Friday, 15 April 2016

National Folk Festival 2016 - Wild Wild West

We had a great time semi-street performing at the National Folk Festival this year! We went all out with some crazy western-inspired gingham costumes, some Wild West-Bellydance fusion and an Old Fashioned Shimmy Off!

Thanks to the amazing Tracy Lee for the fab photos!
More pics from the National to come!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

UPDATE - What do curry and bellydance have in common?

World Curry Festival Performance - Saturday 18 July 2015 11 July 2015 7pm - Garema Place Canberra

Update: The weather is definitely getting colder. With wind, rain and possibly snow forecast for the weekend of 11 July, the organisers of the World Curry Festival have postponed the event until next weekend - 18 and 19 July. So stay in, keep warm, and dance on!

The weather may be getting colder in Canberra, but that won’t stop TABLA getting out to perform at the World Curry Festival in the city. Rug up and warm up your insides with a tasty curry and a performance by TABLA Bellydance on Saturday 18 July at 7pm.

So what does curry have to do with bellydancing? Well, firstly TABLA loves good food, and curry is one of the best, however you like it.

It also shares a mixed and varied history, with many adaptations and evolutions.

From its origins in India, dishes of meat or vegetables in a spiced sauce with bread or rice have spread throughout the world, with each region adding its own special touch. Similarly, ‘bellydancing’ has been influenced and adapted by many regions and cultures to become the fabulous kaleidoscope we have today.

Curries can have many different ingredients and come in many different styles, with variations within countries and regions. This gives modern cooks many options to draw on, while still keeping in touch with tradition, much like TABLA’s joy in many different styles and influences of dance.

See? Bellydance and curry do have some things in common.

Now for a bit of fun, if a TABLA dancer was a curry, which one would she be?  

Daluna is a korma - Like any character played by Michael Cera or Zooey Deschanel, you're sweet and a little bit nuts. You've never (intentionally) hurt a soul in your life, but you probably fall over at least twice a day.

Zohra is butter chicken - Mild and inoffensive, your sweet disposition makes you everybody’s favourite. You’re sorry that people are jealous of you, but you can’t help it that you’re popular.

Inara, Hadeeqa and Sahar are all rogan josh - You prove it's possible to be a lover AND a fighter. At first glance you're sweet and approachable but underneath the surface there lurks a slow-burning passion. Everyone's always saying how great you smell.

Samina is a madras - You're the reliable one, like Lisa Simpson or Gandalf. Your favourite expression is an eye-roll accompanied by a "Never mind, I'll just do it." You don't need attention - you're content knowing that without you around, none of the others would even be here.

To find out which curry you are, take the quiz here and share your result in the comments below.

We hope to see you next Saturday night, whatever flavour you like!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

BHTS- Canberra Belly Dance

It’s that time of year – The National Folk Festival! is here.

Held in Canberra, Australia every Easter.
TABLA is in full swing with costume making & rehearsals.  If you happen to be at the festival on Saturday – swing by the Piazza to see TABLA by Night Sizzling! Spicy!

See what it is all about in these videos below. If you like what you see- grab a ticket, your walking shoes & get your folk on with us at Easter.
National Folk Festival 2014 Canberra from Tracy Lee on Vimeo.

National Folk Festival 2012-2013 from Tracy Lee on Vimeo.

TABLA's website

Visit The National Folk Festival website to see the groovy program!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Improvisation of a different kind

TABLA Bellydance loves to improvise to live music, but Zohra takes it to a whole new arena. Here she shares some of her efforts at bringing things together to make something new and amazing, and amazingly useful. You might find some inspiration from her creative efforts, or as she puts it “making stuff up to see if I can”.

The tambourine

When TABLA began exploring dancing with tambourines, we hadn’t yet found a decent supplier for the instrument. So I went to the bargain shop and bought hob covers (the old-fashioned things that one can put over hot plates), bells and hooked loops (like the ones on wine charms) and after a bit of work with a hole punch, created some ‘practice’ tambourines.

They sound awful, but they gave us something to work with until we were able to find actual tambourines that we liked.
A hob cover tambourine
Hob covers - not just for the kitchen

The zills

No, not the actual zills. The straps. The idea came from another dancer who uses bra strap slides to tighten the zills to her fingers. Brilliant idea. When I contemplated this, I realised that I didn't have elastic of the right width for the slide I had. Then it occurred to me – use the old bra strap you just took the slide off.

Don't throw those old bras away!
There's more in Zohra's craft box ("Box? Who has just one box?") - Next time - set lists, sticks and seats.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Drumming Left Handed

Part of TABLA each week for the first section of the Group is drumming with our wonderful percussionist Richard, who mentors us in the art of Drumming, teaching us the various rhythms using both hands with the  parts of  fingers and  whole hand with different technique of the many styles involved with drumming. Some of the group play on large animal skinned drums, some on the vinyl and some play on the smaller drums whilst others play on the tambourine, but for most part they play on their own drums that they have purchased.

Most drummers will play the drum right handed, lucky for me I am right handed, but find it is easier to play it left handed - which in itself is a whole new concept and something quite challenging as I have found after discovering that it was better to use than the right hand. Learning a new percussion instrument or using a prop in Bellydance to enhance the choreography is challenging most times depending on what it is, but when having to do drum left handed, it gets interesting to say the very least.

Positioning the drum on your lap either left or right side is pretty much the same or as many choose they have it standing upright on the floor at an angle, but it's the sound that follows after its first hit that matters, with the hand hitting the centre of the drum to create the deeper sounding first beat with it's correct sound. You can usually tell by the look on faces, hearing it and possibly a raised eyebrow or two from your instructor if the sound is off...that's usually the best way I know, because they look directly at you. It gets frustrating at times when the sound doesn't quite come across right on the initial impact and even the best and experienced drummers will have an off day with it till they find their drumming groove and "get into the zone".

Practicing when you can helps a great deal to get used to the way of holding your hand flat and your fingers closed together when you get a minute or a longer length of time to dedicate to drumming. It may not necessarily be on a drum due to the noise, it could be on the side of your knee relaxing at home or waiting at an appointment, listening to 4/4 counts to a song on the car radio as you drum your fingers on the steering wheel. I have been finding myself doing alot of that lately, getting some interesting looks from other motorists whilst stopped at a set of traffic lights with the music turned up drumming and singing away. But by sticking with it and learning to play something that is new, adds to the ever vast repertoire you have, as you slowly build it up and get that quiet sense of  accomplishment when it all comes together sounding pretty good at the end.

Softer notes with the fingers on the sound of the drum will create redness on the finger pad tips and to the first digit and too far down your fingers if hit wrong, as many have found out when first beginning drumming, as the middle finger will take the brunt of the edge with the other two fingers on either side will create a softer but firmer sound - and this is only with the left hand the right hand is a whole different story. Jewellry such as bracelets and the wearing of rings, I found isn't great either,  neither is having longish all gives a different sound to the drum when the skin is hit and the sound on the side of the rim with a wrist full of beautiful bracelets and bangles...although they look very good with the bling, just not as conducive to the playing of the drum.

Learning the basic scale when drumming in a  group is important, you need to know when to go back to it, if you feel flustered and cannot find the beat you were first starting to do as other drummers in the group go faster and add different strokes and sounds to the piece you are playing. Once you find your groove again and confident of doing this, I found that I was able to add the right hand fingers with it's sharp definitive strikes to the top of the drum and rim, giving the piece you are playing a different sound as both hands are used to continue with it. Then you will find that practicing whilst sometimes ending up with a red knee at times and singing at stop lights in the car whilst drumming on your steering wheel receiving all those funny looks from passing motorists was well worth it in the end.

Left Handed drumming Ra`naa - what not to do...curved hand, open's a work in progress and the whole brain gym concept to get the left hand thinking like the right hand will come in time with much practice and guided by our teacher. 

Right handed drummers Daluna and Zohra - Right hand flat and fingers close together and arm is straight.

Play to the beat of your drum and enjoy.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014


TABLA bellydance's YouTube channel is slowly being populated! Here's a piece we all loved performing - "Gypsy Sentez" or sometimes called "Misbehaving Basimah" ...  i'm sure someone knows where the second title came from ...

Here it is for your viewing pleasure, from a performance at Bellyissimo in 2010!

If you'd like to get in touch with us, leave a comment or check out our facebook page!
Sam :)

Monday, 16 June 2014

The TABLA photo Archive - 1

"Basic to all dance is a sense of celebration. The word dance itself comes from the Sanskrit, tanha, meaning - joy of life."

                                               Wendy Buonaventura, Belly Dancing, The Serpent and the Sphinx.

Here is the first post from the TABLA image archives. I go back and look through these every so often to have a trip down memory lane. I love seeing the joy, laughter and fun we always when performing. I only wish we had images of the faces of the audience when they watch  the colour of the costumes, see the joy on the dancers faces and hear the music.

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Shimmy on!