Gilded Serpent presents...
A trip down memory lane.
review by Amina Goodyear
The CD titled
"Veiled Visions" is a re-release of music that was formerly produced
on vinyl. It is definitely in the category of Arabic Tarab
(a musical concept one might loosely define as full of feeling,
emotion and soul). Listening to it again brought back so many
memories of the time when I had the record album back in the 70s
and played it occasionally for my classes.
I recalled that it was a beautiful arrangement and well recorded
album. However, it was not in my list of favorites to use for
teaching or for any of my party gigs because it just didn't have
that extra "oomph" of exciting dynamics that is necessary
for exciting students or for breaking the ice at a party.
Times change! I imagined that when listening to the album with
my "ears of today" as a re-released CD, and considering the advent
of globalization affecting Middle Eastern Belly Dance music, this
really beautifully made album would finally make the grade!
When I brought it to my class recently to use as an aide in teaching
my lessons, I rediscovered the same dilemma as before. No, there
just isn't that "kick" of energy that is necessary to
cause my students to clamor for information on where they could
Floor Show (13:30) - What a beautifully arranged piece; everything
is there for the lovers of classical Middle Eastern music.
Abdul Wahab's Habibi Lasmar, Om Kalsoum's Yeshak
Kol Gameel, and many beautiful instrumental taqsims featuring
the oud, kanun, nai, org, violin are included. All this content
helps to lead, to guide and also challenge any dance student.
Its instrumentals tell the dancer what to do; its melodies can
inspire movements and dreams. All this took me back to other days
and other dance experiences. However, would I have used it for
performance now? Would I have chosen to use it back then in the
70s? No; I don't think so! Did my students of today like it? I
conclude that perhaps they did not find it captivating because
when I taught my lessons using it, they didn't comment as they
most certainly would if they had liked it.
Asfouria (4:24) Oh my stars! This song transported me
back to North Beach in the 60s when a certain petite dancer named
Najma Saline always used this song for her opening
number. She sang the song holding a microphone and danced at the
same time! Najma also did a finger cymbal dance solo. What a multi-talented
songbird/dancer she was. (The song "Asfouria" is about a bird.)
ya Samra (6:16) George Dabai, a drummer we worked with
at the Bagdad in North Beach taught us this song. (Its title means
Samra, Oh, Dark One!) Listening to this made me realize how important
it is for the dancer/student to try to find the lyrics of the
songs before dancing to a re-arrangement. I realized that this
song may only seem beautiful to me because I secretly remember
and sing the lyrics in my head while dancing to it.
4. Ya Hweidalak
(7:15) Perhaps this song would be good to use in class in lieu
of a loop but is otherwise undistinguished.
(4:14) The only Mustafa that came alive for me was arranged and
played by the late George Abdo in the Abdo album, "The
Joy of Belly Dance", In Veiled Visions the piece is acceptable,
but George's had singing and was an exciting arrangement that
was ready to take to parties! Nice is good, but nice is not good
enough in this case.
Salat el Zein (5:24) Again, here is another nice song,
but this is a song that was popular with the dancers and musicians
of another time, and it just isn't good enough without more "pizzazz"
and better vocals. This was a song that used to be perceived as
fun and lively; it encouraged audience participation and a few
yelled "Heys!" here and there. In this version, however,
it's just another loop.
ya Melban (2:10) This is simply another song for practicing
simple combinations. While there is nothing wildly stirring or
passionate about it, it is good for basic transitions.
Baadina (3.50) Here again, we have a song that was terrifically
popular long ago-especially for the Belly dancers of the era,
but it seems not to be transformable into today's mode of entertainment.
9. Ya Sareeya
(3:33) Oh Companion is a song that reminds me of the Yemeni people
I once knew. Here in San Francisco we have several Yemenis who
like to get up and dance to this song. It is quite fun to see
them do the 3-step back and forth-in unison-weaving here, there,
and everywhere! Sometimes, we get up from our chairs and join
them, but no matter how hard we try, we just cannot do it like
Nye (2:10) This is exactly what it says it is. It is appropriate
for practicing arms, veils, and other slow fluid movements.
I would like dancers to recognize that there are two types of
- the loud,
crisp, peppy ones that grab you and pop out, or
- the classic
soft ones that are really all about your listening pleasure.
This CD version
of Veiled Visions is definitely a "for your listening pleasure"
production. It is quite musical, the musicians play each selection
beautifully and the entire album brings back so many memories
to me, but as they say in the movies, "You can't go home again."
Times have changed, and so must we all.
DVD is available through http://www.rashid.com
(pg 8, under "bellydance")
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