Jump Up Jump UP and Get Down!

I’ve completed another two classes with the Dabke team lead by Samir Hasan. It’s amazing just how much I’m learning about Dabke with every single class I attend.

We recently found out that the first routine we learned over the last few months was simply Samir’s introduction to Dabke. The cool thing about that is that most people that see the routine in action think we’re very good at Dabke already. We even thought we were really starting to get the hang of things and then bam! New moves and a high-energy routine full of jumps is introduced. Feels like we’re jumping more than Kris Kross’s “jump” song! (I’m feeling old making this reference)

 

 

All along during our basic Dabke routine I couldn’t wait for us to do more flashy jumping type moves. What I didn’t expect was how tiring it would be!  I guess it makes sense. When I used to take kickboxing class we would warm up with skipping for 3 x 3 minute rounds.  You would think that jumping for three minutes is not hard but it can certainly bring on the sweat. When you take into consideration that Dabke routines can last from 3 to 20 minutes or more, you begin to realize that doing Dabke might even have the added benefit of getting you in shape.

This week I think Samir proved his teaching skills even more. I think i would have been more discouraged if he introduced these jumping high energy moves initially when I started. I think that it reminded me about the importance of not just having someone that is good at Dabke teaching you, but someone that is good at TEACHING People how to do Dabke step by step. He started us off with basic moves that were also not very tiring so that we can really start understanding the initial mechanics of fitting steps to the beat of the music.

This brings me to my DABKE LEARNED LESSON OF THE WEEK:
If you don’t perfect the basic moves,  you will struggle when you reach more difficult moves

There are a couple of guys on the team that joined a little bit later than everyone. Although they can perform the basic steps, they seem to be performing them purely out of memorization and not to the beat of the of the song. It’s almost like they’re not “feeling” the rhythm. That sounds somewhat cliche but I see it. I don’t think it has anything to do with their skill or ability because I think anyone can be good at Dabke. They just joined a little later and haven’t had enough time on the basic moves.

So how do you perfect moves?  I think coach Samir probably has a much better insight on an answer but I can tell you a few things that I’ve been doing as a student which seem to be working for me:

 

  • Show people as soon as you learn

One thing I do after every class is come home and show my wife or my parents the new move I’ve learned. I’ll even show friends or other family members if they happen to be visiting at the time. What this does is force you to get over shyness slowly since you’re less shy in front of family. It also forces you to do the move in a different setting which starts to really imprint it into your brain / memory

 

  • Random practice

I’ll be in the office at work on my way to a printer or maybe at home warming up some food. I’ll just do a move that I’m learning for fun without anyone watching. Again, this helps me perfect and remember the move.

 

  • Do Dabke moves to non-Dabke music

This is funny but sometimes we have Caribbean type music playing in our house. We were lucky enough to live in Barbados for a few years while I was there on a work contract. The music stuck with us. Once in a while when I’m fooling around with my two year old son and we’re dancing i’ll do Dabke. Most recently it was to a Soca song called “Bacchanalist” by Kerwin Du Bois. I honestly enjoyed doing Dabke to this song. Give it a try once you learn some moves from us here.  When you have fun, learning becomes even easier.

 

 

  • Watch videos of yourself

Since we have team practices once in a while a team member will record a few minutes and we will watch it together. It’s quite different to be looking at yourself from the audience perspective because mistakes you make may not be so apparent from your own point of view. For me, on one of the moves I was the only team member that was bowing his legs. None of us knew I was doing this until we watched a small clip and it was very apparent right the and there. Another thing I noticed was my posture. I have terrible posture so it’s something I have to actively work on while doing Dabke.  I blame my height (I’m 6″2).

 

I think doing these types of things implants the moves into your memory so that you don’t have to “think” about doing them. I remember a line from a movie, I can’t exactly remember the name of the movie though but for some reason Bruce Lee comes to mind (I love martial arts movies). Anyway, the coach in that movie tells the student “stop thinking about hitting me and hit me!”  In the same sense I think when a Dabke move starts to feel natural you won’t have to think about doing it. This leaves more of your brain’s energy to focus on maybe the transition to another move or potentially to focus on the beat of whatever song you’re dancing Dabke to.

I’ll leave you with a Dabke video that I really like.  I appreciate the skills displayed here even more now that I know how difficult it is to do a routine with lots of jumps and action.  Enjoy!

 

Youssef

Dabke Student and Fan

 

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