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So…. what does it take to make a great drum solo???

I asked 16 amazing dancers and 2 drummers, and here’s what they had to say! 

Yasmine“Leave room for playfulness when there are pauses. Add rhythm changes for variety.”~ Yasmine
@Yasminedance

Uza Mitra “The drummer has to be good and work with the dancer. It has to be musical, not just for show. Both the drummer and dancer need to be emotionally connected to the music.” ~ Uza Mitra (read my interview with Uza here!)
@uzanyc

Tava Naiyin“I want to see that a dancer is breathing, relaxed and having a good time; showcasing technique is fine but not at the expense of those three qualities.” ~ Tava Naiyin
@DancingTava

Tatianna“Dynamic presence, sharp accents & a fluidity in emotion.” ~ Tatianna

Sadie Marquardt“Charisma it ultimately what makes a great drum solo!  If the dancer is playful and engages her audience into the fun and excitement of the music then they have succeeded. Clean, sharp isolations and combos are also important but don’t forget to add movement around the stage, and fluid soft movements as well” ~ Sadie Marquardt

Buy Sadie’s drum solo instructional dvd – “Drum Solo Secrets” here!
@SadieMarquardt

Sira“Fire. Really hitting accents with a punch but having dynamics in movement for greater effect. I get drawn in more by someone who’s soul is driven by a drum solo than someone who is just technically solid.” ~ Sira
@Bellydancer_NYC

Ranya Renee“I like a good mix of spontaneity and control, freedom and containment. And, the dancer cannot be the victim of the drummer—she must remain calm and take her time, even if she feels the drummer is pushing her. So, she has to listen well…but push back if necessary—by choosing not to hit everything thrown at her—to retain her power onstage. She has to be the leader and control the chaos. In a nice way, of course.” ~Ranya Renée
(check out my interview with Ranya here!)
@ranyarenee

Rachel Kay Brookmire“Drum solos are best when there is dynamic and playful chemistry between the drummer and dancer.  It feels like the audience is invited to be part of their party.  A great drum solo has a range of emotional expressiveness, and excellent timing with exceptional technique.” ~ Rachel Kay Brookmire (read my interview with Rachel here!)
@saharadance

Mariyah“Most importantly, I like to see a dancer genuinely having a good time and also really connecting with the music, interpreting dynamics, subtleties etc., just as you would any piece of music, and of course connecting with the drummer if it is live.” ~ Maryiah
Buy Mariya’s drum solo instructional DVD – “Belly Dance Drum Solos: Concepts for Dancers and Drummers” here!
@Mariyah13

Layla Isis“I would say most importantly it’s all about being in the moment, letting your connection to the music/drummer and your audience dictate the mood of the phrasing, be it powerhouse hips and shimmies, precise intricate flutters, or full, fluid movements. If she’s really in the moment, you will never see her thinking or anticipating – it’s just unfolding to the surprise of everyone, which is true of any good dancing.” ~ Layla Isis

Kay Kizi'ah“To me a great Drum solo has a unique take and something unexpected. Meaning most of us are familiar with 4/4 rhythms and kind of know how we would take the accents. Its great to anticipate a dancers accent and then for them to do something different. For  me that is always very impressive.” ~Kay Kizi’ah (read my interview with Kay here!)

Dorit“Just two words: listen, move. And eye contact with whoever is the percussionist of the moment.” ~Dorit
@DoritMusic

Eva Cernik“Spontaneity!” ~ Eva Cernik

Badaweyah Kareem“To me, if there’s an oud leading the drums. There’s nothing sweeter than watching a dancer layer their shimmies with the sound of an oud and accenting with a drum.”

“Connecting with any instrument is so the key for me. Drummers are displaying great talents with their skills and the language of whatever rhythm they’re playing. A novice dancer connecting to that rhythm and the musician can display far more beauty than an experienced dancer with great shimmy skills and techniques.” ~Badaweyah (check out my interview with Badaweyah here!)

Alia Thabit“A great drum solo focuses on the dancer–the drummer’s job is to make her look fabulous. It has consistency so the dancer can hit the changes with confidence, and wild style so she can get crazy and have fun.” ~ Alia Thabit (read my interview with Alia here!)
@aliathabit

Aszmara Sherry“I love a Drum Solo that has meat on the bones with interesting rhythm changes that create drama in the piece.  But not too many changes!  Too many changes take away from the arc of the piece.

There are drum solos that start off with a few accents and build faster and faster to a climax – love those.  There’s the typical maqsoum walk around beginning that warms the audience to the coming interplay of dancer and musician, goes into beledi, saidi  and/or masmoudi, drops tempo down to a slow trance ayub that increases tempo to a frenetic ending.  Those are fun, too – especially when shared with a musician on stage!

The interplay with a musician is what makes drum solos so exciting – there’s a walking the tightrope feeling of being totally present in the moment, reading each other’s inner music and expressing it outwards to the audience.” ~Aszmara Sherry

DRUMMERS

     Michael Beach“I could and should write a book about this. There are so many different dance styles now so a drum solo is such a personal thing. One dancer may want Folkloric/North African rhythms, some want very basic, some want strictly Egyptian Saidi, some don’t even want a drum solo and others might say, “ Play whatever you want.” I always try to meet and discuss the music and the drum solo with dancers before we go on stage. It only takes a few minutes. We figure out your level and knowledge of the music and rhythms, I take requests and then I have a ‘formula’ I use with dancers that allows us to end together. In my opinion, we can do just about anything in the solo but it’s really about the big ending. If you can really end together —— that’s what brings the house down. “~ Michael Beach, Brothers of the Baladi
@BrothersBaladi

Richard Khuzami “First: both musician and dancer should understand that the dancer is a musician playing the original instrument: their body, and the musician must understand that they need to dance with their drum in order for it to sing. With this they will have a common language they both understand. And if they did not have time to practice or value spontaneity they should work out the signs (or punctuation) beforehand that allows the free flow of ideas questions and answers.”~ Richard Khuzami

Here’s what some of you had to say:

watch some drum solos! (some of the videos you have to skip to the end)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjrrLz1h3298WUFZ233UrYTCSICvFGbcV]

share some of your favorite drum solo videos in the comment section! 😀

hope you all have a great weekend!

xoxo

N

 

I first saw Alia dance at JeBon, a restaurant in NYC, a couple of years ago. I was completely captivated. Alia has a really special way of drawing her audience in and mesmerizing them with even the smallest movement. Everything she does is so smooth! She is a dance veteran and a former student of Ibrahim Farrah. She has also been inspired by Elena Lentini, Dunya McPherson, Azza Sherif, Tamalyn Dallal, and Leila Farid. Alia is an accomplished dancer and teacher who has danced on three continents, in six countries, and fifteen states.

Alia is  also the creator of a cool concept/ online motivational tool called the 90 Day Dance Party Challenge. When I found out about it, I jumped at the opportunity to participate. In this challenge, Alia asks you to dance for 20 minutes everyday, to any type of music. She sends the most amazing prompts and inspiration ( or love notes as she calls them  🙂 )  your way to get you going. My favorite part was getting the love notes, it is so apparent how much time and thought Alia puts into each one.

Being a part of the dance challenge, and seeing Alia dance, sparked my curiosity. I wanted to learn more about her, and luckily I got the chance!

Listen to Alia’s interview above and read along below, where you’ll also find links to some of the things she talks about AND… Listen to her playlist :D. 

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