Houston Texas Seminar Review

Having had the pleasure of presenting the fabulous Morocco in two immensely successful seminar/concerts while Yasmena was living and teaching in Pensacola, FL and having brought her in for a limited workshop to Houston two years ago, she was encouraged to bring her back by popular demand for a two day workshop and concert in the Houston area on September 24 and 25. “We were counting on a good deal of support from the large and talented dance community, nurtured by Saloma, in the Galveston and Texas City area, but unfortunately hurricane Alica came along and ruined the Galveston dancers intentions of coming to Houston.” Morocco and Yasmena confided later that not wishing to disappoint the supportive dancers from this area, as well as two from Florida, the workshop would be presented as planned. Morocco flew into Houston and had an intensely satisfying two day seminar for those dancers lucky enough to have made one or both days.

On the first day Morocco taught her exquisitely broken down, clearly presented hip articulation giving the dancers present the opportunity to be in touch with a vast range of movements that their hips could do within the rhythms and music of oriental and ethnic dance. An hour in which she broke down her style of cymbal playing which musicians have likened to a finely tuned percussion instrument followed. In the afternoon she taught several steps and styling of Egyptian womens’ cane dance in Saidi style (Raks al Assaya).

For the evening performance, Morocco danced a thrilling assaya in an elegant, red beledi dress dripping with matching beaded fringe and an oriental number exquisitely and tastefully presented in a stunning turquoise and silver costume equally drenched in beads. The high quality concert was well punctuated with performances by Alexandria of Kansas in two exciting numbers while vividly costumed to match her fiery presentations. An appearance by special guest artist Sayeda was added good fortune, and a rousing Ukrainian male folk dance by Ousama Farrah which was quite a surprise since Ousama is the leading expert of Palestinian and Arab folk dance in this area. Ousama wore an authentic Carpathian Mountain costume. Farasha (Robin) of the Sirrom School contributed an oriental number in a pink and silver costume beautifully suited to her coloring. Yasmena presented an exquisite oriental dance in a glittering black and silver costume which emphasized the drama and flair of her performance.

Morocco received a dozen roses from Yasmena and a well deserved standing ovation at the end of her oriental dance. Egyptians in the audience were heard to state, “she must be Egyptian!”

On Sunday Morocco continued the teaching of Saturday with traveling steps based on the hip articulation of the previous day and breaking down how to divide a stage so the dance can be better presented to an audience through logic in choreography and floor patterns showing how to cover the stage using a variety of possibilities in presentation of both the step and the performer.

Morocco went on to teach drum solo, how to respond to various beats with which parts of your body, and answered innumerable questions from the eager students who wanted not only the physical steps but the reasons behind them and the cultural background. Morocco was extremely capable in this area based on her years of experience researching and actually performing in various countries in the Middle East, as well as, extensively researching libraries and other excellently informative areas.

Because the seminar was so enthusiastically received by those lucky enough to be in attendance the participants began demanding of Yasmena that Morocco be brought back to the Houston area as soon as possible so they can continue to expand on what she had taught this weekend. Morocco has agreed to come back and Yasmena is aiming for very early in May. The date will be selected in an attempt to avoid all conflicts so that those who missed the seminar will be able to attend and those who were present will be able to carry their knowledge a step further.

On Sunday afternoon, at the special request of the director of the Palestinian dance group, Morocco and Yasmena performed at the Mediterranean festival for St. George Orthodox Church. Both Yasmena and Morocco’s dancing were greeted by thunderous bursts of applause at various points in their performances and cheers and screams of “bravo” at the end. They were in the finale performance of the festival and it was a fitting end to a marvelous weekend in Houston, Texas. We cannot wait for Morocco to return.