AmeraWahyatak Habibi:
Music for Middle Eastern Dance

CD Review by Najia El-Mouzayen

Amera has produced a third CD for your dancing pleasure! She seems to be open to sharing the music she loves with her fellow dancers and she requests on the insert to the jewel case that her CD be credited when used for a performance. It appears that the production is meant to be "dancer-friendly" and provides a selection of four drum solos, extremely predictable and varied in length, which could be incorporated into a show presentation.

The CD is clear, has a clean sound, and begins with a few beautiful entrance (majensi) strains. It then proceeds into a full entrance dance titled "Raks El Amera" which is moderately paced and includes enough musical changes to be interesting. The changes in this CD overall are easily predictable so the music is quite easy to dance.

My more able professional dancers are of the opinion that the music is a bit too predictable. However, the intermediate students in my clientele find it full of energy and say that it has enough repetitions for them to handle their choreography without strain.

Many of the songs that we learned to love when, for instance Maya Yazbek and others sang them, are reproduced here by the brash strains of the electric organ keyboard. With the exception of the title song, most of the tunes include some vocals. The title selection is presented twice on the recording, once as an instrumental and once as a vocal sung by a woman, Ibtisam Sagirah, whose voice easily may be mistaken for that of a male's voice. I have most recently seen the Shisha Song danced and sung by Fifi Abdu who dances such a charming and fitting presentation with it that I cannot imagine anyone else but an Egyptian doing it justice! But, perhaps…

The selections include, along with recent popular songs, a Saidi track that would work well for a cane dance (asaya), and some modern Khaleegy titled "Ghareeb Al rai".

It would have been useful for the dance community if a short finale had been included on this CD, but at least each selection ends well and is not a "fade" victim.

Though I do like this recording a great deal because of its particular selections, and would recommend it to you for your performance library, I believe it should be relegated to the second shelf only because it is short on some of the traditional sounds of the Oriental orchestra, namely, the oud and kanoon, while relying heavily on the keyboard. If you are accustomed to dancing in a local or small nightclub with live music, this may be the "sound" to which you are accustomed, and therefore you may be excited to dance with it very soon. I would say to those dancers who love the larger orchestras and the more traditional instruments, that you may be a little less enthusiastic, though entranced with some of the endearing songs arranged in a dancer friendly style.

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