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Music Theory 101: Instruments of the Takht Ensemble - The Oud

Now that we’ve covered some very basic music terminology (there will always be more terms to learn of course), let’s dive deeper into our music lessons and learn about some of the instruments you might commonly hear in your favorite classic belly dance tunes!

We’ll start by learning about the instruments of the Takht (or Takhat), which is the musical ensemble or orchestra in Middle Eastern music. Some of the instruments you might find in the Takht ensemble are the Oud, Qanun, Violin, Ney, Riq, and Darbuka. (“Takht (Music)”)

(Oud - Photo by Frank Kovalchek)


                     (Qanun)                                                                                  (Riq - Photo by Catrin)

                     (Ney)                                                                                                     (Darbuka)

That’s a lot of different instruments, and it’s only the beginning! Every country and region has its own special instruments and you might find that instruments have different names depending on where you travel.

So let’s tackle one instrument at a time, beginning with the Oud.


(Syrian musicians in Aleppo with an Oud, 1915)

The Oud (ud) is derived from the Arabic word for wood: al-ud (العود). It has a pear shaped wooden frame and a short neck with 11 to 13 strings and no frets, which gives it a very distinct sound. (Parfitt) You can find the Oud used in “Persian, Greek, Turkish, Byzantine, Arabia...

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3 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips Music By Datura Online Staff

Datura Online Practice Group!

Oct 30, 2017 7:00:00 AM

DO Practice Group

We've created a Datura Online Practice Group!

Want to find practice accountability buddies, share dance tips, and talk about belly dance? We've created a Datura Online Practice Group on Facebook for you!

This is a private group for Datura Online students to connect with friends and find accountability buddies.

Please share your experiences, inspiration, resources and information from your dance and art practice that you may find valuable to others in the DO community!

Keep subjects to topics relevant to Datura Online, dance practice, dance experiences, dance inspiration, and dance culture.

The posts in this group are only viewable to those who are members.

Guidelines for posting:

- We reserve the right to moderate any posts and remove anyone from this forum.

- Please do not include negative posts or complaints (i.e. posts that do not seek a constructive outcome). They will be removed. If you have questions about Datura Online or if you are having difficulty with your Datura Online account, don't hesitate to email us at our help desk.

- Anyone generating more than 3 posts in one week may be have their posts moderated to make room for a diversity of voices.

- You are welcome to comment on other posts as much as you like, of course.

- Event posting is restricted to events directly relating to Datura Online. Please no advertising.

0 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips Practice Tools By Datura Online Staff

The Community: Scheduling your practice

May 17, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Datura Online Community Banner

This Edition: Scheduling your practice

 Schedule your practice

Target and celebrate small wins. Amid the clumsiness of the start, there are moments of figuring out fundamentals, of making small improvements. Find them, name them, and highlight them.” - Daniel Coyle

The Community -

Welcome to the Datura Online Community, where we share our thoughts, tips, and resources together in one place!

Each month we ask the DO community a question here on the Datura Online blog and we want to hear your thoughts.

Q: This month's question is: How do you schedule your practice?

We'll feature responses from the Datura Online community right here in our blog. We look forward to hearing from you all!

Thanks for reading. Please post your stories about belly dance and the dance making process in the comments below or on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

14 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Community By Datura Online Staff

We’d like to talk a little bit about music theory…wait, wait, wait! Don’t run away just yet!

animals running nope octopus run away

We know music theory can be a bit daunting, but today we’re just going to touch on the basics and ask ourselves a few questions about music.

There certainly is a dynamic and important relationship between music and belly dance. A few good questions to ask ourselves as dancers are: How much do I need or want to know about music? Will knowing more about music affect the way I dance? If yes, then how much should I study?

The answers are ultimately up to you as an individual, but for those interested in exploring the world of music, we’re here to share a few practice tips for training your ear, give you just the basics of how music is put together, and show how you can apply basic music theory to your own personal practice.

Let’s start at the very beginning: Music is the “art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color” (dictionary.com). As belly dancers we’re exposed to all kinds of wonderful music from all over the world and we can innately understand the differences and similarities of all the music we hear.

Most of the music we encounter in our dance has a beat to it, although there are some exceptions: drum solos definitely have a beat, but an oud or violin taxim solo might not. We can find a great example of this in Sedona’s choreography, danced to the song Jemilleh.
The musician, John Bilezikjian, plays a beautiful taxim...
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3 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips Music By Datura Online Staff

When it comes to choosing what to include in your personal practice, belly dancers have a lot of options.  You could drill your basic shapes (locks, circles and eights); incorporate those shapes into more complex layers; practice fancy footwork with traveling, levels, and turns; incorporate smooth and controlled arm pattern cycles; or you could spend the hour powering through the biggest, juiciest shimmy you can muster. 

And that’s not all! A well balanced routine also includes conditioning, strength training, flexibility, expression, musicality, improvisation, and choreography.  You may be wondering: "How can I possibly make time for everything?". We’ve got 5 short, and very effective tips to help you organize your practice and track your progress.

you can do anything,organizing your dance practice, belly dance motivation

Quick Tip #1: Set Goals at Regular Intervals (and revisit those goals)

Ask yourself what skills you wish to learn or improve on.  For many of us, our initial response might be “I want to master all of it!”, but what would truly give you that triumphant sense of accomplishment?  As David Allen so aptly put it, "You can do anything, but not everything". Choose a few items to really focus on and then determine concrete goals and a realistic time frame in which to achieve them.  It’s helpful to set weekly goals as intentions to keep at the forefront of your mind throughout your practice (“This week I will maintain energy and intention throughout my arms”) and longer term goals as deadlines for progress (“In 3 months, I will be strong en...

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7 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips By Datura Online Staff

You’ve heard it time and again: Practice makes perfect.  The adage has withstood the test of time and throughout the years many of us have experienced first hand the improved performance of an action after consistent practice, but have you ever wondered what exactly is happening at the super-cellular level?  What chemical changes are occurring in your biological make up that enable you to be faster, stronger, and sharper?   

Every action you perform can be biomechanically observed as a minute electrical impulse.  The action begins in the brain, which sends electrical commands down the spinal cord and through the vast network of nerves, located throughout your entire body.  When the neural unit is fired, the surrounding muscle fibers contract.  Myelin is a fatty tissue that wraps around the wires of our brain like electrical tape, forming an insulating sheath.  

 bellydance, practice, myelin,

We have learned a great deal about myelin and how it can benefit your dance practice from Daniel Coyle (avid researcher of skill building and author of “The Talent Code” & “The Little Book of Talent”).  It goes like this:  Each time we complete an action, a new layer of myelin is created, making the electrical command stronger and faster.  There are a few ground rules, but with this knowledge, one can harness the powerful potential of myelin and apply it to his/her dance practice to learn faster and build stronger, more efficient neurological pathways.

So we’ve established that with each repetition of an action, myelin w...

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3 Comments | Posted in Practice Tips By Datura Online Staff

Do you ever finish your dance practice wishing you had accomplished more within your allotted practice time? We all value our time so when we dedicate ourselves to something, we expect that time and effort to yield results.  At Datura Online, we love reading about the latest research on learning, creativity, and skill building which has led us to discover new ways to train faster and smarter.  Today, we’d like to share some of these tips with you so you can get the most out of your dance practice.

Find the Sweet Spotthe sweet spot, daniel coyle, building skill, belly dance practice, the talent code,

One of the best ways to take your practice to the next level, is to find what Daniel Coyle (avid researcher of skill building and author of “The Talent Code” & “The Little Book of Talent”) calls ‘the Sweet Spot’.  Learning a new skill takes repetition, and as with any perpetual task, it is easy to go on auto-pilot; to allow our minds to wander as we repeat chest locks into oblivion. 

The Sweet Spot is located just beyond your current abilities.  In order to find it, you must remain mentally vigilant and push beyond your comfort zone.  This is where you learn the best and fastest, your mind becomes hyper-aware of errors and you are engaged in an intense struggle, constantly reaching for your goal.

Target Hard Skills and Soft Skills

Another great tip we’ve learned from Daniel Coyle, is how to categorize our practice items into hard skills and soft skills, and adjust our practice methods accordingly.  Hard skills are about exactitude; each repetition of the action is pe...

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5 Comments | Posted in Practice Tips Practice Tools By Datura Online Staff

Excellence,building habits, setting up a belly dance practice, sticking to your routine

It sounds simple, however building new habits is challenging and changing your existing habits requires careful planning and constant vigilance.  Here are 7 tips to set you up for success.

Setting up your Routine:

Make a checklist of the items you wish to include in your routine.  Be aware of how much time each task requires and assign exact timings for when each item begins and ends. Once you have set these details, set your routine’s schedule in stone by writing it in your planner.  Chunk this time off for your dance routine and treat it as you would a very important appointment.  

Don’t overdo it.  Give yourself at least one day off per week to allow your body to recover.  This will allow your muscles to repair and reduce long-term fatigue. 

In addition to scheduling your routine of to-dos, be sure to set aside time for rest and relaxation.  Psychological studies have found there is a limit to one’s self control.  You have a finite amount of willpower:  Resisting one thing will reduce your overall self control and make you more susceptible to the next temptation.  Anticipate these moments of weakness by giving yourself scheduled breaks and leisure time.  This will replenish your willpower reserves, empowering you to continue to stick with your routine.

Remember that it takes 30-90 days to establish a routine.  During this time you may need to make a few adjustments to ensure your routine is a reasonable and attainable goal for you. 

Sticking to it:alarm clock, setting up a dance routine, sticking to your belly dance practice

Respect your routine’s time con...

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4 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips By Brittany Stark

5 Ways to Achieve your 2015 Dance Goals

Jan 16, 2015 10:50:00 AM

As the sun rises on a bright new year, you may find yourself reflecting on 2014 and setting new intentions for 2015.  I always love this time of year because it is a fresh start  for everyone and you can feel the eagerness and excitement in the air as we each set our aims for 2015.  

sunrise, 2015 resolutions, dance goals, belly dance practice

There is often a flurry of excitement as one resolves to a new challenge.  Fast forward to a few weeks later and the real work sets in. Today we’ve got 5 ways that can help give you with that extra boost to turn your 2015 dance goals in accomplishments.

1. Create a Plan:

You know what you want, now it’s time to determine how to get there. Concrete, specific actions take the guess work out of it by telling you exactly what you need to do to achieve your goal.  If your goals include stronger & bigger chest lifts, ask yourself what steps you can take to get there.  You may decide to create a Datura Online playlist that includes flexibility stretches and strengthening exercises in addition to drilling chest lifts 3 days a week.

Write your practices in your planner with set start and end dates - this will ensure you set aside the time for meeting your goals.  Start slow by adding one thing at a time. For example, to begin scheduling your chest lift focused practice, start with just the flexibility aspect the first week, then add the strengthening exercises the second week and the drills the 3rd week. Building up to your ideal practice will give your body time to adjust to your routine slowly so you don’t ...

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0 Comments | Posted in Practice Tips By Brittany Stark

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