Belly Dance Chat Room “Belly Dance Talk”

 Belly dance chat room, “Belly Dance Talk” is happening this Wednesday at two different time zones, 10:00 to 11:00am and 9:00 to 10:00pm. We decided to give you two choices to make it easier for you to come in and join the fun even if you don’t live in the United States. So let’s talk about your drum solos and anything else that comes to mind.

How To Join: To reserve your spot just enter your information in the box to the right. 

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        Rocking and Grooving your Drum Solo

Most women who see belly dancing for the first time usually remember the hip work the most. I remember I did and the main thought that went through my head was, “How did she do that?” Once we decide to take the plunge and dive into belly dancing our fate is sealed. Rocking and grooving our drum solos is the Holy Grail of fulfillment,  a journey that lasts over a life time.

The drum solo is the one aspect of belly dancing that almost everyone looks forward to seeing. The connection between drum solo and dancer is a relationship that magically brings to life the soul of music.  Dancers bring to life visually what the audience hungers for because if the dance is executed well, the audience time travels with the music. But getting to the point where you own your drum solo meaning it’s all you and not an interpretation of someone else, isn’t always easy. So for the beginner dancer it’s important to learn to feel movement in your body. Now what does that mean, well most of us spend most of our belly dance lives trying to figure that out.

When I first started out with my drum solos it was obvious that I was going for pistons, thrusts and shimmies basically playing it safe. But I was starting to get bored and I realized that there is only so much of the same moves that people will watch especially if you are a restaurant dancer. So there has to be a light bulb moment when you finally just cut loose and do your own thing or as I like to say create a signature style of dance that represents you.

Drum solos tell so much about a dancer for instance how comfortable she is with her dancing, how well she listens and interprets the music and I think the most important, how she executes her moves. A good dancer will know how to create a mood with her dancing but a skilled dancer will take her audience with her. When a dancer invites an audience into her story she’s guiding them into a magical world that doesn’t exist outside of her. For those few moments all eyes are on a dancer’s hips because how she executes her moves reveals how she interprets and interacts with the drums. Movement without sound is just that, movement.

“O body swayed to music, O brightening glance. How can we know the dancer from the dance?” William Butler Yeats

Years ago I danced at a wonderful night club called Al Amir and there was a disc jockey named Ahmed, who told me that I was too American in my way of dancing. He said I needed to listen to the music like an Arab. Ahmeds words stung alittle because I thought with my trip to Egypt that I had some sense of the music. But I had to agree with him because I was struggling with my dancing at that time. Al Amir had separate dance floors on three levels which I would either perform solo or team up with another dancer. Running up and down the stairs definitely kept us all in shape!

Though I was gung ho to take on Ahmeds challenge some of the other dancers weren’t so thrilled about it so we had to work in my sets separate from everyone else’s. In a way I was really excited about changing things up and my adrenalin kicked in basically making me a human yo-yo. Ahmed made me feel better because his enthusiasm was so contagious plus the night of our first “duet” he was at the club early making sure I had a great set to dance to. I walked in nervous as hell and he walked up to me saying, “Just wait till you hear the music I chose for you, it’s all new music!” With his comforting smile calming my nerves, I walked up the steps to our dressing room and started to dress for my first set. The first set wasn’t crowded because it was early in the evening so I was relieved that I wouldn’t be making a total fool of myself to a full house.  The fateful moment arrived with Ahmed giving me a special introduction so I knew there was no turning back or running away. I will always remember my first song; it was by Amr Diab called “Nour Alain.”

After our first set was over I was hooked because Ahmed created the best line up of songs I could have hoped for. He would get in the newest songs weekly that the crowds loved so it looked like I was up on all the new music. I have Ahmed to thank for that. To this day he remains one of the pivotal players in changing my career and teaching me to hear music differently. He would throw in drum solo music in various places through out my sets because he felt that it was the only way that I would learn to dance to music instead of anticipate what comes next. He said that the one big difference between American and Arab dancers is that Arab dancers follow the music without anticipating what comes next. I learned quickly that listening to music is different then hearing music. I can’t thank him enough and I will always be grateful to him for what he did for me as a dancer.

My week days were full of practicing to various songs that Ahmed gave me but there were always new songs in my sets at the club that he would bring in to keep me on my toes. He expected me to practice during the week and he would create many variations of music for me so that I could understand how to follow the music. What ended up happening is I learned to relax and enjoy myself and then I started to hear changes in the phrasing in the music differently. The owner of Al Amir, Jon told me he saw a difference in my dancing and he felt I had improved. One of the regular customers came up to me and said, “Leyla you have become Arab in your dancing.” That to me was the best compliment a dancer can be given. That was a huge compliment and testament to Ahmed’s help.

The changes that happened were gradual but they felt more natural to my body. First course of action was I layered a lot more with my drum solos and I put in more traveling steps. I would incorporate layering with shimmies along with soft moves. I think that the confidence I felt was the most impactful change because when you feel good and confident on the dance floor it shows. Today I still search for my Holy Grail of drum solo combinations. It’s a quest that will last as long as I am in this dance field. But I feel it’s important to remember those people who along your dance journey made the difference and impacted your dancing in a positive way. I thought I would share with you some text that might work for drum solos. Let me know how the text works out and if you feel like it, share your story in our belly dance chat room, “Belly Dance Talk”. I’m looking forward to hearing all about your stories and how belly dance has impacted you!! —————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Text Combination Ideas for Drum Solos and Choreography

Rt hip thrust to the side/rt hip ommi/lf hip thrust to the side/lf hip ommi/Full hip circle starting from front clockwise/Full chest circle to the rt (clockwise)/rt shoulder roll back/lf shoulder roll back

Lf hip thrust to the side/lf hip ommi/rt hip thrust to the side/rt hip ommi/Full hip circle starting from front counter clockwise/Full chest circle to the lf  (counter clockwise)/lf shoulder roll back/rt shoulder roll back

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Rt hip thrust/lf hip thrust/rt backcorner thrust/lf backcorner thrust/Full chest circle to the left (counter clockwise)/rt shoulder roll back/lf shoulder roll back

Lf hip thrust/rt hip thrust/lf backcorner thrust/rt backcorner thrust/Full chest circle to the right (clockwise)/lf shoulder roll back/rt shoulder roll back ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Rt hip piston up/lf hip piston up/rt hip ommi/rt hip maya/rt hip piston down/lf hip piston down/pelvic down/up.

Lf hip piston up/rt hip piston up/lf hip ommi/lf hip maya/lf hip piston down/rt hip piston down/pelvic down/ up.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————– Right Maya Right full hip circle around (clockwise) Pin Cushion (single right hip circle around towards belly button (left) and back around to center/half of a full hip circle going forward going to left side/single left hip circle around to left side and back around to center/half of a full hip circle going from left side back around to right side and back to center).

Right backcorner thrust Left backcorner thrust Right hip thrust side Left hip thrust side Left piston down Right piston down Backward pelvic stomach roll Chest forward circle (Ferris Wheel/figure 8) Right shoulder roll Left shoulder roll

Left Maya Left full hip circle around (counter clockwise) Pin Cushion (single left hip circle around towards belly button (right) and back around to center/half of a full hip circle going forward going to right side/single right hip circle around to right side and back around to center/half of a full hip circle going from right side back around to left side and back to center).

Left backcorner thrust Right backcorner thrust Left hip thrust side Right hip thrust side Right piston down Left piston down Backward pelvic stomach roll Chest forward circle (Ferris Wheel/figure 8) Left shoulder roll Right shoulder roll          Rockin Your Drum Solo Combinations PDF Download

 

 

Leyla’s Latest News

Leyla's Latest News - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance BlogWeight Loss VS A Performing Art:

For the past year I have been noticing a lot of women are writing in because they want to lose weight. I know belly dancing is a fun way to exercise but the serious dancer in me doesn’t see the connection from learning a cultural dance to losing weight. Obviously any type of cardio is a great way to get into shape but there is a bit of a difference here. As a professional dancer I see belly dance as an expression of individual divine creativity. It’s the self expression of the soul that is my connection to belly dance. But I had to sit back and chew on my feelings for awhile and that is why I decided to do the Belly Stretch-Thrust and Roll exercise class. Another reason is that now that I am in pre-menopause I have found that I have to exercise more to keep the weight off. So this week I am creating a fast paced regimen for everyone that should be a lot of fun!

Jibber Jam

I am in the process of working on a drum solo choreography for dancers and students called Jibber Jam. The drum solo music was a Christmas gift from Daniel 4 years ago composed by Issa Malluf. I am trying to make it something that is easy enough for dancers to follow who aren’t comfortable creating their own choreographies yet. I know that everyone loves drum solos so I thought I would make it first on my “to do” list of new videos. I must say as a spontaneous choreographer this is quite the task for me because as I have been listening to the music my mind wonders and I find I am literally “jamming” to the music.

Book is Almost Done!

I haven’t written much about my book only because it has been a long and thought provoking journey. But I am excited to say that I have only 4 chapters to go and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I have to say I haven’t been totally in the dark, I have been flying around with past memories, people and a few giggles. So I’m hoping to get it finished within a couple months and when I do, it will be party time!

Latest Article for Chronicles

I have been writing for Chronicles belly dance magazine for over 3 years now and wrote an article that I’m hoping you all check out in the next issue which will be Oct/Now/Dec. It’s a short article on my view of being a belly dancer and the “Flower of Life” imprint of the Goddess. I think you will all like it and maybe if I get enough interest I might post it here so you all can get a peek at it first before it comes out.

Ciao for now,

Leyla