Level Two: 1.2 Guitar, Bouzuki, and Tray
Updated: Mar 20
This week's phrasing practice was on the call and counter. This is just like call and repeat, but instead of repeating the response is a different melody. If it is roughly a similar length it counts as call and repeat. Again, this is a distinction I use to teach them and, as far as I know, not an official musical terminology. Listen for it in your favorite songs, and play with ways you can use your categories to create a sort of movement dialogue in your body, to reflect the musical dialogue.
On the topic of call and response, here's one of the songs we danced to, you can see the two types of bands (a "hassaballa" brass band, and a traditional "tet ensemble" being conducted by the lady with the flower) go back and forth ......
Instruments of the Week
This week's instruments were the bouzuki and guitar. Bouzukis are something you hear a lot in Greek music, and almost not at all outside of it. As the second clip shows, you don't need to dance as fast as the bouzuki feels, you can fall back on the more mellow beat. This is a critique from Greek audiences on how bellydancers perform to it: that non-Greeks move too fast and "yes, the bouzuki is fast, but the rhythm is not."
It's worth noting, that Greeks have had a big influence on Middle Eastern arts, especially in Egypt. Cleaopatra was Greek, and Alexandria has had a sizable Greek population into modern times. In addition to having bellydance in Greece (first cip, with modern bouzuki music overdubbed) Greek starts like Katy (of the golden era in Egypt) and Italian-Greek Nadia Jamal (naturalized to Lebanon) have had major influences. Greeks, along with Rom and Jewish women, also made up many of the dancers in Turkey.
We often think of a lot of classic raks sharki music as old, but a lot actually came out in the 50s-70s. The guitar is used in lots of music as an accent instrument, and sometimes as the main instrument. Of course it must be tuned and played to reach the quartertones.
Omar Korshid was one of the pioneers in playing guitar for Arabic music
In this video of Mona Said you can see a guitar player and an upright bass in her orchestra.
Prop of the Week
This week, let's learn about tray as a bellydance prop. (btw, props are part of level 3 dance classes. Something to think about when level two eventually becomes easy/boring ^_~) That article mentions Shikhatt, one of many, many dances from Morocco. Balancing props like this are a good motivator for practicing isolations. (the video in that link is from Tava, a friend of mine from CT, she's a great teacher and super knowledgeable about Turkish and Am Cab stuff ^_^)
Here are some example of Moroccan style tray dances
A Moroccan woman
by American students
And a US based pro, staging a tableau.
The Late, Great John Compton performing his rendition, which you can think of as part of a bridge from the traditional styling to how it is used in the US now
He started out with Bal Anat (an early version of fusion style) and here, here is dancing with Habibi Ru, a group slightly more grounded in folklore than Bal Anat was.
Candle tray is also a great fit for the floorwork (ie slowest) part of a 5 or 7 piece American Cabaret/Restaurant style set.
Modern American and fusion dancers take this background and continue to add even more spectacle:
including souped up flames,
and decked out, multi tiered trays.
it's just a matter of time before the trays become a reinvention of the shamadan! but that's a prop for another week ^_^
Song of the Week
The must know song of the week is Alf Leyla W Leila, which happens to be my favorite song ^_^ it is an Om Kalthoom classic, one of the hour long songs and we usually dance to just its intro. Here's a playlist of lots of versions of it and a link to the translation