Nefabit’s Music Shelf – Recommended Bellydance Music

Nefabit’s Music Shelf

Hand-Picked Musical Selections for Bellydance, Tribal Fusion, Folkloric Dance and More.

This post is a work in progress and will be updated regularly. I spend hours combing through music and making playlists and I’d like to share that effort with others! Here are my absolute favorite recommendations, organized by category. Leave a comment if you found something you like. Happy listening!

Turkish Orientale (Entrance, High Energy) 
Kim Ne? – Dansın Meleği Didem 2011 – Didem
Raks Mimi – Dansın Meleği Didem 2011 – Didem
Ciftitelli – Dansın Meleği Didem 2011 – Didem
Endülüste İlk Buse – Asena, Vol 1 – Asena
Chara –  Asena, Vol 1 – Asena
Ciftitelli –  Asena, Vol 1 – Asenamusic tile
Fidaya –  Asena, Vol 1 – Asena
Makedon – Asena, Vol 1 – Asena
Sedur – Asena – Asena
Asena – Asena – Asena
Warda – Asena – Asena
Silk Road – Harem 5 Classics – Yasar Akpence
Ruya – Elite Orchestral Percussion – Yasar Akpence
Nihavent Orientale – Harem 5 Classics – Yasar Akpence
To Miyae – Harem 5 Classics – Yasar Akpence
Hircin Roman (Husnu in the Harem) – Harem 5 Classics – Yasar Akpence
Benefese — Hyat I Hyat –  Hassan Issakut
Rakkas – İskender Paydaş Yeni Mezdeke (New Mezdeke) – Yeni Mezdeke
Hizzi – İskender Paydaş Yeni Mezdeke (New Mezdeke) – Yeni Mezdeke
Topkapi Geceleri – İskender Paydaş Yeni Mezdeke (New Mezdeke) – Yeni Mezdeke
Ates Dansi – Turkish Bellyance Desert Night Dance – Huseyin Turkmenler Ensemble
Bir Zamanlar Bir Yar Yardi – Turkish Bellyance Desert Night Dance – Huseyin Turkmenler Ensemble
Arabia – Turkish Bellydance Nasra – Huseyin Turkmenler Ensemble
Azizw – Turkish Bellydance Nasra – Huseyin Turkmenler Ensemble
Armut Agaci – Harem – Turkish Percussion Group
Sultana – Harem – Turkish Percussion Group
Balkan Dreams – Harem – Turkish Percussion Group

Egyptian Orchestral 
Nagham – Heshk Beshk – Mounir Abdel Aziz
Raksa – Raksa With Amir – Amir Sofi
Playing in the Oriental Garden – The Sword Dance – Nesma
Set Al Hosen – Lights! Camera! Bellydance! – Setrak Sarkissian
Nawaem – Ya Halawa – Gizira Band
Escape from Cairo – Master of Egyptian Dance – Mohammed Al Hassan Abo Abid
Ishk Al Jamal – Raks Ayoub – Bassam Ayoub
Longa – Raks Ayoub – Bassam Ayoub
Faddah – Faddah – Hossam Ramzy
Ruby – Classical Egyptian Bellydance – Hossam Ramzy
Visions of the Emerald Within – Classical Egyptian Bellydance – Hossam Ramzy
Mashaal – Jalillah’s Raks Sharki Vol 1 – Mokhtar Al Said
Laabet Al Ayem – The Soul of Cairo – Ahmad Gilaby

Baladi Nahuand – Mario Kirlis Presenta Gaston Chaade – Gaston Chaade
El Hob Halal – Secrets of the Eye – Hossam Ramzy
New Beladi – Mario Kirlis
Baladi Accordian – Bellydance Superstars Vol 6 – Issam Houshan
Cairo Beladi – Bellydance Superstars Vol 3 – Cairo Cairo

Tabla Solo/Drum Solo/Darbuka Solo
Tabla Solo 3 – Kytheria – Drumspyder
Tablah Solo – Beladi – House of Tarab
Saida Solo – Mario Kirlis
Dueling Darbukas – Jordan – Raquy and the Cavemen
Lahza Gamilla – Oriental Dance From Lebanon – Emad Sayyeh
Tablah Solo – Jallilah’s Raks Sharki Vol I – Mokhtar al Said
Souheir’s Tabla – Jallilah’s Raks Sharki Vol II – Mokhtar al Said
Shimmabulous – The Dancing Drum Vol II – Issam Houshan
Karshiligala The Dancing Drum Vol II – Issam Houshan
The Cat’s Meow – Dancing Drums – Susu Pampanin
Drum Solo – The Best of Ya Salaam
Zahrafat Al Said (Rejoycing in Upper Egypt) – Luxor to Isna – Musicians of the Nile
Yasar  Kemal Solo Ritm Kompozisyion – Harem – Turkish Percussion Group

Ya Saria – Myriam Fares
Mashkelni – Musicana 8 – Hussein Aljassmi
El Shaki – Rashed Al Majid – Mashkelni

Nefabit’s Public Performance Schedule August 2015

August 6 7:00 PM – Bellydancing at White House Grill 
712 N Spokane St, Post Falls, ID
August 7 5:30 PM – Bellydancing at Red Dragon
1406 W 3rd Ave Spokane, WA
August 7 6:45 PM – Bellydancing at Azars
2501 N Monroe St Spokane WA
August 9 2:30 PM -Sandpoint Arts and Crafts Fair
City Beach, Sandpoint, ID
August 13 7:00 PM – Bellydancing at White House Grill
712 N Spokane St, Post Falls, ID
August 14 5:30 PM- Bellydancing at Red Dragon
1406 W 3rd Ave Spokane, WA
August 16 8:00 PM – Jazz performance with Rouge La Rue
at the Vaudevillains Present the G-String Quartet
The Big Dipper 171 S Washington St Spokane
10.00 at the door, 18+
August 20 – Bellydancing at White House Grill
712 N Spokane St, Post Falls, ID
August 21 6:45 PM – Bellydancing at Azars
2501 N Monroe St Spokane WA
August 22 – Nefabit and Nickie B Bellydancing at Hopped Up On Art, Music and Beer
10421 E Sprague Ave, Spokane Valley, WA
August 27 7:00 PM – Bellydancing at White House Grill
712 N Spokane St, Post Falls, ID
August 28 5:30 – Bellydancing at Red Dragon
1406 W 3rd Ave Spokane, WA

August 2015 Bellydance Events in Spokane (plus Eastern Washington and Western Idaho)

Saturday August 15 2015Monthly Red Dragon Hafla
Dancers of all levels welcome to perform, contact Sue to sign up!
Red Dragon downtown
1406 W 3rd Ave Spokane, WA 99201

Saturday August 15 2015 Choreography workshop at Northwest Bellydance (invitation only)
3:00 Principal, 6:00 Corps
Northwest Bellydance
5515 N Oak St Spokane, WA 99205

August 26-30 Emerald Sanctuary Retreat  Emerald Sanctuary is an annual belly dance retreat in the high desert of Eastern Washington. Regional and local instructors offer an exciting range of workshops for the beginner to the seasoned dancer.
Coulee City, WA

Sunday August 09 2015 The Vaude Villians Present the G String Quartet 
Rouge La Rue, side project of NWBD dancers Nickie B and Nefabit will be performing 60’s inspired Jazz and contemporary at the Big Dipper with the G String Quartet

August 28-30 Fusion Fest 
Mardis Gras Ballroom, Boise ID
Performances, workshops, vending and more in Boise, Idaho

Recurring Events
Every Friday Bellydancing at Azar’s Greek Restaurant with Paloma and Nefabit
2501 N Monroe St Spokane WA 99205
Two shows every Friday evening at 6:45 and 7:30
Starring Nefabit every 1st, 3rd and 5th Friday
Starring Paloma Skye every 2nd and 4th Friday

Every Thursday Bellydancing at White House Grill featuring Nefabit

Photo by Dirk Linton

712 N Spokane St, Post Falls, ID 83854
Sets inside and outside starting at 7:00

Every Friday Bellydancing at Red Dragon Downtown
1406 W 3rd Ave Spokane, WA 99201
Show featuring five dancers begins at 5:30. 21+ only
1st Friday featuring Kori, Stephanie, Kendra, Paloma Skye and Nickie B.
2nd Friday featuring Zarina, Stephanie, Kate Altaira, Nefabit and Shamal
3rd Friday featuring Farasha, Stephanie, Nickie B, Paloma Skye and Olivia
4th Friday featuring Sue, Stephanie, Nefabit, Kendra and Olivia
5th Friday featuring Farasha, Stephanie, Nickie B and Kate Altaira

Beyond iTunes – Where to Find Belly Dance Music

Students often ask me where to find bellydance music.  Of course, there is a plethora of music available on Amazon and iTunes, but there are some other wonderful resources out there.

Before we dive in, I’ll talk about finding music you like. It can be difficult to make a selection without hearing the music, or even hearing a 30 second clip. Pandora is a popular choice, but has limited selections of actual Middle Eastern music. Spotify has a much better selection, and you can listen to things without skipping around. I make playlists, “star” what I really love and purchase music I like the most. I watch DVDs and videos on YouTube constantly, and you can use Shazam to identify music you fall in love with.  Of course, this will only lead you to modern music integrated into these systems. You really have to dig to find the vintage and truly foreign stuff. No matter what, you will buy tons of music you don’t ever perform. But you can use some for listening, practicing, and just learning.

Belly Dance CDs

Maqam and Maqam mp3
On Maqam and Maqam mp3 you can find a wealth of authentic music. Everything from tribal fusion to khaleeji, and even some very rare and vintage recordings. Maqam has very handy categories including birthday, Eid and wedding, so you can find appropriate music for many situations. You can even buy instruments, instructional tools, and collections of music. A real treasure trove! has a wide section of CDs, including many for under 5.00. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop your taste and find what you like. They have an even wider selection in the 10-20 dollar range as well. Their customer service is excellent and I always get my order in about two days.
Bhuz is a great resource all around, with forums on every topic imaginable and a word wide swap meet. I scan bhuz almost daily for used music and costuming. You can also discuss music choices and get recommendations from people all over the world.
A lot of really great artists have music available on, such as House of Tarab and Beats Antique. Possibly the best thing about Bandcamp is that a much larger chunk of proceeds from each sale actually goes to the artist, and you can even round your purchase up and make a donation. I appreciate the ability to choose the download format, including lossless formats such as WAV, FLAC and OGG.

CD Baby
CD Baby also gives a greater percentage of sale price to the artists than Amazon or iTunes. Most albums are available digitally or in hard copy. They have a lot of albums that I have not seen elsewhere. And once you have heard  Desert Rose or Sahra Saiidi a million times, originality becomes a quest! (I do love those tracks)

Haflas, Events and Fellow Dancers
Always go to haflas! You never know who is selling their music or costumes, and of course it is worth it to support your community and get inspiration. Large events such as Med Fest have lots of vendors, and many of them sell music!

Radio Bastet and Antique Stores
If you can play records or convert LPs to mp3s, I recommend always checking out the records at your thrift stores and antique stores. You never know what you will find! Music from LP isn’t always high enough quality to perform in a professional setting but there are some real gems. If you know someone with proper equipment, you can also have old tracks cleaned up and remastered digitally.
Radio Bastet is a podcast of amazing vintage music. Listen and learn!

I hope you found some useful resources. Good luck on your musical odyssey!

Beats Antique A Thousand Faces Act II Tour, a Review

beats-antique-thousand-faces-spokane-washington-zoe-jakes-2   Beats Antique just kicked off it’s spring tour of A Thousand Faces, Act II. Included on the tour are new destinations, including my hometown Spokane, Washington.
I have been a huge fan of Beats Antique since their first album was launched. While I perform classical bellyance far more often than tribal fusion as a soloist, my fusion performances are almost exclusively backed by Beats Antique tracks, despite my efforts to branch out. Many of the mellow, less dance-able tracks back my day to day listening selections. Despite my fandom, until last night, I have never had the opportunity to see them live.

When the show began and David Satori and Sidecar Tommy entered the stage, the excitement was palpable. The roar of the crowd was deafening, so much so I could not even hear my own screeching. The show began with a pulsating rhythm, accompanied by dazzling projections, and warm, driving stage presence from David and Tommy. Zoe made a grand entrance halfway through the first song with an exciting Odissi influenced piece with dramatic balances and detailed facial expressions.

beats-antique-thousand-faces-spokane-washington-zoe-jakes-4The group as a whole has created a versatile, multi-faceted concert experience. The music pulls on luscious influences both modern and ancient, from cultures across the world. The musicians are incredibly talented, with David pulling out many instruments from horns to violin. Tommy is vastly talented on the drums, beating out an incredible variety of rhythms. One of my favorite numbers was a dramatic call and response duel between Tommy and David. The projections featured fun video game and comic book inspired battles.
Zoe had a vast repertoire, featuring temple dance, tribal bellydance, burlesque, modern dance and general frolic. Some acts featured Zoe and David acting out mini plays with paper mache animal heads. In perhaps my favorite moment from Satori, he dons a mask and assumes the role of protagonist to the dainty folkloric character portrayed by Zoe, who she playfully fends off.
Some of her characters she brings to life on stage were uplifting, some tragic, some powerful. I do not want to give away the surprises of the concert, but the use of props, staging, lighting and characterization was mind-blowing.

For viewers who have long kept up with the show beats-antique-thousand-faces-spokane-washington-zoe-jakes-3and Zoe, understand this show gives an unexpected look at Zoe’s repertoire. In the past, she has mostly focused on tribal fusion and bellydance influence. Zoe as an artist has been inspired by other influences and is exploring them. Some lamented that she did not perform more tribal dance, in fact the show has hardly any Middle Eastern derived influence at this point. Instead the show draws more on Indian dance, circus influence, modern and theatrical styles. I say, always enter a show or any creative work with an open mind. That is the point of art, after all.

The negatives are minor points, and vastly isolated I believe. One of the featured opening acts was not present – whether due to mechanical failure, flight delay, illness, we don’t know. This unfortunately left the show delayed by one hour with no entertainment, after the doors opened a half hour late. I understand how shows run, you never know what to expect. I am sure that such an occurrence won’t happen again. Such is the downfall of any live entertainment, though! In the end, no one seemed to mind, everyone drank and danced until the show began.

The bottom line is that this concert appeals to an incredibly wide variety of patrons. At our relatively small-town show we spotted everyone from ravers, hippies, steampunkers, rennies, bellydancers, concert junkies, and so many more. The show also drew a wide variety of ages, from under 18 to over 55. The show is truly a multi-sensory experience, and sure to provide something for everyone.


What’s In Your Tip Basket?

One of my favorite things about performing in restaurants is audience participation. The personal exchange, the give and take is so rewarding! And when you give people a genuine experience, a memory, they become eager to give you something tangible in return. When they don’t have singles on them, they can get really creative!

2.00 Tip

At the end of a set, sometimes I feel more like I’m trick-or-treating when I find these things in my basket.

  • $2.00 bills – Perhaps my favorite bill to receive (though who doesn’t love pulling out a 20?)
  • $1.00 coins – I’ve received both gold and silver dollars
  • Foreign money – I still have Saudi money taped to my vanity mirror. You won’t see me exchanging that!
  • Origami Money – I have received roses, little shirts, all kinds of fun shapes!
  • Winning lottery tickets – Not even kidding! Hey, a 2.00 lottery ticket is a 2.00 tip!
  • Tumbled stones – a regular patron once put a tumbled amethyst in my basket.
  • Candy – Yep! Especially around Halloween
  • Handfuls of change – while not that unusual, it is amusing when a customer will turn a wallet or purse upside down to fish out all the change. An added bonus to using baskets!

What is the strangest or most fun tip you have received?

Tips for Zills – Tuning, Polishing and Elastic

Zills are workhorses for the professional dancer, and over time they can take some abuse!
In this post I show you some techniques to maintain and repair your zills. Nothing looks better than a bright, shining pair of beautiful sounding zills. As an example, I have used a very old pair that had been dropped several times and were horribly out of tune. They were severely tarnished, and the elastic was wearing thin, threatening to break at any time.

Black elastic, severely tarnished and out of tune

Black elastic, severely tarnished and out of tune

If you drop a zill on a hard surface such as tile or concrete (perhaps the result of loose elastic!) chances are your zills are now out of tune. Over time, with repeated use zills can also become slightly out of tune.
To fix this, simply place the zills on a baking sheet in the oven at 350-400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Works like a charm!

Re-tuning zills by placing them in the oven.

Re-tuning zills by placing them in the oven.


Comparison of three polished zills to one tarnished.

Comparison of three polished zills to one tarnished.

Try Brasso or other metal polish to buff your zills back to life! Use a toohbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies in etched designs. Be careful with zills that have a coating to change the color – if your zills are real silver, try silver jewelry polish.

I use nude ballet elastic in all of my zills. Nude elastic is readily available at fabric stores, and looks phenomenal. Black elastic breaks the line of the fingers, and can be distracting. Look for 3/4″ – 1/2″ ballet elastic. Even if the slits on your zills are smaller, elastic easily forces through, and results in much more secure attachment. Be sure to fold the elastic over so it won’t fray before you sew it down.

Polished, tuned and with new elastic

Polished, tuned and with new elastic

I hope this post has inspired you to dig out your zills and check them out! If you have any questions or anything to add, leave me a comment!