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  • Lisa Lumina

Level One: Figure 8 Unit, Class 5


Although both "Arabic Classics" and "raqs sharki entrance numbers" use the sound of an orchestra, and many of the classics can be danced to, they are quite different genres. Arabic Classics were the pop music of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and even 70s and 80s. Created by composers like Abdel Wahab and Baligh Hamdi, and brought to life by singers like Om Kalthoom, Abdel Halim Hafez (also a composer), Asmahan, and Warda.

Raqs Sharki entrance numbers were composed just for the dancer, usually by the band she employed. We'll learn more about all of these, and the Turkish genre called Arabesk, during levels 2 and 3, when each week includes a "must know song".


Regional Highlights This unit, we're focusing on North Africa. These regional highlights are meant to give a general orientation, and really only scratch the surfface of the diversity of arts in the MENAHT/SWANA area (Middle East, North Africa, Helene, & Turkey/SouthWest Asia & North Africa).

For the last week of this unit, a bit about the Amazigh/Imazighn. These are the indigenous tribes of North Africa. At one time they were called "berber", but this is considered derogatory now, as it believed to be related to the word "barbarian", which was the ancient Greek word for any non-Greek, because they thought all other languages sounded like "bar bar bar bar bar". Before the Europeans colonized Africa, the region was colonized and converted to Islam by the Arabs. Many countries in the area have a dialect of Amazigh that is spoken (and written with their own alphabet) in addition to their regional dialect of Arabic.



This song was originally sung by Om Kalthoom, she has her own museum in Cairo, and is the most venerated singer in the Arab world. It is an example of how many Arabic songs blend the bitter and the sweet. There are many instrumental versions of these songs that are so classic the audience will “hear” the words even when it’s not there in that version.

For a dancer to "have the feeling" it can mean the enjoyment of moving in your body, or it can mean showing the feeling of the song in your face and manner. (this song is about going crazy over a lost love).

Styles always change as time goes by. Amani danced primarily after Lebanon's civil war, but the dance continued within the country throughout the fighting. Here she is dancing to an entrance number

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