Archive for music

Our itty bitty demo playlist

Yes, it’s been a rough start to 2016 with a serious knee injury followed by the flu. I’m dancing again, gingerly because my knee isn’t quite right, but it’ll do. Coming up this weekend is the first public performance of the year! Tribal Odyssey is gentle enough that I feel confident enough to dance, and I’m looking forward to it.

Saturday in Fredericksburg I’m doing a 50-minute interactive presentation on bellydance for a local women’s event, along with some of my dancers. So at the end of this mini-class we’ll do a short dance demo featuring some TOBD.
We’ll use “Love Signs” for slow moves, arms, and Fan Veils; followed by “Come Dance with Me” for fast combinations with finger cymbals, ending with audience participation.
That gives us an exciting and diverse 10-minute demo that includes getting the class participants dancing too!


Fan Veils, with finger cymbal pouches at the ready!

Check out these tunes – they’re so different, but catchy and interesting:

  1. DJ Dimi’s Love Signs
  2. Shirley Horn/Sugardaddy remix Come Dance with Me

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tribal gives us music freedom!

One of the BEST things about Tribal Improv belly dancing is you can change the music whenever you want! Sometimes my students bring me songs to check out so we get a wide variety of styles that way. And I often ask my students what songs they want to use in a show. Not possible with choreography! If you perform a choreographed piece, you’re obviously “stuck” using that music.
So I’m enjoying picking the music for our upcoming show. We’re bringing back “Love Signs” by DJ Dimi, a really lovely song that’s going to be perfect for Tribal Veil and Arm Patterns because it’s a medium tempo:  Love Signs on (Ai-De-Xin-Hao), from the Zen Lounge cd.

This song has a good beat, and the melody flows like a river… so pretty! I’m looking forward to dancing to it again.

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new songs – the right tempo for Tribal cymbals and sword?

The New Year brings new ideas…

Last year we danced to a lot of fast tempo songs (including “Sandstorm” in our New Year’s Eve show) which makes for some exciting dancing, but now it feels nice to slow down a bit. I’ve chosen some new tracks for my students to dance TOBD to that are slower than what we’ve been using, and everyone seems to like them (including me)!

PRISM Dancer Pixie Fae suggested the first one:

Ja Vidi by Christophe Goze, which has a lovely clarinet(?) part as well as guitar; here it is on Amazon. Great tempo especially for playing finger cymbals.  The next song I found is:

Gardens of Delight by Electric Oasis (on Amazon) sounds a little more electronic so I dig that; and the tempo is perfect for cymbals too – I can really hear if my students are playing clearly at this speed, that’s really helpful. This song has several places where the percussion drops out but it doesn’t lose any beats so it still works fantastically for group improv.

And for Tribal Sword I pulled out some really slow-tempo songs that usually my students don’t like dancing to: everyone knows it’s harder to dance slowly, because (ahem!) you have to actually use your muscles instead of just throwing your body around. At first I thought we could use Dance Dolphins Dance (from Dolphina’s Goddess Workout music) but the even slower tempo of Ocean Depths will be easier while we balance the swords. You can find an online list of musicians who played on this album in the Amazon listing (including the wonderful John Belizikjian on oud and violin).

There may be some tracks we can use for Tribal Sword in the Serpent’s Garden cd by Mosavo, that’s next on my list to check out.

There seems to be a very fine line between just the right tempo and too fast! If you have a recommendation on a SLOW song good for sword balancing (keeping in mind this is group improv) …and not one that everyone is using, please let me know!

PRISM sword dancers as oil painting

Sword Dance, from the PRISM Dancers show at the UMW Multicultural Fair

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intramural tribal bellydance!

At our student Recital tomorrow some of our baby bellydancers are performing together for the first time!. This’ll be a blast, I LOVE this kind of stuff!

In their Level One number, the duets are pre-arranged – so the dancers know who they’ll “go out” with – after that it’s up to them what they do.

And because they’re new to performing (except for our Marching Band member), their minds are filled to the brim right now with the realities of performing – the stage, the lights, the audience… entering, exiting… costumes, makeup… WOW! I really hope they remember to enjoy the moment onstage because it lasts such a short amount of time. It’s such a unique experience!

Both of the TOBD numbers in the show will be mixed level, so although that’s not the easiest way to perform, it does work – another plus for group improv. I’ll just remind the Level Three folks to tone it down a bit and make sure their cues are solidly ahead of  ‘the One’ – timely enough to keep everyone together. Our Level Three dancers are used to performing and enjoying themselves in the moment, whether it’s onstage or in the studio. They know how to relax and just “get into it”.

Those of you who have ATS or ITS performing groups know how it is, the dancers get used to each other’s cues and favorite moves… and can almost read each other’s minds – am I right? Yes! So we’ll pull back a bit and enjoy the moment with newer-to-the-tribe dancers who are still feeling their way into “in the moment” dancing. Making memories together… it’s SO much fun!

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music picks for Recital, and beyond

My annual student Recital “MidSummer Magic” is next week, and our TOBD music selections are falling into place. Only two songs of Tribal Odyssey this year!

MidSummer Magic flyer

Bellydance Student show

We’ll rely on the thumping basic beledi beat of the Desert Knights “Lone Dove” for the Level One dancers. The combination of the steady rhythm with the strong complimentary bass line makes the beat very easy for beginners to hear, and it’s just the perfect tempo too.

This Level One group is made up of 6 dancers from three different classes! Luckily they can pair into fairly well-matched Duets, so the entire 4 minute song will be done as Chorus Line and Center Dancers. So far we’ve only had one rehearsal with everyone together but they seemed comfortable with each other. This will be the first performance for several of them, which is ALWAYS very exciting…

This is a great song, especially for new dancers: Lone Dove by Desert Knights (Amazon)

To keep the show short I decided to combine Levels Two and Three. We’ll be dancing together to “Habibi ya Albi” by the handsome Ihab Tawfik! What a fun song to dance to… and yes, we’ll be wearing sparkly beledi dresses again. What an amazing evolution in Tribal Odyssey – going for the glitz!

And who wouldn’t want to dance to this song? Habib Ya Albi by Ihab Tawfik (Amazon)

I am pretty sure Level Two can stay up with Level Three dancing, the only extra things the Level Three dancers usually do (besides being able to dance and play cymbals really fast!) are the Skirt and Veil combinations… so those particular combinations will be restricted to Center Dancers only, when the suitable partners are in play. That’s how you work out using different levels together!

Combining these two groups into one number is a good idea for both levels right now because:

  • dancing with more advanced dancers helps the lower levels improve, and
  • the Level Three dancers have already had a busy year showcasing bellydance at local events, with more to come. And, they’ll be in other numbers in the Recital…

So there are our two musical selections for MidSummer Magic. Now for the PRISM Dancer’s turn this September at Lynchburg Tribal Hafla 2012, we’ll be going in a completely different (and new!) musical direction…. stay tuned!

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out of the box and loving it!

Our June events around town rocked! I love how TOBD is proving to be so versatile, so easy to adapt to fit our needs. I guess I just love it’s USABILITY!

Once I realized we’re not locked into always looking “Tribal” and don’t always have to use our typical tribal music, my eyes really opened to the possibilities. I guess that’s funny coming from me since it’s my baby – you’d think I’d know TOBD inside and out – but I guess I had to see it with new eyes, so to speak.

During my solo career I danced at hundreds of parties – in homes, offices, various workplaces, event halls, pool parties, nightclubs, you name it. I know how to work an event, deal with pretty much any performance space, no matter how the audience is arranged or how the space is set up. As a soloist you learn to walk into a place, evaluate it quickly and decide how best to showcase your performance. What invaluable experience!

For our short 3-song set at the Bridal Show hosted by the FXBG & Stafford Wedding & Event Pros our quartet entered with Tribal Veil:

group improv veil dancing

veil spins

So here we are doing tribal improv, looking very “cabaret-flavor”… dancing with veils to a shortened version of Ragheb Alama’s Saharony Ellil. Next we banged out some cymbal action to Nancy Ajram’s Baddala Aleik, also taking turns at with solo improv during the taqsim of this lovely song. Finally, pulling out the old favorite Habibi Ya Albi by Ihab Tawfik, we went out for audience participation. That song is gold and had the expected effect on certain folk in our audience who couldn’t resist dancing and even singing along. Yes, the PRISM Dancers know how to work it!

One of the hosts of the event graciously invited me to share a demo at the group’s next networking event in Fredericksburg. PRISM has done bridal showers in the past and we know it’s a great alternative to the stripclub scene. Having a “how to bellydance” party for the bride and her friends is appropriate for all ages – it’s just good, clean fun! So three of us PRISM Dancers put on our basic dance class wear, with a few extra sparklies on top. We used the long fringe skirts to tie our look together:

a "how to bellydance" party demo

fringe skirts over class wear

We only did two song’s worth of dancing for the demo. The first number let us dance together as a tribal trio, then we each went out among the audience, having a lot of fun with the brave participants, then we returned to our TOBD trio to finish the song.  We used one of our favorite swing electronica songs, Come Dance With Me (Shirley Horn/Sugardaddy remix). For the “how to” part of the demo we used Solace’s Beledi Drum (from Rhythms of the Dance), inviting audience members up to join us – including one sweet little girl! It was a blast!

What I love about my PRISM Dancers is that they’re game for new adventures, and go with the flow. They keep it happy and share the joy. All this and TOBD too – what a blessing!

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which music genres are okay for tribal?

When I began creating Tribal Odyssey ITS over ten years ago, I made a big decision regarding the type of music we would use in performance. Our musical path is starting to evolve now in ways I didn’t foresee.

In our first ten years we almost always chose American bellydance music; Miramar (TOBD co-creator in Winchester VA) often used Alan Bachman and Desert Wind; I favored the music of the Desert Knights and Dolphina’s Workout CD. We used other American bands like Helm and Sirocco too, but not often. I didn’t like to because I felt (as a folkloric dancer myself) that if we used music that sounded so traditional, village-y and obviously NON-American, audiences would easily confuse our dancing with authentic Middle Eastern folkloric dance.

As an educator in the field of Middle Eastern and American bellydance, the last thing I wanted to do was cause confusion if I could help it, so that explains my decision about music. This was directly opposite to what the “root troupe” of the tribal tree, FatChanceBellyDance®, was doing. They did – and still do – often use Egyptian village music (the same music used for folkloric dancing), or American bands that sound folkloric, like Helm and Sirocco. Different strokes for different folks.

From time to time we’ve explored other genres to keep our performances fresh. We’ve used tracks from the famous Putomayo World Fusion compilations – Asian Lounge, Arabic Groove, Sahara Lounge; we’ve even used American club favorites like Abba, Black Eyed Peas, Pink, Parliament Funkadelic, even Billy Idol.  I also have a taste for techno and trance and have composed electronica myself; those tracks come in useful when videotaping – no copyright worries on YouTube!

WARNING: Tribal Shocker

So it shouldn’t be a shock – although I’m still getting used to this idea myself – that we can use modern Arabic pop for ITS. No one can mistake it for folkloric dancing, I’m sure! So I’m looking through my Arabic “party music” for steady, medium tempo songs for us to dance to, and here’s another shocker – we’re going cabaret!

No, just kidding. Actually I’m not though, here’s what I mean: although I love my tribal gear, and do have some shimmery, glamorous tribal ensembles of  tie-tops and full skirts (thank you, India), most of my dancers’ tribal costumes have the heavy cotton/rayon look. Next week we’re scheduled to do a demo performance at an upscale Bridal Show, and we’ll be immersed in the shiny, sequined milieu of the Bridal world. I want our look to fit in so I made a judgement call: we’re wearing glitzy bellydance dresses! And playing cymbals, and dancing  “tribal” together.

Yes, it’s quite a shocker. But really, anyone who’s been in my bellydance community for a while knows I explore new ideas and concepts frequently, and am not afraid of trying new things. I think Tribal Odyssey itself is proof of that!

And, as I’ve told my students: tribal is to serve US, not the other way around. So we’re adapting our look to fit the venue; that doesn’t mean we’re throwing out our earthy costume looks – not at all. But in this context, it behooves us to “glitz it up”.

I’m actually excited and looking forward to “tribal in cabaret” so to speak! And of course, can’t wait to see the pictures…

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