Art/ Dance Academy

  Keep the Culture in Arabic Dance. Open Borders for ALL Movement!

Blog

Reviewing Your Work

Posted by [email protected] on October 9, 2019 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

REVIEWING YOUR WORK

Reviewing Your Work

Posted on September 14, 2019 by Tales1001

The work does not end when you bow at the end of a piece. It is not over! It is the beginning of getting better. Your post performance analysis can help you progress and grow. After show take some time to calm down and be grateful for what you have just done. Taking time to reflect gives you a chance to recognize the full value of the work you just did and take control of how you want to proceed in the future. Use each show as an opportunity to evolve. It is only a means to an end, not the end. Learn how to calmly evaluate your work will make sure you do not turn into a machine that dances by rote. You will actually learn and improve each time you perform. Real growth as a dancer comes once you have learned to evaluate productively. Just give yourself a chance to calm down before trying to fig-ure out what happened, good or bad.

1. Start with the Good Stuff:

Yes, start with the being positive! Think about all the things that went well before dwelling on the not so good. Have a moment for yourself. Pat yourself on the back a little. Have a feeling of gratitude. Feel positive, it will help you have more momentum and energy to improve. Did you enjoy the show? Also reflect on the things you did right in leading up to the show. The preparation you did. Even diet and before the show rest. Think about what went well in the performance. Where you improved? What you nailed! What can you learn from this performance? People are naturally inclined to reflect on the negative. Being overly negative is not productive.

 

2. Put Your Thoughts on Paper:

Get in that positive frame of mind. Writing gets problems good and bad out of your head and onto the page. From there be an outsider and be honest with yourself. Then you can move on.

Make three columns: 1. Things that worked. 2. The things that did not work. 3. Things to work on. This way you will not just fixate on the things that went wrong. Seeing all sides and a place to work and will help you not to fixate on just what was not up to par. Always ask yourself, Is this a produc-tive thought?

 

3. Take Criticism Calmly:

Getting others’ opinions is essential. You might not like what you will hear but it gives you thought. Your own subjective thoughts of what you did, do not give you the full picture You might feel some-thing went wrong but not why. Someone else’s perspective may give you insight. Then you can work in fixing it! It is very easy to get defensive. Remember you are a performing artist. How many times have you heard “Breathe”? Develop the skill of deep breathing. Breathing deeply occupies space in your brain and allows you to reset. Yes, feedback can be overwhelming. Decide on a few people to really listen to.

4. Watch A Replay:

Seeing yourself dance is really important. Get comfortable using video as a tool. Video helps you un-derstand what sort of dancer you are. Just, try not to focus on all the things you do not like. You have to look at yourself and understand how to make things look better. Step back and think less about yourself and more about the whole thing. You are just part of it. Be able to understand your role in the big picture is important and helpful. Trust that the sky will not fall. You are part of a bigger experi-ence. That is art!

Contact: Morwenna Assaf / Walid Assaf

Art/Dance academy/Tales1001/ Cedar Productions

[email protected] – 760-715-2276

[email protected] or Cedar [email protected]

https://Art-Dance-Academy.webs.com https://Tales1001.webs.com

https://CedarProductions.webs.com

 

 

 

 

 

Identity Crisis! To Be Or NotTo Be

Posted by [email protected] on August 28, 2019 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

 

After being a professional dancer and instructor for over 40 years I realized the pain that I had been feeling for the past 5 years was not going away. I had been ignoring the signs of an aging dancer. I had never stopped dancing. Had never taken time off. In fact even vacations were always dance vacations. Then it dawned on me that this is the beginning of the end of my dance career. At some point in our lives all dancers face this in one form or another.

 

 

 

So, I cut back. Started just coaching instead of teaching classes. Cut back on teaching workshops when I broke my right big toe 3 days before a workshop in San Diego. Taught the first day in excruciating pain. The next day it was a no can do. My husband ended up running the class for me. Figured a rest and healing of my foot would take care of it. Guess what? I was wrong! The pain did get better with rest of both the foot and the Periphiral Neuropathy. I did learn that I was overdoing things and that by letting up some the pain eased off.

 

 

 

Our lives are intertwined forever. In life, in love and in our careersMorwenna & Walid

 

 

 

At first it was nice, no pressure but then I realized things were not getting done. I really had no idea what to do with myself. I felt lonely. I was terrified! Who am I? I felt like I had lost everything. I did not know who I was. I was losing everything. Or at least anything that meant anything to me. Although unplanned, it made me think seriously about my career and what I really wanted out of life at this time of my life. It has left me in a situation where I am dealing with insurance, doctors, and unable to pay bills. I realize I am not a kid anymore. Had my 79th birthday last week. So I have had to ask, what do I really want?

 

 

 

These are all questions that need to be answered.

 

 

 

  1. What do I do with myself? - What other dance related things can I do? Movement classes like Pilates, Somatics or Yoga. Nutrition has always been a thing I was interested in. Writing dance books and blogging. learn podcasting and video casting. Prepare for retirement show in Ct next April
  2. Give yourself space to rest. - Get healthy again.
  3. Stay involved with dance in other ways? Writing is one way. Running things on line. Taking a trip to Lebanon again to do research. Help husband set up his side of the business. Talk to other dancers.
  4. Remove yourself entirely? - This is not an option for me. How about you?
  5. Stay on a schedule - As a dancer and teacher our lives are very regimented. Structure your days. This helps combat symptoms of depression.
  6. Celebrate small victories? - Mentally maintain a sense of momentum. Somatics are my main source of exercises which keeps me sane. I need to move and it is healthy for me.
  7. Find other creative outlets? - Write, blog, paint, podcast, sing. Use the same amount of energy you used in the dance
  8. Cross-train? - Do something physical. Again somatics, pilates or yoga. Look for ways to keep your body in shape and moving forward. Use it or lose it!
  9. Find a group? Do not allow yourself to get isolated. Find a friend or group that holds your interest. Even a book club.
  10. Take advantage of the time off. - Take classes, socialize Build other parts of your personality regardless of age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, this is my future plan for my retirement. No more classes. Coaching instead. I am done running from state to state teaching. Yes, even country to country. I have loved every moment of it but now it is too exhausting. I look at what is written above and realize I have so many choices to make and still be in the dance I love so. I have had a wonderful career and do not regret one moment of it. It is time for family and loved ones. I thank God for my love of this dance form, my talent and the people it has brought into my life. It will always be a part of me.

 

 

 

So anyone who is going through a similar situation. Sit down and ask yourself the above questions. Turn yourself around and see where you can be aiming. By being calm and rational you can find the answers. Yes, sometimes one has to dig deep. But, the answers are there, inside you. The only thing I ask is that you treat dance with respect. There is a time when we each have to step aside and leave the stage and classroom to the younger ones we have trained. We leave its destiny in their hands. Our job is done. I have done my best and hope you have too. That is all that is important. Yes, I am still a dancer at heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Morwenna Assaf, owner/Choreographer and Producer of Art/Dance Academy-El Fen, being located in Jefferson County, TN., Oceanside, CA & South Eastern MA and Rhode Island. 760-715-2276
https://ArtDanceAcademyElFen.webs.com
[email protected]
https://Tales1001.webs.com [email protected]
https://CedarProductions.webs.com [email protected]

 

USING YOUR UPPER BODY IN DANCE

Posted by [email protected] on June 6, 2019 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Using Your Upper Body in Dance

 

Epaulement should be a natural part of your dancing. This term epaulement actually means shouldering in French. This is in fact a fallacy as it has nothing to do with the shoulders per se. Using epaulement can elevate your technical proficiency. It can be a be subtle dynamic and exciting. It is the punctuation at the end of a sentence. The head and eyes are the exclamation point.

 

Epaulement gives gives a third dimension to the dance. It shades what you are doing and gives it depth and color. It creates energy from the inside out. Yes, the shoulders move. But it is movement that involves the rib cage upwards. The whole upper body is utilized – ribs, shoulders, neck, head, arms, hands and even the eyes. Look a beautiful statue (say Venus) and flatten out the front, remove the angling of the torso and shoulders. Now it is just plain uninteresting!

 

Tricks of the Trade:

1. Do a combination with a fan. This will give you the feeling of having to lift chest, shoulders and head in opposition. The pretend you have a fan and do the same combination.

2. Do not overturn your body to the corner. It makes you look like a washing machine, throwing yourself from side to side. Why? Because there is no opposition.

3. Do not let your movement end at the neck. Energy needs to run through your complete torso, lengthened waist, lifted chest, swan neck, and eyes that look and see.

4. Do not forget epaulement in fast work. This makes your work even more exciting.

5. Do not sacrifice epaulement for height in extensions. See where the head and arms should be. Put these in your muscle memory. Now extend!

6. Do not let your collarbone be parallel to the floor. Strive for it to be on a diagonal. This comes from having life in the waist, back and chest.

7. Do not overturn your chin to your downstage shoulder when on a diagonal/croise. Turn your face ahead, then tilt the head allowing the jaw to move in space as the chest lifts simultaneously.

 

GETTING READY TO PERFORM

Posted by [email protected] on May 22, 2019 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Last month we talked about ideas for improvisation. Today we will look further into this with how to get your mind ready to do those things we covered. You know you have to warm-up your body before you do any kind of exercising or performing. Well what about your mind? Yes, you have to be prepared there too. While waiting moments before performing your mind might be racing. In reality as you warm up your body you need to think of your mind too. Your mind readiness will dictate how you will perform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENERGY: You need to be calm, relaxed and confident when stepping out onto the stage. You need to figure out what works for you. If you feel sluggish, jump up and down or shimmy. Or maybe you need to calm down, then do some arms or undulations. Tell yourself how wonderful it will be and how lucky you are to be able to perform for this group, whatever it may be. Experiment in rehearsal and find your key.

 

 

 

  • Mel'Keta

 

 

 

MAKE MINIMUM DECISIONS: Make decisions before a show as limited as possible. Clear your mind. Develop a before performance routine. Having a ritual frees your mind for predictability. Always keep your routine the same. This frees your mind.

 

 

 

CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WELL: Surround yourself with people who have the right mind set. Do not listen to complaining. Walk away. Control your environment. Use headphones to listen to your music. Think of the vibes you want and need at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO NOT LET YOUR NERVES GET THE BEST OF YOU: Emotions, nerves, and anxiety are all contagious. Stress can actually work for you if in the right mind set. Positive=Helps your muscles to work better and stronger & your mind will be clearer. But, if your nerves are negative then you will just be more anxious. Get it under control. Use what is right for you.

 

 

 

PRACTICE: Backstage, visualize your choreography with as much detail as is necessary.Your brain does not know the difference between a mental version and the real thing.. You are creating a closer bond between what your mind and body wants.

 

 

 

  • Theater Performance San Diego East County. El Cajon, CA

 

 

 

BREATHE: How often do I have to say this word? Focus on your breath. I prefer deep breathing from deep down in the diaphragm just as i step on stage. It seems to release all anxiety

 

 

 

GOALS: Do not focus so much on the performance just let the movements flow. Be in the moment. Enjoy the movements. I usually have a goal that is something to accomplish that has nothing to do with the choreography. e.g Looking in a certain direction or making eye contact etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IF ALL GOES WRONG?: No matter how much you prepare or how long you have been performing, things can go wrong. How do you recoup and quickly?

 

 

 

  1. Self Evaluation: Do not dwell on the mistakes handle it right away, like the next day. Work those things out so you will not repeat them.
  2. Quickly Move on: Get your mind back on track. Get in the moment. Breathe! It is ok. You are human!
  3. Change Your Mind Set: Most people fear failure. Look at a mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow. You will improve faster. Your worst performances can be your most valuable.

 

 

 

Choose one of these strategies at first then try another. It will not ALL happen overnight.

 

 

 

  • Raks el Anwar performing Bedouin number Pala Casino CA 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Is The Little Things That Count

Posted by [email protected] on March 20, 2019 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

To begin dancers are told to not work so hard. Make it look effortless. What does that mean? How do you achieve this? Dancing with efficiency helps you conserve energy and minimize wear and tear on the body. It allows you to achieve big impressions out of little moments and creates last memories to the viewer. Mastering the art of effortless movement requires a new perspective. "Less is More" is often the term we hear. This equals priorities towards simplicity and ease.

 

Use rehearsals to determine when to step on the gas and when to coast. Giving 100% all the time wears you out physically and mentally. It makes it impossible to keep going. Each time you repeat a sequence you are recording it physically and connecting with the sensation. Movements have sweet spots. Pause, ask yourself how much force you are using? You will usually find you have some to spare. Pull it back! It is all about following through. The idea of release is not collapse. It is actually poise! Then, you are a magnet for the audience to focus on your dance. Not, trying to capture the audience's attention. Small details can have a big impact.

 

Think what you admire about other performers.. Never mind the tricks. What makes them sparkle? You are performing not a machine. The artistry can make or break a performance. Build the sense of anticipation by playing with the timing and musicality. During transitions make sure you shift weight with a softness of the knees (slight plie). Thinking about arm placement to maintain control. The audience sees all! Hands are the most expressive part of the body. Be aware of hands from the spine, the shoulder blades, through bicep, tricep and elbow. Let your arms and hands talk.

 

Back to Focus: Sternum needs to be lifted and eye level just above the horizon. When dancing in a group make contact with the dancer next to you. Focus all the time.. Think about what kind of energy you should be expressing. Is it soft, intense or some where in between?

 

In your entrance you often do running or walking steps. This again is all about transfer of weight. Make it seamless. Use your shoulders and back. I like to say "have the wind at your back" Move through the space. Stay in character throughout. The piece is not over until it is over. Thoroughly rehearse bows. Be thankful for your audience. Define your finish. Leave it all onstage.

Dance has been with us forever.

NOW! What Is Ethnic Dance

Posted by [email protected] on March 7, 2019 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)


NOW WHAT IS ETHNIC DANCE - As Americans we are made up of a combination of cultures and nations. With the dance you can visit the culture without leaving your home town. Deciding what class to take is often much easier than finding a good teacher. Most cultures in a community have ethnic festivals. Go to the local Greek festival or Lebanese Festival etc. Some are run through Colleges and Universities. Others are run through the local churches. Everyone wants to run an International Festival. In New England every Lebanese church runs one and in San Diego we are lucky enough to have the Houses of Nations at Balboa Park. Every weekend another House is represented and there is often wonderful entertainment. Some polite inquiries could easily provide you with the names of instructors etc. The local Tourist center might be a place to check also.


Bedouin Performers Lebanon

Ethnic restaurants can also be a good source. If they have entertainment, ask the dancer who her teacher is and where she/he is located? Musicians are a good source for finding teachers as they work with them. Good, working musicians are at a premium. This is a great idea if you are in a big city that has ethnic clubs with good music. Everybody knows everybody in this business that is for sure. Then of course, let us not forget, the internet. Google Belly Dance Teacher in your city or area. That should come up with some leads. If all else fails contact me and I will help you. I know just about everyone in this business.


 

Fadi el Saadi. Ranin CD

 

MORE QUALIFICATIONS – Ethnic dance is much more than just learning steps and movements. You cannot take the history out of the dance, nor can you take the dance out of the history. The class should be so much more than just movement. The instructor has to be knowledgeable in much more than steps but also as to the origin and significance to the culture. The history and the ritual behind each dance is what gives it uniqueness and substance that needs to be passed on during instruction from teacher to student is a priceless legacy.


 

Folklore Scene San Diego C


Authentic costuming should be introduced. The real thing if possible! If not, then at least by pictures and DVDs or other visual aids. Musical instruments need to be recognized for the sound and the look. In the Boston area it was easy to get people to go to the local restaurant or club to see and hear the instrumentation. But in Southern CA and Eastern TennesseeI have had to resort to other means. Now a word about props Finger cymbals should be learned. I wait about six weeks to introduce them. Before that people have enough to grasp the steps to straight 4/4 music. If you wait longer it gets too hard to add them as they are locked in to what they are doing. Right now finger cymbals or zills are not so much in vogue. That does not mean you should not learn how to use them. Not only are they added to a show but they help with rhythm and counting. The same goes for castanets for Flamenco or Ipo gourds etc fro Polynesian. Plus a few weeks down the road you will be introduced to the different rhythms that make up belly dancing. Other props that can be used are scarves, shawls, veils, canes Isis wings, shamadan ( candelabrum) swords (American idea)and various other props come into play





 

On stage in Beirut Lebanon Amani in Druze costume

 


As for music, let me say. The instructor should make every attempt to use native music for their classes. It is plentiful and beautiful. Something for everyone! Of course, the music must relate to the dance being covered. Commercial Arabic music is great for warm-ups and fun stuff but not for a full solo performance. You need something with more structure and fullness


So now you have an idea as to what to look for. Now go out there and dance! Enjoy and learn all you can about the dance of the Middle and Near East countries or any other country you are interested in.

 


 

Morwenna Southern CA

 


So, You Think You Can't Dance?

Posted by Danc[email protected] on February 23, 2019 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN”T DANCE!

Think again! You certainly can and should by joining a a dance class that is accessible, vibrant and a lot of fun. It is all about moving. So let us get busy. Age makes no difference. Even if you have never taken up dance before. This is the first time. That is ok. Haven't danced in years but want to start again, then let's go. You will fit in, have fun and maybe even learn to love dancing.

It is like working out without the feeling of actually working out because it is artistic. You can go at your own pace. Stop if you want. Sit down and dance while sitting. Or just sit back and watch. Listen until you are ready to jump back in again.

Our bodies get set in our ways from repeated, habitual ways of doing things. You will gain flexibility, balance, stability in a short while. Dance can really change your posture and give you overall strength. It is about moving. Life is moving. You do not need a certain type of body or look a certain way, be a certain age or flexibility.

Relieve tension and keep muscles limber:

1. Morning = Lower-back stretch. Sit o floor or bed with one leg extended and the other drawn into upper thigh. Lean over straight leg with straight back, with both hands. Reach as far as you can. Alternate legs. Prevents pain from sitting too long.

2. Midday = Calf-Stretch. Place both hands on a wall or countertop. Place one leg forward with knee bent. Stretch back leg. Keep the full foot on the floor. Alternate legs. This limbers calf muscles and is beneficial before and after dancing, walking or running.

3. Evening = Shoulder & Neck Stretch. Get a towel and place over your shoulder. With the other hand grab the towel from behind. Pull gently in opposite directions while bending your head and neck away from the side the towel is on. Switch sides. This relieves neck tension.

When On Down -Time re-examine your alignment. Down time habits can directly impact our bodies and if left unchecked and can cause problems. A few simple adjustments could save you from injury.

1. SITTING SLUMPED OVER A SCREEN:- Many of us decompress by curling up with a phone , lap-top or watching tv. Then we look down at the screen. These are some of the worst things we can do for our bodies. Why? Because we let go of all our postural support and strength. Instead: Minimize your time sitting in one position.

2. STRETCHING COLD MUSCLES:-Holding muscles muscles when you are cold can damage muscle fibers. This reduces the power and strength of a muscle. Instead: Save for after dancing. Before warm up well.

3. WALKING TURNED IN OR OUT:- Instead: Turn feet to parallel. Actively practice muscle engagement. Hold up ankles. Develop muscles evenly.

4. WEARING FIP-FLOPS:- Wearing these makes you grip with your toes to keep them on. This can lead to shin splints. Plus without support you are likely to roll in, putting pressure on the tendons on the inside of the ankle. This can change the alignment of the knees and hips. Instead: Choose shoes that have arch support and room for the toes to stay wide. When buying, put shoes on. and go into a deep knee bend. If toes can stretch and Achilles tendon says long- you should be good.

5. LUGGING AROUND A HEAVY BAG OR A BABY:- Carrying excessive weight on one side can give you functional scoliosis. The muscles and joints get imbalanced and cause skeletal injuries. It can also change your walking pattern to contribute to having a weaker side. Instead: Clean out your bag. Only keep what you really need. Invest in a back-pack etc. A stroller for the baby. Or at least alternate shoulders.

 

 

DANCE AS IT BEGAN

Posted by [email protected] on February 10, 2019 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

DANCE AS IT BEGAN

Dance in general is a performing type of movement. But where did it come from and why is it so important? Here we will start to find out about the thread that ties us all together. The information I share here is twofold. One, from what I have personally studied and learned in my career and life in dance. Secondly from what I have researched and gleaned from the wonderful people I have been fortunate enough to have befriended over the years. Those like La Meri, Ibrahim (Bobby) Farrah, Mariano Parra and the master Mahmoud Reda. Dancers it seems seem to love to talk and share about the art they love so much. So, here is to dance and a few things to share.

The dance is, undoubtedly, the oldest of the arts as rhythm is the oldest element of music and was created for and with the dance. That dance is an art, as such needs no defense. What does the word “art” mean? The dictionary says, “skill in performance acquired by experience, study or observation; application of skill and taste to production according to aesthetic principles”. This is the cold way of looking at it. Others have said 1. “the active, practical exercise of self-discipline.” 2. “concerned more or less with the unconscious creation of beauty”. 3. “having aesthetics principles”. 4. “the creation of beauty”. So, dance is therefore an art form.

In the beginning the dance was life. Science and legend agree that the cosmos moves in a rhythmic beat. Aesthetics is the theory or philosophy of taste; the sense of the beautiful.” The philosophic appreciation of any or all the arts, its discovery and contemplation.” Art therefore is creative and reflective. Rhythmic movement is always an art. Sometimes the state of beauty goes asunder due to man’s stupidity. But as God created the world by his art, so true art will never die while this world exists.

Ârt is not beauty an artist wants or needs to portray, but truth. Truth as it is seen through the temperament of the creative artist. The function of technique is only to stimulate the original emotion which gives birth to the work. The work of art is to excite the imagination of the spectator to the emotion of beauty. The audience is half of any art form. Without the receiver, no matter how perfect, all is lost in a void. From the beginning, the inspiration of art has been religion. Think of the immortal statues of Greek gods and religious subjects in Oriental dances.If beauty is sought, and only lies in truth then then do we need to understand the means through which it is expressed? If the task is to see the beauty then the task is to wipe away all that is ugly, distasteful or crude.

By no means the least of the maladies of the art of dance is the semi-artist. These are dancers who have not the humility to seek the truth nor the sincerity to seek it. Artistry is a quality of the soul, not a matter of public position. The true artist does not set out to create beauty for the applause of the masses. This is called by greed. This person works and only thinks of him/herself. This does not mean the artist is indifferent to appreciation and understanding. The semi-artist who brings sensationalism to society is a very real menace. He/she copies the greats, follows the fashion of the moment, looks for the easiest route, licks up compliments, spends money on a few lessons, expensive costumes and a chic presentation. He is content with the little circle around him/her and basks in empty smiles. This person will not last long, he will retire in a snit the moment something goes wrong or there is discouragement. There is always knowledge to attain, culture of mind and infinite training of the body.

Today we are sadly lacking in humility. Audience, critic and dancer alike! Art is composed of three substances-Truth, Labor and Humility. Let artists teach aesthetics through peace. It is not conquering, but teaching, that is our responsibility, that lies before us now.

The Ancient Phoenicians and Roman Dance

Posted by [email protected] on January 9, 2019 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The Ancient Phoenicians and Roman Dance

 There are several forms of the dance in Lebanon today which originated from what it was called back in ancient times, Phoenicia. The Debke, Raks Sharki and the Andulusian Moushahat just for starters. There are several forms of the dance in Lebanon today which originated from what it was called back in ancient times, Phoenicia. The Debke, Raks Sharki and the Andulusian Moushahat just for starters. The origins of Raks Sharki/Belly Dance also found in the Ancient Egyptian background as they were neighbors and often traded across the Mediterranean Sea. The Ancient Phoenicians were spiritual people and danced to worship their gods and goddesses. Astarte was the goddess of life. They believed the female body was sacred.

 Rhythm was the basic element of the dance. The dances were ritualistic. Simple loud, rhythms, had effect on the human psyche. The chorus dance was performed in a circle to honor a god or goddess. Dance was also a display of rejoicing in celebration. There is a Phoenician, Canaanite engravings from as early as 1400 BC depict another appeal of dancing. Dancers accompanied by musicians. This requires no elaboration. Dance was also used as a political ploy.  There is a striking similarity in the below picture to modern day Debke. It predates the Arabs and most other invaders of the land of the Phoenicians. In Lebanon today the Debke is still danced and is one of its most famous traditions. It has been passed down from generation to generation and is performed by all. It is the National Dance of Lebanon.

The Adalusian Moushahat is a court dance in Lebanon and Raks Sharki/Belly Dance are also still performed. Raks Sharki is still in almost every household. There are remnants of a woman doing a skirt dance. Whirling dances were also performed. Acrobatics were also added for enjoyment. The artistry of Belly Dance continues today in most Lebanese communities

 The island of Crete which is now considered Greece but is just off the coast of Lebanon and was considered Phoenicia. It was also where the Phoenicians lived so they are included in this piece. It was a stepping stone between Egypt and Greece. Each civilization borrowed from the other with Phoenicia in the middle. The Phoenicians built boats from Cedar that grew in Lebanon. Gave us our first alphabet and discovered the color purple. Ancient Phoenicians worked the entire Mediterranean Sea from Lebanon to Malta. Lebanon is the first country in Asia on the east and sits at the west side of the Mediterranean Sea.

ROMAN DANCE

The Phoenicians along with the Greeks from Crete brought their culture, architecture, mythology, institutions and art to the Italian peninsula which provided the foundation for the development of Roman dance. Plus, the largest Roman ruins in the world are located at Baalbek in Lebanon. The 41 year of Roman reign by Augustus (The Golden Age) led to 200 hundred years of peace. During this time art and literature flourished. Visiting teachers taught music and dance. Tolerance of cultural differences was one thing the Romans taught us.

Professional dancers, flute players and acrobats were imported from Greece and elsewhere. The dancers were called “crotalisterias” because they wore bells and clappers (early finger cymbals). (Note finger cymbals on the modern dancer above. Also there are ancient pictures from Phoenicia with girls wearing brass cymbals.) Strolling players performed. Pantomime came into being. Burlesque was born. The Latin word for dance was “saltio”. The root word “sal” came from the Phoenicians. Their priestly leaders were called “salii”. Dance elements yielded three elements: 1. Motion = An all-encompassing term. 2. Posture= The dancers or actors’ attitude. 3. Indication = Gesture.

When the Roman empire fell in 476 AD the world was plunged into a long period where only the church and powerful nobles provided structure for society. From history you can tell the quality of a country and its leaders by the quantity and quality of the country’s art.