A while back I mentioned the complex Arabic orchestral music that used to really throw me for a loop. One of our more complex genres is our modern Entrance music. Back in the 5-part routine days, entrance music was fairly simple, upbeat, made to energize the guests and grab their attention. Any variation came from the multiple taqasim of the featured melody instruments. But with the incorporation of tarab music, and dancing on the complex orchestral overtures of famous songs, came a new kind of entrance music.
Mergensé, megence, majensee and various other spellings are apparently all derived from the French term Mise en Scène, which refers to the setting, props etc of a scene–ie, setting the scene–which is what entrance music does for a dance routine.
This modern entrance music is designed to show off the dancer’s skills, with fast-paced, radical shifts in rhythm, tempo, and affect. Like the classic songs, these shifts are often intentionally surprising. They can be a real challenge for dancers, so they are often choreographed quite tightly, per the recording, of course.
But what if you have a live band?
What if they play the song differently from the recording?
What if you don’t feel like tightly choreographing a song?
What if you could improvise even to complex music?
Well, you can.
I’ve certainly done it (as have many others of us). The first time I heard Alf Leila wa Leila, or Darit il Ayyam, for example, I was performing to them. Um. Yeah. Here is a clip from that Darit il Ayyam.
It went surprisingly well.
As we become familiar with how music is put together, we begin to intuit when the changes are coming. We start to notice patterns, thematic repeats. We understand how to slow down when we feel changes, and to fully commit to our movement, so that even if we don’t match the music, we look like we meant to do that. And then we catch it the next time around.
Anyone can do this. It does take some practice.
(It doesn’t hurt to have excellent musicians, who watch the dancer and follow her moves, as in the above clip ; )
Here’s a fun entrance piece for you. Just dance it.
Of course it won’t be perfect. Discovery is part of the thrill. Let yourself relax and enjoy the ride.
If you’d like a better understanding of structure, and practice with a bunch of great entrance pieces, you might enjoy our next Fun Class Deep Dive.
Entrancing: How to improvise to entrance music for Oriental Dance.
Registration is now open. I invite you to check it out here: aliathabit.com/shop/#live