Arabesque?

indrayu

New member
Great thread for me! I've always hated arabesques. The way I've been taught, they look ungainly and feel awful. It's been all about swinging the unweighted leg around straight, high and showily, apparently in a reinterpretation of the way Keti Sharif teaches it. But done as a natural consequence of pivoting on the weighted leg, as demonstrated by Raquia, much nicer to look at and more like belly- rather than (pretend) ballet dance.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Keti does NOT teach the swinging leg arabesque. I learned correct technique from her videos as well as various workshops & privates.

I'm actually not sure how your teacher could have qualified to teach Keti's stuff doing arabesques that way, as Keti's format requires stronger technique than that.
 

indrayu

New member
That's why I wrote "reinterpretation" :confused:

Even a novice can often tell the difference between "difficult"' and "dangerous" technique. I think the style taught was going for visual effect above all else.
 

indrayu

New member
Small towns :confused:

Darshiva, I'll be in Adelaide for Christmas and might have a day or so in Brisbane in early January. Got that name you gave me in the "Private Lessons" thread a while back, so it is time to start organising a few things :)
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Yes it is. There are also some exceptional teachers in Brisbane, so give them a look too if you're not too busy.
 
An arabesque is a type of turn in which one usually rotates 180* without moving the pelvis.
As an ex-ballet dancer, I know an arabesque as a pose where you are standing on one leg with the other extended behind. It had never occurred to me that it was different in belly dance (I know, I'm a bit slow...). Now the penny's dropped!

So basically what you're saying is that an arabesque in belly dance is a move where you step on one leg with the other leg lifted but not necessarily extended, then pivot around, usually 180 deg?

That suddenly makes sense of something that's been bugging me! I'm learning a choreography this term which has a lot of "arabesques" in it. Some of them are so fast, there's no time to extend my leg and I've noticed my teacher barely straightens her back leg at all. "That's not an arabesque!", I've been thinking. But whoops, now I know it is. Amazed it's taken me so long to twig.
 

Jane

New member
So basically what you're saying is that an arabesque in belly dance is a move where you step on one leg with the other leg lifted but not necessarily extended, then pivot around, usually 180 deg?
Arabesque in belly dance can also be done with a bent knee and a small "push" of the side of the lower leg/ankle/foot. We did that when big circle skirts were the in thing to push the skirt up and swirl around with the turn. I learned it both straight legged and with the bent leg (exclusively for the skirt) with the front of the thigh pulling through rather than using just momentum to pivot. I think that kind may have been Turkish or Turkish influenced American Oriental.
 

Zumarrad

Member
I've definitely heard "arabesque" referred to for belly dance in more of the ballet sense too, in that it is a thing that involves a leg being extended, so I think there is really quite a bit of confusion as to what people mean. When I saw Keti Sharif's "arabesque" ie a 180 turn, I was all "BUH???" I've had teachers refer to "arabesque" meaning "you rise on one foot with the back leg extended", usually as part of a travelling move (and I use the term that way). And a person can do an arabesque in the pivot with leg extended sense without turning a full 180.

It is all. too. confusing. The important thing IMO is that in belly dance you don't want to lift that leg high. A 45 degree angle is tops for me.
 

Aziyade

New member
Can someone post a vid of Keti? This sounds more like failli than arabesque.

What I've learned that I liked in regards to "Arabesque" is allowing the "lifted" hip to travel in a small circle in the hip socket, so that you get an "up-and-over feeling of the hip. This can be followed by a release back to front neutral, so that the leg LOOKS like there is gentle kick from back to front, but it's not really kicking -- just responding to the hip movement.

On her 5-layers dvd, Nadira does a lovely version of this. I love the feel of it in the body.
 

Kashmir

New member
As an ex-ballet dancer, I know an arabesque as a pose where you are standing on one leg with the other extended behind. It had never occurred to me that it was different in belly dance (I know, I'm a bit slow...). Now the penny's dropped!
Same name - different move. A bit like taqsim in belly dance vs tribal!
 

Zumarrad

Member
Can someone post a vid of Keti? This sounds more like failli than arabesque.

What I've learned that I liked in regards to "Arabesque" is allowing the "lifted" hip to travel in a small circle in the hip socket, so that you get an "up-and-over feeling of the hip. This can be followed by a release back to front neutral, so that the leg LOOKS like there is gentle kick from back to front, but it's not really kicking -- just responding to the hip movement.

On her 5-layers dvd, Nadira does a lovely version of this. I love the feel of it in the body.
In my adult ballet class we do many more movements than I ever got to learn as a baby ballet student, all scrupulously named and translated. When my teacher decided we were doing a combination with arabesque failli in it, I was trying not to laugh because it was almost exactly what I normally do for an arabesque in Belly Dance World, and I believe the failli bit means "failed". It's awfully pretty.

I also love the hip additions to this movement!
 

Zumarrad

Member
This is a big WTH to me :confused:

The lifted bit at the end is one of the ways I've learned to do an arabesque in belly dance. Like I said elsewhere, the term seems to be used for anything and everything on one leg with a direction change.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I was wondering where the Keti arabesque = 180* turn comes from and I just realised it's from her A-Z Advanced DVD.

It's not that way right across her discography.

Here's the 180* turn version



And here's a more typical Keti arabesque (she just says fly, but this is the move she teaches as arabesque elsewhere in her discography)

 

Jane

New member
The lifted bit at the end is one of the ways I've learned to do an arabesque in belly dance. Like I said elsewhere, the term seems to be used for anything and everything on one leg with a direction change.
The leg lift part as arabesque was okay. I meant the fact she didn't distinguish clearly between the grapevine step and the actual arabesque movement. She kind of ran them together which would confuse the heck out of a new dancer IMO.
 

Aziyade

New member
The leg lift part as arabesque was okay. I meant the fact she didn't distinguish clearly between the grapevine step and the actual arabesque movement. She kind of ran them together which would confuse the heck out of a new dancer IMO.
In Vaganova school of ballet, arabesque isn't a "movement" but a positioning of the body. You can do a lot of different preceding movements before the pose, but a common one is a weight transfer onto the standing leg (a step) or with one or more "steps" before the weight transfer. You can also spring up directly to arabesque, but that kind of usage didn't get "borrowed" into bellydance.

In bellydance, the usage of "arabesque" seems to almost ALWAYS be similar to Reda's usage, and that was as a weight change preceded by at least one (often two or three) traveling steps.

I hadn't learned this from her, but from what I understand about Farida Fahmy, she always taught Arabesque with the quasi-grapevine or pas de bouree preceding the weight change. (She also does a reverse arabesque, where the leg is extended in front.)

Keti's use of the word "Arabesque" to describe the pivot turn is kind of confusing to me, but as my teacher DaVid pointed out to me yesterday, the Egyptians often borrow movements from other dance forms like ballet without strict adherence to how the movement is done or is applied in ballet. So we end up with something in bellydance that captures the "spirit" of the original borrowed movement, but doesn't always obey the "rules" from the original dance form. ;)
 

Jane

New member
Good gravy, this is getting hairy! So basically the word "Arabesque" is borrowed from ballet terminology and applied to several related belly dance movements that look vaguely like having your leg out during a traveling pivot. My teachers taught that the step patterns and travel directions that preceded the "leg out turny-thing" weren't set in stone. I bet this is one of those universal movements lost in antiquity. Having no set terminology in belly dance certainly keeps thing interesting :lol:
 
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Darshiva

Moderator
Keti's use of the word "Arabesque" to describe the pivot turn is kind of confusing to me, but as my teacher DaVid pointed out to me yesterday, the Egyptians often borrow movements from other dance forms like ballet without strict adherence to how the movement is done or is applied in ballet. So we end up with something in bellydance that captures the "spirit" of the original borrowed movement, but doesn't always obey the "rules" from the original dance form. ;)
Buh?
 
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