Sunday, September 02, 2012

le moroccan six

I rarely get the opportunity to take a class with Ms. Marsha Poulin. Come to think of it, I think I've only taken one class with her once way back last year or earlier this year. Yesterday was my second ever. She taught us the Moroccan Six zil pattern. 

Before I begin, let me give you a full disclaimer: I took piano lessons from when I was five years old to when I was fifteen. Ten years. And I still didn't know how to play anything if it's not on the C Major scale. I have a really bad musicality and my eyes and fingers just can't coordinate that well and I just couldn't (can't?) commit the songs into my muscle memory. Learning to play finger cymbals is and always has been a challenge. I was first taught how to play the zils by Ms. Maria Aya when I was in Greece back in 2008. She taught me several patterns including the Triplet and the Baladi. It wasn't hard, but that was because we were sitting down. At that time, even moving the arms and walking while playing the zils was hard. 

In ATS®, however, only two patterns are used regularly: the RLR and the Military. The Military is only used for Up2Down3 and Double Back while a slight variation is used for Push Forward Push Back. Sometimes Ms. Kristine Adams or Ms. Sandi Ball would drill us on Baladi pattern and Moroccan Six, but yesterday, we really focused on the Moroccan Six.

You can listen to Moroccan Six pattern in Moroccan Six (duh) by Helm in Tribal Dance - Tribal Drums album or Ishwini Fik, also by Helm in their Spice Box album. As you might have guessed, there are six beats in a measure, instead of the regular eight, so although Moroccan Six and Ishwini Fik can be considered as up-tempo, two things won't fit: RLR pattern and Fast Steps. That means, only Slow Moves can be performed to these songs. However, not just any Slow Moves. Ms. Poulin advised us to do Dramatic Slow (fancy turns, Floorwork, Layback, Dueling Duets) to songs with a Moroccan Six pattern.

While the featured dancers do their things, the Chorus backs them up with a special zil pattern called, you guessed it, the Moroccan Six. All six beats must be acknowledged by playing the zils on each beat but only the first and fourth beats are accented (played louder). Then play another six beats on the zils evenly (without accent).

This is the written pattern: R - L - R - L - R - L - R - L - R - L - R - L

The bold and underlined letters are the accents.

Now, as opposed to the RLR or Military zil patterns, the Moroccan Six should be played a bit muffled. The Chorus is already in a Slow Move mode, so arms are down (with the elbows lifted as always), and the hands  are in the position where the thumbs are above the rest of the other four fingers. You know, like when you're gathering water to wash your face. Let gravity bring down the zils on your thumbs to the ones below, which are resting above the middle finger and (as in my case, because my zils are quite big) the index and ring fingers. This will make the the ziling sound more muffled.

One more thing: featured dancers don't need to play the zils when dancing to a Moroccan Six song. And if the dancers in the Chorus aren't confident enough to play the Moroccan Six, then don't. A little tip: start slow, then build the speed.

Here's FCBD® and Devyani dancing to Ishwini Fik.


Alice said...

after 3 years, I still only know the triplets (and only with ATS movement, not with other bellydance). nobody s worse than that :D

Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta said...

Alice, I find it hard when I'm zilling while dancing something Oriental. If it's improv Oriental, I throw in ATS moves though I'm wearing sequins and sparklies. Haha.

My point is, zilling can be hard. But if you have a teacher who's especially good at it, you might want to have a little zill time with her.

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