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  • Lisa Lumina

Level Two: 1.3 Rhebaba, Saxaphone, and Shamadan

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Class Review

This week's call and response type is a call with a lezma, AKA, a short punchy response. Again, it is shades of gray between a call and counter vs a call and lezma. You can use some of the same strategies as a call with counter, such and contrasting movement families or switching direction, to capture the difference between the call and the response, for the call and lezma. You can also let one or the other pass by, for example: let the call go with a simple sway then punch the response with a big hip drop, or fill in the call and use a "stoptional" for the response. There is usually a section like this in a beledi progression, but this type of call and response can be found in most sorts of music.


Instruments of the Week

​The rebaba is associated with the Said, that is, upper Egypt, which means it is a Saidi instrument (the suffix "-i" indicates possession in Arabic). Although, it originated sometime before the 700s, at which point is was found in the Arabic Peninsula and Iran. The rebaba players in these clips are wearing traditional Saidi and rural Egyptian clothing.


A fun back and forth with violin and rebabas

We also played with the sound of saxaphone. This is one of the instruments, like trumpet, guitar, or accordion, that has been modified to play quarter tones. It was particularly popular in the 70s-90s.


Prop of the Week

The prop to introduce this week is the shamadan. I enjoy dancing with this one, because of its connection to the awalim and Egyptian folklore (plus I get to show off, lol) This article will serve for now to give a basic background on it, but it has some inaccuracies. For example, the dancer it credits and the first was not, and there is more information about that in the book "Raks Sharki Revolution" by Heather Ward (AKA, Nisaa of St. Louis). I have to try and find another article that covers the zeffat al 'arousa better.

Here's a dancer in a movie from the 60s about a dancer credited with starting the it, of course they used 1960s costumes instead of the 1860s

Nisaa performing with one, she is a great researcher and author of "Raqs Sharki Revolution"

and Shinning, doing a historical style with two other dancers.


Here it is done in the context of a wedding

as presented by an Egyptian folklore company (folklore is different from folk dance. More on that later.)

Here's Aida Nour giving it an authentic Awalim feeling during a show in NYC: ​

Modern dancers perform with the shamadan. They can get away with floorwork because, while floorwork has been illegal in Egypt for a long time, it is allowed during shamadan because of the folklore and cultural significance of the performance. (We'll talk about that cane she's using another week.)


Song of the Week

Bahlam Beek. is an Abdel Halim Hafez classic. My playlist on versions of it is a bit shorter, but if you have any versions you like let me know and I'll add them! ^_^

​And, the translation.

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