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Okay so I know this party was over a month ago, but  it was so much fun, I just had to write a bit about it.

First of all Anahid Sofian is a legend and if you’re ever in NYC you really need to take class with her! (Anahid’s info.)

She also happens to throw a great party. The incredible, dynamic, passionate (and a million other adjectives) Aszmara was the special guest artist and she literally blew my mind as usual. In addition there were several AMAZING dancers including Najma, Teodora, Uza Mitra, and  Zobeida (interview with Zobeida coming soon!).

Of course all of this was topped off with great live music. Nabil Bekkali played the keyboard and Richard Khuzami was on drums – he’s awesome by the way and a great teacher ūüôā

Anahid ended the night with some Armenian line dancing which was great – just a fun night all around ūüôā

Hopefully more fun events to come!

Enjoy your Friday!

xo

N

As a follow up to my latest post ” The Art Of The Drum Solo,” I thought it would be fun if this weeks #bellybeatz playlist was all drum solos¬†– yiiiiiiip!¬†Listen below + tell me what you’re favorite drum solos are – I will add them to the playlist! ūüôā


Also, just as a side note check out Isreali pop star Sarit Hadad kill it on the darbuka  Рbad.ass.

 

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‚Äôs 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‚ÄĒshe must remain calm and take her time, even if she feels the drummer is pushing her. So, she has to listen well‚Ķbut push back if necessary‚ÄĒby choosing not to hit everything thrown at her‚ÄĒto retain her power onstage. She has to be the leader and control the chaos. In a nice way, of course.” ~Ranya Ren√©e
(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.‚ÄĚ ~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‚Äôt even want a drum solo and others might say, ‚Äú Play whatever you want.‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äėformula‚Äô I use with dancers that allows us to end together. In my opinion, we can do just about anything in the solo but it‚Äôs really about the big ending. If you can really end together ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ that‚Äôs 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! ūüėÄ

hope you all have a great weekend!

xoxo

N

gawaher

SO HERE’S THE DEAL:

There isn’t much info out there on Gawaher. I actually stumbled upon her when I was trying to find something about another dancer – Kawakeb, who I still haven’t really found anything about :/ Anyway, what I did find about her is from Academia de Danza Arabe Priscilla Adum‘s Facebook page.¬†Gawaher was a golden age¬†dancer born September 15th 1930 in Lebanon. She had a successful decade long career in Egypt where she made about 13 films. She retired from dancing in the 1960s when she married, her husband did not approve of her dancing. However, she came out of her retirement and danced in a few more movies after she and her husband were divorced. Unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed to have contact with her daughter after the divorce.

Academia de Danza Arabe Priscilla Adum posted a photo (seen above) that was from a vintage issue of Al Kawakeb Magazine (Egyptian celebrity/film magazine). The photo was accompanied by this article:

THE SAD GAWAHER

The Atomic Dancer Gawaher visited me at Kawakeb’s offices in Beirut. She was wearing a summery fabric dress made at Carven of Paris, and she asked me “What’s your opinion of me?”
“In regards to what?” I answered
And she said, “About {my} dance, art, beauty and elegance?
I swallowed hard and said, “Great!”
At this point, Gawaher raised her head and said, “Then why haven’t you written about me in Kawakeb Magazine? Am I not good enough or what?”
I swallowed hard again and said, “But today you live the life of a housewife and not of an artist, so can we ask you, what was the reason for your retirement?”
Gawaher stood up and said, “I understand, and you’re right. I’m torn between my love of art and my love for him.”
I disliked asking her who the lucky man was because it’s none of our business.
Gawaher continued talking and said, “He doesn’t want me to appear onstage in a belly dance costume.”
I asked her, “Do you love him that much?”
And Gawaher responded and said “Up to now, I’ve been unable to distinguish and I can’t decide which I love more. Him, or art.
And then the (former) Atomic Dancer left sadly.

WHY I <3 HER:

I love being a detective and going on the hunt to find dancers that I haven’t heard of yet. Although I¬†can’t say Gawaher is one of my absolute favorites, here is what I love about her:

I love the way she holds herself and her facial expressions, she really exudes confidence. I also like the fact that she strips the dance down to it’s essence and focuses on each smooth movement. She is very poised and graceful and I find her story to be an interesting one.

Watch videos of her below and tell me what you think!!!

xoxo

N

Oh – and HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/105988835] [vimeo https://vimeo.com/103203102] [vimeo https://vimeo.com/103203309] [vimeo https://vimeo.com/103200839]

 

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAELfyc22Ek]

What do you think of her music???

Asmahan,¬†ōĘŔÖōßŔĄ ōßŔĄō£ō∑ōĪōī‚Äé, the famous Syrian/Egyptian singer, was born Nov. 25, 1912 (the year of her birth is debated). She was born in a time of political turmoil into a very politically active family, the al-Atrash clan. Her father was Fahd al-Atrash of Syrian Druze ancestry from Suwayda. Her mother was Alia Al-Mundhir of a Lebanese Druze family from Hasbaya (wondering who the Druze are? click here). Her father’s family was well known in Syria for it’s role in the resistance against the French mandate. Right before Asmahan was born, her family was in Turkey as her grandfather was a governor in Demirci. Due to danger, her family had to flee the country and took a ship from Izmir to Beirut. Asmahan was born on board and named Amal, meaning hope.

Her family’s new home town of Al-Qrayya, Syria, was bombed circa 1923 and Alia, Asmahan’s mother fled with¬†¬†her children to Damascus, then to Beirut, and finally¬†to Egypt, where she knew she was allowed to enter the country due to her husbands ties with the prime minister Saad Zaghloul. In Cairo Asmahan attended a French Catholic school that was paid for by a mysterious benefactor.read more

A couple of weeks ago, on September 11th actually, I got the chance to head over to Queens and interview the fabulous Ranya Renee. Ranya invited me into the¬†apartment she shares with her two adorable cats appropriately named Samia and Mona.¬†We sat down in her living room decorated with¬†a wall of very cool masks, mirrors, and beautiful/funky pieces of furniture like a sea shell encrusted table. We started chatting¬†and before I knew it over an hour passed! So I’m sorry for the delay in posting this interview, I had to figure out my iMovie situation – I’m not the most technologically savvy. Before we get started, here is some background on Ranya: Ranya moved to NYC in 1992 to work as a theater director. She ended up spending more and more time belly dancing and eventually it became her number one focus. Ranya specializes in Egyptian style and is known for¬†teaching theatrical performance skills and for her¬†‚ÄúBreathwork for Performance‚ÄĚ method. Ranya has taught and danced all around the world and come out with several instructional dvds. I feel very lucky to have gotten the chance to pick Ranya’s brain and learn more about her. Without further ado…here is my interview with Ranya Renee…

TBB: How did you get started in belly dance?

RR:

Check out some of the dancers/choreographers Ranya studied with! Serena Studios Gamila El Masri Ghassan Fadlallah Рthis link just has a tiny bit of info, and you can watch one of his choreographies here. Ramzi El Edlibi and read more about him here.  Bobby a.k.a. Ibrahim Farrah Yousry Sharif Shareen El Safy Sahra Saeeda Shoshana

TBB:  What was your experience gigging?

RR:

TBB: When did you decide that Egyptian style was the way you wanted to go?

RR:

Check out some of the greatest NYC dancers that Ranya was able to study with: Dalia Carella Aszmara Elena Lentini Serena 

Ranya discusses learning Arabic and how it affected her dancing.

  [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnxWfOm4WmM] Simon Shaheen

 

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjrrLz1h3299nfMwnSHatW0sb304ts7yd]

Shaabi music, meaning “music of the people,” came out of Cairo in the 1970’s. Artists that sang Shaabi were often the first of their families to live in the city. They brought with them¬†their knowledge of Beledi music and added a more contemporary feel with lyrics that expressed their political frustrations, sexuality and social commentary.

For context, Shaabi came out at the same time as Rai in Algeria, Punk in the U.S. and Reggae in Jamaica. It also followed the passing of very influential classical musicians like Oum Kalthoum. It was the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one in Egypt and around the world. It was a time of revolution and music was a way to vocalize the feelings of the youth.

Shaabi was mainly distributed by CD and Cassette  Рbootleg style. This way it was easy to self produce and promote and censorship by the Egyptian government could be avoided.

Some of the most famous Shaabi singers were Ahmed Adaweya, also known as the Godfather of Shaabi, Hakim, and Saad Al Soghayar. Ahmed was known for his emotional mawal, or vocal improv, at the beginning of his songs.

Read more about Shaabi here.

BUY “YALLA” – CLASSIC SHAABI CD!

LISTEN TO THE BELLY BEATS PLAYLIST:

 

 


This Belly Beats post is inspired by this weeks interview with Kay Kizi’ah (read here!) and this week’s #TBT, Ragaa Youssef (read here!).
Warda’s style was an eclectic mix of “Parisian chic and the more vivacious North African colourings”

FUN FACTS ABOUT WARDA:

Warda Al- Jazairia, born Warda Ftouki, was born July 22, 1939, just outside of Paris. Her mother was Lebanese and her father was Algerian.

read more

Popular Rai artists (L to R): Cheb Hasni, Cheikha Rimitti, Khaled

 

This past weekend I went to Anahid Sofian’s Saturday class (www.anahidsofianstudio.com). Anahid is the best because she exposes us to all different forms of Middle Eastern and North African dance and music, like Rai. In the past I  have danced to Rai, and Saturday she brought it back Рwoop!

SO WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH RAI????

Rai is cool because of it‚Äôs content and it‚Äôs beat. Rai literally means ‚Äúopinion,‚ÄĚ it‚Äôs full of passion and expression. It‚Äôs rebel music, sung by the youth for the youth about poverty, police harassment, survival, alcohol, sex and love.¬† In a way, in terms of message, it can be compared to hip-hop in the early 90‚Äôs – Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Public Enemy‚Ķ that kind of thing.

Anahid explained to us that Rai rhythms are mostly 2/4 and 4/4 with the heavy beats on the 2 + 4 like Western music instead of the 1+ 3 like Middle Eastern music.  When dancing to Rai you use your whole body to express yourself, it’s very loose and free with African tribal influences when appropriate.

read more