Search of the Perfect Belly Dancer’s Library
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3 Books Reviewed by Martha
Handbook for Middle Eastern Dance by
David of Scandinavia
on my search for fresh new material to build a more reliable
Belly dancers’ Library, I went on a quest to find Belly dance
curriculums from master teachers, or books of Belly dance style.
I started with a book search for Egyptian Belly dance styles:
one that describes the style, costuming, dance steps, and origins
of the style. It included names of those who danced it previously,
and tells who dances it now. Voila! I found a handbook: The
E.D.A. Handbook of Middle Eastern Dance by David
of Scandinavia. His handbook is best described as
a textbook, and it includes a full chapter on anatomy that
is essential for a Belly dancer to increase his or her body
awareness, prevent injury.
is a brief description of rhythms as well as a deep look
at concepts like blocking and layering and a short lesson
on terminology in which it states that this textbook and
the E.D.A. (Ethnic Dance Academy) focuses its terminology
upon common concepts and names used for movements and movement
concepts in the Egyptian style according to Mahmoud
Reda’s style. This is where I became more intrigued!
discovered that many Belly dancers in the U.S.A. are familiar
with ballet theory and terminology and that many of us have
had a ballet education since we were little children. During
the first year, foot and arm positions are essentials for a
dancer—any style dancer! This lesson of fundamentals of ballet
found in the EDA handbook was adapted by David of Scandinavia
to accommodate the Middle Eastern dance style:
Sharqi: its basic concepts and history
of positioning and generation of movements that the E.D.A.
format requires one to follow (in order to bring style and
structure to a more defined Egyptian style of Belly dance)
- How to
do steps, drilling, floor patterns, and combinations and
recommendations for combining movements of the feet the legs
and arms, are lessons in Chapters 1 through 4.
of movements, where each one is described fully—to obtain
the correct style—as based on the E.D.A. format are found
in Chapter 5.
would prove useful to those dancers who enroll in workshops
or regular classes with its writer, David of Scandinavia.
It is a
compilation of knowledge provided at the E.D.A. that has been
handed down by his instructors (who are named in Chapter 14),
his colleagues and sources of inspiration, or through his own
experience as it is stated on the handbook’s prologue.
be noted that the handbook does not intend to replace an instructor
nor will it teach one how to perform the Egyptian style of
Belly dance or how to teach it. I fully recommend this handbook
to those who have taken (or are going to take) a workshop with
its author David. However, those of you who don’t have any
formal dance education (and prefer to learn Belly dance on
the Internet or through the study of books) may find this particular
handbook is a little difficult to handle.
Rating= 3 zils
Vision by Paulette Rees-Denis
I went on a different Belly dance quest and found Tribal
Vision, which is a celebration of life through
tribal Belly dance from Paulette Rees-Denis (producer
of the Tribal Technique Series of
instructional videos and founder of Gypsy Caravan).
What I thought would be a book about how-to-do-Tribal-Belly-dancing,
turned out to be a great lesson about Tribal Belly dance history!
Topics covered how Tribal was created, what inspired it, and
who created it, if the creators were always Belly dancers,
where and how they lived. I found quite amusing when I got
to Chapter 2: “ A Dancer Finds Her Place” where Paulette describes
her life’s journey as a dancer, ballet dancer, and jazz dancer
who had a feeling that there was still more out there for her. She
met Caroleena Nericcio who invited her to
this new style process of creating a new form.
wonderful photographs of Belly dance in the late 1980s
and early ‘90s are included in this book of Tribal dance
history. In a way, this is a memoir of Paulette’s Belly
Many of us
have read various articles and books about the history of the
golden era of Belly dance, but these renditions of history
are always talking about many decades ago. I have not seen
other books that were as descriptive as this one concerning
the “in-between” era of Belly dance. It is very clear how Tribal
Belly dance is defined in the last 30 years; Paulette’s words
are very inspiring! I think that her book is an essential for
all Tribal Belly dancers because one needs to know the background—and
for tribal dancers, this is one of your founders who helped
mark an era that revolutionized this art form. (No, it didn’t
start with Rachel Brice, but much earlier
with Jamila Salimpour—and more directly—Masha
this dance fills my soul with delight,” Paulette Rees Denis
writes in chapter nine. Where her vision (as a teacher) of
a student’s progression is clearly stated, every teacher must
nurture his or her students for them to be able to progress
in any art form, and the feedback given by the teacher of both
new and old students is not often shared. However, the author
makes a very detailed demography of her dance students, and
she explains that during the teenage years these young students
are often the hardest ones to sign up for classes (a phenomenon
about which I fully agree). The joy of dancing and the satisfaction
of passing it on to other aspiring dancers led her to create
her Gypsy Caravan Teacher Certification Program and in the
last chapter, she describes her ups and downs while giving
life to next generation teachers.
describes the progress of a dancer’s journey through her dance
life, through a performance process, to achieving a full awareness
off the moment. The full story is in this Tribal Belly
dance history book—much as the author lived through it.
I would recommend
Paulette’s book as an option for dancers who are interested
in obtaining a background of this fairly recent dance style. I
do not consider it a “must-have” for every Belly dancer’s library;
however, it is very inspirational, produced with high quality
printing and beautiful full-color photos.
Dance for the Versatile Dancer V. 1: Foundations by
rather interesting book about the foundations of Belly dance clearly
states that its foundations originate in the dancers posture, her
body awareness through foot positions, and foot patterns. It discusses
the journey of the warm up and the cool down phases of dance in
a descriptive style that includes black and white photos of all
the postures recommended for this part of the class.
chapter on Music and Rhythms is brief but has the essentials,
like music measures, are included and described for those who
do not know what the term “measure” means when applied to music. However,
Baladi Maqsoum and Saidi rhythms are the only ones described
in this volume.
about Percussive and Shimmy Concepts is interesting because
it directs readers how to apply different directions in order
to make variations of movement out of a shimmy. For example,
in a Figure 8 or a Hip Circle, the shapes are pictured
for you “tu visualiza” but not all are described until
later volumes. Dance terms and concepts are used throughout
this book’s chapters, and Zanbaka emphasizes it in order
to help the dancer have better mental retention, which
I agree would be helpful. Dancers today are not only dancers,
they are mothers, wives, lawyers, nannies, doctors, waitresses
and are always multitasking, so it is very hard to retain choreography
until one’s next class.
book gives you homework! There is one exercise in particular
that I loved: Homework Number 2 in which Zanbaka asks you
to get maps of Africa and of Europe to get the knowledge
of where your dance originated. (There are still a few
dancers and dance teachers out there that still do not
know that Egypt is a part of the African continent!)
Zanbaka’s book establishes a versatile Belly dance format,
in general, it does not focus on a specific Belly dance style.
I noted in her background: Flamenco dance, East Indian, as
well as Fitness dance, and basic dance education (like ballet,
jazz, and tap). I found this book was easy to understand,
but as I read, its pages began falling out! Perhaps this happened
because it is a self-published work. I admire the time and
dedication to produce this book but would greatly recommend a
higher quality of publishing because the content is a fitting
resource for Belly dancers, and it would be a shame to loose
this book for aspiring belly dance students and to Belly dance
instructors who have little background in general dance technique.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
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Fan Veilzz w/ Mahsati Janan DVD Review by Tracey
I said before, this video is for those who are familiar with belly
dance already. The fan veil is a new concept and performance skill
, as well as a new prop in Middle Eastern dance.
and Romance, Egyptian Style, Book Review of The Poison
Tree, planted and grown in Egypt by Marwa Rakha Review
by Bonita Oteri
baring her soul and laying her innermost fears on the altar of
Truth as she sees it, the author gives us a rare glimpse into
the inner workings of Love and Romance, Egyptian Style.
Belly Dance Baby DVD, Dancing While Pregnant Review
this touchingly personal video, Kaleila sets out to “inspire
other pregnant women to feel beautiful."
in Shape: Three Core Training DVDs and One Special Treat Review
by Rebecca Firestone
Training for Bellydancers Bellydance, Yoga Conditioning with Ariellah,
Industrial Strength Dance Workout with Shakra, Bellydance Arms & Posture
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3 CD Reviews by
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Angelika Unveiled, by Angelika Nemeth and Raul Ferrando