Ghawaret El Fan Blue Madam Darbouka

Ghawaret El Fan Blue Madam Darbouka

It’s been a while since I’ve done a bit of a general update. The dancing side of things was quite busy; I did a 6 week course with my Suhaila-trained ATS teacher, to learn to dance with zills better; afterwards I started level 4 classes with Hilde in Brighton while she was still running them, I was still doing the local Egyptian practice, and was still doing ATS. Work has also picked up considerably, so basically when I’m not dancing, I’m working; the downside of it is that I’ve had a sciatica flare in the past month, which I *hope* is under control now, but did break some havoc. I also, unluckily enough, got into an accident during a workshop and got another ankle sprained, the right one this time just so I can have both equally screwed up. Yay.

The upside from the accident is that I’ve again had a bit of time to get back into sewing, and to try to work out a work/break routine (again!) that will not make my poor muscles tighten enough to pinch nerves, and that will allow me to do things like practice, stretching and conditioning. Right now it’s mostly for some conditioning, physio for strengthening both ankles, and some drumming, but it’s starting to become habit and it feels good. On the sewing front, I’ve learnt to do shrugs, have done a modified, better fitted version of the ShimmySista shrug in a cool shredded fabric, and a more typical type of shrug, of which I’ll be posting instructions later on, once I can trace down the pieces to offer a pattern.

So what can you expect I’ll be posting soon? More info about upcoming events in the South East, there are new haflas and events happening, offering a lot more opportunities to learn, watch other performers, and why not, perform yourself. Some more sewing when I can do it. Reviews of more DVDs and CDs, and some more writing about my dancing journey. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the ride.

Inspiration: Maraia’s Saidi

I love raqs al asaya, and I love folkloric styles. I know it doesn’t really show much in here, because I talk a lot about fusion and ATS, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy or appreciate the more traditional forms. I also love dancing them, although I really, REALLY cannot jump gracefully enough -or at all, really, and I get sprains at the drop of a hat so I avoid it-, and therefore I don’t really do it in public if I can help it, although I’ve done raqs al asaya performances in years past. And no, I couldn’t jump then either.

I found this performance through a fellow dancer. I really liked it, even if the video quality was low. It was fun and charming, the dancer was enjoying herself, and the folkloric vibe was right on the spot. And for those that want to know the name of the song used, don’t go by the comments on YouTube. The song is available on Hossam Ramzy Presents Gypsies of the Nile, and it’s called “La, La, La Omri Manhounik”

Upcoming Event: ATS World Wide Flash Mob

ATS World Wide Flash Mob logoOctober is rapidly approaching, and with it comes the ATS World Wide Flash Mob, now in its third year. The song used will be Solace’s popular “Bounce”, in a special remix that Solace’s Jeremiah Soto has done for the occasion.

The special remix of Bounce can be listened to and bought at Solace’s Bandcamp mini-site, here: https://solace1.bandcamp.com/album/bounce-ep, and it is not only very reasonably priced, and in several looseless formats for the audiophiles that don’t want to pay for an MP3.

And if you want to get some inspiration on how the track can work for ATS, just take a look at the video below, from Ghawazi Caravan.

Inspiration: Katerina Shereen’s Golden Era Oriental Dance

I’ve been posting quite a bit of ATS and Fusion, and I thought it was time to get back to some classic Oriental. Even though I got this video through my ATS teacher. I just loved how elegant this looked, no frantic movements, no manic popping or devilish technique, just good old elegance.


Review: Dombek Technique and Rhythms for Arabic Percussion with Amir Naoum

DombekTechniqueI got a doumbek. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, and finally got one. I was excited to start practicing (ok, I am *always* excited about new things, so sue me). I managed to get my hands on a copy of this DVD, popped it in, grabbed my doumbek and prepared myself for practice.

I have got the drum for a week. I have got the DVD for a week too, but I’m already congratulating myself for not buying it new. The DVD has good reviews on Amazon, so what’s wrong? Something very, very simple, and very basic. The instructor is clear and quite likeable, and thankfully that’s not the issue. The “technique” part of the DVD covers Doums, Teks, Kas, there’s a passing mention and explanation about Seks(Slaps), and a slightly longer explanation on Pops with the provision that they are an advanced technique. There are some basic exercises to build up the left hand for Kas and the right technique and sound for Doums and Teks; at least one or two of them are shown on the video below. Now, if you look a bit forwards, when talking about the Baladi Arabic style, or the Saiidi, you’ll notice some pesky “S” on the description… Yes, he is using Slaps for the Arabic rhythm descriptions. He’s hardly ever given you much of a chance to play with them. So if you’ve moved from the basic exercises into the malfouf and ayoub rhythms, which are the first ones described, you’ll be thrown from basic stuff (which will be easy to follow) into variations that use slaps (which you haven’t had a chance to practice at all and therefore will confuse the heck out of you and will sound bad) and straight into syncopated version without even an explanation other than a super-quick flash on screen of what you are expected to do. And of course, you’re most definitely not supposed to throw your hands in the air and give up. There’s no time to catch up, no slow down version to get to grips: you either hit the ground running and go for it, or you fall flat on your drum and weep.

What I liked about this is that there is a LOT of information, and once I am more familiar with the drum and comfortable producing Doums, Teks, Kas and Seks with a reasonable quality and speed, I should be able to use this as a good reference for rhythms and variations. But I don’t think it is really usable as instruction, let alone for “Beginner Level” as is listed on Amazon. It would be the equivalent, in dancing terms, of providing a DVD instructing and drilling on figure 8s, Mayas and Hip Drops, and then including a choreography that uses Hagallas extensively. Good for reference, yes, but not really usable by a beginner until they can find instruction which isn’t covered.

Possible uses, if somehow you can find this used, or gifted or whatever: if you’re still coming to grips with the different sounds, write the exercises at the beginning and do them regularly; find yourself some instruction on Seks, and try to get the right sound for them too. Write down the rhythms and variations, and practice yourself at a lower speed until you are comfortable. But don’t look at this expecting it to be your sole instruction, or for something that you can drill to, because it’s not the case. I do understand that having a mini-encyclopedia of Middle Eastern rhythms is nothing to scoff at, but what’s the point in presenting material for beginners when they are not presenting the tools for those beginners to be able to follow that material? A few more exercises using Seks, and a bit longer explanation on how to get the right sound for it would have gone a LONG way into making this far, FAR more usable.

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