October 1, 2011

When I conceived of this project, I chose a number of Om Kalthoum songs knowing that the dancers and musicians were already familiar with her music. It is quite remarkable that Om Kalthoum, who was the voice of the Arabic speaking world is the unifying bond in this show. The dancers and musicians were from all over - Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Brazil, Costa Rica and of course the U.S. I primarily wanted to feature the music, the songs and the musicians...especially to introduce Husain's voice and Younes' violin to a world outside of the Arab community where they were already known. People (dancers) already knew Faisal who plays for many belly dance groups and Jalal who owned the Pasha Restaurant for many decades.

The dancers were given instruction and/or private coaching that included studying the lyrics so they could translate the poetry with their bodies. They were told to make the dances different than regular festival or club dancing. They were to to be more introspective...provide space for the musicians and the voice and the lyrics to pull the audience into the tarab mood. I wanted the dancers to marry the music and create tarab. It had to be completely improvised...no choreography other than becoming the music and the poetry. How successful was it? Please view the videos below and decide for yourselves.

The dancers in order of appearance:

Dannhae: Enta Omri - You are my life - (1964) Ahmed Shafiq Kamel - Mohamed Abdel Wahab

Yours eyes brought back the old days and made me regret the past and it's wounds. What have I seen before my eyes saw you is a waste of life. How could anyone count the days. You are my life, with your brightness I start my morning. You are, you are, my life.

Nicole: Lessa Faker -Do you still remember? - (1960) Abdel Fattah Mostaf - Riad al Sonbati

Do you still think that my heart gives you trust? Or one word will bring back what used to be? Or do you think that one look will connect the longing with the tenderness? Do you still remember? That was the past.

Ahava: Daret el Ayam - The days passed (1970) Maamoon al Shennawi - Mohamed Abdel Wahab

Days go by, and days passed. Between distance and argument I met him - I forgot my argument and forgot the nights I was up and I forgave my heart the pain and confusion. I don't know how I spoke to him. I can't stay away from my lover. I have no one else but my lover.

Hana: Hayart albi maak - You've confused my heart (1961) Ahmed Rami - Riad al Sonbati

You've confused my heard and I try to hide it. lTell me what to do with you or what to do with my heart. I want to complain to you about the fire of my love and I want to tell you what's in my heart and tell you about what keeps me up all night and what makes me sad or cry.

Zahara: Alf leila wa leila - One thousand and one nights (1969) Morsi Gamil Aziz - Baligh Hamdi

Oh my love, the night, it's sky and it's stars and it's moon and you and me. All of us are in love together. Oh my darling, let's tell the sun to come back after one year, not before one year cause it's a beautiful night - One thousand and one nights. As what's a life without a night like tonight.

The musicians from left to right: Younes el Maqboul, Jalal Takesh, Husain Resan, Amina Goodyear, Sandy Hollister, Faisal Zedan - Other songs played: El alb yeshak kol el gamil; Lailet hob; Fakarooni.

The videos: Trailer - Part 1- Part 2

Hope you found your tarab at Tarabiya. This show was a joint production/collaboration between Amina Goodyear and Dannhae and Jason Wallach of the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco. October 1, 2011