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The Art and Science of Middle Eastern Dancing

I have had the pleasure of meeting a vast variety of Middle Eastern dancers throughout my dancing career.  Many of whom are technically brilliant yet lacking emotion, while others are captivating in every way. I think what makes this dance form unique in every sense of the word is the uniqueness of each dancer; the uniqueness of each interpretation of the music and of course the delivery of the emotion through the dance. Not one dancer is the same, not one costume is the same; yet we are all “moved” by one powerful aspect: the Music.

In April this year the opportunity presented itself for me to attend some workshops with local extraordinaire, Ava van Aarde, the fabulous internationally acclaimed Turbo Tabla native Egyptian drummer, Karim Nagi and the legendary dancer of ALL dancers, Bozenka.

All three artists have such a passion for what they do and seeing them in action is such an inspiration. I think the most profound ‘lesson’ I took from these memorable experiences was that dancing is not just about the melody but the emotion.  Melody brings about movement and most importantly: Emotion. Certain instruments for example the accordion in a baladi taqsim and certain melodies/rhythms for example the Saba convey a specific emotion.  To dance to a melody and simultaneously portray the emotions of the music to your audience are the key elements that differentiates a good dancer from a great dancer.

The challenge for western dancers like myself is to shift our focus from being mechanically perfect and technically correct but rather to embrace the nuances of expressive imperfection. It is this challenge that makes belly dancing an art form and not a science.

** Therein lies the reason why we keep coming back for more**

Aziza & Karim Nagi : a Belly Dancing Sensation are coming to South Africa

Goddess Divine :

a Belly Dance Goddess & Dancing Divinity collaboration

are proud to present to you…

Aziza & Karim Nagi

Aziza is (one) of the brightest, most in-demand starts of bellydance in the world today.

Aziza is of the rare and figted breed of performer whose styling is instantly recongnizable, yet always evolving and new.

To study with Aziza is to be moved by her genuine devotion to her beloved art and to each and every dancer that comes to learn with her.

  • Master Level Conditioning
    Strength, endurance, and flexibility. This class conditions the body for high level performance. Yoga mat, sweat towel, and water recommended.
  • Undulations, Figure 8’s, and Abdominals
    In this class we will focus on fluid, slow, and slinky torso technique. Core strength, drills and combination’s to mesmerize your audience.
  • Ballet for Belly dancers
    A basic ballet class to enhance your posture, carriage, body lines and turns. Add a touch of fluidity and grace to your Oriental technique!
  • Extreme Technique
    A technique intensive to sharpen your isolation’s and bring intention and integrity to each movement. Drills, combinations and travelling steps will be used to bring your dance to the next level.
  • Stagecraft
    Brings it all together! In this workshop we will discuss and put into practice all concepts of a professional performance. Choreography, improvisation, costuming, make up, marketing, and ethics. Aziza shares her ideology and secrets of how to be a successful performer.

Karim Nagi (the creator of Turbo Tabla) is a native Egyptian drummer, Folk Dancer and DJ.

His workshops deliver students to a new physical understanding and connection between music and dance. Karim is a true crossover artist, uniting the cabaret and tribal, traditional and the modern, ethnic and urban. As a dance and drum teacher, Karim has taught in nearly all major bellydance festivals in the USA and Cairo – he is Dynamic.

  • DRUM SOLO (dancer-drummer communication) : This workshop bridges the gap between the two disciplines. Students will learn how interpret sound into movement by aligning body parts and motions with drum sounds and riffs. Once the movement-to-sound correspondence is established, students will prepare to perform to drum solos. The six-part drum-solo will be explained, theme by theme. Students will then perform to any combination of these 6 major drum solo themes. Students will learn how to both lead and follow the drummer by maintaining the common language. Improvisation skills will be encouraged, and the daunting prospect of dancing to a LIVE drum solo will be demystified. This dance workshop can also be configured to include drummers as well.
  • MUSICALITY FOR DANCERS : Despite any mastery of technique and bodily dexterity, true dance expression requires musicality. The best dancers are those who emulate the music into their own movement. Karim will demystify Arab music for the dancer. Several recurring themes in Arab music will be identified (using recorded examples) and explained in emotive, non musical terms. The class will cover Taksim, Melodic Themes, Vocal vs. Instrumental Songs, Rhythms & Rhythmic Changes, Melodic Modulation, Song Structure, Orchestration and Instrumentation. Karim will guide the students through several songs and lead them in dancing to each of these themes. This is a movement class that will help the dancer become the physical personification of the music.
  • SAGAT (“ZILL” finger cymbals) : Karim has developed a comprehensive zill method that utilizes drum techniques, and an ambidextrous approach. He uses the Egyptian Sufi Zikr aesthetic with multiple sounds, open and closed, sizzle and rapid combinations. Karim has crystalized the 8-sound method, and has made it easy and natural to learn. Students will learn the Arabic rhythms by name and how to play them while dancing! They will learn how to use the cymbals to communicate rhythms to a band and accent solo dancing and body movements. Dancers and percussionists of all levels are welcome. He will also teach dance combinations, solo patterns, train the dancer in musicality, and teach when-and-when-not to play within an Arabic song. Karim promises to transform dancers into musicians with his finger cymbal teaching approach.
  • RHYTHM FOR DANCERS : It’s time to raise the bar for rhythmic literacy! A dancer’s immediate connection to the music is the rhythm produced by the Tabla and percussion. Karim teaches each rhythm using the three-sound clapping approach. Karim then performs sample rhythms on the Tabla. Students will learn each rhythm by name, “dum-tak” vocalization, and clapping. Afterwards the dancers will learn choreography segments to help gain bodily control with the sample rhythm, putting theory into practice. He presents 7 to 10 rhythms that vary in complexity, and inspire a variety of movements. By physically personifying each Rhythm, bodily mastery of that rhythm will be achieved. The dancer will be able to perform and teach each rhythm with greater accuracy and authenticity. This movement workshop is perfect for any dancer who wants to better understand what they are dancing to.

And for Drummers and Dancers alike we have the following workshop:

  • ARABIC TABLA (Beginner) : This course focuses on the Arabic Tabla (aka Doumbek, Darabuka). Students will learn technique, rhythmic vocabulary and the essential stylistic approach to Arabic rhythm. This course creates a strong foundation for later advanced drum performance. This course is designed for people with rudimentary knowledge of music, percussion or Middle Eastern drumming. Please bring your own Tabla.

Dates: 18 – 21 March 2011

Click here to download the workshop booking form.

hurry to secure your spot or contact Angela & Natalie on :

angela@bellydancebabes.co.za

natalie@dancingdivinity.com