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Traditional Dances
Contemporary Dances
Middle Eastern Ballets
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Tunisian Womens Dance


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Jawaahir Repertoire


Traditional Dances


Traditional Lebanese line dance, a type of which is performed throughout the Levant.

Danse Orientale

Classical Middle Eastern Raqs al-Hawaanem, or Ladies' Dance. This dance is also referred to as Raqs al-Sharqi, or Dance of the East, or sometimes as the Dance of the Hips. It is the female soloist's improvisational interpretation of the music, and so a unique mood is captured each and every time a piece is performed. Being urban, and subject to many foreign influences, the Raqs al-Sharqi music and dance is often innovative in its use of new rhythms and instruments.


The Ghawazee, or invaders of the heart were much sought after by the nineteenth century Orientalists. These writers and painters were as much interested in their own fantasy of the Ghaziya (singular of Ghawazee) as the quintessential exotic Eastern women, as they were in seeing the famous and notorious public dancers. The Ghawazee exist today, and some families trace their roots to the Romany gypsies. The dance is characterized by rapid vibrations of the hips, and the playing of sagat, or brass finger cymbals. The costuming is the nineteenth-century Ottoman-influenced coat.
Music: Field recording of Abu Kherage mizmar band by Aisha Ali.


The company presents a theatrical version of Turkish gypsy dance.
Music: a 9/8 meter commonly played by the Turkish gypsies, Hoplada was composed for the renowned Turkish dancer, Ozel Turkbas.

(Gulf Girl)

A Kuwaiti dance song describing the many fine qualities of a Gulf girl, especially her beautiful hair and how her dress (the dancing dress) compliments her figure. This dance is performed at women's parties.
Music: by Abbas al-Badri.

(A Fisherman's Dance from Port Said, Egypt)

The semsemiyya is a stringed instrument, resembling an ancient lute, played in coastal areas of the Red Sea. The dance mimics many of the day-to-day activities of the fisherman, from the casting and retrieving of the nets to rowing the boats, and uses the characteristic sailor's toe-heel "sea walk." The song expresses the hope of the fisherman for a good catch, and conveys his delight and surprise when, instead of a fish, he catches "a queen!" The dancers wear traditional folk costumes of the Port Said area of Egypt.

Tunisian Women's Dance

Characterized by gliding upper bodies above staccato and vigorous horizontal hip movements, this dance is always seen at parties and weddings. In the southern islands of Djerba and Kerkennah it is often perfomed with a clay water pot balanced on the head.
Music: Baba Bahrin by Lejmi Hedi.

El Ataba El Khadra
(The Green Village Square)

A fanciful beginning of an evening gathering of rural Egyptian women.
Music: Faruk Salame.

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Dream Journey


Contemporary Dances

Alf Leila Wa Leila
(The Thousand and One Nights)

This dance is set to the prelude of an evening-length song by the late Oum Kalsoum, the most revered pan-Arabic singer in recent years. The composer is Baligh Hamdy.

Camp Cairo

"Brother against brother, brothers together against cousins; brothers and cousins against the world." Some Cairene cartoon characters illustrate this Arab proverb with a tale of greed and deception.
Music: Ali Loz by Mustapha Hamido. The creation of this was made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota Dance Alliance Resident Choreographer Pool with funds by the McKnight Foundation.


Using the whirling techniques of the mystic darwish sects of Turkey and North Africa, the dancers create patterns in time and space.

Dream Journey

This modern interpretive piece draws on both Oriental dance technique and ancient and modern Egyptian motifs to create an "Oriental ballet" which depicts the dream journey of a troubled woman. The woman encounters a shaman who entrances her, leaves her to journey through a sandstorm alone, and then returns to lead her to the gates of the temple. Inside she is confronted by the ancient gods -- the Divine Falcons depicting the gates to the temple, The Cosmic Jackals, and Leonine One, the demon lion. Overwhelmed by the encounter she faints, only to awaken to the calling of the village women and to find herself safe in her own bed.
Music: "Passino", the film score for The Last Temptation of Christ by contemporary western composer Peter Gabriel.

Creation and presentation of Dream Journey was made possible by a choreographic commission granted from the Minnesota Dance Alliance Sponsor Pool Program with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.

Ilam, Ilam

This choreography was commissioned for Jawaahir from Mahmoud Reda, founder of Egypt's renowned Reda Folklore Troupe. It is typical of Reda's movement style. In the lyrics, the women are admiring the stripes on the man's galabiyya, flirting discreetly.

Longa Nahawand

A longa is a Turkish classical music form that is now played throughout the Near East. Nahawand is the name of the maqam (key) it is played in.
Music: Contemporary composition by Egyptian violinist Abdu Daghir.


The music was composed for well-known Egyptian dancer, Lucy. A Danse Orientale for ensemble.

Luxor Baladna

This dance was choreographed exclusively for Jawaahir by Mahmoud Reda, the former Egyptian Undersecretary of Culture. The name denotes the region in southern Egypt from which the dance heralds.

Modern Drums

Modern Drums is set to a percussion solo by Khamis Henkish, one of Egypt's top contemporary tabla players.


A contemporary dance performed under black lights which was inspired by the patterns and mathematics in Arabic, Egyptian, and Persian art and carpets.

Ra'asni Ya Sagat

The Company presents a rhythm chorus, using hands, feet, and finger cymbals, to create overlapping patterns in the traditional and highly improvisational Baladi or country, style.


Throw a man into the sea and he will become a fish (Tunisian proverb). A contemporary piece utilizing themes drawn from the Arabian Nights (tales told by Scheherezade). There are three jinniyah, supernatural creatures, and a mahgribi water carrier who stumbles upon them.

Found in the Attic(a)

or Classical Greece, or Art Amiss, or Ionic Gas, or Tribute to the Dorics, or Untitled (this title is false), or Urning a Living, or Pandemonium, or Just Platonic Friends, or Walk Softly and Carry a Big Schtick.
"Found in the Attic(a)," is a spoof to the music of "Don't Worry Ma."
Music: Bouzouki Taxim; Don't Worry Ma by Annabouboula.

Veil Suite

Originally a fashion item from India, the veil has taken on a contemporary religious significance as a modesty covering. The custom of veiling in Islamic countries varies widely, not only from country to country, but also from urban to rural lifestyles. The use of the veil paradoxically frees through anonymity, as well as confines through the symbolism of segregation. In 1923 Huda Sh'arawi, founder of the women's movement in Egypt, removed her veil in public and never wore it again.
Music: Ale Eih Beyes Alouni by Said Mekkoui; Kanoon improvisation.


Warda is performed to the music of Said Mekkoui, a musical interlude from the song, Ale Eih Beyes Alouni, sung by Warda al-Jazirah.

The Wheel

Attempting to escape from the rain, he takes refuge under the water spout (Arabic proverb). In the passions of life, we're often more concerned with the seeking than with what is sought.

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Middle Eastern Ballets


A Marriage of Dance, Music and Storytelling

Cassandra and Jawaahir Dance Company presented a very special celebration. The troupe and audience traveled to the Arabian Gulf to be part of pre-wedding festivities. Friends, musicians and a Bedouin storyteller named Shoma gathered to share the bride’s joy. The magical evening interwove a classic Arabian folk tale with graceful, passionate Middle Eastern dance and sumptuous music.

Shoma, the ground breaking collaboration between characteristically Cassandra Shore and writer Kay Hardy Campbell, was based on the legend of a Bedouin woman who supported herself through storytelling in the Arabian city of Jeddah. The daughter of Auda Abu Tayy, a Bedouin Sheikh who fought alongside T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") in World War I, Shoma witnessed a pivotal period in Middle Eastern history. Through dance, music and storytelling, Jawaahir told her tale of Munira, the Bedouin Shepherdess, and Badr, the mysterious stranger who is a prince yet not a prince. The dancers moved to the complex rhythms and compelling melodies of Gulf women’s music, music as rich and multi-layered as the network of family relationships and societal connections of their daily life. In the
gender-segregated society of the Arabian Gulf, women have developed their own music, dance, and canon of folk tales. The audience experienced the often-hidden culture and social rituals and shared in the joyous celebration of Shoma.

Joining Cassandra and Jawaahir Dance Company were two guest artists: Kay Hardy Campbell, oud player and author of Shoma, the novel on which the show is based, and percussionist Nicole LeCorgne who has studied in Egypt and currently plays ethnic music in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Minneapolis Star Tribune Dance Review, July 11, 1998
"Shoma"...an evening of cheery fun
Minneapolis Star Tribune show preview article, July 5, 1998
The other side of Saudi women

A Magical, Middle-Eastern Matinee

A special children's matinee performance of Shoma
Southern Theater
Saturday, July 18, 1998

When a swirling sandstorm brings together a brave young shepherdess and a kind-hearted prince, the magic began. Cassandra and Jawaahir Dance Company presented a special hour-long children's matinee of Shoma, a Bedouin folk tale brought to life through the traditional Gulf Arabian dance, music, song and storytelling. Families were delighted as the shepherdess and prince sought refuge in a very special oasis, where palm trees danced, stars came down from the sky and jeweled necklaces cavorted. Adapted from Jawaahir's evening-length performance, The Children's Shoma was a lively introduction to the arts and culture of the Middle East, complete with colorful costumes and a happy ending.

Haflat al-Zaffaf

A Special pre-show dinner, discussion and Shoma performance provided
an inside view of Saudi Arabian woman's life.

Southern Theater
Sundays, July 12 & 19

Each Sunday, the stage of the Southern Theater was transformed into a Haflat-al Zaffaf, a traditional Saudi Arabian women's wedding party. Cassandra and Kay Hardy Campbell led a discussion about Saudi woman's culture - its food, fashion, music, poetry and storytelling, followed by a sumptuous Arabic dinner! At 8pm, Cassandra and Jawaahir Dance Company took the stage accompanied by an all-woman orchestra performed Shoma, a magical tale set at a woman's wedding party.

Kay Hardy Campbell, oud player and author of Shoma, speaks classical Arabic and spent 6 years in Saudi Arabia. Normally the Saudi women's culture is closed and guarded against foreign influence, but Kay has a genuine love and respect for the culture and was welcomed "inside". She recently returned to Saudi to cover a women's musical festival in Riyadh for Aramco World. "This is a segment of society you'll never see," said Cassandra, choreographer and artistic director of Jawaahir Dance Company. "In a gender-segregated culture these dances and traditions are not made accessible to the general public."

Sponsored by the St. Paul Companies, this program was part of the Southern Theater's "Sampler" series focused on theater education.

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