Today, Tarik remains as committed as ever, to sharing the beauty, magic and joy of Middle Eastern Dance with the world. He is going to tell about his introduction to Middle Eastern Dance Raqs Sharqi.
Tarik’s, love of Middle Eastern culture began as a teenager in high school. It was actually the music, not the dance that first caught his attention. He found the complexity of the rhythms and melodies intoxicating. He found that even though he couldn’t understand the words, it touched him on an emotional level that no other form of music did.
He became obsessed, and his life revolved around the three weekly Middle Eastern music programs on various community radio stations. If he was not stationed in front of the radio at home, he was glued to his walkman. He even began tape-recording the programs so that he would not have to go without listening to his music.
His love of the music inspired him to learn as much as he could about the cultures and countries that produced this music. What he found, was a culture rich in history, architecture and scientific achievements which helped to launch western culture into the modern age. This was a reality which was a far cry from the cliché images of sand, harems and camels he saw in the movies.
Occasionally Tarik would go to a dance concert. He wasn’t really interested in dance, but he knew if there were going to be dancers, there had to be music. Little by little however, he began to be curious as to how to dance to this music. He enjoyed dancing, but didn’t know how men danced to Arabic music. All he had ever seen were female dancers. That all changed one Halloween in 1985 when he saw “Morocco and the Casbah Dance Experience” perform at the Riverside Church Dance Festival. That was the first time he saw a male dancer, Sergio; It was also the first time he saw real folk dances. Most importantly, he saw Morocco, who would become his mentor. He immediately knew he had to find out all he could from her because her performance presented Oriental dance with the dignity, power and respect befitting the culture and people of the Middle East.
With her encouragement and assurance, he began studying dance with her. The more he learned, the more he realized that Oriental dance had been grossly misrepresented in the media, just like Middle East and North Africa culture in general. He wanted the entire world to see the truth about this dance and the people and culture that produced it, especially since there were so many dancers who catered to perpetuating the stereotype of the lusty Arab man and the subjugated, sexually available harem girl. He believed that Oriental Dance was a true art form which deserved the same recognition and respect that Ballet, Jazz, Flamenco and Indian Dance received. He figured that the best way to do this, was to get out there and show the world.
Through his dynamic performances and insightful articles, he has been able to show the world that there is much more to Oriental dance than the stereotypical, shallow image presented in the mass media. At Morocco’s insistence, he began teaching dance classes. Today, he is recognized as a gifted and inspiring teacher, who is able to motivate his students to achieve goals beyond their expectations. He has accompanied Morocco on many seminars across the country teaching and performing. Where ever he goes, he never fails to inspire and amaze his students and audiences.
Today, Tarik remains as committed as ever, to sharing the beauty, magic and joy of Middle Eastern Dance with the world.
You can read about Tarik’s introduction to Middle Eastern dance in greater detail in the article “A Teacher’s Path” on Morocco’s website at http://www.casbahdance.org under “Biographies”.
At Le Suke.