Weekly Challenge for 4-7-14

Another Monday, which means it’s time for another challenge! Are you ready?

Drum Rhythms

When I was a baby dancer, my teacher told us that the drum was the most important instrument for belly dancers. We dance to the drum. Of course, we can always dance to the most prominent instrument in a piece, but the drum is where the heart of the dance lies.

Middle Eastern music is rather different than Western music, not only in sound but in structure as well. Drum rhythms are important, and are usually named. Some drum rhythms are found in certain areas or types of music, and knowing these rhythms is mandatory for all belly dancers. And I do mean mandatory, and I do mean all belly dancers. If you are doing belly dance (in my opinion…and in many others’), you must dance to the beat, to the rhythm (mostly, depending on style and piece). This can be challenging to Westerners, because we hear the melody the most, and the drums are just the “pace car.”

If you dance “traditional” belly dance, you need to know these rhythms, why they are important, and how to dance to them (and thus be able to identify songs of certain types). If you are a Tribal performer, you still need to know the roots of your dancing, and many ATS® and ITS troupes use traditional songs and rhythms. It’s also helpful for fusion, because many of the popular fusion musicians still use Middle Eastern stylings and rhythms. While most Western bands do not use these drum rhythms, it is important to know the history of your dance.

So what’s the challenge? This week, learn your drum rhythms!

Find a drum or a pair of zills (or even just use clapping!) and learn at least one new drum rhythm this week. There are lots of resources out there, DVDs, websites, your teacher, workshops, etc. for learning these rhythms. I particularly like this one, but there are many others out there. DVDs are great, because many of them feature dancers who can show you movements and short combos that go well with those drum rhythms.

Extra challenge: How many drum rhythms can you learn (well) in one week? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter!

Happy drumming (or zilling!)


Taking the challenge? Let everyone else know! Tweet it!


Photo credit: montuno via photopin cc

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About Kamrah

Kamrah is a belly dancer in Chicago, IL. They started belly dance as an exercise routine but it turned into a passion for dance that has not lessened, even after more than a decade. They have a powerful presence on the stage, and is particularly known for their amazing shimmies. Kamrah is also known as a very versatile belly dancer, and audiences have come to expect the unexpected from them. Performances can be anything from traditional Egyptian, to tribal fusion, to fantasy cosplay (costume play) pieces.

2 responses to “Weekly Challenge for 4-7-14”

  1. Rasha Nour Bellydance says :

    Totally agree this is really important. Getting a feel for the different rhythms and musical styles is essential if you want to be able to make sense of a piece of Arabic music when you hear it for the first time. In fact, this is what I’m planning to do with my students this term 🙂

    I also think it’s important to avoid becoming over-reliant on *just* rhythm to understand music though – I often see dancers trying to identify music as a particular style purely by its rhythm, but that can really lead you astray sometimes. I see rhythm as one clue or piece of a puzzle, where instrumentation, singing style, etc. give you more clues.

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