Taqsim and Improvisation–are they the same thing?

Um, yes. Technically, they are, as taqsim means instrumental improvisation. So they do go hand in hand. Of course, it is much easier to improvise to rhythmic music–most of our dance music has a 4/4 rhythm, and a fairly consistent pattern of verses and choruses. The classic orchestral music has more complex structures, but even there, there’s a lot of predictability, and the rhythm is always there to support us.

Not so much with taqsim.

Last week we talked about the central concept of expressing the music. Today let’s take a (very) quick look at the subtle concept of waiting for the music. In a taqsim, there are pauses (in Arabic, qafla; the plural is qaflat). Since we are expressing the music, and there is no music in the pause, what do we do? We wait. We let our movement fade away as the sound of the instrument fades, and we pick it up as the sound of the instrument returns.

Think about calligraphic lines. They vary from thick to thin, as the intensity of each note, and hence, our movement, varies from thick to thin. So the movement thins out as the sound fades. We don’t suddenly brake, we coast, gently and effortlessly. Maybe to a stop, if the pause is long, or maybe into our next movement if it is short. We don’t print, we write in script.

I’ve contributed Taqsim Tuesdays to the BellyDance Bundle this year — Here is my podcast on Taqsim, and my Instagram Challenge UnDrill Taqsim video for your enjoyment (I’m Day 6).


PS Dancing well on Taqsim also means improvising well. Effortless Improv is made for this.

Someone asked me some questions today about Effortless Improv, which begins in just a few day on Oct 11. Usually when one person asks, a few other folks would like to know, so here you go.
Is it on Facebook?
No. It is a mybb.com forum I’ve been running for several years. No facebook at all. 

Can I do this at my own pace?
At one’s own pace can mean you stretch it out to 6 months or so, or that you post at a convenient time for you. You could do it either way, but it’s not a course where you get all the info at once and sort through it on your own. The course itself is designed as a high-contact, guided process. 
It is asynchronous, but with maximum accountability, so that the process of growth and change can happen in a compressed amount of time. While there are live weekly zoom meetings, they are recorded, and folks post at their own convenience. 

The forum is updated weekly with each week’s assignment, and there are daily responses. The idea is to come to the forum each day and post what one did, plus read and comment upon the posts of their group members. Folks are put in small groups to make that more intimate and manageable. 

All the accountability part is optional–one can just do the assignments on their own, and only come in when there are questions and whatnot, but the groups are generally seen as a strength of the process. 

And one can certainly stockpile the information and dip into it as one wishes–the forum/assignments remain open to participants after the 6 weeks time closes. 

Registration for Effortless is open now–it closes on Monday, October 12.

I look forward to dancing with you!

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