If You Only Take One Workshop This Year...
Today's blog post is either way overdue or very early encouragement to attend the Arab Dance Seminar this year. Either way, have a look.
The Arab Dance Seminar of 2012 happened the first weekend of November in Los Angeles. The theme was Marriage and Movement. It was three days of lectures and workshops given by absolute experts in their field. In other words, it doesn't get better than this. It wasn't necessarily a technique or drills workshop. It wasn't about physically challenging us to the point of pain and exhaustion. It wasn't about replicating the latest trend or look in bellydance. The seminar approached the subject matter through the master teachers' observations, experience and research. Yes it was academic in nature but not without passion, human connection and respect. Passion, connection and respect toward the topic and the attendees.
With fresh eyes we reviewed the important role music and dance plays in the marriage celebrations of the Arab community. We forget that in many parts of the world, weddings are the main, if not the only, venue to experience music, dance, entertainment and ritual. Not everyone has within their reach iPods, Pandora, restaurants, clubs, dance classes, and workshops.
Karim Nagi was a most gracious host openly sharing his knowledge of music throughout the weekend. It was especially invigorating to learn and dance Dabke with him and about 40 other very excited attendees. He kept the weekend sessions flowing by queuing us with his rhythms, insight and humor. Not only does he have wonderfully vast knowledge and wisdom to impart but his choice of panel instructors proved to be brilliant as well.
Kay Hardy Campbell
I knew of Kay Hardy Campbell but had never had the pleasure of meeting her until this workshop. She has an extraordinarily deep understanding of the Middle East culture. Especially when it comes to the lives of the women in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia areas. We thoroughly enjoyed a colorful (thobes) and lively session of dance with Kay reviewing the rhythms, movement and customs of "Khaliji". I have such great respect for Kay. I look forward to continuing to learn from her.
Video Link Here: http://youtu.be/Oc7H2ADUEDk
Wow. Where do I begin? Words cannot begin to describe the energy Amel brings into a room. Not only is her energy endless (I should know, I have a three year old) but it's warm, loving, inclusive, attentive, understanding and nurturing. In one brief conversation she'll make you feel like you've known her all your life. She communicates with her words, eyes, heart, body and soul.
When it comes to traditional and contemporary Maghreb dance, Amel Tafsout is without a doubt the Master teacher to seek out. Not only because she is from the region but because she has an intense love for music, dance, people and connection. It all easily came across as she led us through traditional line dances, contemporary Rai rhythms and healing rituals. A session with Amel makes you feel, not only as if you journeyed to the Maghreb region, but as if you just had a fulfilling chat over tea with your favorite aunt in the Maghreb region. What's not to love?
Video Link Here: http://youtu.be/8h0-TAgMHL0
Sahra, Sahra, Sahra. First you should know, even before meeting her, I was already completely captivated. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to finally meet and take this workshop from her. The lovely Sahra Saeeda is the mastermind behind the "JtE" (Journey through Egypt) dance ethnology workshop series. That alone should be enough to impress you but of course, like with all Masters, there is more. Too much to list here of course, but suffice it to say she has the academic degrees, the super extensive international dance experience, the perfect Egyptian dance network (ahem, Farida Fahmy…!!!) and it all adds up to her being a true treasure in her field. Sahra led us through the wedding procession known as "Zeffa". She literally assigned each individual role, from the bride's mother to the camera person (I was was in charge of the (pretend) lighting for the procession). It was amazing!
Video Link Here: http://youtu.be/tZyji4DWFJg
This was one of the best workshop experiences to date. And I haven't even told you about all the wonderful new friends I met and old friends I ran into. But I'll save that for another day.
Most likely, in the coming months, Karim Nagi will be announcing this years Arab Dance Seminar. I'm sure the topic and panel will be just as great.
If you only take one workshop this year, take this one!