Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Civilian's Guide to Bellydance Styles

by Princess Farhana


Until recently, this style was probably the most common style of belly dance in the US, hence the name. Commonly seen in restaurants, nightclubs, festivals and the like, it is basically a pastiche of movements from Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria (as well other Middle Eastern or North African countries) that has been made palatable to the Western eye. There is also a good degree of fantasy involved, as many dancers invented the dance as they went along, taking cues from everything from Ruth St. Denis to motion pictures to Orientalist paintings, honing it all into a five part routine, with an entrance song, a slow taqsim, another song, a beledy progression and a drum solo.This is the type of belly dancing you might see in a cheesey sixties or seventies movie movie or portayed in a James Bond flick. Dancers wear coin or beaded costume, use veils, finger cymbals, and may include floor work in their routines.


Within Egyptian-style raks sharqi there are many sub-genres-but whether the dance
is performed to classic orchestrated music, or more modern, Westernized Egyptian pop, this style has many distinct hallmarks, and the dancer is always elevated onto the balls of her feet. Some other trademarks of the style: stepping on the down beat, intricate hip articulations, both traveling and stationary shimmies, abdominal work, and full-body poses. Internal as well as external muscle movements are incorporated, and some of the resulting technique is so subtle that the casual observer or layperson may not even realize it is going on. Technique also includes isolations, distinct hand gestures and surprising speed changes. A dance performed to classical Egyptian music, like an Om Kalthoum or Mohammed Abdel Wahab song may be a bit more “serious” than Modern Egyptian pop (most of the older songs seemed to be about lost love) but may also include a flirtatious, ultra-feminine attitude. A dancer performing to more Westernized Egyptian pop music may incoporate bits and pieces of ballet, jazz and even hip-hop, while still maintaining the dance’s Oriental style. Egyptian folk dance is another sub-genre, with too many variations to even mention here. The Egyptian-style Oriental dancer wears lavishly beaded costumes, rarely plays finger cymbals, never performs floor work (it is actually against the law in Egypt!) and uses a veil only during her entrance.


More lively and athletic than Egyptian style, much of Turkish
“Oryantal” dance is based upon Rom (or colloquially and incorrectly Called Gypsy) moves, still practiced in the Sulukele Quarter of Istanbul. Turkish cabaret-style dancers wear full-skirted costumes that show a lot of leg and fly during the whirls, spins and hops that are the hallmarks of this style, as are deep backbends and floor work. Finger cymbals are usually played in a quick 3/4 or 9/8 time signature, veils are used extensively.


A simple and traditional folk dance, performed by and for the people in its country of origin. Folkloric dance is usually performed (or reproduced) as authentically as possible, but when it is altered for modern stage presentation, whether by adding set choreography or staging, or the use of “modernized” or flashy costumes, it becomes known as “theatrical” folk dance.


Also called ATS (American Tribal Style) this genre originates from Northern California, and for the past fifteen or so years has been getting hugely popular. Like Americanized Cabaret, it is a hybrid of movements from a variety of countries. But what sets it apart is that even though this dance is never done solo (it is always performed by groups of two or more dancers at a time) ATS is (almost)
never choreographed. Dancers usually improvise, relying on subtle cues as well as intuition. Costuming eschews glitz, combining elements of traditional folkloric costumes from all over the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa.


A mix & match genre that has grown due to the “globalization”
of ethnic music- for example: Flamenco-Arabic fusion combines Spanish style dance with oriental dance, and is performed to music that is similarly blended. But fusion can embody mixing Middle Eastern dance elements with anything from Ballet to Bollywood, from hip-hop to contemporary jazz technique. Tribal Fusion has grown as a genre unto itself, with much mixing and melding of ATS style dance with other dance forms. Costuming for this style can range from wild rock and roll and Gothic influences to reflecting the ethnicities it is co-mingling with; or even simple jazz-type pants and tops that call to mind Seventies style modern or interpretive dance.


Often high-concept, fantasy belly dance is similar to Fusion, in that it utilizes the
movements of Arabic dance - but that¹s where the similarity ends. Fantasy is pure imagination and, well, fantasy. And it doesn¹t necessarily have a distinct look or costuming, because it is a dance performance that has been dreamed up by the performer, a performance not based in any sort of discipline or genre. Some good examples of fantasy dance: Isis wings; Pharonic-style performances; dancers as “snakes” popping out of a basket, and probably the most “out there” one of all, Dondi’s comedy/dance act as a belly dancing Marilyn Monroe.


Blogger Shara said...

Hi, You are interested in Music!!! :)
I like your information. please visit the links:
Do you like country music ?
I think It is usefull, country music

A bit time to relax:
Do you want to try Poker?

3:02 PM  
Blogger Ronan Jimson said...

You should visit a site country music

11:58 AM  
Blogger Ronan Jimson said...

Great Work!!!
this is a good link you can refer Art Collection

5:34 AM  
Blogger Jonh Neo said...

I like your blogs, I will add your link you to my blog.
This is a resource you can visit :
Google Music Links

And Listen to musics

6:12 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home