Belly Dance with Zils, by Elsa Leandros - open level

Belly Dance with Zils, by Elsa Leandros - open level

Created by renowned New York City choreographer and dance instructor Elsa Leandros, Belly Dance with Zils teaches the foundations of using zils (finger cymbals) in belly dance.

Together with the amazing doumbek player Raquy Danziger, Elsa demonstrates the 7 most popular belly dancing rhythms: baladi, saidi, maksoum, masmoudi, ciftetelli (slow Arabic-style and fast Turkish-style), karsilama (9/8), and gypsy-style karsilama. Elsa and Raquy alternate demonstrating the rhythms on doumbek and zils, offering a clear comparison of how zils and drum each interpret the rhythms.

Elsa moves step-by-step through the logistics and foundations of zil-playing for dancers, including her technique of alternating hands in interpreting rhythms on the zils (compared to designating a leading vs supporting hand.) This powerful technique allows greater speed than the common leading/supporting-hand style of zil playing (enhancing performances to modern fast-paced music, such as Arab pop) and improves coordination between zil playing and dance steps by eliminating the one-sidedness of the leading/supporting-hand style.

Next, Elsa breaks down each of the 7 rhythms as interpreted on the zils and offers exercises to develop speed and freedom of hand and arm movement while playing zils. In addition, Elsa provides a number of belly dance steps and combinations for each and every rhythm, and leads a session where steps and zil playing are combined and practiced first with counting and then with music.

A special “Practice with Music” menu allows users to play the music selections Elsa chose for practice, and to drill zil patterns and steps on their own.

Two performances by Elsa demonstrate the intricacies of the art of bellydance with zils: Elsa dances to a modern Arabic pop-style song, and performs a drum solo with Raquy Danziger and Brian Carter that demonstrates variations in interpreting multiple rhythms and how to respond to drum riffs on the zils. The video of the same drum solo without dance or zils is also on the DVD for your own practice of how best to interact with live drumming.

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