Dance, like sport, like everything in life, is political. Dabke, the line dance of the Levant, is not only danced in celebratory settings, but also danced in protests. Women who choose to perform raqs sharqi in Egypt are often doing so at the expense of being cut off from their families due to the stigma of being a female performer. Some women in Egypt who are belly dancing for their income do it because they have no other choice, and like most people, don’t have the option to ‘decide’ their social or class status. Many foreign working dancers in Egypt deal with the uncomfortable reality that Egyptians want to hire foreign (read: often white) dancers for their weddings and upscale events. If we are to be informed, responsible oriental dancers, we understand that this dance form is political, and brings different stigmas and rewards in different contexts, countries, and for different people.

I remind you this as a preface to what I’m about to say once again: As dancers and artists participating in an art form that is created and performed by people of colour, I believe it’s especially important for us to show up and condemn racist sentiment of any kind. It’s not enough to be “not racist.” We have to strive to be anti-racist. And as a white dancer like myself, that sometimes means getting uncomfortable, examining our privilege, educating ourselves, and doing whatever we can to support anti-racist organisations and the people who are hurting (money talks, so I’ve got some donation links below if you want to skip there).

All that being said, the black community is hurting right now. I think a lot of us are hurting for them right now. We should be hurting to see others in pain, whether we know and identify with those people or not. If you participated in #blackouttuesday, that’s great. But we’ve got to take action too. You’ll feel better for taking action, as well. It feels good to be kind, I promise.

Here are some ways I’m acting from afar in Europe, and some ways you might choose to act too:

1) Donate

Money talks. If you are based in Netherlands and don’t have a credit card, here are some of the organisations and non-profits I’ve supported this week, so I know you can donate to them with PayPal and/or iDeal

⚫Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/
⚫Detroit Branch NAACP: http://detroitnaacp.org/donate
⚫Official George Floyd Memorial Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd?fbclid=IwAR1foVDFrLAHSuGPc6Mnb2dKefy5GEQS3Z9BxrYT0ZVF_BlM9ns5QTy5tuA (edit; this is indeed one of the ones that requires a credit card, but the other three don’t)
⚫Afrodisiac, The Black Belly Dance Show: If you specifically want to show your support for some of the black dancers in our global community (help them get paid for the art they work hard to bring us!) AND support the charities Movement 4 Black Lives and Live Pura Vida!, treat yourself by watching some of Afrodisiac, The Black Belly Dance Show over on YouTube (only available for 3 more days!) and send a donation their way. Sadira Ladyliquid gives all the donation details in this video aaaaaand you’ll see the opening sha’abi performance from the lovely Basinah!

There are scores more, so feel free to drop links for causes you’re supporting in the comments.

2) Educate Yourself

The big thing here to start with is to listen. It’s pretty much impossible to not learn something about how marginalised people feel right now. I personally have ordered myself a copy of Robin Diangelo’s White Fragility, which has been recommended several times over the years, plus Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge.

3) Speak Out

I haven’t posted heaps on social media this week. I feel like social media ‘activism’ is usually more performative than it is truly activist. I sometimes feel we share things because it feels good to look like good people, rather than because we are actually acting. I know there are a lot of people who have already made their minds up, and it can be frustrating to feel like some people will never act for minorities, or will never care. But share links to donate. If you’re white, have those uncomfortable discussions with your friends and family who don’t understand what’s going on.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I think it’s important that we take the time to educate ourselves on how to be a better, more supportive dance community, and that we stand up for those around us who are subject to racism and prejudice. Sometimes our actions may hurt others unintentionally, but that’s no excuse. We must educate ourselves so that we learn from our mistakes, and we must listen when dancers or people tell us they are being hurt, targeted or misrepresented. And then we have to take responsibility and do our best to grow and become more informed.

Once again: Let’s do what we can to build more compassionate, understanding and empathetic communities

Join Siobhan Camille, the director of Greenstone Belly Dance, on Saturday May 23 at 10:00am CEST for a free short strength class designed for belly dancers!

Siobhan Camille is not only a professional oriental dancer, but also a strength & conditioning coach and rehabilitative exercise specialist who has researched injury in belly dance, and worked with athletes and clients of all kinds for over a decade. She’s passionate about helping belly dancers dance stronger and safer!

Join Siobhan Camille on Instagram Live tomorrow, or check out the Dance Strong tab on our website to find out more about how she can help you tune up your instrument; your body.

(Een Nederlandse vertaling volgt)

Term 2 with Greenstone Belly Dance online is starting on Wednesday May 13 and Thursday May 14 with free trial sessions! Join us for a free trial session before the term begins officially on May 27 & 28.

We’re offering a free online, interactive beginner belly dance class on Wednesday May 13 at 18:00, and a free intermediate/advanced belly dance class on Thursday May 14 at 19:15. Keen to join? Register here or read on for more information.

Online Beginner Belly Dance Class Details

If you like learning new things, if you’re looking to strengthen your body, and if you want to step out of your comfort zone – you’ll love belly dance!

You’ll learn how to access and isolate muscles around the hips and torso to create both soft, fluid movements, and stunning sharp hits and locks.
This course covers both technique and choreography, to give you a technical grounding that can be transferred to any belly dance style, and to get you up and dancing straight away.

Join us at 18:00 on Wednesday May 13 to try Beginner Belly Dance online!

Online Intermediate/Advanced Belly Dance Class Details

This class is designed for belly dancers with a minimum of 18 months continuous belly dance experience under their coin belts. We’ll be working on layering, advanced techniques, musicality, emotional expression, and improvisation.

Join us at 19:15 on Thursday May 14 to try Improver Belly Dance online!

Details for Accessing Live Online Classes

Due to extensions on social distancing requirements, and a desire to keep our students and their families safe, this class will take place online! You will need a mobile device or a laptop. After signing up, you’ll receive a link with details on how to join the class via Zoom. For an even better connection, plug your computer or laptop into your ethernet cable.

Questions?

Contact us here.

I wanna join!

Perfect! Register here.

I missed the free online trial classes. Can I still join an online class?

Absolutely! You can drop into any class between May 27 and July 16 for just 15 euro per class. Register here or contact us here with questions.

Informatie in het Nederlands

Greenstone Belly Dance online lessen beginnen weer op woensdag 13 en donderdag 14 mei met gratis proefsessies! Ga met ons mee voor een gratis proefsessie voordat de klassensessie officieel van start gaat op 27 & 28 mei.

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This article was originally written for Greenstone Belly Dance Newsletter recipients in June 2019. Want to receive nerdy new belly dance articles as soon as they’re published? Sign up to our semi-regular newsletter!

As belly dancers, it’s important we work on our musicality so we can better understand and interpret the music that we dance to. If we are not from Middle Eastern or North African countries, this can mean spending a bit of extra time getting used to new sounds! Let’s spend some time learning about some rhythms you’ll often hear in belly dance music. 

Siobhan Camille of Greenstone Belly Dance performing with Middle Eastern Inspired band, The Unfortunate Repercussions, in Dunedin, New Zealand.

The Malfouf / Malfuf Rhythm

2/4 Rhythm: D T T

Rhythm Sample

An Example of Malfouf in a Song

Above is an example of the malfouf rhythm starting at around 1:08 in a version of the famous belly dance composition, Set el Hosen.

Typically, the first part of this famous song (up until ~1:08) is played (either by a live band, or nowadays, on a recording!) without the dancer being present on stage. Malfouf is often described as a travelling rhythm or an entrance rhythm (remember, it means “rolled” in English, so we can think of the rolling feeling of the rhythm), so when this rhythm starts, this is when the dancer would come on stage.

You can see an example of a dancer entering on the malfouf rhythm below:

Maqam world is a great place to learn more about Middle Eastern music! Check out the Malfouf Maqam World Reference.

Dear dancers, friends, and followers,

I hope you’re all doing as well as possible at a time like this. I know it’s an uncertain, scary, time for a lot of us. Maybe this has greatly affected your work. Maybe there are people close to you who have already been diagnosed with this disease. Maybe you’re filled with worry. I’m sorry and I wish I could do more to help you.

What I can do for you is this: I can promise to do my best to keep you dancing at home. I can give you a time to dance and shimmy and remember that there are still pockets of joy in hard times. I can give you a chance to dance in your own home, but not alone, via our online classes.

As you’ll all know, the social distancing measures have been extended by the Dutch Government until at least June 1. This means no in-studio classes until June at the earliest. However, Greenstone Belly Dance has already taken the plunge into live, interactive, online classes. And we are getting better every time! I’m doing my best to research and invest into new technologies to give you fabulous audio, a great picture, and of course, a great time dancing!

I have just announced block of online classes in April (we were due to take a month break in April; however, I now think it’s even more important that we keep moving to look after our brains, our bodies, our minds, and to get a chance to say hi to your classmates from the comfort of your own home). The free trial classes in May will indeed go ahead, but they will be taught online. At least the first portion of each class session will be taught online. If the Dutch Government relaxes restrictions by June, I will gladly look into moving the classes back into the studio.

I’m looking forward to shimmying with you again in person when we can. But for now, let’s stay home and do our bit to protect the most vulnerable around us. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keeping moving as much as possible, stay connected, and look after each other.

Love and strength and shimmies,

Siobhan Camille,
Greenstone Belly Dance