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UPCOMING EVENTS IN ORDER OF DATE:

*Want to add an event to The Belly Blog’s calendar + What’s Coming Up Wednesday? Email me at thebellyblog13@gmail.com

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30TH 2015

Anahid Dance party

ANAHID SOFIAN MIDDLE EASTERN DANCE PARTY FRIDAY JANUARY 30, 2015

If you’re in the NYC area, you don’t want to miss this party! I always have a great time at Anahid’s!

FEBRUARY 22ND, 2015

sira sword master class feb 22

SIRA’S DRAMATIC SWORD 2 HOUR MASTER CLASS. FEBRUARY 22ND

I have taken many classes with Sira and she is THE BEST! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from a master!

MARCH 16-21ST, 2015

Ahmed Workshop March 16

AHMED HUSSIEN MASTER CLASSES – 2ND ANNUAL SPRING IMMERSION 2015 WITH LIVE MUSIC

Jealous of everyone in California! This should be amazing! In case you don’t know my feelings on Ahmed see two posts ago lol ūüôā

xoxo

N

SO HERE’S THE DEAL:

Samara was born as Tahira in Baghdad, Iraq, 1963. She was born into a traditional Muslim family that wanted her to study engineering in Lebanon. They were not to pleased when she decided to do something more…creative. After moving to Lebanon, Tahira took the stage name, Samara, and became very inspired by Nadia Gamal, whom she asked for lessons. Nadia taught Samara¬†three dances and advised that she¬†develop a unique style.

Samara took that advice to heart and man did she come up with some unique stuff! She incorporated Polynesian, Greek and Indian and Spanish dance inspiration into her routines. She was also influenced¬†by nature, for her NYE show in 1995, her concept was – the sea. “Her show opened with a huge clam shell on stage. As the music started, the lid was raised, and Samara slowly emerged, representing a pearl. Her costume was of the elaborate Lebanese variety, all in pearls,” (Samara: Sayyida Raks Sharqi,¬†Best of Habibi).¬†Even beyond incorporating different forms of dance, Samara¬†had music written just for her (she also had her own band), and even used some¬†American New Age fusion in her sets.

Samara’s distinct style gained her popularity and the name “Sayyida Raks Sharqi”(*) from the Lebanese press meaning,¬†‚ÄúMistress of Oriental Dance.‚Ä̬†After her first three years dancing in Lebanon (1981-1984),¬†she began¬†traveling and dancing around the world, ushering in her golden age from the mid 80’s-early 2000’s. She started out traveling to the cities of ¬†Kano and Lagos in Nigeria and Abidjan¬†in the¬†Cote d‚ÄôIvoire. She later traveled to Europe and Arab countries as well.

Being so popular Samara had to regularly switch up her show, she would do this every 4-6 months, adding in new inspirations and music. She wanted to keep her fans on their toes and felt it was necessary for her to keep growing as an artist. She always wanted to out do herself, which in my opinion, is the best form of competition.

Learn more about Samara here.

Why I <3 HER:

You’ll see when you watch the videos! She is completely mesmerizing, I couldn’t stop watching video after video and I tried really hard to not make the longest youtube playlist of all time lol ūüėõ¬†She’s very lively, incredibly creative and on top of that she has amazing technique. I’m also fascinated by her fusion of different styles, especially with all this talk I’ve been seeing recently about styles/categories of belly dance.

I hope you all enjoy the playlist!

xoxo

N

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjrrLz1h329-zpqReULnJZZd7m61raLOc]

*I don’t know why Raks has a K and Sharqi has a Q…anybody?

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

Last month I traveled to D.C. or my aunt’s 60th birthday. My aunt and cousin have both taken/ are taking classes at the famous D.C. belly dance studio, Sahara Dance. My cousin spoke so highly of Sahara’s well known owner Rachel, that I decided to send her a message to see if she would like to meet up for an interview. Lucky for us, she said yes! yay!

We decided to grab coffee at Whole Foods and sit and chat/interview. Let me just tell you – this woman is amazing! Not only is she the founder and director of Sahara Dance, she is also the director of both of Sahara’s dance ensembles, Raqs Sahara and Raqs Caravan East, she created an intensive teacher training program, and…oh yea – she’s an incredible dancer!

The path that led Rachel to creating Sahara dance included learning from some of the best. She studied with both Autumn Leah Ward and Yousry Sharif as well as Sahra Saeeda (whom she also did a dance enthnology tour with in Egypt), Yasmina Ramzy, Haida, Faten Salama, Aida Nour, Jillina and others. All of this training allowed Rachel to cultivate her own vision for belly dance. She focuses on community, mindfulness, celebration of all body types, and developing belly dance as an art form.

I really can’t say enough good things about Rachel. When I was editing her interview I couldn’t stop smiling watching it – she’s just such a warm person, so wise¬†and articulate, warm and sweet, humble, inspirational and incredibly cool. I hope you guys enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.

For more background info on Rachel visit the Sahara Dance site.

*disclaimer – the filming quality is a little low budget, content quality is high ;)*

TBB: How did you get started in belly dance?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrPlZ-K5dgI]

TBB: What type of belly dance/ME music speaks to you the most?

RKB: I love Egyptian dance, I love Egyptian music, I like a lot of different types of music that fall into the belly dance genre or can easily be adaptable to belly dance movement, but  Egyptian is my first love.

TBB: What is your favorite song right now?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIn7FIexx8I]

Listen to White Flag by Gorillaz feat. Syrian National Orchestra :

[spotify id=”spotify:user:1272124796:playlist:5E0SMWQXJWsrhXiXo5tXa5″ width=”300″ height=”80″ /]

TBB: Who were some of your belly dance mentors?

RKB: Autumn Leah Ward  is my first teacher and probably my largest influence and then from there Yousry Sharif is certainly a big part of my dance training, Yasmina Ramzy, Sahra Saeeda, Hadia, and then going to Egypt and studying… there are a lot of influences, but those I think would be primary.read more

Her achievement was beauty, a delicate, fantastic beauty, created with brush and pencil. Almost unschooled in art, her life spent in prosaic places of the West and Middle West, she made pictures of haunting loveliness, suggesting Oriental lands she never saw and magical realms no one ever knew except in the dreams of childhood … ~St Louis Post-Dispatch

If you ever need inspiration for costume, mood, etc, definitely look up some art nouveau illustrators. Virginia Frances Sterrett is one of my all time favorites and she did an incredible illustrated version of the Arabian Nights (above).  She was born in 1900 in Chicago and unfortunately passed away when she was only 30. Just to put her in a little more context, she was illustrating in the same time period that  Badia Masabni was dancing, and her first commissioned work was published in 1920, the year after Tahia Carioca was born.

Hope you enjoy!

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]

In honor of The Belly Blog’s new look, get inspired by all gold everything!!!! #goldisagirlsbestfriend

xo

TBB

Bellyrical

I was introduced to Bellyrical on twitter. It’s Japanese belly dance music by DJ¬†Cool-K, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

Listen here and get yo groove on!