When most people think of Arab music and dance they usually think of bellydancing, the North American dance craze based on an ancient tradition. These two presentations at Vancouver’s Dance Centre (2004 & 2005) provided a personal and cultural context for understanding the dynamic and evolving art of Arab dance. Five diversely accomplished Arab women, well known as teachers and performers, explored their dance form through words and movement. We revealed the meaning of Arab dance as art, cultural expression, and source of personal identity.
Each of the presenters has a unique history, their origins reflecting the diversity of the Arab world and the Arab diaspora. During the first informal event in 2004, Salma Ferchichi, Rahma Haddad, Lynette Harper and Rabab Ward spoke about self and identity as it relates to their Arab dance teaching and performance. The following year, 2005, Emily Basha joined the group. OOn both occasions, our words were accompanied by short performances, and a group improvisation that conveys the joyful social dimension of Arab dance. In 2005, co-organizer Rahma Haddad produced a series of dance workshops featuring all five presenters.
These events integrated masterful professional performances of diverse Middle Eastern and North African dance styles with insightful personal narratives. They were a first for the B.C. dance community – and perhaps for Canada – in presenting Arab perspectives about Arab women and their dance. The 2004 performance was reviewed in Vancouver newspaper The Republic and Gilded Serpent.
Press Release from the Dance Centre, 2004
The Dance Centre presents
The Noon Dance Series
Raks Araby – Arab Women, Arab Dance
With Salma Ferchichi, Rahma Haddad, Lynette Harper and Rabab Ward
Insightful narratives with masterful performances of
Middle Eastern and North African dances
Friday March 26 2004 at 12 noon
Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St (at Granville), Vancouver
Tickets $7 at the door Info: 604 606 6400 www.thedancecentre.ca
Followed by a tour of Scotiabank Dance Centre at 1pm
The monthly Noon Dance Series continues with a unique and stimulating presentation of Middle Eastern and North African dance forms, by four diversely accomplished Arab women. Salma Ferchichi, Rahma Haddad, Lynette Harper and Rabab Ward go beyond the popular preconceptions of bellydancing, to reveal Arab dance as a dynamic and evolving art, means of cultural expression, and source of personal identity.
During this informal event Salma, Rahma, Lynette and Rabab will speak and perform, exploring self and identity as it relates to their Arab dance teaching and performance. Their aim is to facilitate new understandings about the vitality of dance in the lives of women of Arab origin in Canada, and to challenge audience preconceptions about both Arab women and bellydancing.