We are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hi Everybody,

Thanks for your continued patience. The external hard drive I use for editing has died, meaning that I have lost:
- Episdoe 2 in-progress (about 1/3 of it needed to be re-shot anyway, and I do still have the original tapes, but not including any editing)
- Episode 1 full-sized (this is a bigger loss, since without the source media, I have only the iPod-formatted version)

I won't have time to buy a new one and do the reshoot before the new year, so, unfortunately, it'll be a little while before Episode 2 is available.

Sorry, everyone, and happy holidays!

Episode 2 Delayed Again

Monday, December 04, 2006

A few sections of Episode 2 will need to be reshot, so I won't have Episode 2 posted for another few days. I think it'll be worth the wait, though: this one has over 40 minutes of dancing time. I'm hoping to have that out by Wednesday or Thursday, but as you've probably noticed already, these things tend to take longer than I expect. So bear with me!

Episode 2 in Editing, Performance video available in the meantime

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hi everybody,

After much delay, Episode 2 has finally been filmed. I hope to finish the editing tomorrow and have it posted for you bright and early Monday morning. That said, this is a long episode: 42 minutes of dancing time alone, plus lots of talking, tips, tricks, and graphs. Yes, GRAPHS; I am an engineer by training and a geek by inclination. So it may take a little longer than usual to edit, compress, and upload this one.

This episode deals with long-term repetition within a piece or set, including:
- deciding how often to repeat an element in order to maximize intellectual and emotional satisfaction, based on the balance of the length, complexity, and drama of the element
- strategies for making repetition more interesting
- using the structure of the music to dictate long-term repetition patterns
- exercises and combinations, including two of my signature movements: Alternating Posing Turns and The Cheater's Drop

In the meantime, I've posted a performance clip from the 3rd Annual Boston Belly Dance Awards, in which I won first place in the new performer (most advanced, i.e., baby belly) category. You can view that on:
- Google Video or
- YouTube

Episode 2 coming soon

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thank you everyone for your wonderful feedback. I'm so glad to hear that so many of you found Episode 1 (Repetition & Alternation) to be helpful, and I especially appreciate your suggestions for improving the show and requests for future episodes.

In fact, Episode 2 was suggested by a viewer, Mala Bhargava. Mala suggested that I cover some additional aspects of repetition, particularly relating to repetition within the context of an entire piece, rather than within a combination. After mulling over her suggestions, I've come up with a few ideas I hope to cover:
- repeating longer "chunks" of choreography (like an entire chorus)
- under what circumstances repetition can seem ameteurish or boring (and tips on how to keep it fresh and effective)
- guidelines for repeating elements throughout a piece, including background elements, forefront elements, skill elements, and danger elements.

I expect to have Episode 2 online just after Thanksgiving (late November). I'll be doing about one episide per month, as it takes about two weeks to mull over ideas, an evening to plan, a day to shoot, and a weekend to edit, export, and upload. Not to mention sleeping, dancing, knitting, laundry, and seeing my husband once in a while!

For those of you viewing on You Tube, I hope to have parts 2 and 3 of Episode 1 posted within a week or so. Sorry for the delay! In the meantime, you can view it on Google Video or Our Media (linked from the Episode 1 blog entry).

Episode 1: Repetition and Alternation

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Download Episode 1

Thanks for your patience, everyone. Welcome to Series 1, in which we'll explore themes that leverage the element of time. This series will be followed by the elements of space, shape, and energy (not necessarily in that order).

Episode One of Taktaba is now available. This episode treats the twin topics of repetition and alternation, including:
- when and how repetition can be effective
- different alternation patterns, and their psychological effects on your audience
- exercises
- combinations


This episode runs about 24 minutes, which is too long to fit on You Tube (due to their 10-minute limit), so I'll have to break it into three chunks. It may be another week or so until I have the time to do that.
Our Media (full version)
Google Video (full version)
YouTube Part 1 (uploaded and available soon)
YouTube Part 2 (coming soon)
YouTube Part 3 (coming soon)

I've created an RSS feed on Feedburner, and you can now subscribe on iTunes.

The music featured in this episode includes:
- Sala, Sala
- Ma Ali Wiolti Loo
- Caravan
- Drum Solo
- Chiftetelli
from Belly Dancing for Fortune and Fame, courtesy of Stella Grey.

Update: 1/12/2008: If you've had trouble downloading this episode, try watching it in VLC. If it still fails, download the low-resolution version. The video quality isn't as good, but the smaller file size might help!

Update: 4/9/2009: this Episode is now available on DVD through Amazon:

as well as directly from the manufacturer, CreateSpace.

Episode 1 Coming Less Soon

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sorry everybody, but Episode 1 is going to be delayed a few more days. Some of my footage is unusable and needs to be reshot.

Please bear with me while I figure out this whole podcasting thing.

Episode 1 Coming Soon

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hi everybody,

Thanks for coming back! Unfortunately, Episode One is going to be delayed for a few days (editing is really time-consuming). I'm hoping to have it up on Wednesday night.

Please check back in a couple of days.

Thanks again,

Episode 0: Podcast Promo and a Poll!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hi everyone,

My podcast promo is now available on Google Video:

(This video has been formatted for iPod; you can download it at Google Video or Our Media)

I will be filming the first episode over Columbus Day weekend, and plan to release one episode every two weeks or so. Keep your eyes open for Episode One on Monday or Tuesday of next week, and please pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested.

In the meantime, I have quite a few topics in mind for the show, and would like to know which YOU are most interested in.

Which topics are you most interested in seeing on Taktaba?
Speed and Timing
Movement vs. Stillness
Pacing (within a piece, show, etc.)
Body Orientation
Traveling vs. Stationary
Using Floor Space
Direction of Isolations
Painting Shapes in the Air / Imagery
Intensity/Sharpness (muscle engagement)
Pushing vs. Pulling movements (inward vs. outward energy)
Movement of energy within the body/space
Free polls from Pollhost.com

These are the "core" topics I intend to treat first. These will be followed by several special topics that don't fall clearly within the bounds of shape, space, time, and energy.

The song used in the promo is Sala, Sala from Belly Dancing for Fortune and Fame, courtesy of Stella Grey.

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My name is Nadira, and welcome to this blog, the home of Taktaba, my upcoming video podcast on dance composition for belly dancers. Taktaba means "she writes", or more aptly, "she composes" in Arabic.

About me:

I am a threshold-professional belly dancer. This means that I dance at student nights at better venues, and dance professionally at less prestigious venues and at festivals, bellygrams, etc. Sometimes we're called "baby bellies". :)

I specialize in American traditional style belly dance. This is a natural fusion style that arose when dancers and musicians from all over the world performed together in ethnic clubs (primarily in the northeast USA) for mixed American and Middle Eastern audiences. Forged in this "melting pot", American style belly dance mixes Arabic, Turkish, and Greek dance movements with ballet and jazz influences, evolved it's own set of conventions, shows a distinctly American flair for dramatic staging, and uses an eclectic mix of middle eastern music. It tends to be energetic, joyful, and very entertaining.

What We'll Be Covering:

Rudolf Nureyev once said that the elements of choreography are:

  • space
  • shape
  • time
  • energy

Whether you plan your choreography in advance or improvise it, the way you use these elements defines your dance.

Over the next weeks and months, I'll be exploring these elements through several themes. In each episode of this podcast, I'll:

  • introduce a theme
  • lead some simple exercises for exploring that theme
  • then present a few combinations that demonstrate it.

Whenever possible, I'll also refer you to dancers and videos that demonstrate these themes in the show notes on this site.

A Note on Styles and Prerequisites:

I intend for this program to be useful to belly dancers in all styles and at all levels. To that end, I will be gearing most of my exercises and combinations to an advanced-beginner and intermediate audience. More advanced dancers can add layering and additional complexity, and use these concepts to create more complex and difficult combinations.

Also, the combinations and styling will reflect my own personal style, and may or may not suit yours, particularly if you were trained in Arabic or Tribal Style. If that's the case, I'd encourage you to try them anyway, and adapt the material and concepts to your own style.


This podcast is not a substitute for a live instructor. I won't be covering technique, musical interpretation, or any number of things you'd learn in a good class. Shira has international teacher listings.

Even for choreography, this isn't formal instruction. I will be sharing concepts and ideas and presenting exercises, but remember that I am not the font of all knowledge on this topic. I'm embarking on this program in order improve my own dance and inviting you to learn along with me.

How You Can Help:

Give me your feedback! Let me know what you find helpful, tell me what you'd like to learn about, and share your own ideas. You can leave a comment, send me an email, or, even better, post your own video to show us all what you did with these ideas.

The Fine Print:

This podcast and blog are made available to you for free under a Creative Commons License (see the link in the sidebar for terms). In short, you're welcome and encouraged to download it and share it, as long as you:
* share it in it's entirety and without modification
* use it for non-commercial purposes only
* attribute it to me

If you'd like to use it in a way not covered by the CC license, please ask me first. Most of the time, I expect to say yes.

Feel free to use my combinations in performance (paid or not) without attribution, to teach them in classes or workshops with attribution (it's okay even if you're being paid), but please do NOT teach them on a commercial video without my permission.

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye on this site. I'll have the promo posted in a few days, and will be filming the first episode over Columbus Day weekend.

Dance On,

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