Many dancers struggle with how best to gain cultural knowledge about Raqs Sharqi and other Middle Eastern folk forms, especially since most dance workshops, weeklongs, and festivals, have only a limited verbal cultural component. You may even learn the movements of culturally specific dances like Raqs al Nashaat or Saiidi or Kabeyle, but without much context. While many responsible teachers include cultural information in the classes, there is only so much you can impart and still have time to dance, so it often takes a back seat. Where, how, why are these dances performed in their own countries? How are the movements executed in a culturally recognizable way? Why do Western interpretations frequently fail to communicate the essence of the Eastern dances?
In Prague, Czech dancer Katerina Shereen Safrova has stepped forward to organize an event around cultural knowledge. Even before I got there, I knew that SHRQ would be different from most other dance events I’ve ever attended. Organized by Czech dancer Katerina Shereen Safrova, the focus was specifically on the cultural context of the dance.
****See Part 1 of my full report on my Articles Page****