Roundup: Bellydance Floorwork

Readers, I’m starting a new series in the blog. It’s something I’ve wanted to do in a while: posts that give a list of videos for a particular dance specialty, be it a prop or a dance style, along with where to buy them.

I kept thinking I had to do reviews of all the DVDs in a certain area before I could publish a list, but let’s face it, that will take some time. So I thought: why not come up with the lists first, and then link to reviews as I write them?

In addition, just to make the resource more useful, I’ll add any interesting or useful articles I find on the topic.

One more thing: I really welcome reader suggestions. Please add any videos I’ve missed in the comments, and I’ll update the posts on a regular basis! These posts are meant to grow with time.

Bellydance Floorwork Videos

Ruby’s Flawless Floorwork: The Lost Art of Belly Dance Floorwork.

Anaheed’s Classic Cabaret Floor Work

Tanna Valentine’s Floorwork: Bellydance for Body Shaping

Sarah Skinner’s The Celebration Bellydance Workout: Mood-Lifting Bellydance Flow & Workout (one of the workout sections is floor work, and some of the instructions are specific for floor work)

Fat Chance Belly Dance’s Tribal Basics, Vol. 8: FloorWork

Saqra’s Floor Dancing Technique

Rachel Brice’s Laybacks, Drops, Zippers & Floorwork (parts of this video rental are useful for floorwork)

Veda Sereem’s Floor Work

Cory Zamora’s Cabaret Bellydancing Floor Moves Advice

Delilah’s BellyDance Workshop Volume III

Articles on Floorwork

Shems’ Floor Work in Oriental Dance (history and cultural context)

Nita’s blog post, “bellydance floorwork & Purvottanasana: upward plank pose“(on using yoga to build strength for floorwork)

Morocco’s essay Getting Down to Floorwork (also historical and cultural context)


photo credit: Alaskan Dude via photopin cc


Çiftetellisi and Expression Workshops with Cihangir Gümüstürkmen

Dear readers, I have been away for a bit. Unlike most radio silences, this is not because I’m not dancing. In fact, as far as my busier-than-ever life allows, I’m dancing even more. Over the next few posts, I’ll share some memories and reflections.

Last weekend I took two workshops with the Berlin-based artist and dancer, Cihangir Gümüstürkmen. The first one was on Istanbul Çiftetellisi. One highlight was Cihangir’s discussion of the varied ways the word “ciftetelli” and its many, many spelling alternatives is used around the Mediterranean. It strikes me that North American dancers often like to find precise definitions for particular words — “it’s the dance done to this rhythm” or “it’s the dance performed in that place” — but dance history being what it is, a vague and flowing thing, hard and fast categories are pretty difficult to find.

Another highlight was doing a bit of floor work! I have some videos that touch on floor work, but I’ve never tried it myself, figuring I needed a lot more abdominal strength. If I’d known this workshop included it I probably wouldn’t even have signed up, but it was a tremendous amount of fun. I realised you don’t have to throw every move in the book into a floorwork routine, especially if it’s part of a longer song. And Cihangir gave us some very precise, very useful tips.

After a quick nursing/eating break, I returned to the dance studio for Cihangir’s “Express Yourself!” workshop. Now, I was in a position to compare this workshop with Rivkah’s mini-workshop on expression in dance that I recently did in Texas. Cihangir’s strategy was quite different. Rather than having us improvise dance to suit particular emotions, he began by teaching us a simple choreography, and drilling it a few times so we wouldn’t have to think about moves at all. Then he told us little stories, stories intended to inspire feelings, but without naming the emotion itself. We then danced the same choreography repeatedly, each time seeking to convey the feeling inspired by the story, not through the movements themselves, but by the way we performed the movements.

I loved this. It was basically a bit of method acting for bellydancers. What really worked for me was that some of Cihangir’s stories hit a chord in me. One instruction was to imagine dancing for the first time after being sick, and given my recent surgery, that is a feeling I can connect to. Another was to imagine dancing for someone who had never seen dance before, and again, given that I often dance for my baby boy, I could connect to that particular kind of joy too. I don’t know how the dancing looked, but I do know it felt wonderful.

Another thing Cihangir had us play with was clowning around. This was without a doubt the hardest assignment of all, but I think it’s important. I suspect it’s very hard for women to allow themselves to be a bit silly, silly enough to be funny. Part of the pleasure of bellydance is being beautiful in a really old fashioned way — long hair, lots of makeup, hyper-feminine clothing. How are we supposed to then consciously look ridiculous, albeit in a controlled way? Later, at home, I looked up some of Cihangir’s videos on YouTube and found that he’s a master of the form. So I leave you, for now, with this little jewel: