Fifi Abdo’s Lessa Faker

October 2, 2009

Um Koulthum Singing Lissa Faker
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
take out a bunch of repeats and these first 3 parts consist of the part of music most dancers use. Here is the rest of the song:
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

A transliteration from the Arabic as well as an English Translation can be found on Shira’s website.

Here is the Arabic text from Al Mashriq.

– Notice how Fifi relates to the meaning of the lyrics. Look into yourself and see what they mean to you and how you relate.

– Notice how Fifi changes speed, engaging a powerful dynamic, especially when approaching or entering shifts between lyric and interim music. See if you can incorporate dramatic energy shifts and speed changes into your dancing at the shifts between lyric and interim music.

– Notice how Fifi will use only a limited number of steps, drawing one or two steps in combination over the length of an entire musical phrase. Also notice how she transitions. See if you can utilize this in your own dancing as an improvisational tool.

– Notice how Fifi uses layering to enhance the melodic line, both physically noting the sweep of the melodic line in crescents and 8s as well as expressing the tremolo of the oud in her shimmies. See if you can develop this tool in your layering.

– Notice how Fifi will stay stationary for most of the lyrics, particularly the deepest lyrics and how she travels more for the interim music. Note how she tends to become more internally focused for the intense lyrics as well. Think about how you might use this kind of choice as a dynamic tool when you are interpreting songs with lyrics in performance.

Leylet Hob

September 11, 2009

Laylet Houb is a classic Arabic song written originally by the famous composer Mohamed Abdel Wahab and sung by Um Koulthoum, a very important singer to Arabs in general, but to Egyptians in particular. The original version is around 50 minutes long. They used to compose songs that were a whole concert unto themselves. A shortened version was first used for dance by Souhair Zaki, a dancer who was reputed to be the first to use Um Koulthum music for Oriental dance. Of course our version is a modern remix by Said Mrad of this gorgeous old piece of music. Here are some links for you to enjoy – The full concert sung by Um Koulthum in 5 parts:

part I:

part II:

part III:

part IV:

part V:

Click on these 3 additional links for lyrics and to see Souhair Zaki dancing to Leylet Hob.

lyrics translated from Arabic
another translation with English transliteration

Souhair Zaki dancing to Leylet Hob in a film

Fifi Abdou

September 11, 2009

Concert at Al Esmailia, Egypt – we will be working with this entrance for next class as well. I highly recommend you buy the original DVD for your collection:

Fifi signature moves to add to your arsenal that we broke down in first class:
1 – traveling triple step, don’t be afraid to cover ground
2- Fifi step hip
3- Fifi hip drop
4- double drop walk
5- fifi 8s

pay extra attention to her arms and upper body! Notice how natural and relaxed they feel, but still graceful and very responsive.
Notice how she uses an entire musical phrase up with one step, then uses the last 2 or 4 counts to transition into the next step. Notice the times she breaks this pattern and how she breaks it up. Notice how she changes her body angle and how she uses her whole stage. Think about how you can incorporate this into your dance.

The Dancing Drum by Issam & Issam’s the Dancing Drum Vol. II – 14 Arabic rhythms & 3 nice drum solos on each CD by the drummer for the Belly Dance Super Stars.

Jalilah’s Raks Sharki 4 – 23 Arabic rhythms & examples of them in classic songs.

Uncle Mafufo’s 25 Essential Rhythms
– 25 common belly dance rhythms including Arabic, Turkish, Greek, Armenian and Pakistani rhythms. He speaks the rhythm, then plays it.

Nourhan Sharif Presents Arabic Rhythms Volumes 1(Wahid),2(Eitneen),3(Talata) and Rhythms from Around the Arab World – a series of CDs full of a variety of Arabic Rhythms. There is introductory information about each rhythm. Each CD has 8-10 rhythms and 2 drum solos.

Souhail Kaspar’s Awzan: Arab Rhythmic Modes – good variety of Arabic Rhythms some with other instruments as accompaniment.

Tayyar Akdeniz’s Rhythms of Turkey – 20 Turkish Rhythms with intros and examples in music and 5 really wonderful fully orchestrated Turkish musical tracks. Amazing CD with awful distribution. If you want, I can get it directly from Tayyar for you. Just ask me.

1. Souhair Zaki was born in

a) 1965

b) 1932

c) 1944

d) 1976

correct answer c

2. Souhair Zaki performed in

a) weddings

b) circus acts

c) movies

d) nightclubs

correct answers a, c and d

3. Souhair Zaki

a) started dancing as a young teen in the Greek nightclubs of Alexandria

b) started dancing in her twenties at Badia’s club in Cairo

c) never got an opportunity to dance on television

correct answer a

4. True or False: Souhair Zaki’s father opposed her career in dance.

correct answer true, however after her father’s death, her mother remarried and her step father helped her in her dance career

5. Souhair gained accolades and compliments from individuals of note, including the

a) Shah of Iran

b) Tunisian President

c) Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser

d) US President Nixon

correct answer a, b, c, and d

6. Souhair Zaki was famed to be the first Oriental dancer to:

a) have her photos on cassette tape covers

b) use a wide variety of props for theatrical effect

c) dance in America

d) dance to the music of Um Koulthum

correct answer d – she also had her photos on many cassette tape covers, but there is nothing to indicate she was the first

7. Souhair Zaki was contemporaries with Nagua Fouad and they were

a) great friends

b) very competitive

c) very similar in style and costuming

d) both featured together in a duet

correct answers b and d – kind of tricky, I know you probably all didn’t have access to the footage of Souhair and Nagua dancing together

8. Who said “As she sings with her voice, you sing with your body” comparing Souhair Zaki to Um Kolthoum?

a) Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar Al Sadat

b) Composer Mohamed Abdel Wahab

c) US President Nixon

d) Um Koulthum herself, worded a little differently

correct answer a – most commonly attributed to Anwar Sadat, saw one reference to it possibly being Mohamed Abel Wahab

9. Souhair Zaki was in

a) over 100 films

b) many starring roles as an actress & dancer

c) only a few films

d) the film “Beauty and the Scoundrel”

correct answers a and d

10. True or False: Souhair Zaki indirectly assisted the Egyptian government in acquiring arms from the Soviet Union.

correct answer true

11. In 1986 Souhair Zaki

a) began touring more internationally

b) began to teach workshops for the first time

c) had her first and only son

d) decided to take the hijab (the veil) and retire from dance

correct answer c

12. Souhair Zaki

a) recently passed away

b) is currently in retirement from all dance activities

c) recently taught and performed at the Ahlan We Sahlan festival in Cairo, Egypt

correct answer c

13. Name 3 or more attributes of Souhair Zaki’s dance style and whether you think they are positive or negative:

Your Answers:

1. positive: hip downs! amazing, crisp, awesome!
2. positive: sense of musicality; she can hear all the little accents
3. positive: emotion (sweet): it’d be interesting to see her do more serious stuff, but for the most part you enjoy watching her anyway!

1. Sweet and innocent way of dancing
2. Soft but dominant hip movements
3. Light barrel turns

1. Same movement repeated in different directions and angles: positive. She adds variety to her dance without being too busy.
2. Dancing to the rhythm: positive.
3. body locks: looks good on her (positive), not sure about on everyone though

1. Relatively uncomplicated/un-showy performance. Positive – she is very elegant and relaxed
2. Sweet smile. Both positive and negative – positive because she is very pleasant to watch, negative because I personally prefer more variety in expression (but many of her clips are from movies so that may factor in)
3. I like her chest tilts/how she will often incorporate a tilt or lean into various moves.

1. She dances with her eyes closed a lot. It makes her dance seem more modest and delicate.
2. Her hips follow the pitches of the melody. It shows how closely she listens, and gives a sense of deeper understanding in the dance.
3. She repeats the same several moves a lot. Many of her motions are expected, I guess I am used to flashier styles of dance, but it’s what I prefer.

14. Name 3 pieces of music that Souhair Zaki danced to and albums you can find them each on:

refer to the Souhair song list on this blog

Souhair’s Balady Taksims

February 19, 2009

Souhair often put a balady taksim as the second number in her set. In class we discussed the balady taksim a little. Also called ashra balady, balady progression or sometimes just balady, I’m referring to the musical structure of the pieces that start out with a taksim (solo instrument improvisation), then there is a call and response (usually between a solo instrument and tabla, but sometimes between instruments), followed by a slow rhythm (usually masmoudi saghir aka balady), then the energy of the piece grows, it can gain speed, or possibly switch into a faster rhythm like a falahi or fast ayyub, sometimes it transitions into a drum solo, there is some kind of climax and then it works into an ending.

Typically, but not always it is based on one of these three songs:
Aminti Billah
Ya Baladi Ya Wad (or Habibi Eini – they are close relatives)
Hassan Ya Khouli
but not always, and I think we decided that the songs themselves when performed don’t always hold very closely to the baladi construct in it’s more independent form.

Here is some reading to learn more about balady taksim:


Hadia’s Article on Balady

Hossam Ramzy’s Article Zeinab


Discussion on Bhuz with a bunch of video clips posted

A couple of clips of Souhair dancing to a balady taksim:

This one starts about 1:20 into the clip and is an excerpt from a full show. I want you to notice that she plays her finger cymbals, notice how and when as well.

This is a scene from a movie that turns into a balady taksim about 43 seconds into the clip:

Another movie scene, this is the famous song “Shik Shak Shok” that turns into a balady taksim in the middle of the song:

This is a clip of Souhair dancing to the song Hassan Ya Khouli, notice the finger cymbals here as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qw9i8gWnRc

Here is a clip of Souhair dancing to the song Ya Habibi Ya Wad:

A very worthwhile read about a very influential figure in Raqs Sharqi

http://www.gildedserpent.com/art47/jalilahbadia.html