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Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Bellydance

(World Music Network; US: 15 Mar 2011; UK: 14 Mar 2011)

The CD comes with an instructional DVD, and a sentence in Anath Benais’ booklet lets you know that the compilation has been built for dancers. “The pieces are structured as a dance routine.” Whether this structure has been done well or badly I’m not sure, since I don’t dance, but the tracks, as in other Rough Guides, have been picked with variety in mind. One group of musicians has a full-orchestra approach, lush and precise, another curtains its tune with gauze and bubbles and calls it “Tribal Princess”, and another brings in a tabla, acute dap-dap-drr-dap giving the dance a military certainty and tease, the plastic, fallible skin of the dancer against the drill sergeant of the dap. It’s the Cairo Arabic Musical Ensemble that best brings out my favourite aspect of the music, the idea of sweep verses those acute moments when everything almost stops in place, the whole body of instruments whipping in unison around a hairpin curve and hovering, the grace of a ballerina backed with the heft of a whale.

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Tagged as: dance | egypt | lebanon | middle east
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