Dictionary


This page has hierarchy - Child pages: Maqsoum, Snake Arms, Teardrop, Vibration, Three Step “Tippie-Toe”

Definitions and key words/phrases for Hadia site.  

Click on the purple terms for more detailed definitions.

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A shimmy of the hips which contains 3 distinct movements.  There are essentially two versions of the ¾ hip shimmy:
1) A Syncopated 3/4 shimmy, as found in Moroccan and Algerian folklore. Weight lands on one foot as hip pushes out, then opposite hip is lifted upwards into the waist, and finally allowed to drop. Then all is repeated on other side.
2) A Hagallah 3/4 shimmy has its roots in the Hagallah folkloric dance.  For the 1st count, one hip is pulled downward until the foot touches the floor, this position is maintained for a second count, then weight is shifted onto this foot and the hip is pushed out for the third count and finally the opposite foot and hip lift on the 4th count.

Click Here for Videos Demonstrating 3/4 Shimmies

A shimmy done with thighs, hips, or shoulders that is done in time with the music and directly follows all 4 counts of each beat.

Click Here for a video demonstration of 4/4 shimmies
Also see: Thigh Shimmy, Hip Shimmy, Shoulder Shimmy

A box-shaped musical instrument that is played by compressing or expanding internal bellows while pressing buttons or keys, which causes valves to open, allowing air to flow across reeds that vibrate to produce sound inside the body. The Arabic accordion is reconfigured to accommodate the Arabic quarter tone scale maqam.

A term borrowed from ballet, which describes a 4 count traveling movement where 2 of the counts consist of a plie into straight knee on one foot while performing a torso twist and 2 more steps traveling forward in the new direction.

Click Here to see a video demonstration of Arabesque

The Awalim are the professional dancers, musicians and singers of Cairo. Because these ladies were adept as musicians and singers, they performed regularly in the Palaces of Egypt’s wealthy elite, including the harems. They were also indispesible entertainment for weddings and other major events.
Also see: 3/4 shimmy

Uneven 2 count rhythm with strongest accent on last count, most often associated with the Zar exorcism ceremony and used in oriental dance in the drum solo and very occasionally as an alternative for entrance and exit.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Ayoub.

A stringed musical instrument consisting of a teardrop-shaped body with a long neck.

1. Literal translation of the Arabic word meaning “of the land,” “of the country,” and generally interpreted to mean “of the people.”

2. This strong and powerful rhythm is the Heart and the Soul Rhythm of the dance. It is suggested to alternate between movements that follow the accents and those that follow the 4 counts of the rhythm. Sometimes is interchanged with Saidi or Maksoum in more contemporary music.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating the Baladi rhythm.
Also see: Masmoudi Saghir

California terminology for a basic travelling step which might have some relationship to the  basic traveling steps of Raqs Khaligy.

This step is one of the essential travelling movements which defines belly dance. Take one step forward and then place the ball of the other foot in front of the standing foot. Straighten the knee of the front foot, allowing the hip on that side to be pushed up and slightly rotated forward, then let the hip fall down and rotate backwards, while taking the weight off of that foot.  Then begin again on the opposite side. You may also choose to use the ball of the foot to push the rib cage up, or shoulder forward  instead of using a hip movement, as the knee straightens and pushes off the floor.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Basic Egyptian.
Also see: Basic Egyptian

A modern term that refers to an art form which is more appropriately known as Oriental Dance, Raqs Sharqi or Middle Eastern Dance.  The term “orient” is the French word meaning the East. In the late 1900’s adventures to the “Orient” were considered fashionable and exotic to the wealthy, aristocratic and elite society of Western Europe. Since French was the fashionable elitist language of the era, the French term became adopted to mean the East. Among these adventurous visitors, many historians and writers witnessed and commented on the displays of North African folkloric dance forms, including the Ghawazee of Egypt and the Ouled Nail of Algeria. Both of theses forms incorporate pelvic tilts and drops, which were then labled ‘danse du ventre’ i.e. belly dance.
Also see: Shaabi, Raqs Baladi, Raqs Sharqi

A full body movement, similar to an undulation that begins at the foot or knee and travels through the entire body upwards and forwards ending in the chest or chin.

Click Here for a video demonstration of the Body Wave.
Also see: Undulations, Camel

A long-necked, fretted lute with two courses of metal strings and frets that can be moved to produce microtonal intervals.

Not my terminology, but is commonly used to describe an undulation.
Also see: Undulations, Body Wave

A quick upward movement of the chest, created by contracting the upper Erector Spinae muscle of the back.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Chest Hiccup/Pop.

A Turkish/Greek 8 count rhythm that can be slow (American version) or up tempo, which will determine the type and quality of the movement. It is more common in Turkish, Lebanese and Syrian music, less in Egyptian.

 Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Chiftitelli.

A 4/4 shimmy done on the balls of the feet, where each hip movement is created by pushing the ball of the same side foot into the floor. This shimmy can be quite tiring and noisy, so I no longer include it in my movement repertoire.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Choo Choo.
Also see: 4/4 Shimmy

A type of woodwind instrument that has a single-reed, a straight cylindrical tube with an approximately cylindrical bore, and a flaring bell.

Daf

A large frame drum usually made of hardwood with many metal ringlets attached, and a goatskin head.

A large double-headed drum that is played with sticks and commonly used in Lebanese Debke and Egyptian Saidi music.
Also see: Tabl Baladi

A very small movement where weight shifts slightly to one side, knee is bent on that side allowing hip to drop, weight is then shifted back to other side and that knee is bent allowing that hip to drop. Repeat . A slightly larger hip movement can be achieved by pushing heel upwards before shifting weight to that side (hip will automatically be pushed upward).

Click Here for a video demonstration of Downward Hip Figure 8.
Also see: Figure 8s

Simple repetitive 4 count rhythm of the Felahin (or farmers) of the Nile Delta region, used extensively in simple folkloric music and within the Baladi Eshra.

 Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Felahi.

OMG! they are everywhere, Help where to I start?  There are many different kids of figure 8’s, including Pelvic Front to Back; Pelvic Back to Front; Upward Hip; Downward Hip; and Maya.  See specific definitions for clarifications of these.
Also see: Pelvic Front to Back Figure 8, Pelvic Back to Front figure 8, Upward Hip Figure 8, Downward Hip Figure 8, Maya

Tiny metallic cymbals attached to the end of the thumb middle finger using elastics. A set consists of four cymbals, two for each hand. Turkish word is Zils and the Arabic word is Zagat.
Also see: Zagat, Zils

Ghawazee translated in English means beautiful ones. The Ghawazee of the Said region of Egypt are some of Egypt’s original professsional dancers. The best known of these dancing women are called the Banat Mazin or daughters of (Joseph) Mazin,  a direct descendant of the first Persian gypsies or Roma that found their way to Egypt. Best known for their endless shimmies, finger cymbal (zhagat) playing, backbends, and stick dance, these ladies worked together in a trio for all major celebrations and a were a regular feature on the Nile cruise boats.
Also see: 3/4 shimmy, Ghawazee step, Finger Cymbals

A diagonal traveling step also known as the Push Step. The ball of the back foot is placed behind the lead flat foot, then the back knee is straightened, weight transferred onto the back foot, pushing the buttocks upwards and the entire body forward until the weight falls onto the front foot and repeat. Arms are often in a position where lead foot arm is up and lengthened at 45-degrees, while other arm (is placed across chest slightly lower and in same position as lead arm (typical of basic Ghawazee step with finger cymbals).

Click Here for a video demonstration of Ghawazee step.
Also see: Push Step

A forward-and-backwards step on one foot for the 1st and 3rd count, while the 2nd and 4th count are on the other foot in a stationary position.   BIG differentiation:  Grapevine is a folkloric group dance pattern that begins with the first step moving across the stationary foot.  Sharqi moves in the opposite direction – First foot steps forward, 2 and 4th step move laterally.
Click Here for a video demonstration of Grapevine.

This delightful folkdance comes from the bedouin tribes found in the North-Western area of Egypt, near the border of Lybia. As a celebration before the local weddings, the young ladies display their skills (and their hips) to the intricate rhythmical accompaniment of hand-clapping by the young men.

Not to be confused with pelvic rotations, this is a larger movement going from the side, continuing to the back, over to the other side and finally passing across the front of the pelvis. If the pelvis sits quietly on top of the knees, as they trace the oblong circular pattern, this prevents over stretch of the hips and compression of the lower back.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Hip Circles.
Also see: Pelvic Rotation, Umi

A passive release of the hip from a hip lift or hip push up.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Hip Drop.
Also see: Hip Pull-Down

A tiny movement wherein the lateral aspect of the hip is tilted upwards towards the waist by contracting the lateral muscles of the waist.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Hip Lift.

 
Also see: Hip Push Up

A stronger movement where the inner thigh muscle pulls the hip of the same side down from a lift or neutral position.  Distinguish from hip drops.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Hip Pull-Down.
Also see: Hip Drop

A  movement of the hip which is created  by placing the ball of one foot in front of or beside or behind the standing foot. Then straighten the knee and transfer the weight onto the ball foot, keeping some weight on the standing foot. The hip will move up and twist forward if the the ball of that foot is which is created by straightening the knee. The movement can be posterior, lateral or diagonal front is placed forward. It will move straight up if the ball of the foot is to the side or the buttocks while push if the ball of that foot is placed behind the standing foot.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Hip Push Up.
Also see: Hip Lift

A 4/4 shimmy done with the hips.  For hip shimmies, contract only one side of the interior thigh muscle and let the other side move out on the release.

Click Here for a video demonstration of 4/4 shimmies, including a  Hip Shimmy.
Also see: 4/4 Shimmy

Forward or backwards rotational movements of the entire pelvis. Forward twist results from straightening the entire leg at the knee as the same foot contacts the ground. The backwards twist is done by focusing the movement onto the back foot, as the knee bends and the pelvis pivots backwards on top of that foot.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Hip Twists.

This step has many interpretations. The simplest involves a side to side forward half circle with a very small hip twist front and back on the side that does not carry the body’s weight.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Jewel.

A wooden string instrument with four strings usually tuned in perfect fifths, and usually played by drawing a bow across one or more strings.
Also see: Violin

8 count rhythm, used within complex oriental intro and in drum solos. It is one of the rhythms that is well suited to highlighting the accents with your movements and cymbals and allows for lots of variations of movements and cymbals patterns.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Kebir.
Also see: Masmoudi

A rumba-like 4 count rhythm from the Khalij (Saudi Arabian Peninsula), traditionally used for regional popular dance and folklore but recently incorporated into oriental music. There are many rhythms in the Khaliji repertoire.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Khaliji.

A light and playful variety of travelling steps using a repeated rise and fall of the heel (without allowing the heel to fully touch the floor).

Click Here for a video demonstration of Lady Jogging.
Also see: Trampoline

A movement in which the entire pelvis slides horizontally until the lead hip rests above the foot on the same side. This is then repeated on the other side. The pelvis always remains level with the floor.  This is the signature movement of the great Egyptian Super Star Soheir Zaki.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Lateral Pelvic Shift.

Luf

2-count unevenly accented rhythm used for entrance and exit, high energy, traveling, simple movements.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Luf.

 
Also see: Malfouf

2-count unevenly accented rhythm used for entrance and exit, high energy, traveling, simple movements.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Malfouf.

 
Also see: Luf

Principal 4 count rhythm found in Arabic music for dance and most popular songs stressing the taks rather than the dums.. Virtually any step and movement can be used with this rhythm, but will be determined by the speed and melody.

Click here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Maqsoum.

8 count rhythm, used within complex oriental intro and in drum solos. It is one of the rhythms that is well suited to highlighting the accents with your movements and cymbals and allows for lots of variations of movements and cymbals patterns.

Click here to hear a sample of Masmoudi
Also see: Kebir

This strong and powerful rhythm is the Heart and the Soul Rhythm of the dance. It is suggested to alternate between movements that follow the accents and those that follow the 4 counts of the rhythm. Sometimes is interchanged with Saidi or Maksoum in more contemporary music.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Masmoudi Sahgir.
Also see: Baladi

This term is often used to describe a downward hip figure 8
Also see: Figure 8s, Downward Hip Figure 8

A musical instrument consisting of two, short, bamboo reed pipes put together; each pipe has around five or six small holes for fingering.

A delightful Egyptian character dance that depicts the women from the baladi neighnourhoods of Cairo or the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, as they go out to do their shopping in the market. In Cairo, they wear the traditional woman’s Galabiya, while in Alexandria we see the modern Western influences in their dress contrasted. These are covered by the large black “shawl” or melaya, which the ladies strategically use to balance modesty and playful flirting!
Also see: Baladi

Also known as: Mizamar

A double-reed wind instrument that is very distinctive for its piercing sound.

Ney

Also known as: Nai

An end-blown flute, consisting of a piece of hollow cane or reed with five or six finger holes and one thumb hole.

Oud

A pear-shaped stringed instrument with a narrow, short neck and no frets.

This is actually a side-to-side diagonal undulation.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Pelvic Back-to-Front Figure 8.
Also see: Figure 8s

Feet open, Bend one knee and let that hip twist forward to begin. Now, transfer weight onto front hip foot and straighten the knee as that hip twists to back, letting the front knee bend at the same time. Next, shift weight from back foot to front foot and begin again. Alternate side to side.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Pelvic Front-to-Back Figure 8.
Also see: Figure 8s

A small, very contained movement comprised of a side tilt of the hip, a pelvic tuck to the front, a hip tilt to the other side and ending with a slight relaxed front drop of the pelvis.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Pelvic Rotation.
Also see: Hip Circles, Umi

A diagonal traveling step often referred to as a Ghawazee step. The ball of the back foot is placed behind the lead flat foot, then the back knee is straightened, weight transferred onto the back foot, pushing the buttocks upwards and the entire body forward until the weight falls onto the front foot and repeat. Arms are often in a position where lead foot arm is up and lengthened at 45 degrees, while other arm (is placed across chest slightly lower and in same position as lead arm (typical of basic Ghawazee step with finger cymbals).

Click Here for a video demonstration of Push-Step.
Also see: Ghawazee step

A type of zither with a narrow trapezoidal soundboard and nylon strings stretched over a single bridge. It is played on the lap by plucking the strings, usually with two tortoise-shell picks.

A type of bowed string instrument, often with a spike at the bottom to rest on the ground.

Also known as: Raqs Asaya, Raks Asaya

Raqs Assaya is Arabic for Cane Dance. The use of the cane or stick can be seen in folkloric dance from many Middle Eastern countries. However, Egypt is best known for its highly lively, playful and delightful  interpretations. Originally from the Said region of southern Egypt, its popularity has been embraced by the professional oriental dancers in Cairo and Alexandria, as well as the country’s folkloric companies. The man’s version is the dignified and stylized Tahtyb.
Also see: Saidi

In the dance world, the term “raqs baladi” refers to the original form of popular dance as practiced by most Arabic, especially Egyptian, women at parties and festivities. It is also included in the repertoire of and represented by professional dancers as a more natural, simplified, grounded and less refined dance form, as could be seen at any local group celebration. Fifi Abdo, the great star of Egyptian Dance, exemplifies the ‘baladi style’ in her oriental, baladi and folkloric performances.
Also see: Belly Dance, Raqs Sharqi

Direct Arabic translation for Eastern Dance or Oriental Dance.  In today’s framework, it is most often used with reference to a professional level, individual, refined and complex art form.
Also see: Raqs Baladi, Belly Dance

A diagonal front open, side tilt, back down, and side tilt movement of the entire rib cage, with no stopping points. This movement is never performed in isolation in Egyptian dance.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Rib Rotations.

Riq

A type of tambourine used as a traditional instrument in Arabic music. It traditionally has a wooden frame, jingles, and a thin, translucent head made of fish or goat skin.

A strong 4 count rhythm from Upper Egypt (the Said), most often associated with fokloric dances from that region such as Raks Assaya cane dance or Tahtiyb.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Saidi.

A beautiful 10 count rhythm that is common in classical Arabic music and relatively recently incorporated into Oriental Dance music.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Samaai.

Saz

A stringed musical instrument consisting of a teardrop-shaped body with a long neck.

Direct Arabic translation for “of the People”.  In Northern African countries of the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisian and Algeria), this term refers to folkloric dance forms. However, in Egypt this term has come to be interpreted as the modernized version of Raqs Baladi as first adapted during the time of the popular music of Ahmad Adawiyya.

Regular and rapid movements of hips, thighs or shoulders performed in time to the beat of the music and with virtually no muscular tension in order to allow the muscles to reverberate freely following the movement.

See specific shimmy definitions for additional detail.
Also see: 4/4 Shimmy, 3/4 shimmy

A backwards circular movement of the entire lateral rib cage and shoulder, moving together as a unit from front to back.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Shoulder Rolls.

A 4/4 shimmy done with the shoulders.  For shoulder shimmies, pull only one shoulder back and let it rebound forward for the second movement.

Click Here for a video demonstration of various 4/4 shimmies, including shoulder shimmies.
Also see: 4/4 Shimmy

An American term for a particular arm and shoulder movement that involves backward shoulder rolls and rippling arms. To avoid injury, care must be taken to keep the shoulder movements minimal and never to lift the elbow higher than the shoulder.

Click here for a video demonstration of how Hadia does Snake Arms.
Also see: Shoulder Rolls

One of the essential movements which defines belly dance. Take one step forward and then place the ball of the other foot in front of the standing foot. Straighten the knee of the front foot, allowing the hip on that side to be pushed up and rotated forward, then let the hip fall down and backwards, while taking the weight off of that foot.  Then begin again on the opposite side. You may also choose to use the ball of the foot to push the rib cage up, or shoulder forward  instead of using a hip movement, as the knee straightens and pushes off the floor.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Step-Push.
Also see: Basic Egyptian

A large double-headed drum that is played with sticks and commonly used in Lebanese Debke and Egyptian Saidi music.
Also see: Davul

A single head drum with a goblet shaped body that helps to obtain a bass resonance. Traditionally may be made of pottery, wood, or metal.

The elegant and stylized dance form created by the Saidi men of Upper Egypt i.e. the Said. This dance originated as a martical art using a large stick called a Naboot. It evolved into a stylized dance-like training for the combat and is now presented as folkloric dance form. The traditional men’s robe, known as a Galbya, and the turbaned head wraps add the finishing touches to this truly masculine and dignified art form.

 
Also see: Saidi

A piece of instrumental improvisation often played with no support rhythm, but may also be overlayed on top of a rhythm.

A term which refers to the musical and dance improvisation based on typical baladi style songs and comprised of musical improvisation (generally accordion but originally “mawaal”), followed by accents and pauses in a call and answer pattern between accordion and percussion, resolving in a strong “Baladi” or “Masmoudi Saghir” rhythm and melody and usually ending with another fast paced, high energy improvisational sequence to Maksoum sarirrah i.e. fast maksoum.  This may or may not be followed by a “tabla” or drum solo.

A state of Ecstasy or rapture resulting from emotional investment in sophisticated classical Arabic Music and song.

Half of a front-to-back figure 8, executed with one hip to trace a “teardrop” shape.

 Click Here for a video demonstration of Teardrop.

A 4/4 shimmy done with the thighs.  For best results with a thigh shimmy, focus on bringing the knees forward on the count, as pushing the knees backwards will cause injury.

Click Here for a video demonstration of various 4/4 shimmies, including the Thigh Shimmy.
Also see: 4/4 Shimmy

A simple but very common traveling step which continually moves forward on the balls of the feet for 3 steps , followed by a one count pause. This also may be referred to as chassée.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Three-Step “Tippy Toe”.

A light and playful variety of travelling steps using a repeated rise and fall of the heel (without allowing the heel to fully touch the floor).

Click Here for a video demonstration of Trampoline.
Also see: Lady Jogging

Umi

The name for a movement similar to — but not the same as — a hip rotation.  An umi  is a rapid Tahitian pelvic rotation during which the sacrum pops upwards strongly at the back on the principal beat of the music, requiring an enormous amount of tension through the feet and legs.
Also see: Pelvic Rotation, Hip Circles

Rippling, gentle sensual movements wherein the entire spinal column moves up or down in gradual wave.  Essentially there are two basic variations; diagonal or front to back.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Undulations.
Also see: Camel, Body Wave

Place feet close together, weight on one foot.  Lift that heel and push ball of that foot into floor, straighten knee allowing that hip to move upward. Then let the weight shift and fall onto the other foot and repeat.  Arms and ribs may be incorporated into this movement by stretching arms up and initiating the upward hip movement. This is also referred to as upward “Maya”.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Upward Hip Figure 8.
Also see: Figure 8s

A movement related to the shimmy, but executed more quickly and with a great deal of muscular tension.

Click Here for a video demonstration of Vibration.
Also see: Shimmy

A wooden string instrument with four strings usually tuned in perfect fifths, and usually played by drawing a bow across one or more strings.
Also see: Kamanji

A 4 count rhythm with only accent on the First count. It is the Arabic counterpart for Chiftitelli found in classical oriental and Oum Kalthoum songs.

Click Here to hear a sound clip demonstrating Wahda.

Tiny metallic cymbals attached to the end of the thumb middle finger using elastics. A set consists of four cymbals, two for each hand. Turkish word is Zils and the Arabic word is Zagat.
Also see: Zils, Finger Cymbals

The loud, high pitched, call used by women in festivities, weddings and other celebrations. One hand is placed horizontally above the mouth to magnify the sound, while the tongue quickly and repeatedly hits the hard palate at the same time as the high pitched la la la la.

Tiny metallic cymbals attached to the end of the thumb middle finger using elastics. A set consists of four cymbals, two for each hand. Turkish word is Zils and the Arabic word is Zagat.
Also see: Zagat, Finger Cymbals

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