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  • Lisa Lumina

Level One: Figure 8 Unit, Class 3

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

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There is a concept in Arabic music called Tarab, which loosely means "the ecstasy of listening" and is a sort of trance like state of just being immersed in, one with, and carried away by the music as you let it move you (physically and emotionally).

 

Regional Highlights This unit, we're focusing on North Africa. These regional highlights are meant to give a general orientation, and really only scratch the surfface of the diversity of arts in the MENAHT/SWANA area (Middle East, North Africa, Helene, & Turkey/SouthWest Asia & North Africa).

One of Algeria's many dances is below, the kabyle. You can learn more about Algerian dances and culture from performers like Esra Warda (based in NYC) and Amel Tafsout (based in CA).


I want to also mention the Ouled Nail. This Algerian group was heavily romanticized in early histories of bellydance, but keep in mind that they were very much victims of colonialism. You should be aware that many of the old images (paintings and photographs) were done by Europeans depicting what they wished or imagined to see, and the subjects of them were sometimes European women posing in a fantasy tableau, and sometimes exploited locals. The dance community in recent years is working to do better than to rely on those fantasies for its inspiration.

 

Videos


Here is an example of Kabyle. When you go to dance shows, you might not recognize everything you see, so be ready to learn!






Another Algerian style is Chaouli. Again, this is not my region of focus, I want to share these to help give you some landmarks as you learn more and find folk dances you might be interested in along with raqs sharki (the Arabic term for bellydance).



One of the queens, Dina. You can see how she and the musicians create a great show together. One of the great things about live music is that the band will respond to you and play up your accents, as Dina's band does here. In Egypt, the dancer usually employs the musicians.

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