Weekly Challenge for 4-21-14
It’s Monday again! Time for this week’s belly dance challenge.
Combos to the Rhythm
Do you remember that challenge we did two weeks ago? And how about last week? (Tough challenge…how did that one go for you? My day job interfered in a big way and I didn’t have much time for even just regular practice, so I didn’t do so great. I may have to revisit that challenge!)
We’re going to combine those two challenges for this week!
If you didn’t try either of those challenges, not to worry. If you know at least one Middle Eastern rhythm, you can do this challenge. (Here’s a good resource; I also used this page’s notation below.)
So what’s this week’s challenge? Let’s make combos to one of the rhythms you learned!
Especially in “traditional” belly dance, it is important to move with the rhythm, whether it be traveling or hip movements or other accents. And by rhythm, I mean the rhythm pattern of the drum, not just the beat. We can dance to beledi (or any other Middle Eastern rhythm). For fusion dancers, this can also help with dancing to complex synthesized drum patterns, whether or not they are actually Middle Eastern.
Here’s an example: if I learned the beledi rhythm two weeks ago, I’m going to make a short combo, using that rhythm as the basis for my steps and movements. Beledi has a pattern like this:
The D notations are the “doums,” the heavy hit on the drum that can be clearly heard in most rhythms, and, at least for me, makes it easy to identify. I want to make a combo to that, so maybe for the first two doums, which are close together, I will do two heavy hip drops, then move through the silence (or the filled rhythm, which would be the tkT portion, depending on what song you are using or what drummer you have) and hit the third doum with a hip push to one side. Or maybe I can do two quick steps on the first two doums, a dramatic pause, and then a hip pop on the third.
Play with the rhythm (or one of the rhythms) you learned in the previous challenge and see what fun combos you can come up with. This is a fantastic way to start building drum solos, or to start getting ready to dance to live music. If you have a bunch of combos under your (coin) belt, then you can easily dance to music you don’t know well, as long as you can identify the rhythm. Don’t worry if you’re not ready to dance to live music, or even in front of people, yet. Getting practice in dancing to the rhythm (and not just the beat) will help you in the long run!
How many combos can you come up with? Let me know!
Weekly Challenge for 4-7-14
Another Monday, which means it’s time for another challenge! Are you ready?
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!