The 17th session of the ARAB DANCE SEMINAR (November 6-8, 2020) is the first repeating event of its kind in America. All previous 16 Seminars since November 2005 have sold out with maximum attendance. The seminar moves to a different city every year. For this 16th session, we will be a virtual online event. The goal of this intensive weekend of workshops, lectures, performances and dance parties is to give the student a comprehensive Arab cultural dance experience. Going beyond confusing nebulous monikers like "bellydance", "middle eastern" or "oriental", the Seminar puts all the skills, techniques and practices back into their cultural contexts. The Arab world, which includes over 20 countries in 4 zones (North Africa, Egypt, Near East/Levant, and The Gulf), is the origin and breeding ground for multiple styles and practices with a common language and aesthetic. This Seminar helps clarify and illuminate that tradition.
The Arab Dance Seminar is created for people with a minimum of 2 years dance experience. The faculty seeks to give every student authentic techniques, choreographies, and comprehension of Arab dance. Every dancer will take every workshop and lecture; there is no layered scheduling that forces the student to choose between classes. The Music classes will be taught using generic language that is understandable to non-musicians. Each student will be provided with study sheets and videos that reflect the curriculum. Arabic vocabulary will be taught and provided, to reinforce the cultural association. Every dancer will leave the Seminar with new routines to perform and teach, plus a responsible cultural understanding of the dance and music.
Although there is an academic and ethnographic emphasis, there are neither desks nor computer stations. The student will learn by dancing, moving, singing, clapping and sweating. It is an active seminar where the goal is to physically practice the subjects, and to retain new knowledge for future performances and teaching.
2020 Special focal topic: REAPPROPRIATION :
How to distinguish between exploiting vs supporting a culture and its dance.
Every session of the Arab Dance Seminar has a different focal topic, making each year unique. The November 2020 Arab Dance Seminar in Chicago will focus on the contentious topic of cultural appropriation. Contrary to the typical paranoias, Arab people are actually quite eager to share and distribute their culture. Arabs actively promote tourism, and countries like Egypt and Morocco remain top world tourism destinations. We have a reputation for hospitality and enjoy having foreign people in our countries, homes, restaurants, and events. Every native Arab teacher of dance, music, and language welcomes a vast number of non-Arab students. Most of us see the teaching of cultural arts as a way of battling stereotypes and phobias and of bridging cultures. The conflict arises when trust is broken by the abuses of students and practitioners. Natives become protective only when the elements of their art form are insensitively contorted, re-assigned, and ascribed to new owners. An appropriator separates the art from its context, selects only the aspects they find appealing, and rebrands it for their self promotion. This type of theft and exploitation are shunned. But there are many ways for a non-native to uphold, support, promote, create within, and even take responsible ownership of this adopted culture. The teachers of the 2020 Arab Dance Seminar will share these techniques and ethics, along with sharing their own cherished and evolving tradition.
NOVEMBER 6th - 8th, 2020
Friday 11/6/2020 3pm-7pm EST
Saturday 11/7/2020 1pm-6pm EST
Sunday 11/8/2020 1pm-6pm EST
Online Virtual Event
ENTIRE SEMINAR - SOLD OUT
(all classes and events, 14 hours)
To be added to the WAITING LIST;
please contact us at arabdanceseminar(at)gmail.com
We only allow 45 registrations, paid in advance, and NO walk-ins.
All the 17 Seminars have SOLD OUT months in advance.
There are no refunds. You may transfer your purchase to someone else.
We will not sell any individual classes nor individual days;
We will only sell registrations for the entire full seminar.
schedule subject to adjustment
World War 3 omens, Refugee Crisis, Muslim Bans, MidEast Conflict, and the War on Terror keep the Arab world relevant to American society. However, Arab culture has always been a fascination and preoccupation for Westerners. The Orientalist painters of the 17 and 18th centuries like Gerome and Delacroix were obsessed with the street market and household scenes of Arab lands. Modern singers like Beyonce, Gorillaz, Sting, Jay-Z and Shakira use the melodies and rhythms on their CDs and dance moves in their videos. Every major college and university teaches Arabic language and has a Middle Eastern Studies department. But this fascination occurs with a simultaneous fear and paranoia. There is an ongoing media fixation with the political and military turmoil in the Arab world. Arabs have been designated as the antagonists in a proposed "clash of civilizations." There is no Arab in America that does not experience some type of political existence by default (even while simply dancing or singing). And now we are in the ongoing Arab Spring, where many countries are undergoing revolution, uprising, civil war and regime change. The overwhelming refugee crisis brings an endless new influx of Arabs from the war-torn countries of Syria & Iraq to the west, who have met various receptions. And most recently the current American executive office imposes travel bans and immigration reassessment to people from this part of the world. It is our belief that the study of dance and music can humanize the study of Arab culture and people. The enjoyment and cultural knowledge gained from the study and practice of human arts can dissolve the fictitious Arab-West dichotomy.
It's time to go beyond arbitrary terms like "Belly". With the explosion of dance enthusiasm in the USA, dancers often fail to realize where the origin of this phenomenon occurred. Many dancers today do not know the ethnic origin, cultural context, social implications or national varieties of the dances they are performing. Often the lyrical content of each song is also unknown by the dancer. Few dancers know the inner workings and systems of the musical compositions to which they choreograph and perform. These factors cause homogenization, resulting in the cultural displacement of the art form. This Seminar gives the dancer the tools and knowledge needed to be a more informed presenter, as well as a more skilled performer and teacher. The instructors are either native primary sources, highly schooled professionals who have lived in Arab countries, or both. They will help each dancer unite the soul, brain and body to create the honest, authentic dance.
Venue : Virtual Online
KARIM NAGI: Seminar Organizer, Arabic Music, Near East Dance : www.karimnagi.com
AMEL TAFSOUT: Maghreb, North African and Berber Dance : www.ameltafsout.com
NASHWA: Egyptian Dance and Folklore : www.dancelikeanegyptian.com
KAY HARDY CAMPBELL: Khaliji, Gulf, and Bedouin Dance and Music : www.kayhardycampbell.com
I was fortunate to attend three consecutive sessions of the Arab Dance Seminar: "Raqs Egypt" in 2011, "Marriage and Movement" in 2012, and "Theater and Storytelling" in 2013. Each session I attended forever changed my dance experience in many ways; technically, emotionally, and spiritually. The 20 hours of immersion into Arabic cultural relevance to our dance is worth far more than the generous cost of the seminar, and the opportunity to learn directly from multiple world-renowned Arabic dance artists and musicians all in one weekend is practically priceless. I would highly recommend this seminar for any serious dancer.
- Stephanie Akers, CA (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)
The Arab Dance Seminar is one of the most educational and life changing events I have ever attended. It offers a wealth of information on the Arab world and the many unique and rich cultures it holds. The teachers are brilliant, impeccable representations of their fields, and a joy to learn from. A must for any dancer who seeks to understand the context of why we dance.
- Sara, Santa Fe NM (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Words fail me to truly express the rare opportunity that is bestowed to the participants of the Arab Dance Seminar. Surrounded by dedicated students and masters of their craft ADS offers full immersion of the Arab culture through music and dance. The team of instructors provide so much knowledge and an open ear for any and all questions. I highly recommend this event to and dancer who is serious about their education in Arab dance and music. It can not be missed!
- Farah Page, Cleveland (2013, 2014)
I attended Karim's Arab Dance Seminar in Nov 2006 in New Haven CT. I flew all the way from San Jose, CA to attend the seminar, and it was definitely worth the trip, the expense and more. I had already studied Egyptian dance with Nourhan Sharif for a few months, and had attended a very brief workshop with Karim in San Francisco, so I had a little background on the subject, but honestly I think I learned more in the 48 hours or so of that workshop than I had in about 8 years of studying "belly dance" in California with various relatively experienced & knowledgeable dance teachers. I found all of the seminar faculty extremely knowledgeable, talented, sincere, and inspiring. In fact I was so inspired by Kay Hardy Campbell's stories of the Saudi women's music ensembles and her own oud playing at the seminar that I came back to CA, found an oud and a local teacher, and have since joined an Arabic music class and ensemble, which I performed with for the first time this summer. I can honestly say my life has taken a whole new direction that it never would have otherwise, because of the contacts I made and the knowledge I gained at that seminar (I always remember the malfouf from Karim's rhythm class!). On top of that, it was great fun, every moment was interesting and mentally & physically challenging. The other students were very nice, interesting and intelligent people and I have stayed in touch with some of them since then. Honestly, I would go again to this year's seminar, but I've already used up all my vacation time for the year. If you are the slightest bit interested in the dance and music of the Arab world, by all means go and take advantage of this fabulous program!
- Suzanne Cuzio, Santa Cruz California (2006)
I found it wonderful to be able to spend a weekend with a number of instructors that are so knowledgeable in their areas of teaching. The whole Arab Dance Seminar experience made me more excited about Arab dance and culture than I had ever been before. Its well-organized program allowed me to focus on specific topics which led to a deeper appreciation and knowledge about the art form and culture as well as recognize its great diversity. Most importantly, by being exposed to topics such as musicality, rhythms and language my interest was sparked so that since my Arab Dance Seminar experience I have continued to learn about these topics.
- Megan Kent, Saskatoon Canada (2006, 2007)
I went to the Arabic Dance Seminar knowing it was going to be a great experience but it completely exceeded my expectations. It was fantastic to study with people who know and understand the roots of Arabic music and dance and who are able explain the cultural context. It was also an opportunity to study topics that are not commonly taught in other dance events like Maghrebi, Zaar or Beduin dances. Every teacher made an effort to explain not only the steps but the meaning, context and feeling of the dances being taught. It is certainly a unique opportunity to go back to the core of the dance forms we study and love so much.
- Andrea Novoa, Las Vegas (2008)