Getting The Music Right For Your Next Belly Dance Perfomance
Music is integral to the art of dance; as is the importance of getting the music right. Many seasoned belly dancers have groaned when six week wonders use a saidi cane as a prop during a baladi piece. In fact, picking the right piece of music could be considered one of the biggests tests of how much a belly dancer knows about the art he/she represents.
That's why we were shocked to hear about Dina, world famous Egyptian belly dancer and actress, who danced (or, as the article described it, "raved") to a song praising Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad and the wife of Imam Ali, who is revered by Shiite Muslims.
Though the song praises Fatima, the act of having a belly dancer dance to this religious song is very offensive to Shiites, and an example of the cultural differences that belly dancers need to be aware of when selecting their dance music.
All newbie belly dancers can relate to the pain of finding the perfect first performance piece - after all (duh! alert), most belly dance music is in another language! With cultural differences, as well as length, difficulty and style to consider, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.
If you don't happen to speak Arabic, and you don't know someone kind enough to translate your selection, you may be stuck with a piece that's been over-performed (and thus, with many translations widely available online), or trying to string together the incoherent wording brought to you by online translation software.
While wading through the muck that is looking for your perfect song, here are some key facts to always remember:
- Never, NEVER perform to Islamic music, ESPECIALLY the Muslim Call To Prayer.
- While on the religion kick, probably best not to perform to any type of religious music, including Christian or even Hava Nagila.
- Avoid songs about patriotism or songs with overt political statements.
- Read the lyrics - it's amazing what you miss when listening to a song versus reading it word for word, like this faux pas from the Little League World Series.
These notes are inspired by Shira.net's article "Are You Sure You Want To Belly Dance To That Song?" which is a fantastic resource for belly dancers looking for the right performance music.
Of course, when in doubt, check with your teacher or anyone you respect who has been in the world of belly dance for over five years. And if you can't find the lyrics, even if you LOVE the song, it may be best to avoid dancing to that song.