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How to Dance to Raks Sharki Taqasim

Ideas for Creating Your Own Combinations

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SECTION A: Medium tempo (Masmoudi, Beledi) 
SECTION B: Slow tempo (Chifti-telli)
SECTION C: (this page)
SECTION D: Structured Group Improv Style Combinations


GLOSSARY or LIST of Abbreviations

B=Back
Ct(s).=Count(s)
CCW=Counter Clockwise
CW=Clock Wise
F=Forward or Front
fl=Flat foot
L=Left
LOD=Line of Dance
o=Ball of the foot
o/h=Over Head
(p)=Pause
P=palm(s)
pl=Place
R=Right 
S=Step
t=Touch (not a 'weighted' step)
X=Cross

SECTION C: Slow Music, Musical Solos, or Music with no percussion

The definition of "Taqasim" (plural) is  set apart, as in an instrumental solo.The singular is "taqsim".
Some dancers suggest not "outshining" the musician when he takes a solo, so keep that in mind when you're dancing to a live band.

Pick your favorite taqsim and try out these ideas:
1. Think circles:
2. Move on to figure-8's, waves, undulations, and other arcs.
3. Use a specific arm position to trigger movement ideas from your repertoire.

Always follow the tempo of the melody with your movements; and pause when the musician pauses, even for a second.


Creating Your Own Combinations

Reproduced from "Structure and Aesthetics in Oriental Dance", in my booklet Kawakib's Dance Tips

Explore some ways to make up combinations (or improvise)!
Think of the various moves you know how to do, and mentally categorize them as either:

  1. In-place moves or Traveling steps (turns can be either)
  2. Round, smooth moves (like figure-8's, rolls, circles, etc.) or Straight, sharp moves (like lifts, drops,
    thrusts, shimmies, etc.)

Those are the basic categories of our dance's movements.

Now let's take an 8-ct. segment and break it up into 2 sections of 4 cts. & 4 cts. Here's some ways to build your combination:

Here are just a few of the ways you can vary the move (or 'motif'):
  1. direction (forward, backward, sideways, diagonal, up, down, clockwise, counterclockwise)
  2. embellishment (overlaid with another movement - see Sequence #11, Section A)
  3. size (large, medium, small)
  4. staging (what the rest of the body is doing, how it's posing, or where it is in space)(See Sequence #3, Section B): this was a traveling 'rolling hip' move that just used different body positions)
  5. tempo (slow, fast, rhythmic, even)
Now take the 8-ct. segment and break it up into 2 sections of 6 cts. & 2 cts.; or 4 & 2 & 2.

When you break down music like this it begins to make sense; being able to break it down like this is one of the secrets of dancing to live music, or improvising in dance. 


1999-2013 Anthea Kawakib Poole