Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Belly Dance: 2nd Edition

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Though it is subtitled "Second Edition," this is actually the third installment in the World Music Network's belly dance series. The first, an historic overview, the Rough Guide to Belly Dance was issued in 2002 and was followed in 2007 by the even more ambitious Rough Guide to Belly Dance Cafe, which showcased more of the music's international appeal through not only the Middle East, but Greece and Turkey. It also focused on the tradition in Syria and Lebanon. The Rough Guide to Belly Dance: 2nd Edition goes even further; showcasing cutting-edge grooves in the musical evolution of belly dance, juxtaposing them against more traditional ones. None of the tracks on the initial edition or the Belly Dance Cafe volumes are included here. On this volume, the gorgeous folk music of belly dance is exemplified in selections such as Hamouda Ali's "El Samer" and Jalilah's "Tamra Henna, Pt. 2," with Hossam Shaker. Given that rhythm is everything in the evolution of this music no matter which country it hails from, the 21st century is represented by the use of electronics, dub, and other sampling styles in the music of Sammarkand with "Tribal Princess," "Sadaf Iskandarafi" by Saed Al Artist, the still largely acoustic, large ensemble works of the late 20th century by Maurice Chedid on "Alouli," and Richard Hagopian and Yuri Yunakov on "Istemem Babacim." In addition to a wildly diverse collection of belly dance grooves, the collection also comes with a bonus instructional DVD as taught by Virginia, a world-renowned instructor of the ancient dancing tradition called raqs sharki. The collection is seamlessly compiled and sequenced by Phil Stanton with authoritative, historical, and detailed liner notes by Anath Benais. There is a reason that Rough Guide keeps issuing these volumes: they are trying to teach the Western world about not only the great folk tradition of belly dance, but that it is a living, evolving art form in both music and movement.

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