Effortless Mastery is a book written by Kenny Werner, an American jazz pianist and educator. It’s about overcoming dysfunctional fear-based practicing and playing music to achieve effortless mastery. I first heard it referred to by Alia Thabit in relation to belly dance. At first glance, the connection may not seem obvious, but have you ever… Continue reading What Can Effortless Mastery Teach Us about Belly Dance Practice?
What instruments are commonly used in belly dance music? There are lots of them! In general, musical instruments can be divided into categories based on how they produce sound: percussion (striking by a hand or beater), winds (blowing air), and strings (bowing or plucking a string). Instruments belonging to each of these three types are… Continue reading Musical Instruments in Middle Eastern Belly Dance Music
Belly dance is a dance form originating in the Middle East, featuring isolation and articulation of the torso, chest, and hips. Unlike many other familiar dance forms like ballet, which are primarily concerned with the movement of limbs through space, belly dance movement originates from the torso. Broadly speaking, belly dance movements can be characterised… Continue reading What is Belly Dance?
I want to start directly with a YouTube video, because it (and the JWAAD music course) are the inspiration behind this post: https://youtu.be/yJPRMRzyZMs A group of folk musicians from Port Said sing and dance in the video. When we think of Egypt, we often think of its culture as stemming from Pharaonic times. But there… Continue reading The Simsimiyya Music of Port Said
What do Laban’s planes of movement have to do with belly dance? Let’s start with the general (Cartesian co-ordinates) and then make it more specific to the human body (anatomical planes) and then to dance (Laban’s planes of movement). So, what are Cartesian co-ordinates? Cartesian co-ordinates Our three-dimensional world can be sliced into three flat,… Continue reading Laban’s Planes of Movement and Belly Dance
How do you make time for your personal dance practice? Do you have a daily or weekly creative routine that enables you to practice regularly? One of the most powerful ways to build a practice is through ritual: a “ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order” (Oxford English Dictionary).… Continue reading Using Ritual to Anchor Your Dance Practice
What is the least useful piece of feedback you’ve every received as a belly dance student? For me, it was “contract your abs”. I could be contracting my abs ‘til the cows come home and a move still won’t look or feel right on my body. Instruction in dance and sport often consists of a… Continue reading Feedback Techniques in Dance
Have you ever thought about belly dance teacher training? Back in 2016, I completed the JWAAD Belly Dance Training ‘Understanding Safety’ course which helped me take my first steps towards teaching belly dance. I chose a JWAAD course because it’s the only organization in the UK that offers belly dance courses which are externally accredited… Continue reading Belly Dance Teacher Training: Review of the JWAAD ‘Understanding Safety’ Course
Introduction Let’s go down the rhythm rabbit hole! The rhythmic mode or iqa/iqaat (plural) is a foundational feature of Middle Eastern music. Songs in the Middle East have underlying repeated sequences of strong and weak drum beats. These are the iqaat, and there are reputedly up to 100 of them (Wikipedia). Why is it important… Continue reading Rhythms in Belly Dance Music
Let’s talk about belly dance music. The first step to interpreting music through dance is listening to it, really listening to it. Music has a rich texture: “how the tempo, melodic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, thus determining the overall quality of the sound in a piece” (Wikipedia). Like a layer cake,… Continue reading Introduction to Belly Dance Music