ATS musicality

Valizan

New member
Hi everybody, Hi Mahsati! (Wow! After three years I've finally managed to get into this site!)

I think the confusion is coming from the use of the word "combinations."

I dance both Egyptian style and ATS and there is a slight difference in usage.

When I dance Egyptian and I do a combination, it is a grouping I've put together and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed because I think they would maximize the performance.

In FCBD ATS, combinations are still done to maximize a moment in performance, but they are usually combinations because some of the movements in the combination can't be cued, whether due to sight lines or the speed at which things are happening.

But not all ATS is combinations. No.

As someone mentioned, we do have combinations that would be cued, but most ATS involves cueing one particular move. Some of those moves have four counts to accomplish them, some of them have eight counts to accomplish them.

Mahsati asked if you could do one hip circle, one hip bump, one hip accent forward with arms alternating from forehead to horizontal and that not be a combination.

Yes. :)

In ATS one hip circle (in ATS: Circle step... a slow move), one hip bump (Single bump), one hip accent forward with arms alternating from forehead to horizontal (in ATS we bring the arms over head and call it an Egyptian) and that would not be a pre-planned combination. Each movement would be cued separately. It is just a matter of the skill of the dancer to be able to cue it fast enough that the others can catch it.

The difference from dancers just following you without any cue is that in ATS they usually know ALL the movements in the vocabulary, so if you cue something that is not one of the base moves, the following dancer has that split second to remember that you're going to do a more complicated move that a non-ATS dancer might not necessarily catch if you don't know what the cue means.

In ATS we are aiming for the movement to look smooth (as buttah!) and synched as we do them. We are trying to avoid Betty being a count off of Jane.

Mahsati, it could have been that because you were in a workshop situation that they only did combinations to keep it fun for people. But in regular one-on-on (Or one-on-three... or four...) dancing, we aren't usually doing combinations of 16.

With my students, they'll do a count of four, cue, CHANGE, a count of eight, cue, CHANGE, a count of sixteen (because the move has that count), cue, CHANGE, etc...

Hope this helps. I'm not even sure if I answered the question. :)
 

Kashmir

New member
First let me say what I think you mean when you say combinations to see if we're on the same page: When I hear combinations, I'm thinking something more along the lines of short choreographies in which someone has instructed that a sequence of specific moves are to follow. If this is the case, this is not what we do.
In standard dance jargon (as I have heard it for about 29 years - not all belly dance), a "move" is a single short movement with a single body part - a shoulder shimmy, a hip eight, a step-touch, a chest lift.

Doing two or moves at once is a "layer" - say a hip shimmy and a hip circle or a pendulum and a direction change. If they are done sequentially they are a "combination" - so a plain hip shimmy followed by a hip circle is a combo.

A combo can be as short as 4 counts or much longer (usually under 32 counts - but not always). A combo can be repeated or done with other combos to create a "sequence".

From what I have heard of ATS students learn moves, combos and cueing. When "improvising" the leader selects from rehearsed and codified combos cued in a standard way. There is some leeway in interpretation but a leader should not suddenly make up a new combo on the spot - even if it used the underlying movement vocabulary. Would that be correct?
 

Kashmir

New member
When I dance Egyptian and I do a combination, it is a grouping I've put together and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed because I think they would maximize the performance.
Actually a combination does not need to be rehearsed. I have my students create combinations on the fly in class. They might play with them for 5 minutes and never touch them again. It is the act of combining moves to fit into a phrase of music or counts that makes it a combination.
Mahsati asked if you could do one hip circle, one hip bump, one hip accent forward with arms alternating from forehead to horizontal and that not be a combination.

Yes. :)
But by defintion this is a "combination" - ie it is combinations of moves. Are you saying the leader can create a new ie unrehearsed combination on the fly during performance?
 

Dunyah

New member
I once asked about the topic of musicality and ATS on another forum, and people got really defensive. But really, I think musicality is limited in that style of dance. Often the music is mainly background for the dance, it's also often repetitive. It's just part of the ATS aesthetic, but it is one of the downfalls of the style for me, it becomes predictable for the watcher, though I am sure it is really fun for the dancers.
 

Jane

New member
In the few years I've been doing ATS, you just sort of pick up what moves work well with what sorts of rhythms, or sounds and accents.
I think this is what I'm trying (not very well) to ask. What is present in the music that ATS dancers interpret with a combination? What is it you guys listen for and how does that fit in with the combo concept? How do moves work with rhythms in ATS? I haven't been able to figure out how a ATS dancer uses rhythm; I feel like I'm only looking at the counted phrase and I'm missing a piece of the puzzle :(

A basic rule of thumb is that slow movements stay with slow music, and fast movements stay with fast music. You don't generally mix n' mingle the two unless your piece of music slows down or speeds up.
This is a new idea for me. I've never really thought of movements exclusively being fast or slow- unless it's a vibration. Help on this one?

Thank you all for your replies so far, it's very interesting! :)
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
Not at all! I appreciate the clarification. I thought I must have lost my mind for a moment there.

So back on topic, how would an ATS group handle music that changed tempos regularly or had odd timed rhythms? Most of the non-choreographed ATS I have seen has always been to very even music with few big changes. Also, how do you handle keeping within the phrasing of the music (such as a repeating melody)?
Maybe a visual might help? :think:

 

Jane

New member
<Looked at visual> Okay, they're still using 8ct. phrases, just dancing faster? :think: What am I not seeing?
 

befree

New member
The first 19 seconds of the video have no tempo at all. The movements done here, as well as up to the 57-second mark, are "slow" movements, which can be done to any music without special attention to the beat. Maybe the slow moves will be done to a 4 or 8 count beat, maybe not.
 

Jane

New member
The first 19 seconds of the video have no tempo at all.
Well crap. I counted two eight counts in a hurra taqsim. I still "hear" a count that isn't being audibly expressed with percussion :confused:

The movements done here, as well as up to the 57-second mark, are "slow" movements, which can be done to any music without special attention to the beat. Maybe the slow moves will be done to a 4 or 8 count beat, maybe not.
If there is a melody line, in this case a taqsim, how is there not a "beat" to count and dance to? Taqsim can be counted even if they are an improvisation. If something is classified as a "slow" move, how come you can't just speed it up and do it faster? I cheerfully admit to being totally lost :)
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
There IS a definite beat---it's just extremely slow. There's no point in playing rhythm instruments if "there is no beat." The drum playing would then have no structure, and there is definitely structure there, even though it's a very slow tempo.
 

Kashmir

New member
The first 19 seconds of the video have no tempo at all. The movements done here, as well as up to the 57-second mark, are "slow" movements, which can be done to any music without special attention to the beat. Maybe the slow moves will be done to a 4 or 8 count beat, maybe not.
Actually the first 19 seconds has tempo (and rhythm) - just no percussion. And I don't believe these dancers are ignoring the beat. Their circle and eight fit nicely into the phrase.

This clip does show clearly some of the differences betweeen tribal and traditional though in that they ignore the musical structure of the piece in that although the moves fit the phrasing taken independently the dance does not reflex the repeats within the music or the call and response.
 

steffib

New member
In my experience, the musical interpretation in ATS, as well as the choice of music (well, in case of the group I danced with) is more similar to Vintage Orientale than Egyptian dance. We used all the classic VO songs: Uskudara, Istemem Babacim, Hadouni, Misirlou, ...

A while ago, I took a workshop on stage craft with Artemis Mourat, and in one exercise, we dissected a song we had never heard before and then came up with a "skeleton choreography" on the fly. It felt just like dancing ATS to me. At least in how I am used to dancing ATS, one transitions WITH THE MUSIC, e.g. when there is a change between chorus and verse, when there is a change from verse A to verse B, ... With the songs beloved in VO, one needs to know where chorus and verse are, where the themes change, when the solo improv in the music starts and ends. Just like what we used to do when dancing ATS. The fact that moves repeat 2/4/8 times makes a lot of sense, given that the melodic chunks in these songs are typically 2/4/8 measures. And, if there are melodic chunks of 3/5/6 measures length, that works just as well in ATS.

Of course, a group improv format does not allow for deep individual musical expression, and responding nimbly to a call-response is typically not that easily accomplished as with a solo or a choreographed group piece.

And, at least in my head, that makes a lot of sense given that historically, ATS has its roots in VO.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
In my experience, the musical interpretation in ATS, as well as the choice of music (well, in case of the group I danced with) is more similar to Vintage Orientale than Egyptian dance. We used all the classic VO songs: Uskudara, Istemem Babacim, Hadouni, Misirlou, ...

A while ago, I took a workshop on stage craft with Artemis Mourat, and in one exercise, we dissected a song we had never heard before and then came up with a "skeleton choreography" on the fly. It felt just like dancing ATS to me. At least in how I am used to dancing ATS, one transitions WITH THE MUSIC, e.g. when there is a change between chorus and verse, when there is a change from verse A to verse B, ... With the songs beloved in VO, one needs to know where chorus and verse are, where the themes change, when the solo improv in the music starts and ends. Just like what we used to do when dancing ATS.
Totally agree. In fact, I believe it helps if a dancer has a good working knowledge of basic music theory, even if it's Western music theory. You can build on that knowledge when learning about ME music theory, whether he/she is learning Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese, American Oriental, or Tribal (ATS, ITS, or the varying fusions).
 
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Aziyade

New member
Maybe it's just me, but I'm noticing that when I'm doing ATS and having to be the leader, I really feel the BEAT more than the other parts of the music. This also could be because I'm new to it.

But I really like getting "immersed" in that beat. Feeling it become your heartbeat. I suspect that a skilled dancer with a lot more experience in ATS will be immersed in the beat and the melody -- and so your musicality develops with your skill in being comfortable with improv and leading others in improv. ?

Or maybe it really becomes that same feeling of dancing around a drum circle, where it's mostly just a bunch of drummers keeping the beat, and you just dance to that beat, creating a visual "melody line" - ?
 
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