Belly Dance to the Music of Americanistan!
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Christmas chant
Article by Dunyah and Salome "Mezdulene's Mystical Oasis with Amel Tafsout," Spring 2009, originally published in Harrakat, newsletter of the Middle Eastern Dance Guild of Eugene.
 
Article by Dunyah "The Making of Tribalation!" Nov. 2006, originally published in Jareeda Magazine
 
Article by Dunyah "Thoughts on Playing Music for Bellydancers," Spring 2006
 
Article by Dunyah on "Goblet Dancing" Sept. 2005.
 
Read Interview with Dunyah in Jareeda Magazine April/May 2005.
 
Read Article by Dunyah on "A Transforming Day of Music and Dance in Roseburg," published in Jareeda Magazine April/May 2005.
 
Read "Americanistan: A Look at a Middle Eastern Belly Dance Band in Eugene" by Aaron Rosenberg, ethnomusicology student.
 
Read "The Making of a Belly Dance CD" article by Dunyah for the Gilded Serpent website, 2004.
 
Read Articles on "Historical Perspectives on Andalusian Music" and "Flamenco, Art Without Borders," and more by Elena Villa, Dancer and Instructor of Flamenco, Belly Dance, and Flamenco-Arab fusion.
 
Read Film Reviews by Dunyah, Director of Americanistan, click here.

 

My Approach to the Music of Americanistan

And How You Can Play It Too!

By Frederique Al-Bayyati (Frederick Wilson)

Welcome to my little corner of Americanistan. I hope to provide you with some background on the music you hear me play, and some tips on how to play the traditional music of Americanistan on your own instrument. By all means, do try this at home!!!

Of course, Americanistan is a pretty tongue-in-cheek name. The band is made up of Americans, expressing in music what we know best: our own lives in Oregon, USA, not some far-off place that we’ve perhaps only infrequently visited. Click here to read more.   Click here to hear the oud.

Dancing to Live Music
By Dunyah

This article was published in Discover Belly Dance Journal, Vol. 26 #6, April 2004. Used by permission. Revised by the author on 5/26/04.
     
In 1976 I saw my first "belly dance" performance. The show, at an outdoor festival in Southern California, included live music, and I was enchanted. It was my first exposure to the Middle Eastern forms, and I fell in love, hard. I signed up for dance classes and have been hooked ever since. My love affair with belly dance has been the longest-lasting love of my life.

Perhaps I became "imprinted" with the live music idea through seeing that first performance. I have always preferred to dance to live music, and I love shows with live music. It's just so, I don't know, ALIVE!

Likewise, my band, Americanistan, loves to play for dancers. That is our specialty. We have been developing this for about thirteen years. For many years I danced in the shows and also played in the band. Along with the harmonium, I play dumbek, frame drum, and arabic tambourine.
 
Here are my top tips for dancers who are beginning to work with live bands. To read more, click here.

Troupe Americanistan Live at the WOW
reviewed by Taaj
 
This review was originally published in Zaghareet Magazine, March/April 2000.
Note: Since that time the group has changed its name to Americanistan.
 
Talk about a CD for everyone. Live at the WOW is it! It is a must-have for lovers of the tribal style and also for people who prefer acoustic sounds over synthesized music.
 
The variety of instrumentation (ney, violin, kanoon, arghul, zurna, flute, saz, and doumbek) allows for so much sound and music. The earthy sounds just fill the entire room and invite you to dance.
 
There are old favorites like Habbena Habbena, Ay Ya Zein, and Aziza, but there are also fresh new pieces you are sure to enjoy.
 
The violin lends a certain Gypsy feeling to many of the songs...To read more, click here. 

livewowcvr.jpg
Click CD cover for music clips from Live at the WOW

Dunyah in Her Bargain Costume
A Bargain Costume
Photo by Traci Lea

 
 
My Bargain Costume
by Dunyah
 
NEW photos added 8/5/04 (see next page).
 
Originally published in Jareeda Magazine, Jan/Feb 2002. Used by permission. revised by the author on 2/7/04. All rights reserved.
 
About the author: Dunyah, aka Denise Gilbertson, has been studying and performing Middle Eastern dance for over 25 years.She hates to sew. She is the director of Americanistan.

Winter boredom can give way to creative obsession in a flash of insight! One cold, rainy afternoon the sight of scraps of fabric and remnants of projects that had been long forgotten in the bottom of an old trunk suddenly gave birth to visions of costume glory and drove away doldrums. The possibilities inherent in fragments of trim and beads propelled this non-seamstress into a creative frenzy of costume-making, with interesting results. Doing it for the least amount of money was part of the challenge...To read more, click here.

 
An Overview of Middle Eastern Instruments
by Dunyah

This article was originally published in Jareeda Magazine in 2001. Used by permission. Revised by the author 2/7/04. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Dunyah, aka Denise Gilbertson, has studied and performed Middle Eastern dance since 1976. Her musical studies began at an early age, with instruction in piano. She began drumming for other dancers in the 80s, and has continued to learn and to play Middle Eastern music ever since. She is the director of Americanistan.

I am writing this to help dancers, in particular, and others interested in the subject of Middle Eastern Music. The purpose of this article is to provide a general understanding of some of the most important instruments used in Middle Eastern music. I am by no means an expert on the subject. For this article I have relied on reference books, particularly "Music of the Arabs" by Habib H. Touma, as well as my own knowledge and experience gleaned through years of performing and studying, and several trips to the Mendocino Middle Eastern Music Camp. I hope this information is useful in helping you understand the music you are hearing, and, for dancers, to help you to craft your dance accordingly This article will discuss the oud, kanoon, ney, mizwij, arghul, and darabukkah, or dumbek...To read more, click here.
 
 

The Role of Intention in Artistic Belly Dance
by Dunyah
 
This article was originally published in Harrakat, the newsletter of the Middle Eastern Dance Guild of Eugene, and was reprinted in Caravan Trails, a Journal of Tribal Belly Dance. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
About the author: Dunyah, aka Denise Gilbertson, has over 25 years of experience in Middle Eastern Dance, and is director of Americanistan, a world music group which performs music inspired by the Middle East and Mediterranean
 
It can be said that there are three elements necessary for the creation of a work of art: 1) technique, 2) emotion, and 3) intellect. In this article I am engaged in an inquiry about how these ideas relate to the art of belly dance performance, particularly the element of intellect. What does each of these mean to us as dancers, and how can we use them to enhance our performance?
 
Each of the three categories is vast, and could encompass many subcategories. Technique, for example, includes the actual mechanics of movement, learned from a teacher and then practiced and perfected. Good technique in a dancer is instantly recognizable in the following qualities: ...To read more, click here.

Drumming on the Edge of Magic:
Wayne "Omar" Gilbertson
by Pamela Smith Hill

This article was originally published in Caravan Trails: A Journal for Tribal Bellydance, Issue 14, Fall 2001. Used by permission. Revised by the author 2/10/04. All rights reserved.
 
Wayne "Omar" Gilbertson has performed with Middle Eastern music and dance groups since 1990. He currently plays with Americanistan, of which he is a founding member and co-producer. He performed regularly with Gypsy Caravan from 2000-2002, and remains great friends with them.
 
"My passion," says musician Wayne Omar Gilbertson, "equals drones and drums. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. A sruti box and drum awakens me, and rhythms draw me in." Yet this gifted musician, who frequently performs with Gypsy Caravan, had no musical training when he was growing up. "I was a sports guy," Wayne remembers. "But I could sing and dance..." To read more, click here.
Wayne "Omar" Gilbertson
Wayne with tar in redwood tree
Photo by Paulette Rees-Denis

Click here to read an article by Wayne "Omar" Gilbertson titled "My Waking Dream Comes to Life," about the music, the dancers, and what it means to him.

Click here to read an article by Dunyah about the Eugene Middle East Peace Group's 4th Annual Eid/Hannukah Festival of Lights held in December of 2003. (See 2nd page of Articles)