of Oriental Dance
Nesma and Khamis Henkesh,
DVD Review by Leyla
February, 2007, Amina Goodyear
and Gregory Burke,
co-founders of the Giza Academy, held a 10th Anniversary
and First Non-Competitive Awards Celebration in San Francisco,
California. Amina honored "Rhythms
of Oriental Dance" as the"Most Inspirational" video
in this 10th Anniversary program. Intrigued by the
excerpts they'd selected to show that evening, I soon watched
the whole DVD and found it to be innovative and inspiring. For
years, I've wished for an instructional DVD that would give non-Arab
dancers a deeper understanding of the rhythmic foundation of Arabic
dance music and the why's and how's of the interactions of the
rhythms, drummer, and dancer. "Rhythms of Oriental
Dance" is the fulfillment of that wish.
of humor make "Rhythms of Oriental Dance" easy to watch
again and again. For example, before watching this DVD,
I'd never seen a dance or music instructor use fainting as a teaching
tool (see description of "An Improvisation with Percussion
and Dance" later in this review). As light-hearted
as it is, this DVD is brimming with important and useful information
for dancers and drummers. Nesma Salmeron, who has
lived, studied, and, for five years, performed in Cairo, and Khamis
Henkesh, world famous Cairo-based Egyptian drummer who has
played for some of Egypt's best known and loved dancers and musicians,
have truly put together (from the cover) "A creative, entertaining
way for dancers and musicians to learn the basic rhythms of Egyptian
music" that is "An exchange of ideas and insights between
musician and dancer with lively demonstrations of percussion rhythms
and choreography throughout".
and Khamis's discussion of the complexity of Arabic music and
dance is both appealing and easy to grasp.
professionally produced and directed work is top notch in every
way. Its video quality is excellent and the packaging is elegant.
The director, award-winning Spanish film director, Gustavo
Salmeron, employed three cameras and numerous other professional
techniques in its production. Dolby Digital Sound
TM on both the DVD and the accompanying CD results in clear
and pleasing sound on both. On the DVD, all discussion
in the educational section is in Egyptian Arabic. Subtitles are
in a large white font against a dark background, making them easy
to read, letting you relax and feel like you are sitting in on
the conversation. Subtitles are in Spanish, English, French, German,
Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, and "No subtitles", the
last being a good way to practice those Arabic lessons you've
would benefit from buying this DVD? Every dancer from amateur
to full-time professional who wants to understand more fully the
rhythmic foundation of Arabic music and dance and to learn how
to dance well with Arabic rhythms will find something they can
use. Drummers will find it educational too. Those who teach
will enjoy the presentation and find inspiration for teaching
this material to their students.
You will get the most out of "Rhythms of Oriental
Dance" if you read the booklet and watch the "The Making
of Movie" section before watching the actual instruction
("The Movie" and "Karaoke") or listening to
the practice CD. The booklet contains detailed descriptions of
the nine rhythms covered by the DVD and the practice CD, including
beat structure, and how each affects the music. It includes definitions
of the music terms used in the booklet and in the instructional
sections, "The Movie" and "Karaoke".
If you've never studied music or you studied music so long ago
that you've forgotten the technical terms, this information is
are also directions on how to use the rhythm practice section,
"Karaoke", in particular the notation that appears on
the screen for each rhythm. The 31-page booklet is in three
languages English, Spanish, and French, 10 pages for each.
The DVD has three parts:
- Part I "Rhythm and Dance Encounter with Demonstrations"
- Part II
"Improvisation with Percussion and Dance"
including "The Making of Movie", "Photo Gallery",
total running time of Parts I and II is 125 minutes. "Extras",
including biographies, photos, and "The Making of Movie"
is 10 additional minutes. Purchasing information is
at the end of this review.
DVD opens with the Main Menu screen, a simple set with Nesma dancing
to Khamis's drumming in slow motion. In the background is
the sound of a taqsim (improvised solo) played on the nay (Arabic
flute). Links to the sections of the DVD appear on a line
at the bottom of the screen, "The Movie – Karaoke – Chapters
– Extras – Subtitles". The Main Menu, "Chapters"
and "Extras" screens feature the sound of a soloist
playing a Middle Eastern instrument in the background, the nay
(flute), oud (lute), and qanoun (zither), respectively.
instruction and discussion take place on this set. "Percussion
Improvisation with Dance" is on the same set, backlit in
pastel spruce green instead of the golden yellow used for most
of the DVD. I wasn't sure I liked the silhouette lighting
of Khamis and Nesma for the rhythm and dance demonstrations, until
I realized that it is an excellent way to highlight Nesma's movements.
It allowed me to concentrate on how Nesma's body expresses the
rhythms without being distracted by her or Khamis's facial expressions.
I was happy to find that almost all of the views of Nesma's dancing
are full body with no arms or legs cut off. The few close-ups
are mostly of her torso, with only occasional zooming in on her
hips or upper body.
I - "Rhythm and Dance Encounter with Demonstrations"
Part I has two sections: "The Movie" and "Karaoke",
all chapters of which are accessible via the "Chapters"
first chapter of "The Movie" finds Khamis and Nesma
sitting face to face in simply designed chairs in the center of
the set. They greet each other as two close Egyptian friends who
haven't seen each other for a long time would do. After
the greetings, she asks him to explain the basis of Egyptian percussion.
They briefly talk about how important the relationship of rhythm
to dance and between drummer and dancer is. This leads into a
demonstration of the basics of, as Nesma puts it, "the language
of the drum" - the sounds called "doum", "tak",
"zak", and, just as important as the other three, "es",
the silence between the other three sounds, how the dancer reacts
to all of them, and how the drummer plays them in reaction to
the dancer. Khamis explains exactly how he produces the sounds
and gives many examples, all the while explaining the importance
you only see this first chapter of "The Movie", you
will have learned the basic principals of dancing with Arabic
rhythms, in particular with a live band. Continue on with
the rest of the DVD to learn how to put those principals into
remainder of "The Movie" consists of 10 chapters, each
of them showing one of the nine most common rhythms used in dance
music plus "roll". The
- wahda sogayara
- wahda kibira
of these names have alternate spellings elsewhere. For example,
in many other publications, "ayoup" is spelled "ayoub"
and "sogayar" and "sogayara" are spelled "soghayar"
each rhythm, Nesma and Khamis comment on how it is used in the
music, such as malfouf for the entrance of the dancer or ayoup
for finales. Khamis often comments on how a rhythm
affects the mood of the music and thus, the movements of the dancer.
He demonstrates each rhythm as follows:
- basic pattern with only the required doums, taks, zaks, and es-s
- same pattern
with some silent beats filled
- same pattern
with many silent beats filled and variations
he then plays a short solo using all levels of only that rhythm,
while Nesma performs a choreography using movements, which complement
it. Many times, she seems to become one with the drum.
Chapter 12, "Tabla Solo", Khamis plays a drum solo demonstrating
how all nine rhythms plus the roll can be used in performance.
He plays each rhythm in turn in its simplest and filled forms,
with some variations and then he improvises, alternating all the
rhythms in a spectacular drum solo.
This section has its own menu where you may chose a rhythm
or a particular sound, doum, tak, zak, roll for practice.
"Karaoke" employs an innovative technique for visually
representing the beats that Khamis plays as he demonstrates each
of the nine rhythms. Timing notation appears across the
bottom of the screen with the count for each execution of the
rhythm, e.g. "1 2 3 4". Above that is a
row of letters showing where the doums, taks, and zaks are played.
As Khamis plays them, the letter representing each doum, tak,
or zak turns from white to yellow, making the drum sounds “visible”
on the screen in a way that is easy to understand.
II, Chapter 13 "An Improvisation with Percussion and Dance"
performs while Khamis and two accompanying duff (hand drum) players
play a percussion improvisation. The mood turns playful
when Khamis creeps onto the dance floor in order to encourage
her to dance with more intensity. She tries to send him
back to his chair, but he persists and finally she dances as if
possessed by the drum, soon collapsing onto the floor in a faint.
Khamis uses the drum to revive her, showing that the drummer can
make the dancer unable to resist moving with the rhythms he (or
she) plays. He shows that the drummer can even revive the
dancer when her (or his) energy is waning. Later on, the
tables are turned when Khamis faints because her dancing has pushed
him to exhaustion. The dancer can make the drummer unable
to resist playing for her (or him). What a clever way to
show how much influence the dancer and drummer can have on each
other, using fainting as a teaching technique!
As in the DVD, each rhythm is played slowly, simply, then in a
more complex way and then faster with variations. There
are three-minute and longer tracks for the rhythms, plus an assortment
of shorter ones for practicing the variations. This CD would be
equally useful for dancers and drum students.
Buy "Rhythms of Oriental Dance" and watch
it right away! Don't wait!
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2005,
Cairo a review and diary by Leyla Lanty
Monday night, the opening gala was a great success in all senses
of the word! It was one of the best large scale events I've attended.
Giza Club Lecture,
Wacky Woman Traveler- Leyla Lanty
work and familiarity pays off.
9-24-00 Cairo's Costume Disasters by
and Surprising Costumes Worn by Cairo's Stars of Oriental Dance
Antique Textiles: Renewed Life for Dance by Najia Marlyz
we often danced for many little luncheon gigs in offices and other
places as a surprise birthday gift—to the music of our own
solo sagat. Now, that is a skill that I have never seen anyone
repeat since the early seventies!
A Marriage Made in North Beach
by Amina Goodyear
stage was alight with the flames of the candelabrum’s candles
and the eerie glow of her costume. Fatma’s costumes were
always comprised of material that glowed in the dark as her show
began with no light—except for “black light”.
Finger Cymbals by Melina
of Daughters of Rhea
all this cross-cultural cacophony soared my mom’s perfectly
paced zills, right left right, right left right, right left right
left right left right. If you put me in a room blindfolded, I
could distinguish her playing from any other dancer on earth.
Randa Kamal in Cairo The Photos
of Susie Poulelis
fortunate to travel to Cairo on business in April '06, and managed
to take some time to see a few sights and, at least, one dance
performance: Randa Kamal at the Marriot Zamelek's Empress Nightclub