It was fun, educational and people left asking for more. That, in a nutshell, was the weekend of classes and shows in Gainsville. FL., on October 17-19, 1997, that featured Morocco & Tarik of New York City. Morocco brought her 30 plus years of experience to teach a beautiful Raks Sharki dance which she performed in the show as a duet with Tarik. Tarik taught another Raks Sharki dance each afternoon. The Saturday and Sunday classes had a larger than usual turn-out and everyone stayed on the floor dancing until the end. Each dance had steps and combinations which will be useful for creating new dances. On Saturday the two teachers taught the morning class with each providing different perspectives on how to accomplish a particular part of the dance.
The Friday and Saturday shows had participants from as far away as Puerto Rico and Tennessee. There were many from closer states. The Friday show was marred by a halogen light burning out which created a surge of electricity that destroyed the sound system. Everyone took it in stride, however, and the show proceeded with the use of a borrowed boom box plugged into the speakers. Morocco and Tarik were the featured performers of the Saturday night show. Morocco opened the show with her Guedra. A blessing ritual from the Blue People of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Tarik concluded the first half of the show with a Moroccan Tray Dance. Each of them performed an oriental dance in the second half and then concluded the show with their duet. The duet was the most charming I have ever seen — mainly because of the warmth of feeling between the two of them, which colored the movement and interactions of the dance.
Highlights of the shows included on Friday night: Zarifa Saids (Gainsville, FL) troupe opened both halves of the show, the first with an oriental and the second with a Gypsy dance. Kassia, a student of Zuhela Yamirs (Ocala, FL) performed a cabaret beladi. Helena and Zeina from Puerto Rico each performed a solo in the first half and a duet in the second half. They wanted to prove that belly dancing is alive and well in Puerto Rico and wholeheartedly succeeded judging from the audience response! Sharine (Brandon. FL) performed a playful veil dance and Naengo, a student of Afet’s (Tampa, FL) performed a dynamic drum solo. Alima (Clarksville, GA) closed the first half with a lively Nubian – Sudanese Dance. Also in the second half, Chandra of Damascus (Gainsville, FL) performed an urban beladi with zills. Afet and Naengo performed a beladi duet and Aegela closed the show with her very Egyptian Dance Oriental.
The Saturday night show featured an emphasis on folkloric dance. After Morocco opened the show with her Guedra, Magda min el Gabel (Gainsville, FL) performed a Candelabra Dance. Five of the Sahnobar Dance Ensemble (Gainsville) performed a synchronized drum solo and Sahirnee followed with Sword Fantasy. The desert Dancers (Miami, FL) performed a dance entitled “The Mystic’s Dream”, that opened with a dancer performing in total darkness behind a veil back-lit with a spotlight. It was very effective theater. Sherifa El Bakkar (Stockbridge, GA) followed with a lively and colorful Gypsy Tambourine dance and Amani (Lexington, SC) performed a soulful Dance Oriental in folk costume. Afet gave a lively and flirtatious performance of an Egyptian Oriental Dance and Tarik closed the first half with his Moroccan Teatray Dance. Zarifa’s troupe opened the second half of the show with a lively cane dance followed by Chandra of Damascus performing a Saudi woman’s dance in an elegant black and gold thobe. Troupe Arabesque (Talllahassee, FL) performed a Dance Oriental and Cane Duet beautifully accompanied by drummer, Michaelis (who spent Saturday morning helping purchase new sound equipment for the Saturday show! — Thank you, Michaelis). Jemeelah (Gainsville, FL) performed a very lively version of Nadia Hamdi’s ”Ana Ho” followed by the Sahara Silk Troupe (Jacksonville, FL) in a Folkloric Fantasy with veils. Leslie (Longwood, FL) performed a beautiful Moorish/Arabic Dance and the Yamir Sisters (Ocala, FL) performed a lively Saidi Folkloric Dance for Yamir. The show was beautifully concluded with an Oriental dance solo by Tarik and Morocco and then their duet.