Middle Eastern Ballets
Tunisian Womens Dance
Traditional Lebanese line dance, a type of which is performed throughout the Levant.
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.
The company presents a theatrical version of Turkish gypsy dance.
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.
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.
El Ataba El Khadra
A fanciful beginning of an evening gathering of rural Egyptian women.
Alf Leila Wa Leila
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.
"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.
Using the whirling techniques of the mystic darwish sects of Turkey and North Africa, the dancers create patterns in time and space.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The music was composed for well-known Egyptian dancer, Lucy. A Danse Orientale for ensemble.
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 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.
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.
Warda is performed to the music of Said Mekkoui, a musical interlude from the song, Ale Eih Beyes Alouni, sung by Warda al-Jazirah.
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.
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 brides 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 womens music,
music as rich and multi-layered as the network of family relationships
and societal connections of their daily life. In the
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
A Magical, Middle-Eastern Matinee
A special children's matinee performance of Shoma
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.
A Special pre-show dinner, discussion and Shoma performance provided
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.