CD Reviewed by: Rebecca
As I popped
this one into my CD player for the first time and began to listen,
I thought, "Oh... this is just like Yuri Yunakov... only
slower." Imagine the lightning-fast syncopation of this
world-renowed Bulgarian Rom musician, slowed down for easy listening,
and you will understand why the first track on this CD did not
thrill me. Fortunately, not every track is as diluted as the
if it weren't for the title, it wouldn't be getting a review
on a bellydance forum like Gilded Serpent.
is not specifically bellydance music. This is dance hall or
party music. Furthermore, it has a very different sound from
the Arabic compositions and pop tunes that are probably more
familiar to the Gilded Serpent audience.
first asked me to review this, the CD came as a copy, with no
liner notes, and so all I had to go on was a working familiarity
with other musics of the Balkan region: places like Bulgaria,
Greece, Serbia, and Romania; the Roma variants of same, and
Jewish Klezmer musics. I heard elements of all of these in this
CD, mixed with jazz.
who is already familiar with those musical genres, you might
really enjoy dancing to some of the tracks on here. While some
of the tunes were a little too mainstream-pop sounding for me,
there were a couple of real winners on here as well.
I've got the liner notes in front of me, I can at least tell
you who's on it: Ferus Mustafov, Ilia Ampevski, Novica
Sokolovski, and Isin Agusev. Their
bios describe them as accomplished and serious musicians, many
born into musical families. The tracks are titled according
to musical genre rather than descriptively, for example "Pasa
cocek" rather than something like "House of the Rising
Sun". The liner notes did not include details on any of
music can be very complex, with odd time signatures and a lot
of syncopation, played at a breakneck speed.
bands like the Brass Menagerie have a distinctive sound
- wild, sometimes raucous and rough, with a lot of vitality.
on this CD, while somewhat synthesized, retained enough of the
original texture and charm to be quite appealing. I heard clarinets,
saxophone, voice, synthesizer, trumpet, a viola (?), and accordion.
Almost every song included some fabulous improvisational sections,
on clarinet, violin, trumpet, or voice. The style of ornamentation,
particularly in the brass sections, sounded to me like the Bulgarian
Rom music - each note seemed to sparkle and skip.
a lot of really cool stuff coming out of Eastern Europe these
days. Another band that came to mind while I was listening to
this CD was Gogol Bordello, who are a kind of Russian
Gypsy Punk band (yes, Gypsy in the sense of being ethnically
one of the mailing lists I'm on, there was recently a heated
discussion on whether there was such a thing as "Balkan
pointed out that there are no "bellydance" traditions
in places like Bulgaria, and so it is inaccurate to use this
term for any dance done to this music, and furthermore, one
shouldn't bellydance to that music, period.
is, if it uses a lot of undulations, you can call it "bellydance"
no matter where the music or dancers are from. And if a piece
of music moves you to shimmy instead of doing some prescribed
folk dance, that's perfectly legit even if the regional dances
for that music look totally different.
I think dancers should try to make the dance match the music
in how it feels, and attempting the ultra-dramatic "high
Egyptian" style to this music might look as if the dancer
didn't understand the music. If you are planning to adapt any
of these musics for bellydance, you might try learning some
of the regional folk dances first, from someone who really knows
how to do them, and then let that inform your dance.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
1-17-07 Perfectly Masterful
Teaching: Drum Solo Master Class with Jim Boz Reviewed by:
his shaved head tied up in a bandanna, with a burly torso, powerful
legs, and a thick neck, he looks more like a biker, a bouncer,
or a circus strongman. Thus, his grace and posture is even more
Rhea: Greek Flavor and Flair
Article by Rebecca Firestone, Photos by Carl Sermon,
& Laikis Orientale and Greek Folk Dance Workshop sponsored
by Ma*Shuqa, held Saturday, August 19, 2006, at the Empire Buffet
restaurant, in San Jose, California
Giza Awards 2005, A Cultural
Odyssey, by Rebecca Firestone
it be that the West has been so involved in learning technique
and choreography that the very soul of the dance has been left
to those in the Middle East who are desperately struggling to
keep their art alive?
1-4-06 What You Can't
Get From Instructional Videos by Rebecca Firestone
able to withstand honest opinions is crucial. If one never communicates
directly with one's peers AS PEERS, that is, not as sycophantic
students, one can develop an insular and self-referential mindset
without ever realizing it.
The Photos of Susie Poulelis,
Sunday March 18, 2006, Rakkasah Festival, Richmond, California
shines at 9!
Circle Dance by Melina of
Daughters of Rhea
circle is a perfect, democratic & unending shape, the shape
of an energized community, the shape of this lovely round planet.
In Tribute: Rhonda/Baseema of Troupe
Ooh La La by Shabnam
were times she could barely walk due to a flare up of Lupus, but
she always came to rehearsal and gave a 110%--despite the pain
or trouble, she was going through that day. Rhonda soon became
the troupe mascot because of her courage and commitment. "If
Rhonda can do it, you can do it!" became our
motto. She was a great source of inspiration and motivation for
all members of Ooh La La.
I Dance; You Follow by Leila
As Westerners interested in an Eastern dance form, we might want
to ask ourselves if we are missing certain critical aspects of
Raqs Sharki because we are not open to Eastern teaching methods.
Morgana's Animal Magnetism, Interview
with Morgana of Madrid by Surreyya
seeing Morgana’s Serpent Dance, where she embodies the personality
of the serpent, I was hooked. Any snake lovers or snake dancers
will have a special appreciation for this piece.