Art/ Dance Academy

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


Music To Die For

Posted by [email protected] on June 9, 2020 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)



Mitchell Kaltsunas is a very special person that Walid worked with for many years in the New England scene. He stands out among all the other musicians because of his interesting background and how he has made a name for himself and is still one of the most talented and in demand performers in New England.


Are you missing Arabic music during this trying time in our history? If so, I have the perfect solution! Give yourself a welcome break on Sundays from 6-8pm. Watch Mitchell Kaltunas on FaceBook Live. Mitchell plays the oud and sings all of your favorite pieces be they classical pieces or just songs. It is pure joy and FREE!


Mitchell started by playing derbecki as a child. Then added voice. Later he decided to learn the oud. Which, by the way, he has done extremely well. He is serious about his music and has devoted his life to being as good as he can be at what he does. He is one of the greats of our time. Save Sunday 6-8pm for your music fix. Enjoy his music and voice. You will not be disappointed. If you appreciate good Arabic music make sure you are there.


Why does he do these shows? Mitchell says, “My short term goals have never really changed. I want to continue to play music, to sing, and make people happy. Even if it is only for a few hours, I have helped them forget their problems and troubles. If this happens, I have accomplished my goal! I hope everyone just feels the music and enjoys it.”


TUNE IN: Facebook Live

Every Sunday 6-8pm

Mitchell Kaltsunas Live

Sawt Al-Wadi

Posted by [email protected] on February 27, 2020 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Sawt al-Wadi

Posted on February 27, 2020 by Tales1001 Edit


SAWT AL-WADI = Voice from the Valley


Another momentous occasion at the Rose Center in Morristown, TN. The one spot you can find culture in Eastern TN outside of the little in Knoxville. The Rose Center presented am Arabic musical group. They were from UT. (University of TN). The concert was one of a kind. It just happens to be led by someone we had met before several times at UT functions. This is the incomparable Lillie Gordon a former professor at UT.


I remember her telling me a few years ago that she wanted to start a musical group of Arabic musicians. By this, I mean that all the music performed would be from the Middle Eastern/Arabic countries. Well, she has done exactly that! What a feat! Most of the musicians were Americans. They were trained well. The singers were amazing. Notably, the three women, who had very different voices. All excellent with true Arabic sound and feel. No


We invited some friends to be exposed to the real thing. There were six of us. I was afraid we might be the only ones in the room. The auditorium was filled. Out of curiosity, I believe! Most people in this area have no idea about the people or culture of the Middle East. Let alone the musical history. What is this Arab music? Aren’t they all terrorists? The room was filled and set up with tables. We had a center table reserved for us. We were obviously the only table with inside knowledge of the music and the traits of the people. There were several tables that came in from the Appalachian


Lillie made everyone feel welcome by explaining the instruments, and the type of music being played, the maqams and which country each piece came from. Everyone felt comfortable and understood. Lillie herself, besides singing, also played the violin and the oud. She also did all the announcing and explaining. She introduced each member. It was a spot of Middle Eastern graciousness. It was like being in a Middle Eastern home. Wonderful! The variety of of different areas was amazing.


Walid and I knew most of the music. Made me realize how much I miss the community and hearing the music live. It was like coming home for us. Even I, could sing along and I do not speak Arabic. It brought tears to my eyes. Thought of the days in Boston when we were out every day engulfed in this wonderful life of music and dance. Gone are the days of that Arabic connection that is so rich and tasteful. Even the big names in the ME do not get to come to America these days.


What a wonderful evening. It was exhilarating and amazing. I thank Lillie Gordon for her excellence in training these people. The male singer we enjoyed the most was Lebanese. He is a student getting his MD at UT. His name was Karim. Then there was Sumer a Palestinian girl with an amazing voice. Of course, then there was Lillie who was amazing. She played the oud, violin and sang. What an amazing treat. The music covered the areas of Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Sephardic Jewish, Iranian and Lebanese. A great blend of new and old from the areas.


I certainly hope that they will be back in our area. This corner of the world needs to feel the presence of people from other areas of the world. Or, even other areas of North America. It educates so people understand all people are human. Not to be afraid of people who think or play music a little differently Brings us all together as one family of humanity.


Until the next concert, we will support The Rose Center and the musicians and artists who frequent the center. It is a little piece of heaven for us in this place we call home after traveling the world. We have settled here and but so enjoy the culture of others.


Morwenna & Walid Assaf

[email protected]

760-715-2276 or 760-715-2220

Next concert at The Rose Center will be Fri, February 28th 7pm. Free and open to the public. Help us support the artists.

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The Rose Center "Author"


Little Christmas in Eastern TN "Educator"


So Many Drums, So Little Time "Arabic Dance"

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Little Christmas in Eastern TN

Posted by [email protected] on January 23, 2020 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Little Christmas in Eastern TN

In San Diego it was an annual event that every Christmas Eve  we would have an open house and invite any and all involved with the dance studio etcetera. People were invited to come to our house . Basically the idea was to invite everyone who had migrated to Southern CA and had no family with which to clebrate Christmas. We became a family. We did that for 17 years and loved evey minute of it.

Then, we moved to Eastern TN. There was no need for this event as everyone had family locally. This worked well thill this last Christmas-2019. This was the year we had sickness and there was no real clebrating. Health was getting better but no one had the energy to plan, cook or celebrate. So many people just wanted to relax. In January 2019 we had invited a couple we consider close friends with a friend we had met through them and their son. The date happened to be "The 12th Ninght of Christmas which fell on Jan 6th. The Feast of the Epiphany. No one here celebrates 12th Night. Most people have their Christmas trees down on the latest the day after Christmas which to me is Boxing Day.

Yes, we are different . I was raised between England and Montreal, Canada. In our family a tree was not put up till Christmas Eve and stayed up through 12th Night. Plus, my Lebanese husband and the 6th of January is a big day of celebration. So, this year we decided to invite those same friends form last year plus a couple more friends that are dear to us- Marlayne and Maggie! So, with us there was eight people in all. A small but wonderful group. Walid cooked all day. This was to be a treat. Something we will repeat every year.

Our guests arrived at 6:30pm We had a wonderful dinner. Conversation was great! Our friend Doctor John had just  retired so this was something to clebrate. He was a professor at UT for 34 years. Also, this year he got his Phd from UT Something else to elebrate. Laurie a friend of John & Sharon's had just graduated with her BS. Go, Laurie. Her son, Jonathon, a special needs person of 17 graduated from highschool. Walid, gave him a derbecki. (Lebanese hand drum as a gift. He was elated. He was a happy camper. Our friend Marlayne had just turned 70 a few months ago. So that was her milestone.  Maggie got a divorce and has a new lease on life. She is going to Europe for the first time in a few months. Walid and I were celebrating our good health and the good health of a close family member. So much to be thankful for. We all had so much to share and celebrate.

After dinner we all went downstairs to the dance and music studio. The music started, the keyboard and drums were brought out. The music started. Someone played the keyboard and others played drums including Jonathon on his new drum  Everyone was dancing. The party was on.

This was OUR Little Christmas in Eastern TN. What a great time of celebrating with good, good, no great company. A tradition is started.  Maybe not the original idea of the Epiphany  but definitely a day to remember for the second year in a row. We all realize good friends are few and far between.The date for next year is set. So remember January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany or 12th NIght, if you like.And, yes, that is why we have Christmas lights outside till after 12th night. The Three Kings need to follow the light.

NB: Sorry no pictures this year. Will make up for it I promise.

Morwenna Assaf
[email protected]