Gilded Serpent presents...
The Folk Tours
Dance & Music Camp
Review by Piper
(and baby pics too!)
Photos by Carl Miller
lots of reasons I wanted to attend the Folk Tours Dance and Music
Camp in Pennsylvania Memorial weekend. Organized by Tayyar
Akdeniz and Elizabeth Artemis Mourat
(both excellent dancers and teachers themselves), I would have
a chance to study with Kajira
and Nourhan Sharif, both of whom I knew by reputation
only. I was also looking forward to hearing some wonderful
musicians play live. Once upon a time, in far away lands,
I performed five shows a night, seven nights a week to great live
music. I don't miss the wily club owners, late nights, or
cigarette smoke, but I do miss the music.
Egyptian Oriental class on Saturday morning was very interesting,
with great warm-ups and exercises, and a cute choreography that
I enjoyed learning. I really liked Yousry Sharif's
system of numbered arm positions (based on Mahmoud Reda's
technique) and plan to use it in the future when teaching Egyptian
style classes (note: I haven't seen them yet, but I heard that
Nourhan's teaching videos are excellent and that they include
this numbered arm system). I missed Nourhan's Sunday class,
but several people told me that they liked it and found it quite
challenging. I was glad to hear this.
advanced dancers seek continued training/inspiration from videos
instead of taking classes with living, breathing master teachers
who can give feedback, because seminar instructors often cater
to the lowest common denominator. Not Nourhan!
I always have
a great time in Artemis's classes. She knows so much, and
she shares it all so generously; I feel lucky to live near her
and have her as a local resource for my students. Watching
Artie dance recently inspired me to create a group choreography
to "Rampi Rampi" for my troupe. This choreography includes
a short improvised solo for each dancer, and I saw several of
my troupe members happily taking notes and encouraging each other
in Artie's Karsilama class.
Now I know
why Kajira has been nominated best instructor so many times by
so many institutions! She's sweet, she's straightforward,
she's very positive, she explains things clearly, and you learn
a lot in her classes. The steps she taught were fun and
creative. If tribal isn't your thing, I felt that everything
she taught could easily be transformed into other styles (Pharaonic,
Egyptian and Turkish all came to mind at various points during
the class) by altering the posture and arm positions. I
took her Sunday class and I especially appreciated her review
at the end in which she went over everything she had taught on
Saturday as well.
Hilal, Steve Kotansky and Ali Kahya
taught singing classes. For musicians, there were ney classes
with Hamit Golbasi, baglama with Soner
Cacik, drum with Brad Sidwell and Karim
Nagi Mohammed and Seido Salifoski, kanun
with Tamer Pinarbasi, oud with Haig Manoukian,
davul with Tayyar, and tambourine with Souren
Baronian. Ali Kahya taught ensemble.
I was disappointed that I had to miss the Monday show when the
ensemble class performed what they had learned; their lessons
sounded really good. Several of my students had purchased
dumbecs on-line with the express intention of learning to play
at Camp. They had fun in the outdoor drum lessons, and by
the end of the weekend, they didn't sound too bad!
In the afternoons
and early evenings Omar Faruk Tekbilec taught
music and philosophy while jamming on the grass with student and
a bodhisattva, people gathered around him to receive his music
and his words. I grew up surrounded by dancers and musicians,
and I would like my son to experience music and dance not only
as performance art, but also in a relaxed, personal atmosphere.
We had a good
time hanging out on the grass in Faruk's circle, until Connor
decided to join in with his loud baby vocalizations (babies like
music!) and we withdrew so as not to disturb the others.
I didn't get a chance to take any of Tayyar's Turkish folk dance
classes (traveling and camping with a 10 month old doesn't exactly
leave one with tons of energy to spare), but my students who attended
had a great time. They said that they learned a lot, plus
they enjoyed seeing a straight guy shake his hips for a change
(ahem)! I did get to drop in for just a bit of one of Steve
Kotansky's Balkan folk dance classes while my son was taking a
quick nap. Steve knows his stuff, and everyone in the class
seemed to be both "getting it" and having fun.
I highly recommend
Artemis's "So You Wanna Be A Star?" workshop series for anyone
who wants to become a professional solo artist or just improve
their performance skills.
lots of practical tips on how to present oneself as a professional
both on stage and off, as well as ways to deal with loads of
potential problems. What would you do if the boss doesn't
pay you, if a customer tries to grab you, if another dancer
does something spiteful to undercut you, if the musicians won't
play what you want? Take this series to find out!
On the last
day, the bravest participants performed a short solo, which was
filmed and then gently but thoroughly critiqued by Artemis.
It is very hard for many students to have their efforts criticized
(especially in front of others), but it is better to find out
in class than to go on stage and be embarrassed later. Personally,
I am on a life-long mission to overcome a tendency towards bluntness
and Artemis is a master of sweet tactfulness, so I was glad to
sit in on this session in the hopes that some of this lovely quality
will rub off onto me!
As for the
food at camp, what do you expect from YMCA cafeteria food?
Surprise! I am a picky eater, but there were at least one
or two dishes at every meal that I wanted seconds of (I was worried
about this because Connor is still nursing, so I need to EAT).
A few people complained about the lack of screens in the "wigwam"
where the evening performances were held, but there is a reason
this is called CAMP. Neither Connor nor I got a single bug
bite and mosquitoes love me so I would have gotten bit if they
were around. If you can't stand a few harmless small critters,
you need to take workshops that are held in fancy hotels.
shows were highly enjoyable, with a good mix of camp participants
and instructors. I love all forms of Middle Eastern dance,
but watching three hours of back-to-back baby dancers is not my
idea of entertainment. Here however, the number of performers
was limited, even the first-timers did a good job, and the instructors
were sensational. The music was GREAT of course, though
I could have lived without the amplification (I know, I know,
separating Middle Eastern musicians from their amplifiers is like
telling my husband that he has to give up computers and power
tools, but one can hope). The folk dancing was fun to watch.
Artemis and Tayyar did a cute vignette. In terms of personality
and style, Kajira reminds me a lot of my mom, Rhea.
It's that kicky, let's-have-fun-we're-in-this-together attitude
over a foundation of Jamila
Salimpour technique. From
her dynamic spinning entrance to her dramatic 9/8 finale, Artemis's
solo was fabulous as usual. Not only did Nourhan do perhaps
my favorite Egyptian nightclub style performance ever, she was
definitely Connor's favorite dancer of the evening.
squirming and started craning his whole body around so he wouldn't
loose sight of her from behind the heads of people in front
of us. Connor is in a cling-to-mommy stage at the moment,
but he let me put him on someone else's lap sitting up front
and he didn't complain as long as Nourhan was dancing!
The days were
warm, the nights were cool and the moon was bright, the classes
were fun and packed with useful stuff and above all, the music
and the dancing were inspirational. I'll definitely be going
back next year. If you can make it too, come over and say
hi; I'll be the one with the toddler.
on this year's event
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
2nd Annual Music and Dance Camp Photos by Carl Miller, Report
by Mark Balahadia
May 2004, Dancers and musicians all over the East Coast (and abroad)
came to participate in the four-day oriental dance and music camp.
Report of the
Eastern U.S. Middle Eastern and Balkan Music and Dance Camp October
report by Tahya
The camaraderie of a camp - bunking with
strangers who soon become friends, "breaking bread"
together, learning new dance steps, songs, and drum rhythms -
has all the ingredients for a treasured experience, and this camp
lived up to that potential.
A Report of the 2004
Ya Halla Y’all Saturday Evening Show, by Leigh Allen
and Tamara Campbell, photos by Craig Campbell. Isis’
annual August shows are always great and professionally presented
but the show on Saturday truly lived up to its billing as ‘A
Gathering of Stars’. We can’t wait for next year!
Unity through Belly dance by Erica
If you are reading this publication, then you too have fallen
in love with belly dancing.
Taking Good Care of our Stars by
of all, as we now need them consistently; we have to free them
from financial worries by giving them job security including such
things as health insurance.