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Tarab: When Music & Dance Unite

Part 3 in George's Tarab Series

 

By Dr. George Dmitri Sawa

 

 

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In my article The Essence of Tarab, I discussed briefly the essence of tarab and provided links to two videos of tarab music. One of those links involved a taqsim, and the other, a pre-composed piece.

In my article Tarab: Three Examples of Songs, I showed the tarab emanating from two old exquisite and classic belly dance pieces, plus a classical song, and I included links to video clips showing how five different dancers interpreted the music filled with tarab.

In this article, I will share links to videos of dancers performing to taqsims in the old tarab style.

My advice: lose yourself to the music, let go and let the music tell you what to do, and definitely do not have any prior movement in mind. A good idea, which Yasmina Ramzy uses, is to dance with your eyes closed. Try it, you will like it (as the old cliché goes).

On the concept of letting go, I would like to quote my devoted student Mimi Ghazaal who, in her comments about my article The Essence of Tarab, mentioned her experience teaching students to dance to tarab. It is a lovely and very articulate statement, thank you Mimi:

“Wonderfully put, George. I taught a class about the tarab effect on dancers last year. The students had to train in methods designed to help them learn to 'let go' while dancing, to surrender themselves to both music and moment. The experience was very organic. Wonderful to see them actually experiencing moments of tarab in class and on stage. I owe the huge success of that class in very large part to you, My Teacher. Thank you for the lessons and this wealth of information.”

These are the videos I recommend:

George Sawa

 

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Related Articles

 

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About the Author

Dr. George Sawa was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He has over 50 years of experience in Arabic music performance, history and theory, and has performed and lectured extensively worldwide: Canada, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Europe (Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Greece) and the Middle East (Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates). He studied qanun, theory and voice at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music.

After immigrating to Canada, Dr. Sawa studied ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, and obtained his doctorate in historical Arabic musicology. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on medieval, modern, and religious music of the Middle East at the University of Toronto and at York University.

Dr. Sawa is the author of:

  • Music Performance Practice in the Early Abbasid Era. 132-320 AH/750-932 AD
  • Rhythmic Theories and Practices in Arabic Writings to 339AH/950 CE (Ottawa: The Institute of Mediaeval Music, 2004 and 2009)
  • An Arabic Musical and Socio-Cultural Glossary of Kitab al-Aghani (The Book of Songs) of al-Isbahani (d. 971) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2015).
  • Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers

Dr. Sawa has published over 50 articles on Arabic music in refereed journals and encyclopedias, and is frequently invited to give lectures and concerts worldwide. In 2005, he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture for his research in Arabic music history.

George Sawa

George has been the musical director for several productions of the Toronto-based Arabesque Dance Company, and taught hundreds of dancers at the Arabesque Academy and Hannan's Bellydance Studio in Toronto, as well as studios in Canada, USA, Brazil and Mexico. His first CD release, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, Vol. 1, was nominated for a JUNO Award in World Music in 2009. A subsequent volume, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, Vol. 2, was released in 2009.

His book Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers has won international acclaim and serves as an invaluable - one of a kind - companion to bellydancers all over the world. (It is available in English, Chinese, French, Greek, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, German and Portuguese). A companion set of two DVDs produced with Lulu Hartenbach in Brazil includes over 50 tracks of dancing instruction from his CDs and book: Lulu and George Dimitri Sawa. Apreciação de Música Árabe para Bailarinas - Teoria & Prática 2 vols. Sao Paulo: Ventreoteca. Produzido por Kaleidoscopio de Ideias. Shimmie, 2015.

Presently Dr. Sawa is working on a book Erotica, Love, and Humor in Arabia which will be published by McFarland in 2016.

For more information on Dr. Sawa's books, musical recordings, and videos, see his web site at www.georgedimitrisawa.com .

Dr. George Sawa

 

 

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