Kiyaana's Blog

Taqsim Study

Taqsim, Taqasim, Taksim - however you spell it, the meaning is the same.  It is a section of a song where an instrument plays an improvised solo. How do you dance to it? That depends on the setting (recorded or live music) and the instrument.  Listen carefully to what the instrument is expressing. The musician will use certain scales (maqamat) to convey different moods. Ultimately, you are free to "do what you feel" according to how the music moves you, but there are a few things to consider.  

Dancing to a taqsim is more "internal", meaning you are expressing emotion & musical connection in your own little world. (By contrast, you are projecting outward with the entrance section of a song.) If you are performing to live music, the musician is really the focus of the taqsim, as it is his (or her) time to shine and your dancing shouldn't steal the spotlight.

In general,
for wind instruments (nay & kawala) your movements will be more upward, drawn out, and extend into your arms, hands, even fingertips. Plucked string instruments, such as oud and qanoon, will bring out soft shimmies and small, round movements in the hips and chest. For instruments played with a bow, such as a violin, again your movements will be drawn out, but may remain more in the torso due to the tonal range of the instrument.  (These suggestions are very elementary, of course the best way to learn is to work with your instructor and/or find a quality instructional DVD, such as Bellydance Taqasim - Improvisation Skills & Drills by Ranya Renee.)

Suggested tracks to learn more about the instruments (several come from the album: Egyptian Taqasim Vol.1)

Nay by Mohamed Fouda 1

Cry to the Moon - Taqsim Nay

Kawala by Abdallah Helmy 1

Kanoun by Maged Naeem

Oud by Mamdouh El Gebaly 1

Oud Al Semai

Violin by Mohamed Aly 1

Cello by Emad Ashour 1

My taqsim playlist on YouTube.  At this time it features musicians with their instruments, but I will add examples of dancers performing to taqsims, too.

Pink Paillette Retro Bellydance Costume

Inspired by the Women of Selket troupe costumes at their November 2009 show, I was on the look-out for paillette hipscarves to create something similar. Several eBay sellers carry them, but when Andrea of Stellar Advantage received a new shipment while I was at the Sahra Saeeda week-long intensive that Andrea hosted in Florida (June 2010), I jumped on the opportunity and bought three in pink from her.

My design plan changed several times. I started with the idea of quickly covering a bra form with a hipscarf, intending to wear a tie-top with it, and tying a scarf around my hips, perfect for instructional parties, a casual hafla, or a Laziza Ladies Night. However, my thoughts quickly turned to making something more substantial - a sturdy bedlah (bra and belt) with coordinating arm accessories and skirts. In other words, a full-blown costume! While the techniques I'm showing and describing below aren't exactly what I use every time I construct a bedlah, they are very close. (I will try to note optional methods.) Even if you don't want to make a set with hipscarves, my instructions for covering a bra and constructing and covering a belt may interest you. Please let me know if you need further explanation.