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The Guest List: Belly Dance Drill Music Recommendations from Anasma

Have you ever wished you could peek into the iPods of famous bellydancers? I have – so I thought I’d ask a few…

Anasma belly dancer

Anasma is the co-founder and co-director of the New York Theatrical Bellydance Conference, director of World Citizen Dance and an incredibly versatile all-around artist! Her performances tap into her background in ethnic dances, yoga, martial arts and acting, often creating a clear character and storyline told through dance. Her wild creativity, free spirit and adventurous nature really makes me want to know what’s on her practice and teaching playlist!

Anasma says:  Here are some of the songs I love to drill to. I use them for fusion and experimental purposes. I work not only with popping, bellydance, modern, theater fusion, but also on well-being.  Have fun! Choose inspiring music to make you move and enter a trancey state – simply dance where your soul and body take you.

“Just The Way You Are” by Boyce Avenue  I just love the lyrics. It carries people in a realm of self acceptance and pleasure of dancing as they are, without self judgement.

“Aquarium” by Nozaj Thing  A watery, liquid, floaty atmosphere that inspired waving techniques.

“Tumbling Backwards” by Young Wonder – I love its beats, the female voice. It simply carries me.

“Frankincense” by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble  This is a super cool band composed of brass only.  It has 4/4 rhythms, very convenient for teaching.

“Sun Models” by Odesza For fiery upbeat energy!

Anasma is also a music artist. Here’s her video for “Ocean Elevation”

Did you find a new song you like? What does it inspire you to do with it? Share in the comments below…

April 5, 2015 0 Comments

Making the Most of Your Belly Dance Music

Around this time of year, I get the urge to clean out things and get rid of what I no longer have use for. I literally spent 8 straight hours ripping my bedroom apart this week.  I even vacuumed under that bed – take that dust bunnies!  Not only did I clear my room of useless clutter that just got in the way, I found things I had long forgotten I owned or that I had thought were lost – like my favorite tweezers!  The big payoff for me is waking up in my refreshed and organized space in the morning. My first sight is a pleasant accomplishment that sets the tone for a good day.

One thing I never get rid of however, is music, especially since these days it’s digital and takes up no space. But I DO take some time to go through it once or twice a year – the payoff is just as real!

These tips are based on using iTunes, but most music library programs have similar characteristics.

An example of ratings and comments from my iTunes library.

An example of ratings and comments from my iTunes library.

Categorize your music by how you USE it.

Do you have all your belly dance music in one category? I used to years ago. 80% of my catalog was one category! That didn’t help to narrow things down at all. Now I categorize my music by how I use it. I have categories for entrance and exit music for shows, drum solos, Saidi, Khaleegy, drill music for teaching, etc.  This makes finding what I need a snap.

Use the “last played” sorting option.

I truly believe the 80/20 rule applies to belly dance music. Without intervention, I would use 20% of my music collection 80% of the time simply because they are my favorites for performance or are really effective for class drills. While that gets the job done, it doesn’t keep things fresh.

Try sorting your collection by play history with the most recently played at the bottom of the list. When you are reading email,  cleaning or otherwise putzing about the house, play it from the top. You’ll unearth songs you didn’t even know you had – and may be perfect for a show, class or your next choreography!

Use the music rating system.

When I’m listening to my least played music, I give it a rating. The rating system helps me find those standbys I love very quickly, but also reminds me of the good stuff I’ve turned up when I go looking for new combo music for DBQ video segments or the next student piece I’m writing.

Be a Comment Queen!

If your program has a comments or notes entry like iTunes does, use it to your advantage. I add info like the predominant rhythm, the “feel” of the music or even the general idea of the song lyrics so I don’t use a song about heartbreak at a wedding reception! For example, if I’m doing Chiftitelli zill drills in class, I look in my Drill Music category, then scan the comments for Chiftitelli – there it is! Another example – I have a TON of Saidi music. Some of it is very modern and some is very heavy and folksy, I keep notes on the “feel” of the music so I can find what I need quickly and easily.

Use playlists creatively.

Of course I keep playlists of party shows, holiday-themed shows, shows that include props and all the workshop topics I teach. Sometimes I use them as is, sometimes I swap out a song or two to keep things fresh. They are in a constant state of musical evolution.  I also use playlists as reminders and personal study guides. I have a playlist of interesting songs I’ve found and want to get to know better.

I usually turn these up during my “excavation” of the least played items or when I buy a new CD and a track  piques my interest.  Another handy playlist is the “I’d like to choreograph this someday” list. Sometimes I find a song I think I’d like to write choreography to – for myself or my belly dance students – but I don’t have an upcoming project at the time. One the list it goes. When the time comes, I have some pre-screened ideas ready to check out.

 

What tips and tricks do you use to organize your digital music collection? Share them in the comments below…

December 29, 2014 3 Comments

Must-Know Belly Dance Song: “Habeena Habeena”

Who, What and When?

“Habeena Habeena” was written and performed by Farid al-Atrash, one of the greats of Arabic music known as the “King of the Oud.” This song appeared in the film “Nagham Fi Hayati” which was released in 1975 and was the last film he made.

What is this song about?

“Habeena” means “love us”, however it implies “love me”. In Arabic songs, direct address to women is often hidden behind the use of “he” or “us” to make it less personal.  The song is about a unrequited love.  Here is a sample of the lyrics:

We (I) fell in love, we fell, and on the path of love we got lost
And how many times we suffered, how many, many times we suffered
And how many times we walked behind you

Love us, love us, we loved you so love us back

Find the full lyric translation here.

Although the subject isn’t exactly “happy”, I would still consider it suitable for most performances. Many versions are rather upbeat and the verses have fun a phrasing structure and accents for dance. I really enjoy this one! You can get a better sense of the mood of the song by watching the clip below.

You can watch the original version from the movie – complete with a 70’s-tastic backyard barbeque dance scene here!

Habeena Video

This video does not allow embedding  – WATCH HERE
“Habeena” starts at 22:20

 

December 14, 2014 1 Comment

What Beginners Should Practice & Study Outside of Belly Dance Class

This is the latest installment in the occasional series, “Raks Me A Question” where I answer bellydancers’ questions about learning, teaching, performing or doing business in Bellydance Land. If you’ve got a dilemma, an obstacle you haven’t found your way around or a sticky situation and you’d like some advice – just send it in ! You may find your answer in the next installment of “Raks Me A Question”!

 

You’re new to belly dance and totally hooked! The jingly coins, the pretty silk … the fun haflas! One hour of class just isn’t enough and you want to learn it ALL. What’s a baby belly dancer to do? I’ve actually had several enthusiastic new students who are DBQ subscribers write in with variations of this same topic. Today I’ll  share some ideas and ways to structure your dance education outside of class  – without getting overwhelmed.

Get ready to take some notes, students!

 

 How have you organized your out-of-class practice at any level? Share your ideas in the comments below….

November 13, 2014 0 Comments

The Guest List: Belly Dance Drill Music Recommendations from Aubre Hill

Have you ever wished you could peek into the iPods of well-known bellydance instructors? Well, I have – and thought I’d ask a few!

Aubre Hill

Our first guest drill list comes from Aubre Hill, a performer and instructor based in Los Angeles, CA. She is also the director of the LuminaDance Co.  and Qabila Folkdance Co.    Aubre is a very versatile dancer so I suspected she’d have some interesting and eclectic music to inspire her classes – and she sure does. Get ready for some adventurous listening and drilling!

Aubre says:  “I use a wide range of different types of music so this mini drill set is specifically gypsy focuses for musicality push, dynamic drills & sheer energetic fun.”
Here’s how she likes to use them in class:
1- Disko Partizani by Shantel
Slow-Medium tempo great for warmup
2- Arabu Andaluz by Fishtank Ensemble
Medium tempo great for drilling foot patterns and turns with or without hip work
3- Egyptian Ella by Fatima Spar und die Freedom Fries
Medium-Fast tempo perfect for drilling hip patterns (ups, downs, 3/4’s, twists, etc) with great layering options to pull from
4- James Bond Theme by Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra & Fanfare Ciocarlia
Fast tempo screams shimmy shimmy shimmy and it’s happy vibe will help keep you going
5- Baccanale by Plotz!
Fast 5/8 great to train the ear in odd meter and drill gooey movements (figure eights, undulations, circles, etc)

Did you hear something you like? Whose iPod would you like to peek into?  Let us know in the comments below….

November 3, 2014 4 Comments
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