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The Top Ten Belly Dance Tunes for Performance
Top Ten Tunes for Bellydancers!
My Top Ten Tunes
While belly dance takes its inspiration from many cultures, and embraces a variety of styles, there are a few pieces of music that remain popular with the majority of belly dancers and their audiences. These songs stand the test of time because they are perfect for showcasing a dancers skills.
As a belly dance performer, teacher and writer with more than 20 years in the business, I have seen each piece of music performed hundreds of times, and yet they still seem fresh and fun.
This top ten is my own personal pick. I believe that most dancers around the world would include a selection of these in their top 10. I hope that I have included your favorite in the mix!
Scroll down to join our on line Hafla and see performers from around the world showcase these tunes.
A word about translations !
It is very hard to offer translations of Arabic words or names. Some sounds don't directly translate and so you find many alternative spellings on line, on CD listings and on band playlists. For example Habibi Ya Eyni, may also be spelled Habbibi Ya Eini, and Inta Omri is found as Enta Umri.
Dancing in a restaurant
Aziza by Mohamed Abd-el-Wahab
Abd-el- Wahab was born in 1902 in Cairo. He made his first recording at 13, going on to find fame as a singer, film star and composer. His work is considered to have had a huge influence on modern day Egyptian music. He introduced non-Arabic rhythms to his compositions and is credited with inventing the Egyptian film musical. He composed thousands of tunes, including the Egyptian national anthem. Most versions of Aziza include fabulous mixes of tempo for the dancer to show off her fast travelling moves, her command of the rhythms and her slow and sensuous moves. If you have a live band at your venue, ask for Aziza for a joyful, upbeat performance.
Shashkin is the perfect example of why the heritage of the songs we use in belly dance can be so confusing. Ask your Greek accordion player, and he will call it "Pipiza" and swear its a Greek folk song. Talk to your Egyptian Nay player, and he will call it "Ya Ein Moulyatien" and claim it comes from Egypt. Belly dancers use the Turkish name "Shashkin". This is a fabulous song that crosses all styles. It is equally at home on the Ethnographic, Glamorous and Tribal Fusion dancers playlists. It is the perfect choice for a party where dancers of different styles have gathered.
Habibi ya Eyni - Nourhanne
"Darling, Oh my Eyes!" This is perhaps the ultimate emotional song for belly dancers. We have the contrast of the drama of the verse "Let us live in a beautiful paradise", and the playfulness of the chorus "Yalla, Yalla Yalla" (Come on!). Habibi Ya Eyni is a guaranteed show stopper. If you are lucky enough to dance to a live band, tell them what tempo you would like and expect their own interpretation.
Habibi ya Eyni
Inta Omri - Mohamed Abd-el- Wahab (lyrics by Ahmed Shafiq Kamel)
"You are my life!" This song was made popular by Umm Kulthum (Oum Khalsoum), who released Inta Omri in 1964. Umm Kulthum sang with such passion that for many years it was felt to be wrong to dance to her music. Over the years other versions of Inta Omri have become available, sometimes with a more upbeat feel. Belly dancers can now choose to give a heart felt performance or to have fun, depending on the mix they choose. This is another popular choice for dancers who perform with a live band.
"Egyptian" Misirlou is probably a Turkish folk song, although there are those that believe it to be a Greek, Arabic, Armenian or Jewish folk song. It first gained wide popularity in 1962 when Dick Dale released his recording, which was soon followed by a cover by the Beach Boys in 1963. In 1994 Quentin Tarantino used Misirlou in the soundtrack for "Pulp Fiction", and in 2006 it was sampled for the Black Eyed Peas "Pump it". Misirlou remains popular with both belly dancers and the general public, in all its forms.
This is an old Turkish folk song. Different versions have evolved over the decades, but it remains a popular choice for dancers who like to show off their skills at dancing to a 9/8 rhythm. "Rompi" itself has no meaning, but the song is a popular party tune. You may find your audience all know different versions of both the verse and chorus, so don't try and sing along!
Windows of the East by Ron Goodwin
Windows of the East was written by Ron Goodwin as part of his album "Music for Arabian Nights", and was originally performed by the Rahbani brothers. Ron Goodwin was born in Plymouth, UK in 1925. He was a musician, conductor and composer who worked with the BBC and MGM, as well as many of the pop stars of his day. He was famous for his film scores including "Monty Carlo or Bust" and "Battle of Britain". His albums "Music for Arabian Nights" and "Holiday in Beirut" are popular with belly dancers who love the huge orchestrated sound he brought to the recordings.
Windows of the East
Shik Shak Shok - Hassan Abou el-Seoud
Shik Shak Shok comes from an album of same name which was recorded in Lebanon in the 1970. It has an almost psychedelic feel with rapid accordion playing, and crazy keyboards. The musicians created a song that breaks all the rules, but it would be hard to replicate for your average restaurant band, so its best for venues that allow recordings. The high energy and eternal optimism is popular with belly dancers who love the fast tempo/slow hits/fast tempo mix. The lyrics sing the praises of Baladi (traditional songs) over rap and rock. Expect your audience to clap along and shoulder shimmy to the music.
Shik Shak Shok
There are two songs, both called Zeina, that are popular in the belly dance world. The first is by Mohamed Abd-el-Wahab, the second by Farid El - Atrache. Zeina is a woman's name that also means "beautiful'. The performing belly dancer is advised to know both before asking a live band to play for her, as its a gamble as to which you will get!
Farid El-Atrache was born in Syria to Syrian and Lebannese parents. He moved as a child to Egypt. His early career ran in parallel to that of his sister Asmahan, who was a famous musician, actress and singer. In 1941 they stared together in the movie "Intisar a l-Shabab". After Asmahan's death in 1944, Farid continued to star in a wide range of films, from comedy to drama. He always composed the music for his films, even those sung by other artists. The Egyptian public followed his private life as much as his films, and relationships with his leading ladies (including Samia Gamel and Shadia) kept him in the headlines up until his death in 1974.
Zeina by Mohamed Abd-el-Wahab
Zeina by Farid el-Atrache
Simarik by Tarkan
Although the name of this song is Simarik (Spoilt or Naughty), it is better known as the Kiss Kiss song. Simarik was a hit in 1998 for Tarkan who wrote it with Sezen Aksu. It was a huge hit around Europe (top five in Belgium, France, Norway and Sweden). Various covers have been released under titles such as "kiss" and "kiss kiss", by artists including Stella Soleil, Hakim, Holly Valance, Mina, and Rinat Bar. The songs catchy tune and cheeky lyrics make this perfect for belly dancers who like to flirt with their audience.
Which is your favorite Belly Dance Tune ?
On Line Hafla !
In the belly dance world, a hafla is a gathering of dancers with friends and family, where they share dance, food and fun. Belly dancers of all levels are invited to share a performance. For most student dancers this is their first chance to dance in public. To share the hafla experience with you, I asked dancers from around the world to post their performances of our top ten tracks.