I’m going with an interesting twist this month. I think that this might be true for all music as it changes and evolves with the times but I see it happening with Greek music. Specifically being used in bellydance. Not only is is not happening with the old stuff but the new stuff as well. I have tried to integrate some of the newer pieces into my routines because heck yeah they have a great beat to dance to!
But as Greek music evolves it is becoming more mainstream. More of the Greek songs are rock or rap or pop and don’t always lend themselves to bellydance. at least. not. a fusion form of bellydance. Some. also have curse words in them and those are not exactly appropriate to dance to. I know, not everyone knows Greek but if my mom see it- I’m dead!
Shira and I had a very interesting discussion thread about this very thing on Twitter. She brought up that a lot of dancers forget that Greek style and music exists. They think only in terms of Egyptian, Turkish and incorrectly believe that you MUST use “Arabic” or “Turkish” music. She brought up the fact that it may also have a lot to do with who is in the local immigrant community and how close their ties are to their culture of origin. Which got me thinking, maybe there aren’t Greeks around in certain areas to request the music? Or even to ask for that style?
Which of course then lead to another thread of conversation on whether there is a “Greek” style and that some say that it is a not a Greek art form it is a part of the occupation. In this way they are disavowing the Greekness of the Anatolian Greeks who fled the early 20th century genocide. And it does depend on who you talk to. My mom will say that there is no Greek bellydance in the traditional sense in which we see it performed. She will say tsifteteli which also brings up several different styles depending on who you talk to. So depending on who a dancer has conversed with or where the Greeks in that area are from, they may have only heard that it isn’t Greek. And this, like other things, gets perpetuated on forums and social media, repeated and then becomes gospel.
Added to all of this is the fear of making a mistake. No one wants to use the “wrong” music. I’ve given workshops about distinguishing between the different rhythms and types of music. It is hard to know but it can be studied just like anything else. Believe me I don’t want to see someone dancing veil to the Greek national anthem as much as anyone doesn’t want to see cane to Om Kalthoum. Granted I have used music that my mom doesn’t think is appropriate for bellydance but I have found that it’s one of the few ways to bridge my audience. If I can find that right pop beat then I pull in the Americans while still having the Greek flair.
Greek dance and music is also easy to lump the art form into “AmCab” and yes perhaps in some ways it had to be kind of made that in order for it to be stage worthy. In its pure form it is not a dance that lends itself to a lot of WOW movements or travel steps. So I can understand and see the confusion. But it’s sad to think that it might disappear altogether because of misinformation and a lack of further study and development.
Another point that was brought up on the twitter discussions by Tevec, Nathara of CrowSong and Mahin was trends. My fellow dancers listed use Greek music and have performed with Greek bands but also know that styles are in trend. At the moment everyone is focuses on modern Cairo. Some are moving back into traditional music and have rediscovered their love of Greek music. 20 years ago Greek was the rage but I’m hoping it make a comeback. I know that everything is cyclical so maybe it’s only a matter of time. There was also a time when everyone was all over Egyptian and Greek and forgot about Turkish.
So what do you think? do you think that Greek music isn’t used because of fear? lack of information? misinformation? or just trends? I’d love to hear your thoughts and continue the discussion below!
Thank you to all the dancers who contributed to this discussion via Twitter: Shira, Tevec, Nathara of CrowSong and Mahin!