Photograph by Lina Jang

Classical Oriental Dance

5 minutes • Solo Oriental Dance • Choreographed and performed by Samara
Music: Varies

To Western audiences, the dance most associated with the Middle East is raks sharki, or danse orientale — dance of the east. The styles, the choreography, and the technique, based upon the folkloric dance of the region, are all developments of the 20th century, with much emphasis on the clean lines of classical ballet. The music, whether classical or contemporary, is richly orchestrated with its roots in traditional music. These spectacular compositions clearly influence the choreography, whether for a soloist or for an ensemble — traditional oriental dance created for presentation on a theatrical stage, with complex floor patterns, reminiscent of the many lines and whorls found in traditional oriental rugs. 

Click to watch an excerpt.

Photograph by Dan Brenaven

Harem Fantasy (2009)

4 minutes • Classical Oriental Ballet • Choreographed by Samara • Music: Eddie Kockak

Since the early silent films of the 1920s, Hollywood has perpetuated the fantasy of the “harem dance.” Egyptian cinema of the 1940s and 1950s reciprocated by imitating grand Hollywood musicals and adding their own line-up of chorus girls. Our “harem fantasy” follows the Hollywood traditions, foregoing the chorus girls of Cairo, and presents a mysterious picture reminiscent of images from the Arabian Nights, with swirling veils, sinuous moves choreographed to the lush 4/4 rhythms of romantic rhumbas.

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Fantasie Orientale (2011)

6 minutes • Contemporary Oriental Dance • Choreographed by Samara • Music: Sami Bitar

Inspired by luxurious images of the odalisque rendered by the 19th century Orientalists of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts, this piece supposes a central dancer dreaming these painterly visions come to life. The stately 10/8 samai rhythm is featured in this modern oriental ballet.

Click to watch an excerpt.

Taksim—The Near Eastern Art of Musical Improvisation

Tabla Solo
Improvisation for Dancer and Drummer

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Oud Taksim
Improvisation for Dancer and Musician

The taksim is that segment of the piece where the musician demonstrates his breathtaking virtuosity in an improvised solo within the framework of the song or instrumental arrangement. When dance is involved, the solo dancer and musician are as one, with each complementing and complimenting the other’s moves, accents, tempos and emotions.


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