'Belly Dance' Terms (used in BellyBeat)

Notes on transliteration of Arabic and common words used in the dance.

awazan wazn (sing) Arabic rhythms. The wazn may be divided into either equal or unequal segments. For instance a wazn of six beats could be 3 then 3 or 4 then 2. There are over a hundred different cycles some made up of 176 units of time! Fortunately we normally only use a small subset for dance.
bedleh Literally "suit" it is used to describe the costume of bra, belt, and skirt. In Egypt it often has the belt sewn onto the skirt and must include a body stocking. See Zanny's favourite bedleh
beledi / balady literally native, of "my country"; more in the sense of "my homeland" or "my community". It is an emotive term used to describe things of home or a put down by urban sophisticates.
When used to describe a dance style it tends to mean more folkloric, looser, and with less isolation, flat feet and plain arms.
Also see Kashmir's article on Urban Beledi
cabaret style
nightclub style
When applied to costumes, this is the style most people associate with belly dance - a bra, belt, and skirt with lots of beads and sequins. (see bedleh)

When used of a dance style, applies to the type of dance you would tend to see in a nightclub, cabaret or restaurant. Specifically, not folk or Tribal.

circle skirt 3 plus half circles reaching from hip to ankle. Maybe sewn as separate front and back panels or as one very full skirt.
(see Making a Circle Skirt and Jane's layout)
couching sewing technique where a thick thread is laid down and stitched down at intervals with a thin thread at right angles. In beading, the holding stitches are placed between the beads.
click for diagram
daff / duff 30cm tambourine with 5 pairs of cymbals. Unlike the riqq it's function is not primarily holding the awzan and it is also shaken and struck against the body of the musician.
Danse Orientale see Oriental Dance
masmoudi sagir A rhythm (mis)known in the West as beledi: dum dum (hold and) dum (hold) tek (hold)
ghawz / ghawazee Sinti "Gypsies" now based in Luxor - most famous Banaat Maazin.
The dance style is characterized by constant shimmies; foot and zills carry the beat
'Modern' costumes consist of layers of fringing all the way up the skirt. Older costumes were Turkish styled with fitted coats over chemise and pantaloons
maqamat maqam (sing) The arrangement of tones in Arabic music - of which there are over seventy patterns. The uniquely named patterns are made from seven tones from the twenty-four (non-equal) intervaled octave It is the use of the medium second (about a three-quarter tone) which gives Arabic music its unique quality
MEDANZ The Middle Eastern Dance Association of New Zealand.
For more information see MEDANZ web-site
mizmar A clarinet style instrument often used in folk music.
nay An end-blown flute.
Oriental Dance / Orientale "belly dance" - particularly classical raqs sharqi that blends the earlier dance form with elements of ballet. Characterized by an erect carriage, extreme isolation, frequently on the balls of the feet and using fully orchestrated music
oud / 'ud Fretless, plucked short-neck lute.
paillette pronounced "pie-ette" Large flat sequin or disk with a hole on the top
qanun Plucked box zither with 63-84 strings. Played flat.
raqs Arabic for dance (see Kashmir's essay)
raqs sharqi Arabic for "eastern dance". Used by many instead of the term "belly dance". Can also be used to describe specifically Egyptian "belly dance" and also Hilal style (not the same thing).
riqq 20cm tambourine used as major holder of the rhythm (awzan).
Doms are played in the center and taks are played near the rim. Doms are played on the rim and taks are played in the center.
shimmy rapid repeated movement - especially of the hips or shoulders.
(see Kashmir's "Shimmies" )
tabla / darabukkah single headed drum with a goblet shape.
Like the riqq, important in holding the awzan.
Doms are played in the center and taks are played near the rim.
taqsim the instrumental presentation of a maqam. These are improvised by the musician according to strict rules of Arabic musical theory. They are often used by dancers to present intense, slow, controlled section.
Here how Touma (1999:99) describes it: "the taqsim is not purely improvisational. Underlying its freely unfolding rhythmic-temporal design is a compositional element in the form of its fixed tonal-spatial organization, its predetermined sequence of tone levels and phases. This interplay between composition and improvisation is the essential characteristics of a taqsim".
undulation smooth wave-like movement especially of the torso. Can be done both front to back, or side to side.
zills / zils Finger cymbals in Turkish. Called sagat in Arabic. However, it is normal for the Turkish term to be used. (Turkish & Persian terms for music, French for dance)

Touma, Habib Hassan "The Music of the Arabs", Amadeus Press, 1999 (1996)