(Seminar Taught on October 8 & 9, 1994 Hinckley, England)
Morocco brought to Hinkley a new attitude and inspiration. She was extremely interesting and entertaining and had a wonderful sense of humour. Her love of the dance was totally infectious and she had an intense knowledge of culture and language.
While teaching she told fascinating stories and anecdotes leaving me torn between wanting to listen further but still wanting to continue dancing.
All of her movements were familiar but she taught some very precise sequences of rapid hip movements. The choreography was learnt by constant repetition from the beginning of the music: hot and hard work at the time but very effective. I don’t think I shall ever forget it!
Rocky’s comments on the “toes or feet” debate were comprehensive and confirmed something that I had felt for some time. She said that while dancing within a crowd or informally you could dance as you pleased, but as soon as you take center stage and begin to perform then it is natural and right to come up on your toes in order to project and present yourself and to move around the stage with energy and speed.
While dancing static or intricate movements you may need to be lower. However, at all times your weight is on the balls of your feet keeping a feeling of lightness and mobility.
Morocco uses sagat almost constantly (because she loves them!) She is very expert and taught us a technique for “trilling” the cymbals in order to produce a double sound on the beat. It sounded wonderful but it still eludes me even after a lot of practice.
We finished the workshops with a talk about her experiences and fascination with the Guedra from the first time she saw it performed in New York to when she lived with the Tuareg, the Blue People, and learnt the dance from its roots. I was transported far away and felt some of the deep passion that she clearly has for Oriental dance in all its forms.
Morocco has so much more to offer and I look forward eagerly to her next visit to England.
HINKLEY HAFLAH — SATURDAY 9TH
Morocco’s entrance conjured up images of nomads, bedouin tents and ancient women of the desert. She was heavily veiled in black robes and used her hands to flick in every direction.
This was obviously an authentic and very old dance. I later found out it was a GUEDRA from the Tuareg people of Morocco — a dance to bless the performance space.
Later, when she emerged from her veils to perform a cane dance, she turned out to be a substantial, gutsy New Yorker, who had a lovely rapport with her audience. She was well centered with a feeling of inner stillness, and yet danced with some quite astonishing open leg work, with robust feet and knees. Although laid back, her vitality held the audiences interest throughout. Her costumes were restrained and yet effective. She performed with many intricate hip movements, and yet was always relaxed.
Warmth, love of the dance and her audience were evident. I found her dancing wonderfully sensual and free — but never vulgar.
Morocco was well supported by HIZZA, a newly formed troupe made up of Maggie Caffrey, Jacky Martin, Heather Doak and Maria Kavanaugh. Both their dances, choreographed by Zaza Hassan and Maggie, were excellent. I really enjoyed the humorous touches. All the dancers displayed good technique and gave a contained performance.
Maria and Jacky were well-partnered, their dancing having a serene quality. This complemented Maggie and Heather’s more dynamic style. As a troupe this combination worked extremely well. A great impact was made by the folkloric dresses — both cut and color flattering each dancer and together making a stunning visual impression. I hope to see more of Hizza setting standards both in dance and dressmaking skills.
I also enjoyed seeing workshop participants perform the Morocco routine they had learned that afternoon. There were some steps and movements new to me. I wish that I had booked. I’ll be one of the first next time.
(taken from “Guedra: Spreading Souls Love and Peace to the Beat of the Heart”)
The “veil” covering the Guedras head, shoulders and chest signifies darkness, the unknown, lack of knowledge. Her hands and fingers are moving under the covering, flicking at it, trying to escape into the light. When she feels the time is right, the guedra’s hands emerge from the veil’s sides. With hand to head gestures, she salutes the four corners: North, South, East and West, followed by obeisances to the four elements: Fire (the sun), Earth, Wind and Water. She touches her abdomen, heart and head, then quickly flicks her fingers towards all others present, in life or spirit, sending blessings to them from the depths of her souls energy.
Morocco’s final workshop was my first, as I was unable to come on the Saturday. Next time I shall know better, and I’ll be there as soon as she sets foot in England.
I knew from her fascinating article in the previous issue of the Newsletter, that the true roots of Arabic Dance lie not in ersatz cabaret-type gyrations as seen in the background of spy-movies, but in ancient birth-ceremonies. Her instinctive affinity with her chosen art has been confirmed by formidable research.
Waiting for the class to begin, I had the usual doubts of one who knows her own limitations: would I pick it up? Would it matter if I didn’t? And most of all, would I last out?
All three were soon answered in order: partly, not in the least, and yes indeed. The real test of a workshop is how you feel at the end, and in my case, that was about ten years younger.
Morocco’s teaching style adapts with sensitivity and skill to the varied talents of a mixed group. She broke down the swift and subtle swerves and drops of the first Sharki piece into units that were gradually accumulated, then speeded up to form the complete dance.
She also used her extensive experience of the authentic Ghawazee and Schikhatt in short interludes of narrative, which illuminated what we were learning to do, and tactfully gave us background information in the form of breathing space while we sat at her tireless feet.
Words are inadequate to sum up the total impact of Morocco. She radiates a warmth, wit, and enthusiasm that carries you along for days. I left feeling that she could have taught us to walk on water if she wanted to.