Follow up to the previous post.

First of all, I love reading everyone’s responses to my blog posts.  ESPECIALLY when people respectfully disagree.  I am not set in my opinions, and I love hearing different perspectives.

I do want to encourage dancers to find Middle Eastern music that they like, even if it’s a few songs or just one style.

One of the things that came up in the responses to the last blog is the idea that dancers want to perform to music that is culturally more familiar to them than Middle Eastern music.  I completely understand.  BUT I want to add that one can become acclimated to, appreciate, and learn to understand music that is initially unfamiliar.  Chapter 8, “My Favorite Things: Why Do We Like the Music We Like” in Daniel Levitin’s amazing book This is Your Brain on Music speaks about this very concept.  I’d give you some excerpts here, but a friend is currently borrowing my copy.

I remember the first time I heard Venetian Snares’ crazy breakcore.  I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to listen to it.  But the more I listened to it, the more I appreciated it… and then I decided to dance to it.  I think one can do the same with Middle Eastern music.

Also, I am hardly a member of the “Ethnic Police”.  Seriously.  I dressed up as H.R. Giger’s Alien and danced to Autechre’s “Second Bad Vilbel”; how could I EVER say that one should only dance to Middle Eastern music?  I’d be a raging hypocrite!  I do, however, aim to educate.  Part of my job as an instructor is to bring up issues that might be uncomfortable, so that my students and readers can continue to learn and educate themselves.  There are so many dancers out there without mentors, and I strive to be a little beacon of light for those dancers who might not have someone of which to ask questions.


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gypsy ingram-stow

I fell in love with the instruments played in m.e. region. Before the world became so small, I remember how the mysterious music made me want to learn to dance like the ladies in elaborate costumes. I would suggest listening tu the drum solos at first, if you want to develop a taste for the music. Some of the lyrics are so earthy and describe life from the perspective of another culture, but the songs are really not so different than what any song would be about. There are translations online, if this is needed. I know the gypsy sounds send an indesribeable feeling to me, gypsy




@gypsy, I completely disagree- as a n00bie belly dancer, nothing grated on my nerves more than drum solos (I found them to be all the same and un-inspiring). When I started dis-including them from my playlists, I got to like traditional music better. I’m only re-introducing drum solos to my playlists now and don’t mind them anymore. Different strokes for different folks I guess?




Asharah, a question. Do you use different postures for different dance styles, i.e., Egyptian posture for Middle Eastern music, tribal posture for more experimental music? If so, what do you about muscle memory?




Susanna – I totally use different postures for different dance styles. ATS and tribal fusion have a lifted chest that comes from a contraction of the lower lateralis muscles in the mid-back. I wouldn’t necessarily connect a certain posture to a certain kind of music, though. I am working on a fusion piece now that is more of a jazz/bellydance fusion than tribal fusion, so my posture isn’t so lifted as it would be for a more tribal fusion piece. This comment comes to you pre-coffee, so let me know if it actually makes sense. :)




hi Asharah,

First of all – I truly love your blog, especially your posts on creativity, it all rings very true with me.

I wanted to ask whether you could recommend where to look for records of different styles of MD music – since I don’t know any musicians and don’t belong to a school I’m really failing to find anything helpful on the internet.

Much thanks,





I’m having a hard time restraining my excitement about this but I can’t help but notice that Daniel Levitin is located at McGill University in Canada; I myself am currently studying music psychology (in Sweden) and some of our required reading for this course was written by researchers at McGill too. Seems to be the place to go for this! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for being my giant shining beacon of light and bringing this book to my attention.

As always, love to read your writing – I may not always agree with everything, but more importantly it challenges me to question my own opinions a lot of the time. Ah, Asharah, I think my brain is in love with yours.




Thanks a lot!

I’m thrilled to have this book at my local library

It looks like a new reworked edition of Images of Enchantment.




    Nastia – I really love Images of Enchantment. It’s a great overview of arts and entertainment in the Arab world.




Holita.. just read ur post! super in b tween the lines ! i like ur philosophy and inspirationzz i recommand u to drop ear on our music (spiced rock from middle east:) and some of our turlkish gigs with wicked psyko belly dancers.. (its a tradition in our gigs to invite ppl from the crowd to belly wave) cheers Azri (follow u on twitter thts how i got here)



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