Monday, February 4, 2013

The Complete Belly Dance Routine

If you took belly dance classes back in 60s and 70s you became familiar with what was called the complete belly dance routine. This was typically 7 parts although some dancers would cut it down to 5 parts. Routines could be 20 minutes or longer and I remember that you really had to build up your stamina to perform this long. If you were dancing to live music, you sometimes didn't know how long they were going to play and you just had to go with the whatever parts the musicians would play for you. I also recall a story from one of the Hollywood belly dance greats Marie Silva on how once and a while they would play a double set and she would have to perform for 30 to 40 minutes.  Heck, in my hay day I couldn't have performed that long! There was no costume change like some dancers do now, the cabaret dancer stayed on stage throughout the performance. 

Typically the parts of dance were as follows:

1. Medium to Fast Entrance: This is an intro or greeting of the audience. The belly dancer would be draped in one or sometimes multiple veils and keep them on through the introduction. Usually the dancer would show off your finger cymbals playing talent during the intro. 

2. Slow music either Chifi Telli or Rhumba: This is where the dancer would show off her veil work. At the end of music she discards her veil. 

3. Medium to Fast music: This part picks up the speed and energy of the dance. She continues to play finger cymbals. 

4. Taxseem, Chifi Telli, slow music: Floor work, sometimes sword work along with slow moves. This is one of my favorite parts of the dance. There is usually a solo instrument playing like a violin or flute. Beautiful time to improv your slow technique. 

5. Fast or medium music: Picking up the pace again. The belly dancer will sometimes work the audience for tips during this part of the routine smiling and playing finger cymbals. 

6. Fast: The drum solo. 

7. Finale - Medium/Fast tempo: The farewell to the audience. The finale tends to be short and sweet. She thanks the audience and the band (if there is one). 

These days belly dancers usually do 3 part routines; an intro, slow and drum solo. Sometimes if time is tight it's only a 1 part routine.

Here are some suggested DVDs that will help you with various parts of the routine. Click on the links below. 

Sultry Slow Moves with Sadie
Spins and Turns with Marguerite
Classic Cabaret Floor Work with Anaheed
Veil with Aziza
Smooth as Silk Veil with Katia
Drum Solo Set
Entrances and Exits with Dondi
Finger Cymbals with Ansuya

Photo by Keith Drosin


Anthea Kawakib Poole said...

Good overview! That's how it was when I started in the 1980's too, in class American Cabaret style. I like the variety it gives a show. Also used mini-versions of that routine for bellygrams because it worked so well :-)

Lisa Robert said...

You defined the complete belly dance routine very well in this post , which shows your long time experience of 30 years as a belly dance producer.I love dancing and also have joined a dance camp in California.

Martina said...

It makes a change do find a very informative post. The more i am finding out about the history of belly dance the more it fascinates me. I will be returning to read your blogs. Thank you

Selena Kareena said...

Nice Description of the Traditional seven part routine..Love it! My Favorite style to dance even today!
Would love to see some of your photos Suzy from those days!
thanks for the DVD study Tips,

Jan 29, 2014

Suzy's Belly Dance Blog said...

Selena, As I have time I will be going through my old photos and post them. I miss this form of belly dance, its still around but not as popular as other styles. It's also what people think of when they think of belly dance. - Suzy