Monday, 25 February 2013

Dancing at the NADA AGM and my new Baladi dress

Here are some fabulous photos by Philip Welsby of my performance at the NADA AGM with the Baladi Blues Ensemble, in Lancashire last week. 

Dancing at the NADA AGM, Lancashire
The pictures also show off my new Baladi dress by costumier Wendy Holyer.  I love how it turned out, especially the sleeves.  The main fabric is from my recent trip to Goldhawk Road.  And the blue trim is fabric I bought back form Cairo a few years back.

Performing with the Baladi Blues Ensemble
I performed a solo Baladi progression to Amint Billah, which I chose as I knew Sheik Taha would be playing the accordion, who was instrumental in his contribution to the Ashra Baladi structure.   Although I'd practised to various versions of this song beforehand, the music on the night turned out completely different and so my performance was entirely improvised.  I truly love how with Baladi music, the combination of musicians and dancer brings out a completely different result every time.  It was also a lovely and welcoming crowd of fellow dancers and the whole evening was a joy.   

New Baladi dress

With Sheik Taha and Ahmed El Saidi

Dancing with the Baladi Blues Band

It was an amazing night and a fantastic privilege to dance to such wonderful musicians.  A big thank you to NADA for the opportunity. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Oh, what a lovely cover up!

Caught backstage at the NADA/Baladi Blues event and AGM in Lancashire, I love these fabulous galabeyas by costumier and belly dancer Beverley Smith from Leeds.  

As owned and modeled by Sandra Thompson and Anne Kingston, these designs are simple, elegant and a great way to conceal the beautiful costume underneath, prior to the big reveal.

Rocking those triangular sleeves

Sandra and her black and red velvet galabeya

Anne in beautiful blue devoré

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Arabic as easy as A, B, C...

This is how I learnt the Arabic alphabet.

It's a clip from the Egyptian Sesame Street, 'Alam Simsim which literally translates as World of Sesame.  When I told my Egyptian friend about it he said he didn't have an Arabic alphabet song when he was growing up, so perhaps this song is just for the TV show.  In any case, I think this is a pretty cool and it helped me to learn it.

If you want to sing along and learn the alphabet yourself, here are all the letters for you:
Alif, Ba, Ta, Tha, Geem, Ha, Kha

Dal, Thal, Ra, Zay, Seen, Sheen, Saad

Daad, Ta, Tha, 'Ayin, Gheyn, Fa, Qaf

Kaf, Lam, Meem, Noon, Ha, Wow, Ya...
I've written this out in the style I usually transliterate arabic for my own use.  There's no single standard that people use to do this, but this should give you a general idea of how to pronounce the letters.  I've added in some underlining to highlight those letters which have a more guttaral or emphatic sound than regular English letters - it's what gives Arabic that distinctive sound.  If you want a better pronounciation guide, look out for a more formal Arabic learning resource.  Or if you've got a guide book for an Arab speaking country, you might be able to find some basics like this in the back. 

Got it? Ok Yalla, all together 5, 6, 7, 8...
Alif, Ba, Ta...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Bellydancing and the Blues

If you haven't heard all about it yet, Guy Schalom - talented darabuka player, dancer and leader of the Baladi Blues Ensemble - recently recorded a programme for BBC Radio 4 all about traditional Baladi Egyptian music and dance.

Bellydancing and the Blues

Bellydancing and the Blues was broadcast on Boxing Day at the end of last year.  The good news for anyone who didn't manage to tune in on the day is that the programme is available to listen again on BBC iPlayer on a permanent basis.  

The is an insightful documentary about a traditional form of Egyptian music and dance and how both developed and grew through interplay between east and west.  There are some fascinating contributions from distinguished musicians and dancers from Germany, the UK and Egypt including Raqs Sharqi Society trained Jane Wass, music producer Jennifer Carmen and Egyptian accordion master Sheik Taha.  I particularly loved hearing a different spin presented to the history of belly dancing past and present.  And as a real bonus, the whole show is ornamented with musical excerpts of beautiful Egyptian music, including from Guy's own Baladi Blues series of CDs. 

Guy Schalom
Here's an extract from the blurb on the BBC website:
"Dancer and drummer Guy Schalom hunts out the spirit of the new Egypt in one of its biggest cultural exports. To our ears, Baladi is the music of the bellydancer - kitsch and mock-Arab. But in its true form it is the essence of Egypt, 'of the country', 'home' in the deepest sense..."
To listen to the programme in full go to BBC iPlayer

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