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:, 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.

Make up brushes cleaning

Brush Guards on eyeshadow brushesMahin did link to this video in late May, and because I was another one that was using MAC cleaner and not really having results that I liked, I decided to give the whole system a try. So yes, this is one of those posts where I do the stupid things so you don’t have to. Ok, not quite “stupid”, as this method works WONDERS. I managed to find the exact Da Vinci brush soap; I got it with a pack of mixed Brush Guard, and a separate 15-unit unbranded “guards” too. And then I got washing.

I was amazed. I had a few brushes that I thought were permanently stained with pigment or gel eye liner suddenly looking *clean*. And I mean fully clean, with white bristles recovering their original colour. Even better, the Brush Guard suggested in the video allowed me to “recover” a few brushes that had been a bit battered for whatever reason (bristles getting caught on lids or zippers, for instance) and that now, after drying properly inside the guards, have recovered their real shape. Everything feels soft and clean, and the proper Brush Guards allowed me to put the brushes upside-down inside a mesh-sided pencil holder to dry.

You might have noticed that I said “proper” Brush Guards. This is because the unbranded ones that came from China, despite being about 1/4 of the price, were marginally useful at best. The mesh was way too soft, which meant no upside-down drying in them. The mesh was also nowhere near as dense as the Brush Guard ones, and therefore bristles were constantly poking out even when using them to dry brushes flat. Even worse, some of the meshes were WAY too big and therefore not dense enough to keep any brush in shape at all. So I ended having to move the original Brush Guards in between brushes to get them to do their job.

You can see the difference on the photo at the start of this post, and below. The images show the three types of guards on similar brushes above, and on the exact same brush below… I used a slightly bigger brush so the mesh size could be seen better. You can see clearly that the Brush Guard mesh is far denser and more rigid, and therefore better suited for purpose. And while the cheaper guards will work fine for keeping brushes sorted in a rigid container at home, I will most definitely not be taking my brushes on the road with them. Also, while the Variety Pack from the Brush Guard gives a good selection, there’s only one small eyeshadow brush, which is far too little considering the number of brushes we can use during make-up application, and I would suggest getting one Variety pack, and one for Shadow/Liner (XS)

Brush guards on Mac 118

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