Styles of Bellydance / Oriental Dance
A quick guide to the range of authentic Middle Eastern and Fusion dance styles taught at Inspire Bellydance.
|For Beginner Students||For More Advanced Students|
For Beginner students:
Our Beginners (Fundamentals) classes are focussed on classical Egyptian Oriental belly dance. With its relaxed, centred look it is very safe for the body. Egypt is the cultural centre of the Arabic world, so this style forms the foundation for all other bellydance styles.
Technique courses teach all the core "families" of movements such as hip lifts and drops, shimmies and circles. You will also learn a variety of common footwork steps. Then, we explore how to transition between moves, and how to match moves to music. At the end of this course you will know lots of moves and start to be able to dance in a social context. If you want to learn to dance for sheer pleasure; or to dance socially at weddings and other events in the Lebanese or Arabic community; then this course is perfect for you.
Choreography courses also teach many of the main bellydance movements, but this time you will learn a routine. Optiionally, you'll have the opportunity to perform as well. Whether or not you choose to perform, learning a routien helps you to understand how movements are matched to music and how to transition between moves, as well as developing your spatial awareness and memory.
Choreographies can take various styles, and even use props. Here are some of the music / dance styles that Fundamentals classes have enjoyed in the past:
- Pop Songs: Arabic (Lebanese or Egyptian), Turkish, Moroccan and more, this is fun music that's easy on Western ears and helps tune your ear to the sound of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean music.
- Drum Solo: This term reers to music that only has percussion. Mostly it's tabla/ darabuka but there could be other percussion instruments too. The dance style picks out accents to show off the dancers' precision. Often there are lots of shimmies too. Audiences can't resist clapping along!
- Gypsy Skirt dance: Bellydance fused with elements of Gypsy and Flamenco dances, it's skirt-swooshing fun. Ole!
- Classic Arabic: Swoon along to some of the most famous compositions within Arabic music! These are the tunes that every Arabic person grew up with, and you'll still hear them played by Middle Eastern bands.
- Veil Dance: The 'veil', a length of chiffon or silk, makes a beautiful dance partner. Although it's divinely light, you'll be surprised how much of an arm workout this can be!
For Beyond Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced students:
Once you know your foundation moves and have mastered a couple of simple choreographies, it's time to explore the full richness or Middle Eastern dance. There are so many techniques, cultural variations, modern fusions and props to master, you'll never get bored! Which one will be your favourite?Egyptian Oriental (Raqs Sharqi) and Raqs Balady
The elegant dance form that can be considered 'classical' bellydance. Courses focussed on Raqs Sharqi may include:
- General technique: Extend your understanding of the basics as you learn more complex techniques and moves: undulations, arabesques, jewels, layered shimmies and footwork. Refine your presentation, including posture, arms, head carriage and facial expression.
- Famous Dancers and their styles: Learn about the legendary Egyptian dancers of the silver screen, and their individual signature moves.
- Mahmoud Reda: the most famous Egyptian choreographer has left us a wonderful legacy. We can learn so much from his musical interpretation, while his footwork combinations form a fabulous basis for every choreography you'll ever learn.
- Improvisation skills: The heart of bellydance is improvisation. Learn to interpret music "in the moment" as you discover the tools to make your improvised dances rich and interesting for yourself and potential audiences. At the same time, get familiar with the most important Arabic music.
- Contemporary Cairo Style: in the past 20 years, a very strong posture and aesthetic have developed which is based on but different from classical Egyptian style.
- Choreographies: Learn and (optionally) perform exciting routines choreographed either by our teachers or Egyptian master choreographers.
- Balady: Accordion or ashra balady is a style of music and dance that, although improvised, develops according to a certain structure. It's beautiful and expressive.
- Tarab: This term refers to a style of music designed to elicit strong emotional responses from the audience. When we dance, we aim to embody that same emotion.
Middle Eastern dance can use various props to add excitement and challenge to your dancing. They include modern and traditional props.
- Veil: sensuous floaty silk to swoosh or drape
- Fan Veils: silken veils on Chinese style fans
- Wings of Isis: large pleated 'veils' attached at the neck, with sticks, for massive impact
- Sword: Be powerful and show off your balancing and isolation skills
- Finger Cymbals (zills / sagat): Be a musician as well as a dancer, and accompany yourself
- Stick (cane / assaya): used in Saidi, a folkloric dance from Upper Egypt, as well as Raqs Assaya (women's style stick dance). Other types of canes are also used in certain Khaleegy and Lebanese dances.
- Shamadan: the candelabra balanced on the head is a traditional Egyptian way to 'light a new path' for a couple on their wedding night. The steps are based on classical bellydance plus floorwork, but balancing a lit candelabra while remaining graceful adds extra challenge!
- Melaya: a large shawl or wrap worn by urban Egyptan women in the 1920s-1950s, it can be manipulated as a dance prop, especially in Alexandrian style (see below)
The Arabic world is rich with dance styles that represent particular regions and peoples. There are too many to list, but here are some we've tried so far.
- Saidi: from Upper Egypt, this is originally a men's dance style. A stick may be used, but is not essential; the music and the style are quite distinctive even without props. It is earthy and noble, with influence from horse dancing.
- Nubian: from Aswan in the south of Egypt. This fun communal dance requires a long A-line dress and long headscarf that can be held in the hands.
- Alexandrian / Eskanderany: A lighthearted, often playfully coy or innocently flirtatious style. The steps are based on balady, but with a particular persona that represents this seaside city. Often a melaya wrap is used.
- Khaleegy: the dance of the Gulf states is sometimes dscribed as "hair dance" after the wonderful hair-tossing moves that characterise it. But there are plenty of other steps as well, and it typically uses a very long, wide dress or 'thobe' with deep armholes, so the dress becpmes a prop in the dance as well.
Bellydance continues to evolve, as dancers all over the world fuse it with other styles.
- American Tribal Style® Belly Dance (ATS®) was created by Carolena Nericcio in the USA. The movements are inspired by folkloric dances of the Middle East, North Africa, Spain and India, combined to create a specific aesthetic and repertoire of moves. A characteristic of the style is group improvisation: the leader gives cues that allow other dancers to know which combination is coming next.
- Tribal Fusion Belly Dance is a modern Western form of belly dance which was created by fusing American Tribal Style belly dance and American Cabaret belly dance. Artists frequently incorporate elements from Popping,Hip Hop, 'Egyptian' or 'Cabaret' belly dance, as well as movement principles from traditional forms such as Flamenco, Kathak, Odissi, and other folkloric and classical dance styles. (Definition from Wikipedia)
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