Anatomy of Belly Dance FAQ

The abdominals are composed of four muscle groups: the rectus abdominus, internal obliques, external obliques and the transverse abdominus. The rectus abdominus is the long slender muscle that runs from the top of the pubic bone up to the lower ribs. It helps curl the torso toward your pelvis and your lower torso toward your rib cage. (flexion) It also assists in spinal rotation.

The obliques (external and internal) are located on the sides of your torso and attach to the connective tissue of the rectus abdominus. The external obliques,which are superficial, run diagonally downward from the lower ribs to the pelvis. The internal obliques run diagonally upward from the pelvis to the lower ribs. Together the obliques rotate and laterally flex the spine. The transverse abdominus is a deep muscle that runs horizontally across your entire abdomen. It contracts when you exhale and expands then illhale. It also serves as en anchor for your internal organs.

The main accessory muscles to the abdominals are the hip flexors; primarily the psoas and the iliacus. The psoas originates in the thoracic and lumbar region of the spine and wraps around the brim of the pelvis inserting onto the femur. The iliacus is a flat triangular muscle located on the pelvis, this muscle is attached by a tendon to the psoas and part of it inserts onto the femur as well.

Contraction or shortening of the lower spine and hip flexors results in an anterior pelvic tilt(arched back), contraction of the lower region of the abs result in a posterior pelvic tilt (elongated lower back or neutral pelvis). Working (dancing,stretching,lifting, everything!I!) in this posterior or neutral pelvic position is desirable as to avoid the overuse of the hip flexors, a combination of overused hip.

Belly Dance, The History:


Middle Eastern Dance, Raks Sharqi or Belly Dance as it is more commonly referred to, predates written history. Some historians state it is the oldest recorded dance form in the history of mankind. It can be seen in the hieroglyphics of Egypt dating as far back as 400 b.c. There are numerous theories concerning its area of origin, but research points to the area that is now Syria and Lebanon. Women for the purpose of entertainment and religious reasons primarily performed it. It thrived until 600 ad, when the Islamic religion banned all music and dance. Despite this, dance and its music survived. Today there continues to be well-supported debates whether bellydance was originally for fertility or birthing preparation or for enticement of the sultan. The only thing that is certain is that this dance form is very ancient.

When we speak of bellydance (raks sharki; Arabic translation) we most often think of the dance performed by professionals in Middle Eastern nightclubs.

This professional, more artistic version of the dance developed during the course of the 1900’s, in recent times primarily in Egypt. Influenced by European cabarets, nightclubs were opened with Middle Eastern entertainment. Raks sharki went through some changes at this time. Having been originally performed in small spaces, it had to be adapted to the stage. Dancers were trained; western choreographers such as Isaac Dixon and Christo were employed. Russian ballet mistresses summoned. Inspired by holly wood films, the two-piece costume with beads and sequins first appeared during this period. (In contrast to the costumes depicted by the artist jean-leon Gerome’s famous paintings.)

Even today, oceans and cultures away, this dance form manages to entice many women. Western civilization has managed to create large dance vocabularies and styles influenced by these ancient and timeless movements. In studios across America and in Europe, bellydance is being studied and performed by women of all ages and sizes. Many go onto perform in festival and shows designed specifically to showcase bellydance. Others dance professionally for Arab, Persian and Greek community celebrations.

Drum of Belly Dance


There are many experts in the field of rhythm, but here are my thoughts on the subject. This article can be used for identification as well as basic guidelines for zil or finger cymbal playing.

We use the term 4/4 or 2/4 to indicate "time signature", it is written as a fraction. The top number means how many beats in a measure, the bottom number denotes what kind of notes receives the beat . It helps us determine how to count each measure. For example: 4/4 is 4 beats to a count of 4 to a 4 beat measure, a 6/8 is 6 beats to a 8 beat measure etc.

When you are trying to identify rhythm, listen for the Dums, the heavy or bass sound in the measure. The first Dum you hear is almost always the 1, listen for repetition and patterning. I usually connect to the dums right away and that helps me determine what the signature is. Start counting on the 1st Dum 1-4, 1-6, or whatever until the pattern repeats and emerges in your mind as a time signature.

In the description of the rhythm patterns, accent the capitalized D or T. This statement is a broad generalization and shouldn't be considered a rule!I am using the term tec occasionally for the sound/strike ka for our purposes.

In the description of finger cymbal playing, they are all in R hand dominant patterns, if you are left handed that would become your dominant or accented. Notice they accent the dominant or accented sound the drummer is making with their R hand. I know there are experts who disagree(about using dominant hand for playing), however that's the way I was taught and frankly I was never able to gain the same speed using L hand dominant. I've noticed this is a regional thing depending on who your primary instructors are.

In finger cymbal playing consider different kinds of strokes to create different tones. Ringing: this sounds almost bell like, the zils are struck together quickly and pulled back or rebounded quickly with no other fingers touching. Dulled ringing: this is the same kind of strike, except the zills stay in contact together longer and the rebound is slower. Clacking: Support or enclose the zil with the index and or ring finger.

Takking: Manipulate the zils so that the strike is perpendicular. My thumb does most of the manipulating into place and my middle finger does most of the striking. Castanets: Deann of the Dream dancers and Light Rain taught me this. She was an exquisite ziller. Manipulate the zils like the clacking, but instead of the thumb zil laying perpendicular to the palm and striking perpendicular to the other zil, it lays flat against the palm. It helps to tuck the thumb into the palm. The hand is held like a castanet, fingers together and long with them folding over the palm which helps it to create the special tone. Some of these stroke methods have the draw back of a closed hand and or broken wrist which may detract from the line you are trying to create.

So in addition to the patterns below consider using triplets and doubling in combinations to the music(melody), to the choreography(which should complement the rhythm/music) or even in counterpoint to the rhythm. triplets RLR,RLR,RLR,RLR this is an example of 3's also: RRL,RRL,RRL,RRL. doubling RLRLRLR (7), RLRLR (5) RLRL (4) Below are some essential rhythms with basic drum descriptions and simple zilling patterns. The D's (1) are accented and played with dominant hand.

4/4 time BELEDI- This Term Is Used To Describe The Rhythm, But Also Translates To “My Country, My People.” As Belly dancers The Term Is Used Loosely And What We Call Beledi Is Really Maksoum. They Are Both In 4/4 Time. Maksoum 1----2----3----4---- count D T T D T drum 1 5 1 3 zils R rlrlr R rlr pattern Beledi 1----2----3----4 D D T D T 1 1 3 1 3

SAIDI This Rhythm Is Essentially A Maksoum But With A Different Accent. Originating From The Upper Egypt Region, This Rhythm Was Historically Used For The Tahtib (The Mans Stick Dance) And Has Been Adapted For The Raks Assaya. It Is Said That The Music Will Make The Arab Stallions Prance! 1---- 2---- 3---- 4 D T D D T 1 3 1 1 3

8/4 time MASMOUDI SEGIR (SMALL) Played In A 4/4 Time Like Beledy Above. This Is Often Referred To As Baby Beledi. Notice Sharing Of Accents. We Often Hear This In Drum Solos, Popular Songs And As Accent In The Magenci.

MASMOUDI KABIR (BIG) Accents on 1,2,5 1----2---- 3---- 4 ----5---- 6 ----7---- 8 D D t (D) D 1 1 3 1 3 2 CHIFTITELLI almost always recognizable from its last 3 accents 1----2 ----3 ----4---- 5---- 6---- 7---- 8 D (D) D D D 1 5 1 1 1

2/4 RHYTHMS Falahi Or Fellahin A Folkloric Rhythm, Used In A Lot Of Popular Folk Songs And Dance Music. It Is Characterized By 2 Dums 1----2-----1----2---- D t kD t D t k D t 3 3 3 3 these 3's are perfect for Rll,Rll,Rll,Rl MALFOUF Another Folk Rhythm Characterized By A Single Drum , sometimes referred to as leff/laff 1----2-----1-----2---- D t t D t t 3 3 3 3 AYYUB This Is The Rhythm Played For The Egyptian Trance Dance Known As The Zar. It Is Often Used Double Time In Drum Solos 1----2----1-----2---- D Dt D Dt 1 13 1 13

KHALEEGY OR SAUDI Refers To The Group Of 2/4 From The Gulf States. Kuwait, Iraq And Yemen. There Are Minor Differences In Accents And Feelings But They All Share A 2/4 Time 1----2-----1----2----- D kD t D kD t D D T D D T 3 3 3 3

KARSLIMA 9/8 A Turkish And Greek Rhythm. It Is Often Used In A Finale For A “5 Part Routine” This is the "American cabaret style" This also is recognizable for its 3 accents in the last part of the measure. 1---- 2---- 3 ----4----5---- 6---- 7---- 8----9 D D(D) D T T T R rlr R rlr R rlr R R R

WAHID Or The One Count Is Accented By A Single Dum In A 4ct Or An 8ct. Frequently Used By Classic Composers. Notice How It Could Easily Fit Into A Masmoudi Or A Chiftitelli With Different Accents.This is also referred to as Wahdi noss. 1 ----2---- 3---- 4 D SAMAI 10/4 USED IN HE CLASSICAL POETRY CALLED MUWASHAHAT but is occasionally heard in majenci(opening oriental number) 1----2----3----4-----5-----6-----7----8-----9----10----- D t D D D

Zeffa 8/4 Used In The Classic Wedding Songs And Processional Serto 4/4/ Greek Zeybeck 9/4 Shabia 6/8 12/8 Persian Moroccan Guedra 6/8 Bolero 4/4 A Western Rhythm That Was Introduced Into Arabic Music In The 1950 ‘S RHUMBA Also A Western Rhythm That Has Found Its Way Into Greek And Arabic Music. I Have Characterized The Accents In These Rhythms By A Drum Or A D. This is A Sound Made From The Drum Played Primarily With The Right Hand. As Dancers We Often Mimicked That Accent With The Right Hand Striking The Zil On One

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