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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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It all starts with music. It’s the foundation of your dance. You can have great technique and stage charisma, but if you’re not connecting to the music then you’re not connecting to the audience.

The best performances are the ones that blend all elements together seamlessly- the music complements the choice of movements, the costuming, the venue, and the dancer’s expression. Here are six tips for selecting and interpreting your next musical piece:

Selection

  • Pick a song that inspires you. Songs that naturally move you will be easier to choreograph and more enjoyable to watch in performance.
  • Give a thought to the venue. Where do you see yourself performing this routine? The musical style should fit the theme or demands of the show for which you are preparing. A non-traditional or fusion piece should only be performed at fusion-friendly events. Traditional music is appropriate at most shows, restaurants, and private gigs.
  • Avoid music that is too long or complicated. Basically, this boils down to owning the routine and dancing within your limits. You want to leave the audience wanting more. Beginners should stick to songs that are three to five minutes in length, with simple rhythms and a single mood or theme. You can begin to add in complexity as you advance in your studies. (This doesn’t mean beginner dancers can’t dance to more complicated music- it’s just not the best selection for a performance).

Interpretation

  • Know the meaning of the lyrics. This may be useful in helping you understand the emotions of the piece. And you also generally want to avoid music with religious, political, or other controversial themes. Try searching for a translation online.
  • Listen to the music, a lot! Learn all its pieces and how they fit together- the accents, crescendos, and pauses. It may sound tedious, but interpreting music is like developing a relationship with a person. There will be elements that grab your attention and excite you when you first hear the song, but your understanding will be deeper and more complex when you have gotten to know it well.
  • Break it down into recognizable segments. There should be repetition in your music- a chorus, a melody, a drum section. Find these patterns and map the overall structure. It’s important because your dancing should acknowledge repetitions in the music. Your movements, combinations, and patterns should repeat, at least in part, with the music.

Question for you: How do you know when you’ve found the right song?

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Did you read my review for World Dance New York’s DVD, “Bellydance Hip Hop Liquid Fusion with Anasma?” Are you interested in getting a copy? Here’s your chance!

I’m giving away both DVDs in the series to one lucky winner:

Here’s what you have to do:

1. Find an awesome example of a dancer fusing hip hop and belly dance (any styles thereof) on YouTube. Fill out the form below and include a link to the video. Submissions are due Sunday, April 8th 2012 at noon.

2. I’ll choose my favorite three submissions based on the criteria below and post them next week (Monday, April 9th). Readers will then watch and vote for their favorite. All votes will be due by Sunday, April 15th 2012 at noon. I’ll announce the winner of the DVDS on April 16th.

What are the video submission rules?

The video must be uploaded to YouTube publicly. It should be 3-6 minutes in length. You may submit footage of yourself as the dancer. One submission per household, please. You want to get your favorite in FAST, since I will only accept the first link to a video. If you submit a link to a video that’s already been submitted, I’ll notify you and you can try again (within the give time period). Open to residents of the U.S. only.

What criteria will you use to select the final three videos?

I’ll export the links to an external document so that I may review videos independent of your contact information to avoid any personal bias. I’m looking for dancers with great technique, appropriate expression and stage presence, as well as creative costuming. S/he should fluently blend styles in a way that is innovative while maintaining a genuine connection to both art forms. Finally, you all know that I love dubstep, so I’ll award extra points if its their music choice. The quality of the video does not matter, but keep in mind that lower quality does not often pick up the subtleties of isolation present in either style.

What are the voting rules?

Anyone may vote a total of one time. Yes, you may solicit friends and family to vote for your submission. You can encourage them to vote by telling them about the bonus giveaway…

Bonus GIVEAWAY!

Anyone who votes for any one of the three final videos during the week of April 9th to 15th is eligible to win this DVD (Android Goddess: Tribal Fusion Bellydance), also from World Dance New York!

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Submit your favorite video:

*I won’t use your email address for anything else, promise!*

Thank you for participating, and good luck!

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A review of the best dancin’ music of 2011 to suit a variety of tastes, just in time for the holidays! If you’re looking to expand your music collection check out this post as part of my ‘Best of 2011’ series.

Belly Dance Mirage

Ya Salam Orchestra

Style: Classic or vintage Egyptian Cabaret

Suitable for: Intermediate to Advanced dancers

Notes: This album has a definite vintage, sometimes even folkloric, feel to it. There’s a nice mix of routines, including a few drum solos and some traditional songs. These would make great routines for a more formal or ethnic venue.

Listen to it here

 

The King of Egyptian Tabla

Gamal Gomaa

Style: Egyptian Drum Solos

Suitable for: Low Intermediate to Advanced dancers

Notes: This is a nice collection of drum solos that stand out from the predictable, indistinct drumming that makes for great practice but might be a bit boring for the stage. Gamal Gomaa is truly a master percussionist and he fuses traditional and modern elements well.

Listen to it here

 

Boz in Oz

Jim Boz

Style: Fusion (Electronic)

Suitable for: Beginner through Advanced dancers

Notes: This album is an interestingly distinct fusion of eastern and western rhythms and elements with a definite electronic feel. It’s very powerful, and there’s a nice mix of slower and faster songs. This is perfect for Tribal or Tribaret work.

Listen to it here

 

Bellydance Superstars, Vol. 9

Various Artists

Style: Mixed (Egyptian pop, techno-arabic, fusion, sha’abi, classical, etc.)

Suitable for: Beginners to Advanced dancers

Notes: In the tradition of the Bellydance Superstars, there’s a little something for everyone here. I have to admit I think this is one of their better albums.

Listen to it here

 

Pulse of the Sphinx, Vol. 2

The Henkesh Brothers

Style: Egyptian Rhythm Drills

Suitable for: Beginners to Advanced dancers

Notes: This album is composed of 31 very short (1 to 2 minute) drum solos great for students learning their rhythms. For advanced dancers willing to edit their music, there’s the potential to string together a few tracks and integrate them into a routine.

Listen to it here

 

Let me know if you end up getting one. I’d like to hear your review! Or tell me if I missed something that should be on this list.

 

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