZAmerican male belly dancer, active 1970s - 2002. A powerful and mesmerizing performer. Student of Bert Ballandine, Jamila Salimpour, and Cassandra. Biographical video, 3:45.
Afghani Dress from the Material Matters exhibit in 1999 at the University of Hawaii.
1920s Assiut evening coat in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Aziz, mid 1970s
♦ BAL ANATJamila Salimpour's famous performance group of the 1960s and 70s.
BALADI aka BeladiSee Egyptian Belly Dance.
BANAT MAAZINLast remaining performing family of Ghawazee in Egypt.
“Don’t you have a name for what you are doing?” the studio manager asked me incredulously. I had arrived to teach a weekend workshop at London’s high-rise dance center, The Place. “Everyone who has come in has asked for a different thing: belly dance, Middle Eastern, baladi,” he continued, “and now you’re asking for the Egyptian dance class!”
Morocco: “It was interesting but frustrating that, depending on the country of origin, thre was a different name and variation of Raqs Sharqui, Raqs Farrah, Raqs, Raqs Turkos, Turkos, Oryantal Tansi, Raqs-e-Arabi, Anatolitiko Horo, Chife Telli. One thing was certain, no one from the cultures to which it belonged called it by anything that translated as the dismissive American misnomer belly dance.”
BELLY DANCE SUPER STARS (BDSS)Miles Copeland interview in IndiaCurrents.com
Dance troupe assembled by Miles Copeland, a noted rock-and-roll promoter, in 2003. The group has been controversial within the belly dance /middle eastern dance community because of the emphasis on large, theatrical and prop-heavy choreographies on large stages instead of the traditional improvised and intimate performances in smaller venues considered authentic by many dancers.
The original group included many established super stars in the belly dance scene, such as Jillina, Ansuya, and Rachel Brice. These dancers have since moved on to their own projects. New dancers are emerging on the BDSS stage but none as notable, yet, as the original stars. It may be that the BDSS is attempting to build up their own brand rather than that of the individual stars, who will eventually move on, taking their fan base with them.
BLOGSHere are some blogs I pay attention to:
BURCIN ORHONTurkish belly dance superstar, active in the late 20th century.
BURLESQUENo, burlesque is NOT belly dance. But here is an article by Andrea Deagon that explains why the two are linked in the public mind: Almée or Salomé? Hybrid Dances of the East, 1890-1930.
Ballets Russes Program, 1909, from the Library of Congress collection.
What's In a Name by Shareen El Safy, Habibi Magazine 1997.
See SHAMADAN, since dancing with candles and with a candelabrum share many of the same challenges.
CANDLEMASFebruary 2. It celebrates three occasions according to Christian belief: the presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus' first entry into the temple; and the Virgin Mary's purification after childbirth.
♦ CANE DANCING aka Raks AssayaCane dancing by the female of the species is traditionally flirtatious and charming, danced in a long dress (beledi dress, galabeya) which covers the body and makes the dance seem more family-friendly to conservative American audiences.
COMMON PRACTICEA common term for Western music in the years 1600 -1900.
COMPACT DISC PLAYERS AND DISCSSamuel M. Goldwasser has been maintaining a page called Notes on the Troubleshooting and Repair of Compact Disc Players and CDROM Drives (sine 1994) which includes a section on CD Player Placement, Preventive Maintenance, and CD Care. Maintenance, cleaning, repairing and troubleshooting discs and equipment is covered. The author also claims the article is "largely relevant for DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray equipment."
When making CDs for performances:
CONVIVENCIAFrom Wikipedia: La Convivencia ("the Coexistence") is a term used to describe a postulated situation in Spanish history when Jews, Muslims, and Catholics in Spain lived in relative peace together within the different kingdoms. It lasted from the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 until 1492, concurrent with the Reconquista ("Reconquest"). The phrase often refers to the interplay of cultural ideas between the three groups, and ideas of religious tolerance. This postulation is at odds with historical evidence of various massacres carried out on the Jewish population by Muslims such as the 1011 massacre in Cordoba and the 1066 Granada massacre.
La Convivencia is a popular theme for Spanish / MED fusion presentations.
COREFrom an article by Deb Rubin in 2011 Fuse magazine:
Known by Japanese as the hara and by Chinese as the lower dantian, the abdomen is the physical and energetic center of the body. The abdomen is the root source of our vital energy, nervous system, and muscular energy, and regulates both our physiological and spiritual well being... and produces the qi (life force) that flows along our meridians...Cultivating our hara through self-care practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, and...Tribal Fusion belly dance... develops mastery, strength, wisdom, and tranquility.
Deb Rubin and Hather Stants of Urban Tribal define the core as the entire torso, from the top of the leg to the chest line. Abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, lower back, psoas, and stabilizers of the spine.... the core is the place where the deepest abdominal muscles and deepest back muscles meet.
Deb Rubin: Physically, stronger cores, deeper body awareness, and more core-integrated movements can radically improve extension of lungs, deepen slow ooey-gooey serpentine slink, improve posture, protect knees during level changes and floor work, and create a more graceful, controlled aesthetic -- all of which are characteristic of Tribal and Tribal Fusion belly dance.
Suggested core strengtheners:
♦ COSTUME MAKING in the Many-Colored-LandEverything I learned about costuming I learned in Kindergarten:
Dances genres seen through the eyes of a costumer:
|Ruric-Amari Candle dance, 2011.|
"The difference between art and entertainment is the difference between learning something new and experiencing the familiar in a pleasing format." -- Unknown
DALCROZEFrom Carnegie Mellon University: The Dacroze Method known as Eurhythmics is a unique approach to music learning developed by the Swiss composer and educator Emil Jaques-Dalcroze. The most significant and far-reaching innovation that Dalcroze brought to the learning process is the recognition that experiencing meaningful rhythmic movement associated with ear-training and improvisation facilitates the understanding of music concepts, enhances musicianship and focuses awareness on the physical demands of artistic performance.
David Roberts, a Scotsman, traveled to Egypt and the Holy Land in the mid-1800s to paint the monuments, architecture and people. "After more than 150 years his paintings are still the most beloved and popular illustrations of Egypt and are highly sought after by collectors."
DAY of the DEAD"Day of the Dead is a very sacred day. It's a day in which we welcome back the memory and the souls of those people who are still – are still – an important part of our family, even though they many not be physically present, and it's a sacred day in which a lot of people pray. They gather together. We welcome them back. Halloween, you don't want those ghosts around. You're kind of afraid of them. It's a scary time. It is certainly not a sacred day, and I think those are the big differences between the two." — Cesareo Moreno, chief curator at Chicago National Museum of Mexican Art.
♦ DEBKE (aka DABKE)Ted Shawn and Ruth St Denis, frequently referred to as the originators of modern dance. One could argue that some of Denishawn's most famous productions were orientalist pageants rather than modern dance, but Shawn and St. Denis's goal was a new system of dance with a solid baseline of technique. Their students and dancers included Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Jack Cole and Charles Weidman.
One of the current three Egyptian female belly dance superstars (Lucy and Fifi Abdo would be the other two). Her beauty, talent and fame have (so far) ensured that she is free to perform and travel and -- to voice her opinion to the newspapers.
DIATONIC SCALEDiatonic Scale: always has seven distinct notes with some pattern of 5 whole intervals and 2 half intervals per octave
DORIS HUMPHREYOne of the famous group of modern dance pioneers who started out with the Denishawn company, trained with Ted Shawn, and then left Denishawn to pursue their own artistic vision. "In 1928, Humphrey and Charles Weidman left the Denishawn company to found their own school and company. Like Martha Graham, Humphrey was interested in moving away from the sentimentalism and romanticism of the Denishawn company toward a new dance vocabulary and style that was truly "modern." In a newspaper article from this period, she told a reporter that she and her students were "stimulated by our enthusiasm for some discoveries about movement, which had to do with ourselves as Americans--not Europeans or American Indians or East Indians, which most of the Denishawn work consisted of--but as young people of the twentieth century living in the United States."
Drum solo is the name for a dance performed by a belly dancer to drum rhythms. It is a duet between the dancer and a drummer. The dancer is expected to be focused on the drumming, interpreting with her body what the drummer plays with her hands.
EDWARD FITZGERALD"A slow and diffident writer, FitzGerald published a few works anonymously... before learning Persian with the help of his Orientalist friend Edward Cowell. In 1857 FitzGerald 'mashed together,' as he put it, material from two different manuscript transcripts... to create a poem whose 'Epicurean Pathos' consoled him in the aftermath of his brief and disastrous marriage. In 1859 [his translation of] the Rubáiyát was published in an unpretentious, anonymous little pamphlet. The poem attracted no attention until, in 1860, it was discovered by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and soon after by Algernon Swinburne. FitzGerald did not formally acknowledge his responsibility for the poem until 1876. Its appearance in the same year as Darwin's Origin of Species, when the sea of faith was at its ebb, lent a timely significance to its philosophy, which combines expressions of outright hedonism ('Ah take the Cash, and let the Credit go') with uneasy ponderings on the mystery of life and death."
The translation is a good deal FitzGerald's own creation, something he himself did not hide. The illustrators Elihy Veder and Edmund Dulac provided early and still very popular illustrations for FitzGerald's translation.
Britain's most renowned scholar of the Middle East. Active in the mid 1800s.
♦ EGYPTIAN BELLY DANCE (Raks Sharki and Beladi)
♦ GHAWAZEE, Egyptian Gypsy tribe famous for their dancing and music.
EGYPTIAN CINEMA"The film industry in Egypt started in the late 1920s, or 1930s, depending on which version you want to believe. But we had the very first film industry in the Middle East and it was essentially established by the hands of foreigners. The very first Egyptian film was directed by two Italian brothers. Most of the owners of the theaters were Greeks, and most of their producers were Jews, and so the Egyptian film industry was founded by foreigners." -- Joseph Fahim
Elena started with Middle Eastern Dance in the late 1960s and has over the past three decades developed her own distinctive and inspiring dance style, incorporating Middle-eastern dance, mime, Spanish and Moorish dance, and modern interpretative dance to create spell-binding performances. 1981 Video dancing to Scott Wilson music.
ELIZABETH COOPER 1877-1945From Gender, Modernity and Liberty: "Elizabeth Cooper was an American, a professional writer who traveled widely to research her books on women. In addition to Women of Egypt...she also wrote several books about women in other parts of the world (My Lady of the Chinese Courtyard; The Soul Traders; Sayonara) as well as The Harim and The Purdah, Studies of Oriental Women, which was a comparative account of women's lives in Egypt, India, Burma, China and Japan, published in 1915."
Elizabeth Cooper traveled widely and wrote much. She was not, by the standards of our age, a dispassionate observer. Her observations were shaped by her approval of the Oriental woman's dedication to family, children and home; but she was adamant in her conviction that a good education and the freedom to earn a living and participate in the world's affairs was necessary to female welfare. Humdrum, yes? but at the time this book was published, American women had not yet won the right to vote, and many health professionals were still convinced that the stress of study involved in a college education would injure a girl's nervous and reproductive system. The Harim and the Purdah presented an extreme version of what conventional Western society thought was a woman's proper sphere, and did not represent it as desirable.
From a review of The Women of Egypt by David Buel in The Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, 1915:
"The record of a western woman's attempt to penetrate the seclusion of the Egyptian harem and learn from the Egyptian woman herself what her life is and how she looks upon life. The attempt is most praiseworthy and was quite thoroughgoing, and yet little that is new to those familiar with the subject has been uncovered. It has long been known that Moslem women approve of their own enclosure in the home, and are strenuous upholders of it; that the freedom of the Moslem husband to divorce his wife and to introduce other wives into his family is the pivot upon which the family life of Islam turns. The familiar intercourse of the writer with Egyptian women of all classes throws pathetic interest over the position of women in the Mohammedan world."
From the chapter on 'Indian Social Life' in the book The Harim and the Purdah, written by Elizabeth Cooper and published in 1915:
"In many of the temples, besides the priests who minister to the gods, are dancing girls, whose duties are to dance at the shrines, sing hymns, and generally delight the gods. They are a recognized religious institution, and are honoured next to the priests. They are obtained when quite young by purchase or by gift. Often in times of famine a girl is sold to the temple, that her price may save the rest of the family from starvation. One is given that all may live. In other cases a girl is often a thankoffering given to the gods because of recovery from sickness or great tribulation. A rich man, instead of presenting his own daughter, would buy the daughter of some poor family and present her. These girls, who have no word to say in regard to the disposal of their persons, are public women, and the gains of their profession go towards the support of the temple. If there should be children born to these professional dancing girls, they are brought up in their mother's professions, very much as were the children born to the priestesses of Aphrodite in the temples of Alexandria.
"These dancing girls share with their sisters, the nautch girls, the only real freedom given to Indian women. The latter are taught to read and write, to play musical instruments, and to make themselves attractive and charming to men. They come and go freely, mingling with both men and women. They are found at all feasts and public ceremonies, and have a very definite and honourable place in Indian society. Whatever discredit may be attached to her calling, she is considered a necessary adjunct to the temple and the home. Her presence at weddings is considered most fortunate, and in some castes it is the nautch girl who fastens the tali around the neck of the bride, a ceremony similar to placing the wedding ring upon the finger. She holds the center of the stage at all entertainments given in hounour of guests. While we were in a native province ruled by a prince who had the reputation of liking wine, women and song even more than did the average ruling prince in India, we were edified by the dancing of a woman brought from Bombay at the expense to the prince of nearly one hundred pounds a day."online Best of Habibi.
Egyptian woman in Cairo in the 19th century, by Dalvimart.
Some European travelers in Egypt noted the ubiquitous blue shirt worn by both sexes of the lower class workers. Females added a veil and bloomers.
FAN DANCINGFan sources:
FAT DANCE BELLY DANCE (FCBD)
FELLAHIEgyptian folkloric dance. JasminJahal.com: "The Fellahin (pronounced FE-LAH-HEEN) are the farmers of Egypt. A Fellahi dance uses the Fellahi rhythm, which is quick, light and very similar to the malfoof rhythm. The music always includes vocals, and the dance movements follow those vocals. A Fellahi dance depicts the everyday work of the farmers, such as gathering food in a basket and collecting water in jugs. The costuming for women includes a loose, long dress that is ruffled at the bottom and very wide, along with a veil worn on the head. Sometimes a long scarf is worn around the neck, which the dancer may tie around her hips during the dance to make her hip movements more visible."
Mohamed Shahin: The Fellahi area is in the middle of Egypt. There are four main cities in that area: Al Sharqeia , Al Behaira , Al Garbeia and Al Monofeya. The word 'Fellahin' refers to peasants and farmers. The female version of the dance is distinguished by the use of a jar (ballas), which is what these women would use regularly to bring water to the house. When fellahin women dance, they use hip movements and lots of clapping. The men use the axe to work in the ground.
Costuming for men: Short pants, since they work in the water, long galabiya which they wrap around the waist so it stays dry. On the head they wear a small scarf called 'mandil' which catches their sweat and protects them from the sun. Costuming for women: Women wear a very long and wide galabiyya in light colors. They do not show any part of the body, and a very long head scarf or shawl covering the entire head.
FENG SHUIFeng shui is all about promoting the best flow of energy in your home, allowing opportunity and vitality to circulate.
FLOORWORKFloor work is, preferably, when a dancer dances against, above, along and with the floor, not wallow around on it like a demented fantasy girl.
GEISHA"Much misunderstood, this charming creature has been interpreted as everything from a super-vicious courtesan to a common waitress. Let us establish the levels of common sense! She is an artist, and a thorough one. Her private life and morals ar a matter of her personal inclination, and have nothing to do with her profession. What her profession does demand of her is intelligence, culture, and a complete knowledge of singing, poetry and dancing. It is far more than is demanded, or expected, of the Western dancer - let us leave her private life and difficulties alone!" -- La Meri, Dance as an Art-Form.
GERTRUDE BELL"Kingmaker of Iraq." Gertrude Bell, linguist, archaeologist, and explorer; brilliant, wealthy and well-connected; contemporary and political peer of T E Lawrence, is known, for better or worse, as the woman who shaped post-War I Iraq. Her observations were those of a well-educated Western person who traveled in and loved the Middle East.
♦ GHAWAZEE aka Ghagar aka Ghaziya aka Ghawazi
The Ghawazee were one of the most famous dancing tribes in Egypt, traditionally employed as dancers, singers and other performance artists in Egypt. The Ghawazi have been in Egypt for perhaps 500 years and during that time have made their living by music and dance. It is thought that they originally migrated from India to Turkey and then traveled on as the camp followers of the Ottoman Turks that conquered Egypt in the 16th century. For centuries they thrived as entertainers and sex workers, but the increasingly conservative Muslim culture in Egypt in the late 20th and early 21st century destroyed their customer base. The Banat Maazin family were the last to perform publicly in Egypt, but the Maazin sisters continue to travel overseas to teach their hypnotic dances to enthusiastic Western students.
This 1913 depiction of "Pharonic Dance" was surely influenced by the costume of the Ghawazee of that time, with the ribboned panels over their skirts.
HAGGALAMohamed Shahin: Hagalla people live in the desert of Egypt, on the west side very close to Libya. There is usually a big group of men dancing, with one woman listening for the loudest claps, and then she approaches the group and chooses the man she wants to dance with. The women use big hip movements.
Costuming for men: Very similar to Libyan attire. Men wear long pants, knee-length galabiyas and vests on top. They also wear a head piece that looks like a short red hat called 'tarbush.' Costuming for women: Pants and long galabiyya on top. Skirts on top with many layers of fabric. Hagalla women dance with flat-footed shoes because the sand is hot and mushy.
Al-Firqah Al-Qawmyyah, an Egyptian folk dance school of folkloric dance, in performance at Lincoln Center in 2010. "This is Haggalah dance form practiced in Marsa Matrouch in the north east of Egypt and parts of Lybia. In this dance form the females display their dancing skills while the men flaunt their strength for the women to choose a suitor."
Mahmoud Reda choreography.
John Compton and Rita Alderucci, the founders and directors, both studied with Jamila Salimpour and performed as solo dancers in Jamila Salimpour's Bal Anat in the early 1970's. They organized Hahbi Ru in 1991 in part to recreate the ensemble style of performance developed by Jamila Salimpour and to develop the genre further. From their web site:
Hahbi Ru's focus is on the Tribal-Folkloric style, quite different from the Cabaret style or American Tribal style most people think of when they picture Middle Eastern dance or belly dance.
Cleaning: Bar Shampoo works well on my straight, oily hair.
Conditioning by closing the cuticle: Vinegar, 1 T diluted with 2 cups water.
HARMONICASurely a contender for one of the primary ethnic instruments in the United States! Although, unlike a banjo or a fiddle, it cannot be made out of a cigar box.
HATERS gotta HATEKatt Williams goes viral.
♦ HIJRASArticle moved to BollywoodLouisville.com.
HULA"Popularization means that a form is made intelligle to the layman who eagerly seeks to enjoy it. Transmutation is the process of changing one form to another. Popularization of a traditional performance of expressive culture often results in the transmutation of a classical to a romantic form. Three means by which a major transmutation can take place include changes in the rationale, the aesthetic canons, and the spatial features of the form. In other words, the raison d'etre shifts as new values justify and promote the viability of a performance form...Transmutations such as these are amply demonstrated by the hula...Traditional Hawaiian society was highly stratified with a powerful aristocracy at the top. Not surprisingly, there are two basic kinds of hula; one for the aristocracy and one for the ordinary persons. Hula 'Auana is informal, performed without ceremony or offerings. It does not require formal trianing, and is performed for pleasure under relaxed conditions. Hula Kuahu, however, does require ritual dedication and formal taining. It was considered to be the real Hula, and was performed for the aristocracy by specially trained performers who held great responsibility...Since the end of the 1960s there has been a renaissance in Hawaii where an attempt is being made to reconstruct the old traditions of the hula... The purpose is to create a new art form that can appreciated by a lay audience and even a non-Hawaiian audience. The new serious Hula is promoted through officially sponsored workshops and competitions... Dance studios are again called halau hula and the teachers are referred to as kumu hula. Graduations once again signify that students have become finished performers...Even though the traditional rationale is gone, the virtually new Hula has a strong chance for survival because of the energy it has generated, and because it has become institutionalized for its own sake. " — J.W. Kealiinohomoku, Hula Space and Its Transmutations
"To the Hawaiian, dancing is not primarily merely a form of amusement, but was, together with singing and music, the entire education of the people. The scope then, being religious and educational, is identical with that of the dances of China and India... Every gesture has a meaning established by tradition. The Liliu E was composed to exalt Queen Lilioukalani and, with slow and sober dignity, declaims the beauties of body and mind of Her Majesty. The feet are somewhat livelier than further East, as befits an outdoor people, yet they are always and entirely a subservient accompaniment to the softly-waving arms and swinging hips... For the Hawaiian swings her hips to swing her skirt, and when a long row of dancers sway the supple strands in unison the effect is very lovely indeed. But it is the arms upon which is expended the greatest care. They writhe like serpents; they curve like a swan's neck; the slender fingers open and close like blossoming flowers on a subtle wrist. This undulation of arm is, indeed, the virtuosity of the hula and is practised, scarcely with less grace, by men as well as by women. Contrary to the interpretation of some Western dancers, the Hawaiian never shakes either her head, hands, or shoulders." La Meri, Dance as an Art-Form, 1933.
IBRAHIM FARRAH, 1939-1998"Ibrahim Farrah is a first generation American, hisp arents having migrated to the United States from Lebanon. His career as a performer, choreographer, lecturer and instructor of Middle Eastern dance is illustrious. He has studied and performed in all major U.S. cities as well as in the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East.
"Mr. Farrah currently resides in New York City where he has taught at Carnegie Hall and other studios, and has conductedn umerous seminars. He often gives master classes at colleges and universities through their dance departments. Other performances have been given at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the United Nations, Clark Center for the Performing Arts, various cultural centers, and numerous college concerts. Mr. Farrah was recently chosen as the chorographer for the Arab Immigrant Theatre of Fine Arts, the first all Arabic-spoken theatre in America, and was also chosen to perform with the LEbanese folklore trupe for the Bicentennial celebration under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution with the 'American -- the Multing Pot' theme in Washington D.C. during the summer of '75. He was awarded a Doris Duke Foundation grant for study and research, and established the Near East Dance Group. He has been featured and intreviewed on ABC, CBS, NBC and other major television networks." -- Arabesque Magazine, Publisher's Biography, 1975
IBRAHIM TURMENNoted Turkish percussionist.
IMPROVISATION♦ Dance Improvisation
IQA'ATThe rhythmic modes of Arabic music.
IRANIAN DANCELaurel Victoria Gray, Dance Interrupted: Longing for Iranian Roots, Media.Tirgan.Ca, web, 2015.
ISADORA DUNCANActive in the early twentieth century. A pioneer in dance movement, breathing and philosophy.
Ted Shawn's legacy to American dance; his famous school in western Massachusetts where students and teachers still come to share ballet, modern, contemporary and ethnic dance technique. The Pillow also houses an archive of the activities of Mr. Shawn, his Men Dancers, and the Denishawn dance company.
JAWAAHIR DANCE COMPANY"The Jawaahir (jewels in Arabic) Dance Company, founded by Cassandra in 1989, gave its premiere performance on the weekend of January 19th, 20th, and 21st at the Nancy Hauser Dance Studio Teatre in Minneapolis. The company is dedicated to the presentation of danse orientale in a manner that is both educational and aesthetic to American audiences and to the dessimination of Middle Eastern culture for the purpose of better inter-cultural understanding between our own and Middle Eastern societies. In addition, besides honoring the traditions, Jawaahir seeks to explore new directions for this historic art form... We hear that the production weas very well received, with both the traditional works and their more modern renditions being highly appreciated by an enthusiastic audience." -- Arabesque Magazine, 1991.
BedouinSilver.com is a private collectors website.
JOHN COMPTONAnother famous dancer who started out with (and broke from) Jamila Salimpour. Co-founder of Hahbi Ru, which he considered to be folkloric rather than Tribal. John passed away in 2012 after a long battle with AIDS.
A well-established and long-time American Tribal Style dancer who studied with Fat Chance Belly Dance and went on to create her own version of Tribal style belly dance, Black Sheep Belly Dance (BSBD). Unlike the original ATS format, her format develops and uses both sides of the body.
She and her husband produce the largest and longest-running Tribal belly dance festival in the world every May in Northern California.
She is a writer, with a regular column for the belly dance magazine Zaghareet and she is the author of the definitive book on Tribal style belly dance, The Tribal Bible, which is now (as of 2013) available as an Ebook.
Percussion instrument of the Gnawa, a group of people from North & West Africa. They are clappers with zill-size cymbals at each end, strung together with leather, one pair per hand.
Close up picture of Karkaba.
KARSILAMA aka Karshilama
The DANCE is a Turkish folk dance done as a group. The RHYTHM is a 9/8 that American dancers call Karsilama, frequently danced in America as a solo. This 9/8 is not an even beat. It is counted 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2-3, with the last three counts flowing a little faster than the first six... more of a triplet feel... the only way to learn it is to listen to lots of it.
The Karshilama, although a 9/8, is not a Turkish Romany rhythm. The first has accents on 1-3-5-7-8-9; The Turkish Romany 9/8 is most frequently accents 1-3-5-7-8.
From Keti Sharif's book, Bellydance:
"The Turkish Karsilama survives as a folk dance with a rhythm played in traditional 9/8 times. The dance is also known as the mastik, literally meaning 'drinking song,' with a repetitive pattern of three walking steps followed by three faster bounces, twists or hip tilts. The dance, performed by men and women, consists of a sprightly step on the right foot, left foot and then feet together, followed by a bounce on the toes with a quick bow of the head. The latter part can be exchanged for little pelvic tilts or twists. Sometimes the feet cross over, with a double step to change feet on the fast accents. The dancer pushes the hips forward and the arms back. The sequences are often repeated four times, in a square format , i.e. facing the front, side, back and side."
Ahmet Orgen on Romany dance and why a Karshilama is NOT Romany. Karsilama Dance has rules and regulations, without these rules there won't be a Karsilama Dance! These Rules are:
KHALIJI MUSIC" Khaliji music means Gulf music, and that is a new expression used to describe all the musical sounds from all the Arabian Gulf countries. If you had talked to a guy 50 years ago, he didn't have that idea of a Gulf identity, a Gulf consciousness. That comes with the political sovereignty that these countries developed. It comes with the marketing of a type of music that melded through regional collaborations into a coherent sound. If we break up khaliji music, Gulf music, into its component parts, we hear strains from Africa and India and Iran, and all kinds of indigenous Bedouin sounds that date way back before nation states and oil." --Joesph Braude
KHALIGI DANCE (aka Khaleegy, aka Raks Al Nasha'ar)From OrientalDancer.net:
Raks Al Nasha'ar (pronounced "rocks all nuh SHAH ar") is a social dance, done strictly by and for women, in the Persian Gulf. Sometimes referred to as Khaleegy, Khaleeji or Khaliji (pronounced "kuh LEE jee".) Khaleegy means Gulf in Arabic and refers to the countries of the Persian Gulf region. The trademarks of this dance are gliding steps, lovely hair tossing, and hand movements that utilize the dress worn for this dance called thobe nasha'ar.From JasminJahal.com:
Do not confuse SAUDI (sow-dee) with SAIDI. A Saudi dance is from the country of Saudi Arabia, using the Khaleegy rhythm. The Saudi is very different from the Saidi dance, in costuming, in feeling and in movement. The female costume is called a thobe. It is a wide dress in a brilliant color elaborately adorned, especially around the neckline. No hip scarf or belt is worn. Thus, the movement is focused on the upper body and footwork, and includes a lovely way to toss long hair from one shoulder to the other.From Karim Nagi on the Arab FolkDance DVD liner notes:
Khaliji refers to Arab dances from the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain). The movements have some African and Indian traits due to geographic interaction, yet the core is definitively Arab. The movements consist of limping steps, shoulder pulses, various hand vibrations, swaying, turning and hair twirling.From now-defunct VenusBellydance.com:
Khaleegy (Saudi Arabian Gulf): This dance utilizes an oversized overdress as both costume and prop. The dress is held up in front like an apron and billows as the pelvis undulates gently to a R-L-R, L-R-L stepping pattern. The dance also features lots of spins, chest drops and tossing of unbound hair from side-to-side. The huge sleeves are held up to frame head slides or used coquettishly like a veil.From Keti Sharif in Bellydance:
The khaleegee from the Arabian Gulf is a gliding, small-stepping dance performed to the khaleegee rhythm, with the dancer in a long, wide, embroidered veil-dress. The dress looks like two long veils that have been sewn together. The dancer lifts the veil-dress lightly, dancing with it held out in the front. The dress fabric serves as a prop to embellish the dance. Sometimes the hair is flicked from side to side, and the overall quality of the dance is a graceful, trance-like gliding.
KORLA PANDITA post-WWII organist who made his mark with his hypnotic, smokey gaze and his exotic, orientalist-tinged music. He pioneered the TV Music show.
LAUREL VICTORIA GRAYCentral Asian and Persian dance teacher. Director, Silk Road Dance Company.
LEONA WOOD 1921- 2007
Leona Wood was an accomplished book designer and illustrator, painter, and folk dancer. As artistic director of the Aman International Folk Ensemble, she moved into new territory by moving belly dance to the stage. Aisha Ali in a 2002 issue of Habibi Magazine:
“It was Leona Wood who was largely responsible for taking the belly dance from the cabaret setting of ethnic nightclubs and outdoor festival venues and presenting it as an art dance in the theatre. It was her keen aptitude for lighting and dramatic choreography and an accurate knowledge of ethnic and tribal costuming combined with a solid knowledge of the cultural history of the Middle East that made her productions breathtaking to the connoisseur audiences who frequented the Los Angeles Music Center and California's University auditoriums.”
From the biography LEONA WOOD published in 2011:
In the 1960s, Wood turned her attention to dance. She started a small performing ensemble that soon joined forces with another local group to form the Aman International Folk Ensemble. As Artistic Director of the company, Wood used both her artistic talents and advertising expertise. In 1980, she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to produce “Tseyka — Episodes from Kwakiutl Dance Drama.” Wood's vision for the mise en scène included innovative concepts such as lighting the stage from instruments located center stage, and a traditional dance screen (painted by Wood) hung upstage to allow performers to enter without using the wings. (“A visual masterpiece,” wrote Martin David in Dance West (April, 1980).
Leona's obituary (2008) in the Los Angeles Times includes mention of her research work. "In the 1970s, Wood's writings about dance appeared not only in the Dance Research Journal and other scholarly publications but also on record jackets. She produced field recordings of music linked to the dance traditions she was researching, and she received a choreography and production grant from the National Endowment for the Arts."
In the 1960s and 70s, she began a series of paintings of 19th century Middle Eastern dancers which established her reputation as an Orientalist artist. Some of them were used as cover pictures for Aisha Ali's albums of MED music. The painting Entertainment in the Desert is familiar to many dancers as the cover for the Music of the Ouled Nail album published by Aisha Ali.
Aisha Ali highly recommends Leona Woods articles on the history of BD, first published in Arabesque Magazine.
LOIE FULLERLoie started out as a skirt dancer on the vaudeville circuit in the 1880s. Her career took off when she started to experiment with theatrical combinations of skirt fabric and lighting in her dancing. She moved to Europe and continued to develop her theories of movement using material and lighting effects. Because of the chemical processes involved in her experiments in lighting effects, Fuller was well respected in the French scientific community
"Loie Fuller was an American who became well-known worldwide in the 1890s for her stage effects (in Paris, she was called 'La Belle Americaine'), using veils and clever lighting. She was more a technician than a dancer. She expanded her movement through manipulation of veils and colored lights. One of her trademarks was veils extended on sticks. She worked in variety and concert, not notably in Paris. He influence was felt by many dancers afterwards, including Isadora Duncan and a host of modern dancers in the following decades."— Bert Balladine, So Ask Me, Caravan magazine, Sept 1991.
LUCYOne of the three remaining female belly dance superstars in Egypt.
"There is no place for arrogance in the arts, but neither is there room for doubt or a perpetual need for affirmation. If you come to me with doubts about a particular move in a piece, or if you come to me and ask if what you've written has truth and power in it, these are doubts I can handle and respect. But if you come to me and moan about whether or not you really have a place in the dance or the theatre or in film, I'll be the first person to pack your bags and walk you to the door. You are either admitting that you lack the talent and the will, or you are just looking for some easy attention. I don't have time for that. The world doesn't have time for that. Believe in your worth and work with a will so that others will see it. That's how it is done; that's how it was always done." — Martha Graham
Mahmoud Reda was artistic director and choreographer of the Egyptian dance company, the Reda Troupe, from 1959 to 1990. He was famous for his ability to translate Egyptian folk dances into choreographies for the large stage. "When you watch the real thing, you will be happy because you can join, because you can sing with them, you can even clap with them, so you feel happy. But if you buy a ticket at the opera house and sit, you don't expect to see this. Any normal thing, you put it on stage, is not normal. You can not bring a tree from its place and put it on stage, or a house and put it on stage. Even the people, when you bring them, the real folkloric dancers, put them on stage, they look odd, they look strange. Their costumes, they don't know where to look, they don't know, and if they do their things, it's very monotonous." -- from an 2003 interview by Morocco.
The Reda troupe started out as a family affair; Ali and Mahmoud Reda, their wives, Nahdeeda and Farida Fahmy, and their mother-in-law, Khadija Fahmy (supervising costumes and props and chperoning the female dancers).
The first performance was in 1959. The troupe became world-famous, growing to 150 dancers, musicians and technicians and travelling to more than 50 countries.
The Troupe became a government entity in 1961, which was at that time a productive change. However, over the years, bureaucratic control developed that proved fatal to the group as it was then organized. In 1990, Reda, who was officially a government employee, was forced to retire because he was 60. Ms Farida Fahmy,writing in her biography of Mahmoud Reda: "The Reda Troupe was the pioneer dance troupe. It set in motion the creation of folkdance groups in the provinces, universities and schools all over Egypt. Sadly, today the Reda Troupe exists in name only... the government bureaucracy and red tape that had already created many obstacles to thwart further artistic developments put Mahmoud Reda on pension in 1990. The Reda Troupe was subsequently left in the hands of members of the Troupe that possessed no drive, talent or artistic tendencies. All the teachers and choreographers that have emerged from the Reda Troupe, as well as, other dance groups, have not produced any remarkable innovations to date; their works only continue to perpetuate the Reda style, technique and teaching methods."
Mr Reda still tours all over the world teaching workshops.
Morocco's book, You Asked Aunt Rocky, includes a 10-page transcript of her interview with Mahmoud Reda in 2003: just one more reason to buy this excellent book. The online version of the interview is on her website.
Arabic eye makeup look:
A maqam is a melodic mode in Arabic music.
MARRAKECH FOLK ARTS FESTIVAL in Morocco
MARTHA GRAHAMProbably the most famous of the Denishawn dancers who broke away and worked towards their own vision of modern dance.
In a 1996 interview, Carolena Nericcio of Fat Chance Belly Dance described her own teacher, Masha Archer, as a dancer for whom authenticity was based on what she, as an artist, envisioned, and not on adherence to any specific genre of ethnic dances. "One thing that occured to me years later was that she wasn't a bellydancer, she was an artist. She's a visual artist. She has a Midas touch when it comes to creating art. I think she just happened along dance at some point, and decided to dance for awhile. What she did with the dance was just incredible. I don't think she was concerned at all whether something was traditional or considered culturally appropriate; she just had a feeling for mood, timing, rhythm, & what to do."
Masha is a visual artist who started out as a costume designer, moved to dancing, and then established a place in the world as a jewelry designer. She was not concerned with tradition; she was creating patterns with mood, rhythm and movement
Adapted from a FaceBook post by Masha Archer's daughter, Larissa:
Masha studied with Jamila for two or two and a half years and then established the San Francisco Classic Dance Troupe. She was not at all interested in keeping the dance "authentic" for authenticity's sake. She wanted a dance that she felt was appropriate for the modern western woman. She discarded certain elements that she felt were associated with nightclubs and mens's clubs (like floorwork) or that risked injuring her dancers (like Turkish Drops). She wanted a dance that [Western] people would acknowledge as art.
She kept elements she did like and altered them as she saw fit to suit her taste. For instance, she wanted feet close together in moves like the Egyptian basic, and she emphasized what we now think of as ATS posture, and emphasized the lifted elbows that are so important to this dance. According to her these were tweaks to the moves she learned from Jamila. NOW, because she was not interested in keeping the dance (or dances) authentic, she didn't want any guff from people about her lack of authenticity. So she used the word "American" to describe the dance she was teaching and performing. Also, Jamila loved belly dance, but was (at the time) very pessimistic about it ever being part of a different world from the nightclubs. Mom wanted to present this dance in more mainstream venues. She had her group dancing at book fairs, gallery openings, parades, artsy parties, city hall, etc. And she disallowed her dancers from performing in nightclubs or bars (she even got an offer from the SF 49ers to dance at a party for the team, but she wasn't sure it would be safe for them so turned it down). Part of what she felt would bring belly dance out of the nightclub was the chorus, or the tribe. Rather than a lone woman out dancing by herself like in a nightclub, the chorus surrounded and protected her (figuratively, of course), and would 'teach' the audience how to regard the featured dancers. Seeing the chorus support and respect the featured dancers would influence the audience to do the same. SO the 'tribe' was very important to her, and when asked about her style, she said, 'American Tribal.'
THIS DOES NOT MEAN HER DANCE WAS THE SAME AS WHAT WE KNOW OF AS ATS, OR THAT SHE IS THE CREATOR OF ATS. [Today's] more complicated [ATS] moves are possible because of the codification of the dance, the setting down of group formations, and the establishment of cues. Carolena's codification of everything has meant that many more moves could be added to the dance form, and that the basic moves can be done in a multitude of new ways. and Carolena has also altered some of the moves that she has kept over, just as mom altered the moves she got from Jamila. But the addition of moves from kathak and flamenco, those are also all Carolena's.
From Lariss Archer's interview with her mother, Masha, in a 2014 article in Nob Hill Gazette:
LA: You started a dance company that has been quite influential in the world of belly dancing, including inspiring one of your former students, Carolena Nericcio, to go on to form her own company, Fat Chance Belly Dance, which has since become quite famous. How did dance fit into your work as an artist and a designer?
MA: Whatever I'm doing, it is always for the same purpose: to use combinations of line, color, and texture to create beautiful images. Dance is part of that, and all of my influences and inspirations, which I derive from art and folk traditions from around the world, were present in my vision for the troupe's costume and movement aesthetics, just as they were present in my clothing designs — and remain present in my designs for jewelry. It's all the same.
LA: What do you say to women who think your work is too big or bold for them to wear?
MA: I hear that a lot. 'm very tempted to blame those who should have disabused them of such mousy thoughts by now and haven't done so yet!
MAUDE ALLANCanadian-born musician and dancer who was active in Europe in the early twentieth century. She is remembered chiefly for her performance in Vision of Salome.
Her autobiography, My Life and Dancing, is in the public domain.
♦ MEDSOKThe Middle Eastern Dance Society of Kentuckiana.
MIDDLE EASTThe Middle East area includes both Arabic and non-Arabic countries. The four major languages in the Middle East are Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish.
From the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
"The lands around the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula and Iran and sometimes beyond.
"The first modern Western geographers and historians tended to divide the Orient into three regions. Near East applied to the region nearest Europe, extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf; Middle East, from the Gulf to Southeast Asia; and Far East, those regions facing the Pacific Ocean.
"The change in usage evolved prior to World War II and were confirmed during that war, when the term Middle East was given to the British military command in Egypt. Thus defined, the Middle East consisted of Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Palestine (now Israel), Jordan, Egypt, The Sudan, Libya, and the various states of Arabia proper (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Trucial States, or Trucial Oman [now United Arab Emirates]. Subsequent events have enlarged the lands included in the definition. The three North African countries of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco are closely connected in sentiment and foreign policy with the Arab states. In addition, geographic factors often require statesmen and others to take account of Afghanistan and Pakistan in connection with the affairs of the Middle East.
"Occasionally Greece is included in the compass of the Middle East because the Middle Eastern (then Near Eastern) question in its modern form first became apparent when the Greeks rose in rebellion to assert their independence of the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Turkey and Greece, together with the predominantly Arabic-speaking lands around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, were also formerly known as the Levant.
MOHAMED ABDEL WAHABThe most prolific Arabic composer of the 20th century, writing more than a thousand songs.
American dancer, teacher and researcher, active since the 1960s. She has been a vocal and active influence for authentic Middle Eastern Dance for decades. Her dance company has received major arts grants and performed in prestigious venues. She has received awards from major dance organizations, written for many publications, produced a series of videos recording the ethnic dances of the Middle East, led numerous dance tours to the Middle East, and, in 2011, produced her long awaited book on the history, performance, practice and business of Middle Eastern Dance, YOU ASKED AUNT ROCKY: Answers & advice about Raqs Sharqi & Raqs Shabbi
In an article entitled Dancing to a Degree: Morocco in a 1989 issue of Middle Eastern Dancer, Bedia describes Morocco as holding a B.A. in Modern Language and Education and an M.A. in Political Science. She is also a member of Mensa, an unusual attribute that "permitted Morocco to perform and lecture in many places that she might not have otherwise, including museums, universities, and elementary schools. " She has traveled to and studied traditional music and dance in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria, Turkey, Greece, Jordan, and Syria." Her gift for languages allowed to lecture and teach in Spanish, French, Russian and sometimes even Greek and German." Her training in Political Science aids her understanding of the social and political climate of the various countries in which she does her research. "Her awareness of .. forces impacting a country's dances channels her own focus on dance toward reality and authenticity, rather than fantasy and speculation."
Morocco performs at the Lafayette Grill in NYC in 2006.
MOVIESDo old silent films qualify as an ethnic art? If not, why not?
MUMMERSSt George is a popular theme. The Pernicious Influence of Music on Dance, in which The Proprietor presents the strongly-worded Opinions of Experts on such universal concerns as:
MUSIC MODESMusical modes: Different modes are constructed by starting a major scale on a different note, maintaining the whole and half tones of the major scale. Each mode is a scale that has the same notes as the major but a different feeling, since the tones and semitones are now in a different pattern. This means the modes are also diatonic like the major scale is.
I Don't Punch Like Mohammad A Li W = whole step, H = half step. (On a piano, white key to white key = whole; white key to black key = half.)
MUSIC TRIADA Triad is a three-note chord.
MUSICAL TERMSFrom Feiruz Aram via Marguerite Kusuhara.
Makeup application in the year 2000, visualized by French artist Villemard in 1910.
Jamila Zahran, a founding member of MEDSOK, in the 1981 Madison Messenger.
NABAWEYA MUSTAFAEgyptian dancer active in the 1940s. Her effortless hip movements, backbends, agility, flexibility and subtle facial expressions made her a legend. Conchi, also of Cincinnati, produces workshops and concerts.
A 1987 issue of Habibi featured Nataj on the cover. Some highlights from the interview on the second page:
"Cincinnati receives the dance very well, especially for a city that is very conservative. We are lucky to have many, many excellent Middle Eastern dancers in this city. So, the public has been exposed to dancers who really do credit to the art form. The people here understand that to perform the dance takes years of study, and they appreciate that fact."
"Doing belly grams is a necessity of survival for me since I make my living at Middle Eastern dance. Unfortunately, there are not as many people interested in learning the art form as there were in the early and mid-'70s, so teaching classes doesn't bring in much income. And the few clubs (two in Cincinnati area) who hire dancers to perform pay very poorly. Therefore, if I want to keep my studio going, it has to be through private parties and grams."
[In answer to a question about her worst experience as a dancer:] "Being thrown in a swimming pool, in full costume, after a belly gram. It was an indoor pool in February, it was snowing, and I had to leave barefooted."
"I've been told by others that they think that my being long-waisted is why I dance the way I do. I have no problem with isolating my hips. I guess the fluidity comes from not being in a hurry...I try to move at the same speed throughout a particular movement.. this makes an undulation much smoother."
[In response to a question about what makes dancers crazy:] Unscrupulous club owners... People who insist on being a dance critic when they know nothing about it.. Dancers who let the audience tip them in their costume. I don' like the idea of a dancer leaving the stage area to solicit for money. I feel that this tactic hurts the image of this art form. The dancer lets most of her audience get bored because they can't see her, risks being burned by cigarettes of careless patrons, and being mauled by a chap who has had two too many...If the club doesn't pay you enough, don't dance there."
NED WAYBURNNed Wayburn was the most famous American choreographer and show producer (measured in commercial success) in the early 20th century.
NORADNational Organization of Middle-Eastern Artists and Dancers Inc. Active in the 1980s. Their Desert Dancer magazine of Spring, 1984, lists Ashiya of Lincoln NE as President; Shaharashoob of Omaha NE as VP; Jalela of Omaha NE as Secretary/Treasurer.
"NOMAD is a national non-pofit organization which is dedicated to the promotino of belly dancing as an art form, to educate the public in the various aspects of Middle Eastern dance and music, and to provide good quality workshops at reasonable fees for all dancers, beginner through professional level.
NUBIAN DANCE (Nouba)Mohamed Shahin: Noubian dance originated further south in Egypt than did Saidi, in an area between Egypt and The Sudan. This region is extremely hot throughout the entire year, which is why Nubians have to wear special clothes to protect themselves from the sun. Nubian music is rhythmically very rich; sometimes they use bandirs for dancing (big frame drums), but not all the time. Nubian dance is very soft and calls for simple movements. Nubian people are from black Africa and look very different from the rest of the Egyptian people. They also have their own language and dialect.
Costuming for men: Long white galabiyya and white pants (white helps reflect the sun from the body). On top of the dress is a color vest and a very long turban on the head. They also wear very special shoes to protect their feet from the hot ground. Costuming for women: Long galabiyya in light colors, a black light dress on top that shows the dress under, very long shawl on the head, covering all the hair. They love to wear a lot of accessories: a necklace called Nubian kerdan, big earrings, normally in silver color, and all kinds of silver accessories.
William Alexander's description of the Turkish Sultana, or Odalisk:
"The Seraglio itself, of which this female is a principal inhabitant, is an iregular building of vast extent; and contains in all at least six thousand persons, many of who indeed live in the city, and go there only during the day... The females of the Seraglio consists chiefly of Georgian and Circassian slaves, and are of course admitted when very young... Although the females in the Seraglio amount to more than five hundred, yet the Sultan generally chooses six or seven, called Kaddins, who alone have the privilege of producing an heir to the throne: and the first who has a son is styled the Favorite. The other slaves are styled Odalisks, form Oda, a chamber." --Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Turks, published in London in 1802 by William Alexander.
"Western writers tend to imagine the harem as a perfumed bathhouse full of naked odalisques. In fact it was much more like an old-fashioned girls's boarding school, run as a department of the civil service; the baths may have been hot but the food was usually cold." --Jason Goodwin
"Then a cloth cutter promotion cost Faruk part of a finger in an accident involving machinery and a lousy medical patch job. Upon returning to work after healing, he was promptly shown the same seat behind the same bloodied machine. When he protested, it was final exit or swallow hard and stay. Feeling depressed yet financially forced, Faruk lights up when recounting Grace's next intervention.
"He returned home one night soon after having resigned himself to find a letter. It was from the German record label Celestial Harmonies that had released his prior efforts with Brian Keane. He was offered a five year contract that finally allowed the economic security to become a fully paid dedicated musician. The albums Whirling, Mystical Garden and Crescent Moon followed in two-year intervals, now self-produced but still featuring mentor and friend Briane Keane on guitar and as contributing composer."
OUDAn oud is a fretless stringed instrument, similar to a lute, frequently used to play Arabic music. The lack of frets means micro-tones are much easier to produce.
OULED NAIL"Voyageurs, il faut vous résignez! Vous ne verrez jamais ce que vous reviez, parce que cela n'est plus! Et encore, vous devriez vous estimer heureux d'avoir pu, grace au talent de la vielle Ben Freha et au beau visage de la fiere l'Edmia, vous convaincre que la reputation des Nailiate n'aurait pas ete surfaite." (Travelers, resign yourselves! You'll never see what you've been waiting for, because it is no more! And yet, you should consider yourself fortunate to have been able, thanks to the talent of the old Ben Freha and the beautiful face of the proud Edmia, convince yourselves that the reputation of the Nailiate would not have been overrated.)
Nasreddine Dinet, Un Maitre de la Peinture Algerienne
Refers to both a people and a style of dance originated by the Ouled Naďl people in Algiers in North Africa. Their young women were trained in the art of dancing and lovemaking, and then traveled to the cities in the company of female relatives in order to earn a dowry. After several years of saving, they would frequently return to their homes, chose a husband, and settled down as faithful wives and mothers.
Dancing and music was an important part of their public presentation. Their coin necklaces and headdresses inspired a lot of American Tribal jewelry and costuming elements.
Jasmin Jahal on the Ouled Nail: "The costumes of the Ouled Nail are always magnificent, but in an unusual way. They are heavily made up, eyes darkened with kohl, faces tattooed and adorned with heavy jewelry. Their black hair is oiled and worn in braids on both sides of the face, looped up and held in place by big earrings. They have always gone unveiled even when almost all the women in North Africa wore veils.
"The costume focuses on a profusion of jewelry, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. They are known to wear huge bracelets with studs and spikes an inch or two long projecting from them in order to protect themselves from "handy" gentlemen. They wear a spangled veil held in place by gold fillets. Their skirts are voluminous.
"They wear the money they earn in various ways over their dresses. One common way is in long necklaces. Another is to hold the skirts and shawls together with coins. A third way is to ornament their beautiful headdresses. Sometimes these elaborate headdresses are even topped with ostrich tips! "
A Turkish Sultana, or Odalisk, by Octavian Dalvimart, early 19th century
Ouled Nail in Algerian travel poster. Artist may be an R. Imricha.
PAVLOVAFamous ballerina who also took an interest in Indian dance and silent movies.
The arms, hands, head and eyes play a more important role . . . Footwork, like the small hopping step with a continuous travelling flow, is kept light and nimble. The arm positions highlight the head slides, rib cage lifts and hip moves, many of which are performed on the horizontal plane. . . . There is also a lot of gesture and mime: a particular favorite of mine is the 'Grooming Dance.' The dancer, clothed in flowing white cotton garmets, mimes the delicate preparation of a young lady awaiting her suitor. She applies her kohl and adorns herself with her finest robes, perfumes and jewellery. She pretends to sip wine from an imaginary goblet, dancing more merrily with every swig. Looking repeatedly at her clock, noticing that he suitor is late, she continues drinking and dancing with an increasing number of twirls and shimmies . . . When she finally greets her suitor at the door, she falls drunkenly into his arms!— Keri Sharif, Bellydance
Sima Bina. An international performer of Iranian folk music.
Persian costume consists of a vest worn over loose cotton glouses or dresses, with an intricate design embroidered with gold thread. The veil and small hand scarves feature prominently.— Keti Sharif
Eleventh century: The Epic of Kings By Ferdowsi.
PERSIAN NEW YEAR, aka Nowruz
Some insight into why entertainment that incorporates fire is such a hit at the Persian New Year.
"The equilibrium of day and night marks the start of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The holiday is the most revered celebration in the greater Persian world. (In ancient times, Persia included the countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and portions of western China and northern Iraq.) Nowruz is a celebration of the renewal of nature after the slumber of winter, so to speak, and along with it the human response to that awakening of the Earth."— John Roach
"There are three parts to the celebration of No-rooz. Char-shanbe suri, Eid-e No-rooz, and Sizdah be dar.
"Char-shanbe suri means 'Wednesday Party.' On the Tuesday night before the New Year, everyone gathers outdoors in a public park. Each family brings a dinner dish and sets up a picnic table for themselves. This is a chance to see peopleyou have not seen all year in a casual atmosphere. Let me explain 'casual' in a Persian sense of the word. Even casual means dressy to some point. There is no such thing as appearing sloppy at a Persian event. When it gets darker, a large bondire is built in an open ara. This is the main event of the evening. Everyone lines up to jump across the fire. As you jump across, you shout 'Zardi-ye man az to, Sorkhi-ye to az man [My yellowness (weakness) to you, your redness (vitality) to me].' Then everyone dances together and has a great pary time.
"No-rooz is on the first day of spring each year. It is recognized at the exact time of the change in the season, at whatever date and time that might be. There is some gift-giving involved, especially from adults to children. Shiny new coins and new clothes are popular gifts. A small table is set up at home, the sofre-ye-hat-sin (table of seven S's), with a decorative mirror, candles, goldfish in a bowl, painted eggs, and seven items beginning with the letter S in Farsi: sumaq spice, venegar, green sprouts, coins, garlic, gladiolas, samanu. The traditional dish is baqali polo va mahi: steamed rice with fresh dill,fava beans, sauteed white fish, butter and saffron. No-rooz celebration often includes a large party on the weekend following the New Year's day.
"Sizdah be dar is the thirteenth day after the new year, and it is considered bad luck to stay at home on this day. All-day picnics are not uncommon in climates that allow them. Sabzi gereh zadan, knotting the greens, is a traditional game played by unmarried girls, who gather long grass, stems or flowers and then weave these together into a wreath, meanwhile chanting rhymes about future husbands, children and homes, with plenty of good-natured teasing and jokes all around. " — Rene Shojaee [paraphrased]
PHILLIP MEADOWS TAYLORPhillip Meadows Taylor was a British man who successfully served as a administrator in India in the 19th century and who was also one of Queen Victoria's favorite novelists. He wrote several books "illustrating periods of Indian history and society, and giving a prominent place to the native character ... and the native institutions and traditions [for which ] he had a great regard and respect."
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA"If you don't have a seat at the table, you're probably on the menu." -- Elizabeth Warren Highlights:
PUBLICATIONSMany belly dance magazines will not publish realistic critiques of performances or events for fear of raising an uproar. This denies other dancers essential information and dilutes public respect for belly dance.
John Roach, Persian New Year Transcends Religions, Regimes National Geographic News, 2005, Web.
Keri Sharif, Bellydance, Allen & Unwin, 2004.
Rene Shojaee, The Persian Arts Part 3 – Persian New Year, Crescent Moon magazine, May 1996.
Large metal clappers. See KARKABAS.
The Egyptian term for Western dance, used to distinguish it from their own Raqs (Sharqui, Shaabi, al Shamadan, al Assaya). Sound like those alien, money-obsessed bar keepers on Deep Space Nine? I thought so too.
RHEA of GREECEAn American dancer who began her career with Bal Anat and who ended up settling in Greece. She specializes in what she terms the Greco-Turkish style. Her two daughters returned to live in the USA; Piper is a dancer, teacher, and doctor in Molecular Biology; Melina directs a circus company.
RICHARD STEIGERDrummer, ethnomusicologist, teacher, composer and sound engineer based in California whose interests have included performing for Middle Eastern dance events since 1988.
"And Miriam, the Prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the drum in her hand and all the women followed her with drums and dance." (Exodus 15:20).
RUSSIAN ETHNIC DANCE
These were posted on Facebook by Laurel Victoria Gray.
Her most memorable endeavor was her lengthy collaboration with her husband, Ted Shawn, in the development and promotion of the Denishawn dance company and schools..
Ruth St Denis and Ted Shawn in Xochitl (NY Public Library image collection).
Their dancing is energetic, earthy and spirited, frequently incorporating martial stick dancing [male] and flirtatious cane movements [female].
Morocco describes Saidi rhythm as "a style/ group of rhythms used for cane dance/ Raqs al Assaya, ghawazi, and lots of great Egyptian folk music."
OrientalDancer.net interview with Ashraf Hassan: Saidi music is typically played by traditional instruments such as the Rababa (the grandfather of today's violin), the Mizmar (a horn which emits long, whiney tones), and various percussion instruments such as the dumbek and the tabla beledi. The music of the Said has a very special rhythm, it is a 4/4 time signature and we call it Makloub. There are some other variations, for instance one version instead of dum at the beginning, two dums will be played. Makloub means reverse and it is played thusly:
Dum Tak Dum Dum Tak.
Dum Tak ke Tak Dum Dum Tak ke Tak
From Khafif.com: Sayyidii (saidii, saiidii) is another rhythm of the maqsuum family. A sayyidii is made by doubling the middle DUM. It has a different flavor of fill and accent, is popular in upper Egypt (remember upper Egypt is in the south). It is similar to baladii, usually played fast, upbeat and powerfully. It is traditionally used for the Tahtib (a man's ritual stick dance) as well as belly dance (especially the cane dance -- which is partially a parody of the man's version). I've also heard this rhythm called 'Ghawazee&039; since these dance forms, and a particular style of belly dance using this form of rhythm, are popular among the Egyptian Ghawazee. This form may also be called 'baladii maqluub.'
Note that, although the rhythm theoretically has a DUM at the beginning, after the initial cycle of the rhythm that beat it is often alternatively played as a TEK. This tends to drag the second TEK of the rhythm earlier and emphasize the double-DUM part.
1 - + - 2 - + - 3 - + - 4 - + - | D - T - _ _ D - D - _ _ T - _ _ | D - T - t k D - D - t k T - t k | T - T - t k D - D - t k T - t k | after 1st measure D - t k - k D - D - t k T - t k | syncopated at the beginning D k S - k k D D D - t k S - t k | syncopated with 3 DUMs
Mohamed Shahin: The Saidi area lies in the South of Egypt and is compromised of four big cities: Qina, Luxor, Asyut and Suhaj.
The famous Saidi stick dance (Raks Al Sayya) originated in this area and is considered the most important of Egyptian folklore dances. Tahtib refers to a kind of dance but also refers to a game played between two men in which each of them holds a big bamboo stick to show power and prowess, with one of them winning at the end. Stick dancing is also practiced as a pastime and is used as a means of self-defense. This particular dance has become very famous and very common in wedding parties and many festive occasions. Originally Saidi woman did not dance because it was forbidden in their own culture, but Mahmoud Reda created the female Saidi dance version for theater, allowing them to share the stage with men.
The instruments played for Saidi dance are mizmar, rebaba, nay (flute) and tabla. Costuming for men: Long galabiyya (dress) in a dark color, like a black coat, and a white turban on the head to protect them while they are under the sun. Costuming for women: Long galabiyya (dress) that covers all the body, long headscarf to cover all the hair and a big necklace called 'kerdan,' usually in gold.
See CANE DANCE.
Shaabi is defined by many as Dance of the People, which means you would expect the dances to change from place to place.
Things do not stand still with the young folks in Egypt any more than they do here. Shaabi may have been a working-class kind of social dance and music a few years ago (think Egyptian Bruce Springsteen), but now Shaabi is being used to describe a style of upbeat improvisational social dance (at parties, in the clubs) as opposed to the Raqs Sharqui on stage. Some performers are polishing it up and moving it to the stage, and Americans have found out about it and want to go to workshops in it, so... stay tuned!
Moroccan Chaabi style is also very popular, although the music is different from the Egyptian style Shaabi. Moroccan Chaabi music uses a lot of violin, and is typically in 6/8 rhythm. It starts slow, and builds to a fast frenzy, and it could include anything from tea tray dancing to jafna, dancing on top of a wash tub.
Aisha Ali has reproduced an article on what she calls Tunisian Raqs Shaabi on her web site. In this case, I believe she is using the word Shaabi as the equivalent of folk dance.
DaVid has written a brief summary of the difference between Balady, rural Shaabi, urban Shaabi, stage Shabbi, and Raqs Sharqui.
And here is a very enlightening discussion of the music.
"One of the most spectacular baladi props is the shamadan or candelabra. The dancer wears the heavy brass head piece with up to two dozen lit candles as she performs shimmies and torso undulations. The flickering flames are believed to ward off evil spirits and the evil eye, hence the shamadan is a popular baladi tradition at weddings and festivals." -- Keti Sharif, Bellydance.
Candle dancing is not as flamoyant as dancing with a shamadan, but it is great entertainment, since it too relies on the dancer's skill in keeping objects holding open flames balanced on her head. Since the candles can be removed from the head and incorporated into arm movements, it has the added advantage of being able to highlight arm and torso movements.
The term "shaman' is a loan from the Turkic- Tungus word saman, meaning "priest" or "the one who knows" of the Ural-Altaic tribes of the Turanians. Shamanism is the term that Westerners use for the ancient spiritual beliefs of Central Asia, Siberia, Caucasus and Eastern Europe. A more accurate name for these beliefs is Tengerism. Tengerism means a reverence for the Sky-God "Tengri" while Shamanism seems to mean reverence toward shamans. Shamans are not to be worshiped but merely respected as priests of Tengerism. Calling our beliefs Shamanism would like be like calling Christianity Priestism or Judaism Rabbiism. In Tengerism, the world is alive. The plants, animals, rocks, and water all have spirits. These spirits must be respected and cared for or the land would become hostile or barren.
♦ The Circle Skirt and its infinite variations are a favorite costume piece.
Skype lessons, the pros and cons on NY TIMES.com.
Anthea advises wrapping a rubber band on the spoon neck to improve the grip on the spoons.
Artemis is a famous spoon and zill teacher.
TAHTIBThe male version of cane dances, done with sticks in a martial spirit. See Cane Dancing.
♦ TANOURATANOURA evolved from the dance meditation that migrated to Eygpt with the Sufi Almoez Ledun Ellah Alfatime. Theatrical versions of the Sufi dance began to appear in Egypt in the late 19th century. The best dancers use more than one skirt, separating and combining them while twirling for hypnotic optical illusions.
Ecstatic state in music and dance.
Dr. A. J. Racy: In Arab culture, the merger between music and emotional transformation is epitomized by the concept of tarab, which may not have an exact equivalent in Western languages.
Lee Ali (writing on the 1970s Bellydance Facebook page): The shows which strive to achieve tarab are by design, very long. There must be adequate time to a) develop the magic, as there is a kind of aspect almost like magic to the tarab experience. when achieved, it is akin to out-of-body (would be the closest way to describe).
Cassandra Shore (writing on the 1970s Bellydance Facebook page): Tarab is not the same experience as meditation or trance, and requires other sentient beings in the room to be involved in what is happening. That's part of the cycle of energy that happens to an audience and performers together. Trance can be communal as well as solo...When writing about tarab, Arab writers tend to write about it happening with music or poetry, rarely dance. Mostly, I think, because they rarely write about dance as an art.
Mohamed Shahin (writing on his Facebook page): Tarab is not a dance nor is it a type or style of dance. The word Tarab is a term that relates to the influence of the music. I see a new trend in our dance called 'Tarab Bellydance,' 'Tarab Workshops,' 'Tarab Performance' etc... There seems to be a need to create new genres of bellydance/raks sharqi, despite how fundamentally wrong the name of that genre is. One must understand the meaning of words before using them and refer to a knowledgeable source. This maintains clarity and minimizes confusion, especially if you claim to be a teacher... The definition of Tarab is when reaching the epic moment of a feeling derived from hearing music whether it instrumental or voice or both together expressing either joy, pain, sorrow or any other intense emotion. The feeling and emotion the listener or dancer as listener gets, ecstasies from the musical experience are called Tarab. The term Tarab is never used to describe the dance movement or dance style. It is when you dance to a piece of music that can lead you to feel the state of Tarab from hearing it. Your dance is influenced by the emotion inspired from the music. That is what we call Tarab.Ruth St Denis, in the development and promotion of the Denishawn dance company and schools. After he and St Denis separated in 1929 and Denishawn (and the American economy) collapsed, he went on to form the all-male company Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers and to establish Jacob's Pillow, which continues as home to a dance school, theatre and a world-renowned dance festival.
TIPSThe practice of soliciting tips while dancing, and how to do so, is a hotly-argued subject. Some argue that it is traditional, especially among Greek and Turkish dancers. Others argue that accepting tips in any part of the costume reinforces the perception that belly dancers are strippers.
In an interview published in volume 20 of Habibi magazine, Jamila Salimpour stated that the first club in Los Angeles that featured dancers collecting tips from customers was also the club where Turkish dancers would give customers lap dances.
TITO SEIFTito, of Egypt, is quite possibly the most famous male belly dancer in the world today. He started out as a folkloric dancer but gradually moved into belly dance when he realized that women loved to watch him perform. His trademark costume of galabiya, pants, hip scarf, hat and 1000-watt smile emphasize his trademark fluidity, masculine power and presence in his performances. He is a huge star in both Egypt and North America. Despite his fame, he does not seem to have his own website... he does have a Facebook page, where he posts a picture once every six months.
TRANSPORTATIONSo you want to be a pedestrian? Include these in your winter gear:
Traveling to a gig is a job in itself.
You will be transporting costumes, props, jewelry, and street clothing and necessities. You will use things up, get things dirty, and you want to get home with everything you left home with.
TURKISH DANCE, MUSIC and COSTUMING
"Turquerie," the fashion for all things Turkish, started in the late sixteenth century and lasted well into the nineteenth.
"Gobek Tansi (Gobek Dansi), which literally translates from Turkish to 'belly dance', is often referred to as a puppet dance, where the dancer dones the costume of a puppet, paints his orher stomach to resemble a face, and entertains the audience with skillful belly rolls and swinging hips that move the puppet's arms bringing the character to lie. The costume includes a huge hat which is pulled down near the dancer's chest so that the torso is exposed and becomes the fact of the puppet." Anna Maria Cancelli, Tribal Delight, Zaghareet! magazine 2011, print.
TURKISH SPOONSHow to play Turkish Spoons
A Laundry Maid of Tunisia from National Geographic, 1914. Photographer unknown.
A Turkish Female in the Harem, by Octavian Dalvimart, early 19th century
UNIVERSITIES ONLINEStanford University Uncollege for free non-credit courses online.
UZBEK Dance, Music and Costuming
Uzbek dance has three major schools - Ferghana, Bukhara, and Khorezm. --Laurel Victoria Gray
A very popular prop.
VIVIANE HAMAMDJIANCairo-born, US-based ethnic dancer and choreographer. Director of the Arabic Dance Theater in Beverly Hills, CA.
WALTER TERRYWalter Terry (b. 1913, d. 1982) was a prolific writer and dance critic. His career as an observer and commentator of the dance spanned nearly 50 years. To many in the dance world, including the greatest pioneers and stars such as La Meri, Ruth St. Denis and Margot Fonteyn, he was a close friend.
WASHINGTON IRVINGWashington Irving was an American author and diplomat in the early 19th century, best known for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But he was also a traveler, researcher and diplomat, and he loved Granada, Spain.
1889: Exposition Universelle opens in Paris. America's indifferent effort to show off its artistic and industrial accomplishments results in the the Eiffel Tower, the highest man-made structure on earth and built of iron by French engineers, being perceived as surpassing America's Brooklyn Bridge and Horseshoe Curve in engineering wizardry.
1893: World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair):
"It lasted just six months, yet during that time its gatekeepers recorded 27.5 million visits, this when the country's total population was 65 million... Together he [Burnham] and his architects had conjured a dream city whose grandeur and beauty exceeded anything each singly could have imagined. Visitors wore their best clothes and most somber expressions, as if entering a great cathedral. Some wept at its beauty... Whole villages had been imported from Egypt, Algeria, Dahomey, and other far-flung locales, along with their inhabitants... The fair occupied over one square mile and filled more than two hundred buildings. A single exhibit hall had enough interior volume to have housed the U.S. Capitol, the Great Pyramid, Winchester Cathedral, Madison Square Garden, and St. Paul's Cqathedral, all at the same time. One structure, rejected at first as a monstrosity, became the fair's emblem, a machine so huge and terrifying that it instantly eclipsed the tower of Alexandre Eiffel that had so wounded America's pride. [Baba Yaga note: This would be the Ferris Wheel, with passenger cars that held 60 people each.] Never before had so many of history's brightest lights, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B Anthony, Jane Addams, Clarence Darrow, George Westinghouse, Thomas Edison, Henry Adams, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Nikola Tesla, Ignace Paderewski, Philip Armour, and Marshall Field, gathered together in one place at one time." -- Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City.
WRITINGFrom Brain Train: Studying for Success by Richard Palmer: Rules of Grammar for Report Writing:
YASMELA (Shelly Muzzy)A student of Jamila Salimpour and professional dancer, retiring from performance in 1990 and teaching in 2010. She is a frequent contributor to the best MED magazines and online focus groups.
YOGANY Times article explains why a knowledgeable teacher and personal attention is essential.
♦ ZARZars are NOT exorcisms; Zars promote a rapport with the spirit(s) which may last from several years to a lifetime.
♦ ZILLSZills are a percussion instrument frequently played by belly dancers while dancing. Good zill playing adds energy and excitement to the performance, emphasizes beautiful arms and hands, and can substitute for canned music in a pinch!
Maura Enright, Proprietor
Author: Maura Enright
©2011-2017 by Maura Enright
Latest revision: February 2017
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