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Move over, Bruce, Beledi is The Boss

"If you can inhabit your song (deeply and well)...that's the key to a great singer" —Bruce Springsteen

I never saw Bruce in concert, but I sang and danced to his music all the way through college, and what I loved about his songs were the passion with which he sang them. At the time, I didn't have a clue what belly dancing was beyond I Dream of Jeanne, but I loved to just move my whole body to Springsteen’s soft tones or his belting out of a ballad. I felt like I, myself, was inhabiting his songs when I danced to them. I would never have understood his phrase of "inhabiting the song," but what I did understand was that when I danced to his songs, I forgot about equations, exams, classes and schedules. Watch this video to see some very common opinions what Americans think belly dancing is.

Great Belly Dancers Inhabit Their Songs

Now, more than 3 decades later, like Bruce, I think that inhabiting your song is also the key to becoming a great belly dancer. And what is a great belly dancer? In my opinion, a great belly dancer finds deep joy in the dance at the same time that he/she brings joy to the audience, whether that be a crowd surrounding a stage, friends gathered in the living room, or simply oneself.

The first skill to learn to be able to "inhabit" your song is what I call internalizing the beat and the rhythm...and, arguably, the most important belly dance rhythm to learn is Beledi.

Most belly dance teachers don't teach it, because—I know I'm going to ruffle some feathers here—they don't actually understand it and its keystone place in belly dance.

Beledi can be a difficult rhythm to really "get." It can be relatively easy for many of us to chant it, maybe even recognize it. But dancing to it does not come naturally to most of us. And that's why I've written this blog for you, and produced so many videos on beat and rhythm and recently released our unique rhythm practice course for Beledi. Here's how I suggest you begin to master this iconic rhythm of belly dance.

Singers, musicians, belly dancer Jensuya performing on stage.
Bob and I "inhabiting the song" in an improv with friends Mary, Angela, Mike.

Jensuya's Tips to Mastering Rhythm Beledi

  1. Listen to a lot of belly dance music, and challenge yourself to identify the rhythm Beledi.

  2. Practice identifying the beat underlying Beledi, and clap to it.

  3. Then practice stepping to the beat as you listen to Beledi either on its own or as the rhythm underlying a song.

  4. Learn the defining accents of rhythm Beledi, and match your belly dance moves to them.

If you have trouble finding the beat as you listen to a rhythm or a song, watch the videos in this playlist and do the exercises in the following video.

During the pandemic when drummer Bob and I couldn't be out giving live workshops, we created a revolutionary online course in learning to master your moves to Beledi while at home. It's not a how-to course in playing Beledi on a darbuka (doumbek). It's a unique practice course that is like having Bob right there drumming with you as you learn to identify and move to Beledi.

You can check out a preview of the course here.

"Baby, we were born to dance." Thank you, Bruce. Yallah Habibi! Get started working on Beledi. And let me know how you're doing!

P.S. Bruce isn't the only rock star focussing on becoming the music, check out this blog, "Who's Got the Beat" to see what The Go-Go's thought about it.

To see all our ONLINE COURSES, click on the image or click here:

© Jennifer Carpenter-Peak & Robert Peak 2021

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Jensuya School

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Rhythm Practice for Belly Dance - Beledi

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