Baladi (also spelt beledi or balady), means my country in Arabic. This is a term used by villagers who emigrated from rural communities into Egyptian cities. They referred to their culture and music as the music from their home, the villages in the countryside. Raqs baladi is usually danced socially, during celebrations and gatherings. Nowadays it is also performed on stage.
Traditionally, baladi music has a framework divided into sections, during which musicians and dancers improvise. Generally speaking, these are the main sections:
1) Taqsim –melody without percussions, played originally on oud, more recently on accordion, sax or keyboard. The dancer dances on the spot with small and contained movements. Usually the dancer sways to long notes (this type of music is called awwady) and shimmies to tremolando sound.
2) Me-Attaa – the rhythm, played on tabla, is introduced gradually with a question and answer between the instrumentalist and the drummer. The dancer dances a bit faster but still conservatively. The rhythm gets faster gradually.
3) Maqsoum – uptempo rhythm.
4) Tet – nostalgic rhythm played on mizmar.
5) Another Me-Attaa, this time with fallahi rhythm.
6) The music slows down gradually back to the initial awwady taqasim, until it stops.
In baladi style the dance movements are earthy and grounded, with simple step patterns (mostly on flat feet). The arms are generally held by the side with elbows slightly bent, rather than flowing around.
Dancers performing baladi style wear a galabeya or baladi dress (a full dress not baring the midriff). The most traditional type, preferred for folkloric performances, is loose and simple, and the dancer wears a hip scarf around her hips. The galabeya used for cabaret performances is fitted, made with stretchy and shiny material, heavily decorated with fringes and beads.
Article by Valeria Lo Iacono
Tagged Egyptian dance