Follow Me

Close

SO HERE’S THE DEAL:

Samara was born as Tahira in Baghdad, Iraq, 1963. She was born into a traditional Muslim family that wanted her to study engineering in Lebanon. They were not to pleased when she decided to do something more…creative. After moving to Lebanon, Tahira took the stage name, Samara, and became very inspired by Nadia Gamal, whom she asked for lessons. Nadia taught Samara three dances and advised that she develop a unique style.

Samara took that advice to heart and man did she come up with some unique stuff! She incorporated Polynesian, Greek and Indian and Spanish dance inspiration into her routines. She was also influenced by nature, for her NYE show in 1995, her concept was – the sea. “Her show opened with a huge clam shell on stage. As the music started, the lid was raised, and Samara slowly emerged, representing a pearl. Her costume was of the elaborate Lebanese variety, all in pearls,” (Samara: Sayyida Raks Sharqi, Best of Habibi). Even beyond incorporating different forms of dance, Samara had music written just for her (she also had her own band), and even used some American New Age fusion in her sets.

Samara’s distinct style gained her popularity and the name “Sayyida Raks Sharqi”(*) from the Lebanese press meaning, “Mistress of Oriental Dance.” After her first three years dancing in Lebanon (1981-1984), she began traveling and dancing around the world, ushering in her golden age from the mid 80’s-early 2000’s. She started out traveling to the cities of  Kano and Lagos in Nigeria and Abidjan in the Cote d’Ivoire. She later traveled to Europe and Arab countries as well.

Being so popular Samara had to regularly switch up her show, she would do this every 4-6 months, adding in new inspirations and music. She wanted to keep her fans on their toes and felt it was necessary for her to keep growing as an artist. She always wanted to out do herself, which in my opinion, is the best form of competition.

Learn more about Samara here.

Why I <3 HER:

You’ll see when you watch the videos! She is completely mesmerizing, I couldn’t stop watching video after video and I tried really hard to not make the longest youtube playlist of all time lol 😛 She’s very lively, incredibly creative and on top of that she has amazing technique. I’m also fascinated by her fusion of different styles, especially with all this talk I’ve been seeing recently about styles/categories of belly dance.

I hope you all enjoy the playlist!

xoxo

N

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjrrLz1h329-zpqReULnJZZd7m61raLOc]

*I don’t know why Raks has a K and Sharqi has a Q…anybody?

ATTENTION DANCERS IN THE NYC AREA: Uza Mitra (click here to read her interview on The Belly Blog) is teaching a workshop next weekendIraqi “Raqs El Kawliya” with Uza  on Saturday, July 26 from 3:00-5:00 p.m.

DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT WITH AN AMAZING TEACHER! 

image

read more

 

 

image                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Photo by Lauren Weissler

read more

Register for the workshops here

About Assala:

From early in Assala’s childhood in Iraq, she was surrounded by the rich traditions of Iraqi culture and Oriental dance. She spent many evenings accompanying her mother to work, where she assisted in the preparation of weddings and henna parties. Assala would watch in awe how the women danced at these parties. These past experiences played a major role of her interest of dance, and helped influence her art.

Assala studied at the University of Baghdad, graduating with a degree in Education. In 1993 she moved to Switzerland, and was determined to preserve the rich traditions of her heritage through furthering her studies in oriental dance. She turned to the shaabi people (people from the countryside and working class) who keep their traditional way of dance and music. Assala believes that learning authentic traditions is where wisdom in dance comes from. This is why Assala has found the shaabi people have transcended a highly refined school of dance. She also furthered her studies with the addition of pilates, yoga and breathing techniques. Her ultimate goal is to combine traditional folk dance with proper technique.

With an immense repertoire of dance styles, Assala is trained in shaabi (Nubi, Saidi and Gezwazi), classical and modern Egyptian Sharqi, Baladi, Sufi dance, Zar, Tribal Fusion, Iraqi Gypsy and El Kawliya dance. Assala pays particular attention to dance forms that are at risk of becoming lost like Zar and El Kawliya dance. She has helped to preserve these dance forms by reintroducing them in her teachings and performances.  Through her many years of research, performance, and teachings, Assala has developed her dance into a recognized and highly appreciated art form. Currently, Assala performs and teaches internationally in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and also Switzerland and now in the U.S.

Buy tickets here!

youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9dlPM239zU?feature=oembed&w=500&h=374

The YouTube ID of 138dL0zwxdw?feature=oembed is invalid.

Iraqi born Assala Ibrahim will be teaching two workshops in New York City February 20-23, 2014. Iraqi dance and Zar. Please keep checking the event and tumblr pages for updates. http://assalainnyc.tumblr.com/