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Raqs Sharqi (Egyptian Dance)
By Sarah Rooke

Raqs Sharqi is Egyptian dance and differs to Turkish bellydance in that the movements are reversed. There are a lot of people who associate this form of oriental dance with nubile and scantily clad cabaret dancers, but the proper Egyptian dance is done with the body covered in a long gown with a coined or beaded hip scarf tied around the hips. Dancers also wear heavy necklaces and earrings for further effect.

There are also rhythms peculiar to the dance i.e. the Saaidi (from Upper Egypt, more folky), the Fellahi (of the farmers), Zaar (a trance dance done to drive away evil spirits), Masmoudi (associated with religious festivals) etc. There are also three main forms of the dance:  Shaabi – Folk form, mainly drums, done at end of working day,

Baladi – Urbanised, means ‘of my country’ in Arabic, has jazz and saxophone tones,

Sharqi – Classical, from the courtly dances of the Caliphs

Certain instruments are also associated with the dance, e.g. the Nay (Egyptian bamboo flute), Tabla (type of drum), Duf, (like a bodhran), Mizmar, (Egyptian hurdy gurdy), Oud, (Egyptian lute), Reque, (tambourine), Quanoon (Arabic dulcimer), and Kawala (bamboo flute). Modern Egyptian music also makes use of keyboards, guitar, saxophone, accordion, though the main instruments are the percussion used to create the beat.

Mothers pass the dance onto their daughters when young, though the men do a special dance called a stick dance’ to demonstrate their masculinity (basically they have a mock stick fight),  Bellydance was performed firstly by women for women in the harems of the Ottoman empire, but as religious restrictions lifted young boys dressed as girls did it, followed by the women themselves. It seems likely that the dance was brought into Egypt from the Bedouin who had been travelling into Egypt from Ancient times,  It must be remembered that prior to Islam, Arabs were probably pagan as they worshipped the Goddess Allat, rather than Allah. Also the Ancient Egyptian Goddesses of music and dance were none other than Bast and Hathor, and they had Guilds of Musicians and Dancers who performed in the temples.

There are various movements that must be performed with certain rhythms in a certain way, i.e. camel walks, snake arms, figure of eights, shimmies, circles, hip drops, etc. Modern Muslim fundamentalism has also meant there are restrictions again, so if a dancer is caught not doing it properly she is likely to be arrested. The lyrical spirals (called fluids) and hip movements (called sharps) contrast well with one another in the isolation and modulation, to create a dance that is sensual, fun, elegant, flamboyant and holistic. What is nice is that one need not be a good dancer to do it and it can be enjoyed by all women of all shapes and sizes. It is also a lovely way to keep fit. 

There is a touch of spirituality, as one can connect to the Goddess within, and also the earth energies. Some dancing is done for dreaming, much like the dervishes do. On the whole, it is good for body, mind and soul. You can also benefit by improving your posture, and concentration in learning the techniques. There are also the cultural and social contexts of the dance to take into consideration as well. Also some dances call for ‘props’ e.g. veils, finger cymbals, which further enhances the dancer’s skills.  I wish you well and hope you will join in with this cosmic dance; it will certainly lift your spirits and make you feel part of the universal whole.

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Flamenco – Spanish Dance
By Sarah Rooke

Flamenco is the well known dance of Spain and has often been compared with its cousin Raqs Sharqi. Raqs Sharqi and Flamenco are both classed as oriental dance. However, the body posture differs in flamenco, the accent is more rigid and the empathises is on the hands and feet, whereas in Raqs Sharqi the body is flexible and the empathises is on the hips and arms. The dance in flamenco is open to also both men and women.

Costume wise, men wear trousers with a shirt and waistcoat or bolero, and they also have boots on their feet. Ladies wear lovely bright colourful dresses or tops with skirts - which are frilled at the hem and are full circle. They also wear shawls and earrings, and have flowers in their hair with flamenco shoes on their feet. Many ladies costumes in flamenco have spots on them since it represents the planets from the gypsy tradition, so there is a touch of the mystical and spiritual there as well.

This is equally borne out in the circular arm movements or the Braceo, which stems from flamenco's history. The Moors occupied Spain form many centuries and so there is an influx of cultural influences from the Middle East that have left a mark here. Flamenco's roots are in the Andalucian gypsy, Arab, Jewish, folk and possibly even the Byzantine or Indian sources. Flamenco is therefore not like other European dances.

Despite popular belief, it is actually the singer, not the dancer, who is important in flamenco, for he/she sets the tone for the guitarist and dancer. For example with regards to the Palmas, or handclapping. You would not clap loudly if the song was one of sorrow, for the simple reason of out of respect of the subject matter and being able to hear what is being sung

The cante or songs of flamenco fall into two types, Jondo or profound, which deals with despair and sorrow, or Chico or light, which deals with love and joy. From these we have the various dance forms. For example, the serious Soleares, which are descended from the older Canas. Then you have the lighter Alegrias and its recent form the Bulerias. Other forms, like the Sevillanas or Fandangos, come out of Spanish folk songs. We also have forms like the Rumba, which are borne out of the Latin American or the Zambras, which is very Arabic.

Performances are often accompanied by Jaleo, palmas or intricate handclapping, finger snapping and shouts like the well known 'ole!' and 'viva!'. Though Castanets are used, they were not part of the original flamenco gypsy tradition, being more recent. In the 19th century, gypsies began to dance in cafes professionally to earn a living and the word flamenco bandied about to describe their song and dance. In these cafes, the guitar became more prominent and became associated with flamenco dance and song.

Through the improvised guitar accompaniment and the emotive cries of the singers, ones mind is transported back through the centuries to its beginnings in the Middle East. Today, modern flamenco is recognisable in its current form of guitarist, singer, cajon (sort of drum box) and the percussive sounds of the dancers heels, called Zapateado. Dance is the main part of flamenco and without a doubt, forms the rhythmic structure.

If you would like to take this dance up for yourself, I would recommend getting a proper pair of flamenco boots if you are man and flamenco shoes if you are a lady, as these support the foot, and have tacks on the heel and sole, which are used to make the noise. These can be obtained from Duende at 125 Tarring Road in Worthing or El Mundo Flamenco at 62 Duke Street in London, along with other aspects of costume such as skirts or dresses or trousers, shawls, books, jewellery, fans, castanets, CDs and videos (see website details below)

www.duendeflamenco.co.uk

www.elmundoflamenco.co.uk

It is also a good idea if you are a lady to obtain a basic beginners skirt in black or red, and if you are a man, a pair of flamenco trousers. You can then match these with different tops/shirts etc

Also, there is the Flamenco Network that have a host of information on their website. (They have a cool demo of flamenco dance and song here)

www.flamenco-network.com

Happy dancing and viva flamenco!

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Basic Flamenco Stepping
By Sarah Rooke

Basic Stepping

Stamp left once, stamp right once - repeat - travel

Stamp left twice, stamp right twice – repeat - travel

123 Steps

Stamp left twice, stamp right once

Stamp right twice, stamp left once

And repeat

123456 Steps

Stamp left twice, stamp right twice, stamp left twice

Stamp right twice, stamp left twice, stamp right twice

And repeat

Basic Arms

Hold both arms up above head, move right arm out in circular motion and bring it back up again – if possible move fingers as if picking an apple (on both hands)

Repeat on other side - move left arm out in circular motion and bring it back up again

Try also to move right arm down centre and bring it back up again in circular motion

Repeat on other side – move left arm down centre and bring it up again in circular motion

Posture

Keep head upright and body slightly up and straight, like a ‘proud peacock’.  Look down on floor to give gypsy haughty feel!  Bend knees slightly for ease of movement

Costume

Circular frilled skirts or dresses (usually polka dot) with shawls, flowers in hair, flamenco shoes, and large earrings! May also have fan or castanets (women)

Bolero/waistcoat, trousers, flamenco boots, may have cravat and/or castanets (men)

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Styles Of Raqs Sharqi Dance
By Sarah Rooke

Algerian - Danced with small scarves i.e. rai dances (free expression, feeling) e.g. Berber

Andalucian - Folkdance from the Maghreb, or ballet like Egyptian 'New Age' fantasy

Armenian - Lots of arm movements, telling a story e.g. basket dance

Awalim - Traditional Egyptian dancers performing in groups using storytelling, walks and shimmies with a 'boss woman' (usta). Much ridiculed today

Bamboteija - Charleston like dance from Port Said

Baladi - The solo dance of Egyptian women formed from improvisation and movements in the pelvic area. Very sensuous and elegant. Dancer wears a long dress with heavy jewellery, hip scarf and veil. Formed out of the cramped conditions of Cairo in the 1950's and 1960's. Has jazz overtones and uses saxophone and accordion

Classical Syrian - Traditionally has 13 different rhythms each having their own movements

Dabke - Line dance from Lebanon and Iraq, with jumps and steps at fast speed

Eskandarani (Melaya Lef) - From Alexandria, a flirty dance where the movements are concealed and accented by a black veil, underneath the dancer wears bells on ankles, pom pom headscarf, tight polka dot dress and chews gum! Used to entrap future husbands!

Estrade - Performed by dancers of the big stage and musicals in Egypt

Faraonic - Fantasy 'New Age' dance with mystical feeling

Fawasir - Dramatic TV entertainment coloured by dance, music and songs

Fellahi - Speedy and joyful countryside dance from Egypt danced in a broad hemmed skirt

Ghawazee - Dance of the professional gypsy Egyptian dancer rooted in the Saaidi. Now sadly a dying art form. Uses sagat (finger cymbals), cane and many shimmies

Guedra - Trance dance from Morocco where finger, arm and body movements are accented

Haggala - Courtship dance of Egyptian bedouins, danced with lots of scarves and a wide hemmed skirt

Karsilama - Lively rhythm folk dance from Turkey, originally a line dance associated with gypsies and tribal dances

Khaleegy - Saudi dance where the women swing their long hair with arm movements

Masmoudi - Associated with religious festivals

Moroccan - Small steps and noble posture are used in this dance

Modern Egyptian - Fashionable Raqs Sharqi dance of modern times

Nubian -Joyful dance from Nubia having African influences and lots of bum movements!

Oriental - Raqs Sharqi established in the 1940s to distinguish it from Western equivalents

Oriental Ballet - Style created in Turkey combining ballet movements and oriental dance

Persian - Classical court dance where body is flexible with accent on arm movements

Raqs Sharqi - Solo dance influenced by other dance forms, using fast opening with veil, some cane and sagat. Starts with a slow taqasim (intro), folky part and fast finale. Spontaneous part of Baladi and Saadi combined. Courtly dances of the old era, using alot of space

Ritual dances - Religious and healing dances i.e. Zaar (NB - in Egypt this form is now restricted, though a funky African version is now used)

Rom - Turkish gypsy dance using striding steps and spins with some floorwork

Saaidi - Dance traditions of Upper Egypt using the cane and dynamic expression and rhythm

Shaabi - Folk form, earthy movements, bold expression, baladi of the streets and new folkdances.

Shameidan - Candlebra dance with lots of arm movements and floorwork

Shikkatt - Moroccan wedding fertility dance using explicit gestures

Tribal - American pseudo folk dance done in a line normally, where different influences form an exotic show, sort of Gothic look

Tunisian - Dance done on the toes with hip thrusts, stamping steps and twisting hips


Definitions from Finland Festival of Oriental Dance, note not all dances are listed here, there are many more, however this gives an insight into the many dance styles in Raqs Sharqi

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Basic Raqs Sharqi Moves
By Sarah Rooke

Circles

Stand with knees slightly bent and rotate hips to count of four in a circle to left to right, and then repeat on opposite side.  Move from front, then to side, then back and to other side. Repeat

Figure of Eight

Stand with knees slightly bent and move hips in a ‘figure of eight’ movement.

Side to Side

Stand with knees slightly bent and move one hips from side to side.  Repeat

 Hip Drops

As for the side to side, but the knees should also be alternating moving forward and back at the same time.  Repeat

Hip Lifts

Stand with knees slightly bent and put weight on one foot.  Bring other leg slightly out and lift hip. Repeat

Hands above Head

Hold one arm upright and bend slightly so hand just above head, if wish move fingers slightly.  Repeat on other side.  Can also hold both arms up, so you get a ‘carrying pot’ sort of look.  

Snake Arms

Stand and move left arm up, when bringing this down move right arm up.  Then as bringing this arm down, bring left arm up.  Repeat

Costume

Long dresses or a circle skirt and top with a coined or beaded scarf tied around the hips, with earrings and necklaces for effect.

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Flamenco A to Z
By Sarah Rooke

ALEGRIA – Flamenco dance allied to Cante Jondo

BAILE – Spanish word for dance

BRACEO – Carriage or movement of the arms

BULERIA – Flamenco party dance allied to Cante Chico

CAFÉ CANTANTE – Spanish version of the Café Chantant

CAMBIOS – Jumps with changes of feet

CANA – Flamenco dance allied to Cante Chico

CANTE CHICO - Light songs and dances of the Spanish gypsies

CANTE JONDO – Serious songs and dances of the Spanish gypsies

CARACOLES – Flamenco fan dance allied to Cante Chico

CARETILLA – Roll sound made on castanets

CASTANUELAS – Spanish for castanets

COMPAS – Bar or rhythm of music

CONTRA TIEMPO – Counter rhythm

COPLA – Spanish for verse in song

DOBLE – Double step

ENTRADA – Entrance made by dancers

FANDANGO – Type of Spanish dance

FERIA – Fair or festival

FLAMENCO – Andalusian gypsy music, song and dance

GOLPE – Spanish for beat

GUAJIRA – Spanish courtship dance that uses fans

JALEO – Spanish Classical dance and song

JEREZANA – Point foot and flick skirt upwards

MALAGUENA – Regional dance from Malaga

MANTON – Spanish for large shawl

PALMAS – Stylised Spanish hand claps

PASADA – Passing step

PAS de BASQUE – Typical Spanish gypsy step

PAS de BOURRE – Spanish step from left to right

PASEO – Series of steps

PASODOBLE – Popular Spanish two step

PLANTA NATURAL – Spanish standing posture

RIA – Roll on right castanet

RUMBA – Flamenco dance of South American origin

SEGUIRIYAS – Flamenco dance allied to Cante Jondo

SEVILLANAS – Popular social Spanish dance from Seville

SOLEARES – Flamenco dance allied to Cante Jondo

TA – Single beat on left castanet

TACONEO – Spanish word for heel beats

TANGOS – Flamenco dance allied to Cante Chico

TI – Single beat on right castanet

TIEMPOS – Time of music

VUELTA – Turning step

ZAMBRA – Flamenco dance of Moorish origin

ZAPATEADO – Rhythmic beats of heels and ball of foot

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Zambra
By Sarah Rooke

Choreography by Puela Lunaris

 

Entrada – go round in circle to count of 10 using snake arms

Basic turn

Embrace the Moon – marking with hip and using snake arms (alternate steps forward with feet in front)

Knee lift and roll arms

Good fortune turn (flamenco turn)

Revolu – make waves with skirt, flick feet L, R, L, R

Cape turn (use skirt)

Carrerillo de Toro – make arms into bull’s horns and move forward

Turns of Fire – 3 turns to side, using flamenco arms

Romolino turns – one turn to left, then unwinding turn to right

Runteado Antiguo – flamenco side step to left, then to right

Kneeling – on left side, then on right

Turn and flame arms – turn then 2 Arabic hip lifts (L, R), and 2 hip drops (L, R), with snake arms

Kicks and Pasiello – semi circle walk and kick, one to left, then right

Hip lifts to left, then right, and walk back

Toconeo and leap - (stamp LL RR LR – leap on last two), use skirt

Marcar sideways – mark side to side with hip plus finger snapping

Marcar patra – walk back with finger snaps and hips

Back bend and roll arms upwards

Claps and turn – clap above head, hip and hand, turn

Hair – walk then flick hair to left, then do same on right

Stand in centre

Toconeo and turn – stamp LL RR, side step, turn, then repeat. Then stamp LL RR.  Use skirt

Body percussion – clap in front, lightly touch breasts, then hips, clap in front then open arms

Open arms, walk and turn

Two barrel turns – then ground self to centre

Flick hair, then point down using two fingers

Final desplante – turn around and finish with arms on hip flamenco style.

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SEVILLANAS – 1st and 2nd Coplas
By Sarah Rooke

Choreography by Helena Benge

1st Copla

Walk round in circle for 12 beats, holding skirt in both hands

Open skirt out and turn right for 6 beats

Let go of skirt, bring hands up for 12 beats

Do 5 Sevillanas steps (stand right foot in front, bring back and bring left foot in front, bring back and repeat)

Do 1 Pasada step (lift right leg and step forward, turn around)

Do 1 Sevillanas step

Do 4 Pas de Bouree steps (take left foot behind, move right and stand on toe, then take right foot behind, move left and stand on toe and repeat)

Do 1 Pasada step (lift left leg and step forward, turn around)

Do 1 Sevillanas step

Do 4 Pasada steps (lift right leg, step forward and turn.  Then lift left leg, step forward and turn.  Repeat)

Stamp left, lift left arm up

Stand on right toe

Bring right arm up

Open both arms and turn right

Bring left arm up and stand on right foot


Take 3 steps back, and then 3 forward, flick skirt upwards using right foot

2nd Copla

Do 1 Sevillanas step

Stamp left, then stamp right

Left leg to profile for 3 beats

Right leg to profile for 3 beats

Repeat profiles left and right

Do 1 Pasada step

Do 1 Sevillanas step

Do 6 Pas de Basque steps (move left-right, left-right, and stamp on left to start, and then push toe on right foot, whilst stamping on left at back.  Then push toe on left, stamp on right at back and repeat)

Do 1 Pasada step

Do 1 Sevillanas step

Do 8 Pas de Basque steps going round in a circle, bring arms down slowly

Stamp left, lift left arm up

Stand on right toe

Bring right arm up

Open both arms and turn right

Bring left arm up and stand on right foot.

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‘EYVAH’ – Music by Tarkan
Choreography by Miraj

Entrance – Walk in to front cat and queen like

Move to right – weight on left foot, right foot out, open arms

Move to left – weight on right foot, left foot out, open arms

Move to right – weight on left foot, right foot out, open arms

Move to left – weight on right foot, left foot out, open arms

‘Tie in a bow’ movement (high figure of eight movement) with arms held up

Disco dance

Turn on ‘Eyvah’

Disco dance

Turn on ‘Eyvah’

Disco dance

Turn on ‘Eyvah’

Disco dance

Turn on ‘Eyvah’

Sexy corkscrew movement, shake body to beat

Turkish side step to right (right foot out to side, move on other foot where heel slightly up)

Turkish side step to left (left foot out to side, move on other foot with heel slightly up)

Turkish side step to right

Turkish side step to left

Bend down body and head slowly

Bring up head and body, making ‘popping gesture’ with hands, moving backwards

‘Tie it in a bow’ movement (high figure of eight movement)

Disco dance

Turn on ‘Evyah’

Disco dance

Turn on ‘Eyvah’

Sexy corkscrew movement, shake body to beat

Turkish side step to right

Turkish side step to left

Turkish side step to right

Turkish side step to left

Repeat

Turn to side, roll arms up gently

Turn to other side, roll arms up gently

Turn around, with hand on mouth in gesture of surprise

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Rumba
Choreography by Jody Bird

Stand with hands on hips

Do heel stamp, heel stamp, heel stamp until music change

Move forward toe heel, toe heel, toe heel waving skirt

Then move back toe heel, toe heel, toe heel waving skirt

Mark going round in a circle, with foot out, lift arm opposite side up and with other hand wave skirt

Move to side with other foot out, bend other leg, and ruffle skirt

Move to other side with other foot out, bend other leg, and ruffle skirt

Repeat

Heel stamp, heel stamp, heel stamp with hands on hips

Move forward toe heel, toe heel, toe heel waving skirt

Move back again toe heel, toe heel, toe heel waving skirt

Move to side with other foot out; bend other leg, and ruffle skirt

Move to other side with other foot out, bend other leg, and ruffle skirt

Mark going round in circle, waving skirt

Move to side with other foot out; bend other leg, and ruffle skirt

Move to other side with other foot out, bend other leg, and ruffle skirt

Repeat moving to side and marking in circle until end

At end, stamp foot, let go of skirt, hold other arm up, and shout ole! 

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