Local dancer with pot!
A Dance and Culture Camp in Tunisia
August 26, 2007
June 16th, 2007
Edmonton International Airport, Alberta Canada
“Tired, excited and hopeful I sit again
in an airport lounge watching baggage handlers
load the plane with the promise of yet another
adventure. I am older now and with that comes
both the confidence of experience and the anxiety
of experience. I’m really unsure of what
to expect but it doesn’t matter. The
call to North Africa is strong and fortunately
I am able to answer with a full heart and beautiful
5th, 2007 somewhere over the North Pole (truly)
“Sitting in our narrow seats on Air Canada’s
flight to Edmonton, I marvel at the last 3 weeks. I
am delighted. My artistic self sits smugly
marveling at the dance experiences of the trip. My
analytical side struggles to make sense of it all. What
made Tunisia so different from Turkey, from Israel?
with its steamy heat evidenced in perpetually sticky clothes. Tunis
with its cacophony of enthusiastic people voicing opinions
with gusto unfamiliar to us of more sedate behavior; I am
convinced it must be the North African couscous liberally
laced with pungent spice which boils the blood and impassions
do you judge a dance trip? Would you go back next
year? …in a heartbeat. Damn the cost and mercury
retrograde and the heat. It was that good!
Holidays is a Dance and Culture Camp sponsored
by Khadejah and Mustapha from
Germany and Joan Kafri from New Mexico,
all world class dance instructors and performers. This
event took place in Gammarth, Tunisia from June 22nd until
July 2nd 2007 offering 20 hours of dance instruction, sight
seeing and of course shopping. Those who wanted to
perform had the chance to do so in the Saturday evening
show at the hotel. Big stage, plenty of lighting
and a sound system that knocked our socks off!
have all had the experience of taking workshops with renowned
performers but it doesn’t always translate to great learning.
As a participant you get what you can out of a workshop. I
can appreciate how challenging it is to teach a class of 70
or more people of varying skill levels. On the other
hand, dance camps tend to be smaller and more focused giving
you the personalized attention that ensure you can put what
you learn in practice back home.
location may not be essential for a successful dance camp but
I believe it helps connect you to the dance. However
if you don’t have the best instruction location, location,
location just isn’t enough. I have been on other dance adventures
sponsored by Joan Kafri, in both Turkey and Israel.
knows the ingredients to a successful dance trip. Paired
up with Khadejah and Mustapha, this trip to Tunisia profoundly
touched both my spirit and my dancing body.
and Mustapha are two celebrated dancers of Raqs Sharki and
folkloric dances from the Gulf Region, the Orient and North
Africa. I knew of them, but very little about them. Although
they travel to the US for workshops they are likely not so
well known in North America because they just don’t live here.
Living in Germany, they are much better known throughout Europe
and Arabic countries where they teach and perform.
is without question my absolute favorite Tunisian. A
master in folkloric dance for many years, he taught us Bounawara (meaning
with the flower) style of Tunisian dance, which uses two small
scarves, and Dabke. Mustapha made every minute count
in class. He also has the biggest heart and the warmest
smile I have ever known and will be dear to me the rest of
Joan is an
exuberant dancer with a long history of teaching and performing
Middle Eastern Dance, specially folkloric styles. She
began her career as the first American to tour with the Israeli
National Folklore Ensemble in Israel, throughout Europe and
the USA; and she continues to teach and perform regularly in
Europe, Israel, Turkey and the USA. Two of her specialties
are Turkish folkloric and Arab-Andalous dance and, naturally,
she provided us with exceptional instruction in both. In
addition to some challenging dance combinations, she also gave
us a lot of important historical background and discussed music
styles and differences. Knowing Joan as I do, all my
expectations of a great class were exceeded – again.
point in going to Tunisia if you don’t learn Tunisian dance. An
accomplished performer, Khadejah is without question, one of
the best instructors I have had the pleasure to study with.
have found it difficult to get instruction in Tunisian
dance in North America. Over the years, I managed some
lessons in workshops when I lived in California and have
a few reference videos but nothing really clicked until
the workshop with Mustapha and then later on with Khadejah. I
have to say that she is a natural instructor. Not only
was the Tunisian something I could learn but her approach
to Raqs Sharki, in a later class, was challenging enough
for all levels. It was serious dance for serious
stop there. Meet Madame Souad, one of
the main dancers in the Fatima Bousaha group. Fatima
Bousaha is a very famous singer in Tunisia, who not
only made it possible for us to study with Madame Souad, but
also made sure to send us three of her musicians for this unforgettable
workshop! These musicians used one large drum, sometimes referred
to as a Taban, which is very similar to the drum used
by the Ghawazii in Egypt, a small dumbek and a mizwid,
which is something like a mizmar.
started to play, I knew this was the defining moment of the
whole trip. The sound was bigger than the vaulted
ceilings and spilled out onto the resort, where all the local
Tunisians made an immediate reason to flock to the hall. What
was this magic? Madame Souad smiled and began to dance,
inviting our class to join her. Okay, pinch me I thought as
my eyes started welling up. I am in Tunisia hearing sounds
that do not exist outside of villages, dancing with one of
the top dancers in this country.
the country? Tunisia, nestled alongside the Mediterranean,
offers the best of beaches, and even desert adventure in the
Sahara if the spirit moves you. Roman ruins, the Souk
in Tunis, the Bardo Museum with its mosaics, and the marriage
of the modern and the ancient is all there for the traveler. Algeria
and Libya are Tunisia’s closest neighbors and at the mere mention
of those countries, my family and friends had immediate concerns
about my security.
can assure you that Tunisia has zero tolerance for any
hint of terrorism and takes very good care of its tourists. It’s
an important industry, and just like Turkey, at no time
did I ever feel unsure of my personal safety.
Mustapha, Mariah, Joan, Khadejah
(they were shopping for gelebeyahs)
de Saint Exupery, the famous French author of The
Little Prince, fell in love with North Africa and now
I am beginning to understand why. It isn’t the Africa
of jungles and lions and while not the Middle East, it is
predominantly an Arabic country. Arabic and French
are the main languages with most guides speaking a smattering
of English, German and other languages as needed. Local
Tunisians are polite, conversational and were absolutely
delighted that North Americans were visiting their country. Women
drove cars, filled the cafes, shopped, and worked. As
expected the vendors were enthusiastic and friendly, but
not aggressive and accepted no for an answer without argument. Shopping
was a delight in the Souk. I did not expect the variety
and depth of the Grande Bazaar of Istanbul. Yipee! I
was so wrong. Shoes, leather goods, clothing, music,
artwork and the famous Tunisian ceramics were just a few
of the temptations.
Order a café direct,
often. You will be rewarded with some of the best coffee
you have ever tasted or perhaps sweet tea with pine nuts in
the ancient café in Sidi Bou Said overlooking the Mediterranean.
only thing I can add is our resort. The Club Dar Naouar
was perfect. It is modest but all inclusive so we
had everything we could want (including yummy couscous).
it so special was the staff who could not do enough for us. They
put flowers on our table and our beds. They were constantly
checking to ensure the air conditioning was working. I
was saluted with a kiss on my hand in the morning, every morning. I
was truly treated like a queen every single day. They
made me feel wonderful.
dancers, this was my experience in Tunisia. I will be
there again in 2008 and perhaps that is the most telling comment
on this trip.
pool at the resort- Club Dar Naouar
Shelley on a Camel Ride
Sami dancing with local Tunisian band
eco food transport
Shelley smokes a huge pipe load
a comment? Send
us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
with the Touareg by Linda Grondahl
was my 5th trip to Algeria since 2000 and I have
been amazed at the rapid economic development. The
government is working very hard to make Algeria a
very popular tourist destination once again.
to Tizi Ouzou by Linda Grondahl
When I was in high school, I was fascinated by some of the names I read about
when studying world geography.
Folktours Middle Eastern Music & Dance Camp Pennsylvania,
by Zarqaa, Photos by Sarah Skinner and Carl Miller.
around and delight in the glory of the dancers and musicians.
Report on the First International Bellydance
Conference of Canada Part 2 - Saturday Gala
Performance Photos by Denise Marino & Sussi
at the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto Canada on
April 21, 2007. Featuring international stars
including Amir Thaleb and Randa Kamal
Archives, Part 1- A Sampling of Costume Creations,
Authentic Ethnic, Fantasy and Everything in Between
Alexandria says of herself: "I want people to know that
I am not trying to bring down Belly dance, I helped create every
aspect of it and everything that you've heard about me is true!"
Devil's Details, Show Ethics for Professionals,
Part 3- Separating the Girls from the Women by
a performer conducts herself as a professional she is much more
likely to obtain repeat engagements and referrals. No one wants
to be seen knowingly hiring an amateur. It is bad for business
and a customer’s image