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

(all classes and events, 14 hours)
To be added to the WAITING LIST;
please contact us at arabdanceseminar(at)

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
1pm - - - - Khaliji Kay Arabic language for dancers
2pm - - - - Khaliji Kay Egyptian Nashwa
3pm panel on cultural appropriation Arab rhythm lesson Karim Egyptian Nashwa
4pm Arab melody & vocal lesson North African Amel Teachers Forum & Student Q/A
5pm Palestinian Dabke karim North African Amel Hafla
6pm Lebanese Dabke karim - - - - - - - -

Societal Relevance:
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.

Dance Relevance:
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 :

Karim Nagi is a native Egyptian drummer, DJ, composer and folk dancer; a true crossover artist uniting the Arab tradition with the global contemporary world. He is the creator of Turbo Tabla, and has released fourteen CDs, ranging from traditional Arab music to Arab House/Electronica. Karim has authored instructional DVDs for the Tabla/Doumbek, Riqq tambourine, Maqam & Taqsim, Drum Solo for Dance, and Arab Folk Dance. He is well versed in the ultra-traditional styles of music, and has lead the Sharq Arabic Music Ensemble since 1999. He promotes and fosters the study of Arab dance in the USA as the director of the Arab Dance Seminar. Karim performs and teaches Tahteeb Cane Dance, Dabka Line Dance, and Zikr Sufi Dance. He taught at the New England Conservatory of Music for 5 years, and has lectured and presented at Harvard, MIT, Yale, Bowdoin, Princeton, Stanford, Berea, William & Mary, Georgetown, and several Community Colleges. Additionally, Karim Nagi's Arabiqa program has conducted over 400 school assemblies across America, exposing young audiences to Arab traditional arts. His performances boast a dynamic concoction of live drumming and dance, done in unison. Because of his proficiency in both music and dance, his workshops deliver students to a new physical understanding of the connection between these two disciplines. As a dance and drum teacher, Karim has taught in dozens of festivals in the United States, Asia, Europe and Cairo, as well as all major Arab Culture festivals in the USA. His most recent project "Detour Guide" incorporates English language storytelling with Arab music & rhythm, along with graphic & video art, to describe the experience of Arabs life & culture. Recently, Nagi has received a Doris Duke Grant for the Islamic Arts through the Virginia Tech "Salaam" project. He has also been elected to the board of directors for Chamber Music America.

AMEL TAFSOUT: Maghreb, North African and Berber Dance :

The legendary Amel Tafsout, meaning "Hopes of Spring", is an international and inspirational first source master dance artist, choreographer, instructor, frame drummer, singer, poet, energy worker and one of the finest exponents of North African traditional and contemporary Maghreb Dance of our time. With a long training in various healing practices, Tafsout's knowledge of her culture and her experience in many dance styles and music make her very unique. Raised in Algeria among the finest traditional dancers and musicians, Tafsout was fascinated by dance and music since childhood. In her early twenties, Tafsout moved to Germany where she founded the Pan Arabic dance company "Banat As Sahra". In the late 80s, she moved to London, U.K. where she taught and performed at various dance and music festivals and founded "The Tafsoutettes" Dance Company. While currently living in the U.S.A. she is still performing and teaching worldwide. With an M.A. in Socio-linguistics, German and Middle Eastern Studies as well as an M.A in Romance languages and research in dance anthropology, Amel Tafsout is keenly aware of the impact that cultures have in art and how that can be expressed in dance. Fluent in 5 languages, Tafsout is like a voyager between countries, culture and languages. Having worked and lived all over the world, unsurprisingly, migration has been a constant theme in her work. Amel has lectured, danced, taught, sung and conducted anthropological research in many countries. She has been featured in various TV programs in Europe and North Africa. She also published many articles related to dance and Maghreb women in academic and popular magazines. Her research focuses on the Ritual in Maghreb dances as well as looking at dance as a healing form. She explores the rich tapestry of movement and rhythm that has woven over time between Spain and the Maghreb, Africa and the Middle East, the Mediterranean Sea and Europe. Amel developed, reconstructed and stylized the Maghreb dances through her dance experience, her research, her teaching and performances. She had mesmerized audiences around the world with the earthy fluidity of her dance, her stunning stage presence and great spirituality.

NASHWA: Egyptian Dance and Folklore :

Born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, Nashwa attended Cairo University and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Literature. Her lifelong love of dance led her to study dance with Mahmoud Reda, internationally renowned "ambassador of dance" in Cairo. For ten years, she studied folkloric dance forms from the Gulf, Sinai, Alexandria and Red Sea regions, providing her with a solid foundation before beginning her performing and teaching career. She studied the "Oriental style" of dance with Raqia Hassan and Ibrahim Aakef, utilizing traditional and contemporary props, learning solo, duet and trio dance structures and mastering performance style, choreography, and staging. In 1988, Nashwa moved to Tokyo, Japan, where she continued to teach this art form to a growing following. In 1993, she founded the Isis Dance Troupe with over 60 students from Japan and many other countries. Nashwa has toured (at times with her Isis Dance Troupe) Japan, the USA, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia and was sponsored by prestigious groups including the Japanese cooperation Tsugita Keisha, the Hilton and Sheraton Hotel Groups, Rotary International and the Foreign Executive Women (FEW) Association. As founder and artist director of the Isis Dance Troupe, Nashwa's central vision was to show through education that "Belly dance" (a misnomer that she seeks to correct) is an art form that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age or physical condition. In 1999, Nashwa relocated to California, where she continued performing and teaching Egyptian dance. She performed solo concerts and also opened shows for stars popular in the Arab World. She opened for Egyptian super-star Hakim during his U.S. Tour and Lebanese legend Sabah. Based in Santa Barbara, she performed in San Francisco and Los Angeles to a large Arab and international audiences, and led workshops around the USA and abroad. She taught at the historical Lobero Theater and for Santa Barbara City College. She collaborated with Dr. Scott Marcus, Professor of Ethnomusicology at UC Santa Barbara, and members of his UCSB Middle East Ensemble. Their consistently sold-out performances were always met with great enthusiasm. In 2005, Nashwa moved to Berea, Kentucky. Shortly thereafter she obtained her Master Degree in the Health Sciences. Nashwa is a Dance Professor at Berea College and Eastern Kentucky University. She teaches credit-bearing courses such as: Dance and Culture, Middle Eastern Dance, World Dance, Yoga, Lifetime Wellness and she is the director of the Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble at Berea College. In addition to teaching, she choreographs for both institutions' concerts and Dance Theater. Nashwa is in great demand as a speaker on the history and tradition of Middle Eastern dance, including its social, spiritual and cultural significance. She continues to provide inspiration and insight into this art form.

KAY HARDY CAMPBELL: Khaliji, Gulf, and Bedouin Dance and Music :

Author, musician, and dance instructor Kay Hardy Campbell has been teaching Khaliji folkloric music and dance for over three decades. After she earned a BA in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, she lived in Saudi Arabia for several years, learning the dances at women's wedding parties and in the homes of Saudi friends. Kay has written extensively about the music and dance of the Arabian Peninsula, beginning as a feature writer for the English language 'Arab News' in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and continues to write for 'Aramco World Magazine.' In 1998, she was the only foreign female correspondent to cover the National Folk Festival at Janadriyyah outside the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Her ability to read, speak, and write Arabic has allowed her to uncover and convey many aspects of culture and traditional life little known outside the Gulf. A devoted student of Arabic music, Kay also plays the 'ud, violin, and frame drum. She is co-director - with Palestinian virtuoso and musical legend Simon Shaheen - of the annual weeklong Arabic Music Retreat, now in its twenty-second year at Mt. Holyoke College. In 2008 she wrote "Music of the Gulf" for NPR Marketplace, and in 2014 presented her research on Saudi songstresses at a conference held at the Qatar Music Academy. She has lectured and taught dance at colleges and universities around the country, including Tufts, Harvard, Bowdoin, Wellesley, and Kennesaw State University in Georgia. In 2015 she was invited to present on women's folk dance at a conference on the Music of the Gulf at NYU-Abu Dhabi. Her 2017 historical novel, A Caravan of Brides, is set in the world of Saudi women and features folklore, storytelling and traditional culture. Though she does not perform as a soloist, Kay choreographs Khaliji dances for her students and dance troupes. Her fund of knowledge includes not only women's dances, but also bedouin folk dances. Known as a "teacher's teacher," Kay aims primarily to help her students experience the joyous aspects of Gulf culture firsthand through music and dance.

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)