Saturday, September 28, 2013


Tanya Lemani dancing for Captain Kirk and the rest of the team on "Star Trek"

Classic American Cabaret belly dance-also known as Vintage Orientale- is currently having A Moment. The style  is experiencing a resurgence,  becoming very popular with younger dancers , many of whom were not even born when this type of dancing  was in it’s heyday during the 1960's through the 1980's.

When I began my career in the early 1990’s, I was trained primarily in the Egyptian style, but Vintage Oriental was still very much with us, especially for restaurant dancers.  Audiences expected to see a lot of  veil and finger cymbal work.

American Cabaret  doesn’t just use music from one genre or country- it’s a lovely pastiche of many types of rhythms and  songs  from all over the Middle East,  North Africa and Central Asia. Finger cymbals and extensive veil work are a couple of the hallmarks of this style,  and  I often get requests in my workshops  to show some of the  exotic veil wraps  that were used “back in the day”. 

The old-school wrap  Photo: Lapis
If you’d like to experiment with this style, enter with your veil wrapped around you. You can use a separate veil to enter, or just come onto the stage with your cymbals a-blaze.   After an opening piece,  do a slow taxim or chiftetelli  piece,  and incorporate some veil moves.

For starters, try this simple, pretty wrap:

 Extend your left arm out and parallel to the floor. Drape your veil length-wise over it so equal halves hang in front and in back.  Make sure the hems are even and straight.  Pick up the  front half  of the veil and bring it across your chest, tucking the long hem into your bra straps and the left and right sides.

 Tuck the corner of the gathered fabric into your costume at the right hip.

 Now, take the portion of the veil that was hanging on the back of your left arm, gather it up at the far  corner, and tuck that it into the center back of your costume. If you like, you can also tuck the front  part of the veil in at each hip, and blouse it out for a billowy Grecian Goddess effect.
Un-wrapping the veil  Photo: Ken Vegas
 To unwrap, take the portion of the veil from the bra straps with both hands and slowly pull the veil way from you, so that the end tucked in your costume’s right hip releases. Play with the veil like this for a few moments, holding it in front of you, moving or spinning slowly. When you want to release the end of the veil that was tucked into the back, simply pull the hem of the entire veil away from you, and it will come un-tucked easily.

No comments:

Post a Comment