Tarab is an essential element of the performance of Arabic music, but recently the term has been overused and oversimplified. Tarab is more than just a choreography to an emotional song. It refers to an almost spiritual state of ecstasy, invoked by sublime live musical performance. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the importance of tarab in the Arab world, and how it applies to musicians, dancers, and the audience. Suhaila will also share her own stories of finding and experiencing tarab from her time working as a professional belly dancer in some of the world’s top Arabic nightclubs.
Suhaila has based so much of my career on both being the belly dancer and breaking out of the belly dance box… and while she’s gotten in a lot of trouble for it, her fusion presentations have been a hit in the Arab world.
Most dancers know that to be responsible dancers, we must respect the culture from which our dance comes. We can call that “the Box.” In the Box we put our technique, musical studies, and cultural understanding. It takes years to fill out our Box, understand its contents, and decorate it with our own personal style. But what does it all mean, and how can we best develop our own belly dance box?
In this lecture/discussion, Suhaila will share examples from her own dance career including her tap dance-finger cymbal drum solo, her chair/veil choreography, and creating her theatrical production Sheherezade. Of course, we’ll have time for students to ask questions at the end.
SPONSORS: For this lecture, sponsors should provide a microphone for Suhaila, a person to act as a class monitor, index cards, and pens/pencils. Students can jot down their questions on index cards and hand them to the class monitor who will organize and and prioritize them for Suhaila.
The quintessential belly dancer is a well-styled young woman who looks great in a two-piece costume… and sometimes everything else from skill to musicality is optional. And in some areas, if you can’t pass as at least part Middle Eastern in appearance, you can be accused of cultural appropriation or worse. In this lecture, Suhaila will facilitate a discussion about what you can do if you don’t fit the stereotype (or even if you do), how to negotiate not being from Middle Eastern cultures, and how we can still dance responsibly and respectfully.
Before you can start to make a dance, you must first understand its structure and progression. Throughout her career, Suhaila has created 100 choreographies using tried and true methods to visualize and conceptualize her musical choices. In this workshop Suhaila will explain her deceptively simple “Tally” approach, as well as how to doodle a song to create and commit to choreography. With these tools, you’ll be able to break through your blocks and create new dances with ease.
Sometimes people forget that Suhaila has over 50 years of experience performing in a crazy number of places and in a wide range of venues… including on the set of HBO’s Max Headroom next to a live pig! Throughout her time as a performer, she’s gathered some amazing stories as well as valuable advice and tips for dancers living the gig life. In this lecture, she’ll share some of her most important lessons that will help you negotiate any performance situation.
My mom was the first to create a comprehensive catalog of steps from across belly dance styles, including well-known moves like Basic Egyptian, Samiha, and Maya. Suhaila will share how her mom developed her groundbreaking format, key dancers who inspired and informed her process, and related stories that only the daughter of Jamila Salimpour can tell!