Salaam Family Introduction
In 2012, the Salimpours took selected steps and put them under the Salaam Family title. Although the title is new, Suhaila added these folkloric steps to Jamila’s vocabulary in the early 1980s. After observing Lala Hakim, a featured dancer with the National Folkloric Company of Egypt whom Jamila sponsored in workshops in San Francisco, Suhaila visited Cairo in 1981. Suhaila noted common nuances and general phrasing danced by regular people at weddings and similar family gatherings. She interpreted the steps through the Vocabulary and, with Jamila’s insistence, they were added to the Vocabulary.
The word “Salaam” literally means “welcome” and is used as a respectful greeting in Arabic and Farsi. These steps have an inherent welcoming or greeting quality and also focus on classical and traditional arm work.
Several Salaam Family steps have a subtle continuous body bounce as described in their descriptions.
Arabic 1 footwork traveling right halftime downbeat right, alternating (one 4/4 measure each):
1) Arms in 2nd, palms facing up with shoulder presses forward halftime downbeat right.
2) Arms in 2nd, bend elbows with fingertips pointing up, palms facing front, and upper arms parallel to the floor; sway forearms halftime downbeat right with hip slides halftime downbeat right. Glance softly side-to-side, following the movement of the hands.
- Hands are led by the first finger.
Suhaila had observed this step before but, when she watched wedding participants at a wedding in Cairo in 1981, her understanding of the step solidified.
Arabic 1 flat quartertime downbeat right traveling right. Left hand at hip with palm facing back and index finger touching hip bone; elbow pressed forward.
Right arm alternates between down and up quartertime downbeat down. Begin down with palm facing forward in an open low first with a straight arm and fingertips pointing to the floor . The wrist circles in-to-out as the hand transitions up . The tip of the first finger is at the temple with lifted elbow to the side . The wrist circles out-to-in as the hand transitions down . Alternating shoulder presses quartertime downbeat right. Subtle body bounce alternating Home and demi fulltime downbeat demi.
- Coordinate the shoulder presses with the feet to emphasize the angling of the body as you lean forward and plie back.
- The wrist circles at diaphragm level.
- For a common stylization, look down at your hand when on your right foot, and look towards the left shoulder when you step on the left foot.
- The step has Arabic 1 footwork, but both feet are flat.
- Lean forward slightly as you step forward on the right and demi plie into the left leg as you step back. As the step has a small fulltime bounce throughout, the demi plie step back is accented with a more pronounced bounce.
Suhaila researched and documented this dance from Lala Hakim, one of the Egyptian folkloric troupe sololists sponsored by Jamila to teach a workshop in San Francisco.
Traveling forward in a relaxed jazz 3rd position with right foot forward. Body faces 10:00cf, right hip is at 12:00cf, and you looking to 12:00cf. Arms are in high modified-1st with left hand over right, wrists overlapped. On count 1, degage the right foot front with a pelvic slide back. On count 2, step right foot flat forward returning the torso to Home. On count [(2)e], step left foot flat behind right in jazz 3rd. Hands press forward and back halftime downbeat front. Subtle body bounce fulltime alternating Home and demi downbeat Home.
- Keep the upper body lifted (without collapsing or folding).
- The body faces 10:00cf, but that can be adjusted slightly (from 9:30cf to 11:30cf) depending on the situation and still be considered within the parameters of the default definition.
Like the Horse Step, the Bounce Step is a masculine step often seen in the Tahtib dance. Traditionally, men have a more dramatic or athletic style, with a wider stance, and a significant hop off the floor. Bellydancers, typically women, emulate the move with a bounce rather than a hop. Suhaila stylized the leg with a low fan kick for performance.
Hop-kick flat-footed traveling backwards. Alternating facings quartertime between 10:00cf and 2:00cf. Alternate between jazz first and fan kick halftime downbeat 10:00cf. Bounce in 1st facing 10 o’clock . Brush kick right leg  with low fan kick making half turn CW to face 2 o’clock landing in a bounce . Brush kick left  and fan kick, etc. Arms in a Low V with flexed wrists, palms parallel to the floor. Subtle body bounce alternating Home and demi fulltime downbeat demi.
- Add very subtle shoulder presses down halftime.
- The fan kick is low, just off the floor.
- Formerly called Hop Step.
- One stylization is to look forward, which accentuates the body angles .
Salaam Step in a Circle
Full Spin with Syncopated Pivot-Shift-Step (without the spin) downbeat right to move from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock [1-4], adding an exterior hip circle CW halftime downbeat front [1-2]. Reverse [5-8].
Begin with your left hand behind your head, right fingertips touching your left elbow. Open right arm through high first to second . Straighten left arm to second . Bend the right hand behind your head . Sweep the left arm through high first to bring the left fingertips to touch your right elbow . Reverse [5-8]. Keep the elbows lifted.
- Counterbalance the exterior hip circle with an opposing upper body lean for a common stylization.
- This Salaam Family step does not have a bounce.
Like the Bounce Step, the Horse Step is a masculine step often seen in the Tahtib dance (stick dance). Traditionally, men stand with a wide foot stance; their shift of weight from foot to foot is dramatic with a dynamic bounce lifting the feet off the floor. Bellydancers, typically women, emulate the move by standing with legs together and a light spring in the feet without leaving the floor.
Subtle body bounce alternating Home and demi fulltime downbeat demi. Alternating step and brush flat-footed halftime downbeat right. The brushed foot pushes through floor and sweeps, crossing in front of the weight bearing leg into a low attitude front with a forced arch. Alternating hip slide quartertime downbeat right. Alternating shoulders angle forward quartertime downbeat right [2, 4].
Right arm extends forward to 2 o’clock , right index finger to temple . Left index finger stays at left hip, palm down.
- The shoulder angles provide a natural counterbalance to the footwork.
- Note that the footwork and shoulders alternate, but the arms do not.
The content from this post is excerpted from The New Danse Orientale: Salimpour Belly Dance Instruction, published by Suhaila International in 2013 with updates and additional content added in 2023. The New Danse Orientale is a study guide and resource for belly dancers when learning Salimpour Vocabulary steps and step families.
If you would like to make a citation for this article, we suggest the following format: Salimpour, J. & Salimpour, S. (2023). Salaam Family. Retrieved –insert retrieval date–, from https://suhaila.com/salaam-family
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