Workshop Catalogue

This catalogue should provide you with an overview of the different Workshops that I can offer you. When you need more information about specific dances and themes please don’t hesitate to contact me.

It is also possible to organize a performance with or without live music. A performance is always a good introduction to the seminar work and allows the students to see the unfamiliar dance styles and learn something about their contexts before the workshop. I will gladly send you more information upon request.

The following workshop themes are more or less geographically organized from West to East. In case you have a special wish, please contact me.

Sheikhat, the professional dancers of Morocco

Sheikhat is the female plural of Sheikh "wise, learned man". However, in thiscase it is not academic knowledge, but rather the knowledge about the relationship between men and women and especially the duties of the wedding night, which is inferred. The Sheikhat are the professional female singers and dancers of Morocco. They entertain the guests at weddings,circumcisions and other festive occasions. An especially exciting dance is Danse du Plateau, famous throughout Morocco, in which the dancer balances a tray with tea pot, tea glasses full of tea and lighted candles on her head. Helene has organized dance and cultural study seminars in Morocco for over eight years and has had ample opportunity to study the various dancetraditions in Marrakesh.

BACK TO TOP


Dances of the Moroccan Berbers

In this workshop we will learn about two different dances styles:

Guedra is a trance dance from the Southern Moroccan town of Goulimine and the West Sahara. It gets its name from a cooking pot which is covered with an animal skin in order to function as drum for the dance. Usually one woman dances, while the other participants clap and sing songs, until the dancer falls into trance and is replaced by another.

Dances of the Raissat: The Raissat are the professional female singers and dancers of the Berber population of Southern Morrocco. This dance style is fromthe Raissat of the Schlöh (a Berber tribe in Southern Morocco) from the region around Agadir and Tiznit. Their dances are characterized by a vertical bounce, quite different in feeling from Arabic dances.

BACK TO TOP

Moroccan Dance and Music
-- with Abdelrhani Krija, Percussionist

Whether Arabic or Berber, whether in the tents of the nomads or in the village squares of the peasants, or in the tiled stylized gardens of the cities -- music and dance of Morocco is the heartbeat of the people still today. In this Workshop Helene and Rhani would like to give you a glimpse into the rich variety of Moroccan dance and music traditions. Particular emphasis will be placed on the urban style of the Sheikhat. The Sheikhat are the professional female dancers of Morocco who perform at weddings and other festivities.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of the Nailiyat from Algeria

The Nailiyat or the women of the Ouled Nail tribe from the region of the Algerian oasis towns of Bou Saada and Biskra used to earn their dowries by dancing and working as courtesans in caravan crossroad towns. When they had earned enough money they returned to their tribe to marry. It is speculated that this tradition is the remnant of an antique Venus cult. The Nailiyat were particularly popular with the French Legionnaires, who called their dances Danse du Ventre (which translated became “belly dance”). In the terror-filled political climate of Algeria today, these traditions seem to have fully died out. Helene was fortunate to work with Aisha Ali who conducted field research in Algeria in the late 70's among the Ouled Nail. The students should bring a scarf (ca. 80cm x 80cm).

BACK TO TOP

Tunisian Dances

A characteristic of Tunisian dance is the horizontal forward and back movement of the hips, reminiscent of the Twist of the 1960’s. The costume of the dancers consists of a Melia, a draped garment, which is held together by two silver fibulas (the ancestor of the safety pin). The Melia belongs to the family of the most elementary kinds of clothing, in which straight swaths of cloth without tailoring or seams is draped around the body, as for example the Roman Toga, the Indian Sari or the Indonesian Sarong. An especially challenging dance element is the balancing of a ceramic pot on the head, while the hips move in complicated rhythmical patterns. The students can bring a pot to balance; however we will begin first without.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of the Ghawazee from Upper Egypt

Ghawazee mean "conquerors" and refers to the most traditional female dance performers of Egypt. However, in this case it is the hearts of the men, which are to be conquered. The Ghawazee belong to the Gypsy tribe Nawar, who also inhabit Syria and Lebanon. The women of the Nawar are dancers and courtesans, while the men work as musicians and managers. Formerly the Ghawazee lived throughout Egypt, but in the 1830's Mohamed Ali banned them from Cairo to Upper Egypt. It was there that many 19th century travellers saw the Ghawazee and were fascinated by them, as for example Flaubert, who immortalized his lover Kutchuk Hanem in Voyage en Orient. When the Ghawazee appeared at the Chicago World's Fair, they let loose an oriental dance fever, the repercussions of which are felt until today. The art of the Ghawazee today is on the brink of extinction due to fundamentalist pressure. In this workshop we will learn basic dance movements as well as about the development of the Ghawazee costume. Playing the finger cymbals, Sagat, is an obligatory element of this dance style. Students who have them, should bring finger cymbals.

BACK TO TOP

Baladi, Urban Folklore from Egypt

Baladi means "from the country" and in the context of dance it refers to an urban style with "traditional" or "country" character. Today the music for Baladi is played on the quartertone accordion, saxophone, keyboard and even trumpet. Traditionally Baladi is a solo dance. In her group choreography, Helene would like to maintain this feeling of an improvised solo dance.

BACK TO TOP

Saidi, Upper Egypt

The Said is the conservative southern region of Egypt, i.e. the area around Luxor, Qena and Assuit. The lifestyle of the Fellahin (farmers) there has changed only little and very slowly in the last thousands of years. The dance traditions here have remained untouched much longer than in the regions of the Nile Delta which are in a closer proximity to Cairo. We will explore two different music styles. The first style is played by the Rababa, as for example the music of the famous Rababa musician Met'qal Qinawi from Thebes. The Rababa is a two-stringed spiked fiddle. The second musical style is played by the Salameya --a small oblique flute similar to the Nai. Dancing in the Said is focused within the body, with emphasis on movements of the hips, and is free of the theatrical elements, which Raqs Sharqi -- what we call Belly Dance -- later developed. The costume can be made of the famous fabric called Assuit. This net like fabric is complexly ornamented by hand with flat silver wire.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of the Khalegi Region
(Kuwait and Saudi Arabia)

Khalegi is a dance of the Gulf Region. While dancing, the women swing their voluminous garments in time with the music. The richly embroidered caftans Thob Nawal are made today in India especially for the Gulf states. The style of the dance is fine and graceful. The most eye-catching characteristic is the rhythmical tossing of the dancer's long hair. It is speculated that the origin of these movements lies in ancient trance dances, as for instance the Egyptian Zar.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of the Balkans
(ex Yugoslavia and Bulgaria)

The South Slavic Balkan countries, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia are an exciting mixture of peoples, cultures and history. Unfortunately our attention has turned in the last years towards the Balkans primarily due to war. But there are many other (nicer) reasons to be interested in this region. Of particular interest are the music and dance traditions. Nowhere else in Europe can we find such a wealth of traditions, which have kept intact so many archaic elements and which mirror influences from the Alpine, Central European, Mediterranean, Byzantine, and Oriental cultures. In this workshop we will learn about the different ethnographic regions of the Balkans through their dances. This workshop can give an overview of the different regions or an in-depth look into only one. Men and women are both cordially invited.

BACK TO TOP

Balkan Singing
(Bulgaria and ex Yugoslavia)

The South Slavic Balkan countries, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia are an exciting mixture of peoples, cultures and history. Unfortunately our attention has turned in the last years towards the Balkan primarily due to war. But there are many other (nicer) reasons to be interested in this region. Of particular interest are the music and dance traditions. No where else in Europe can we find so many traditional wealth, which has kept intact so many archaic elements and which mirror influence from the Alpine, Central European, Mediterranean, Byzantine, and Oriental cultures.
In this workshop we will learn about the different ethnographic regions of the Balkans through their songs. This workshop can give an overview of the different regions or an in-depth look into only one. Men and women are both cordially invited.

BACK TO TOP

Čoček Roma Dances from Macedonia

Čoček is a dance of oriental origin, which can be danced as a line dance or as a solo improvisation. The word čoček comes from the Turkish Köçek (dancing boy). čoček is danced by Turks, Albanian and especially Roma in Macedonia and Southern Serbia. The movements are small, fine and reserved, as if one were dancing "inside of her clothing." Čoček music today is one of the most vibrant music styles of the Balkans, as we can see by the success in the world music scene of the Roma musician Ferus Mustafov or the singer Esma Redžepova. Besides the traditional Turkish and Balkan roots of the music, we can discover elements from Hindi film music or Mariachi music. Popular instruments today are the accordion, saxophone, clarinet, and even entire brass bands, because brass bands became popular in the folk music of this region after the First World War. But don't be fooled, this is a far cry from a polka band!

BACK TO TOP

Manea Roma Dances
from Oltenia, Southern Romania

The northern border for dances of oriental origin in Europe seems to be the Danube Basin. The dance Manea is danced by Roma in Oltenia and around Bucharest along the northern rim of the Danube Basin. Under Ceaucescu Roma were not allowed to perform their music and dances in public. Although Roma were highly in demand as musicians in ensembles and restaurants, they were required to play Romanian music. Because of this, Helene was pleasantly surprised to find this dance in 1993 in Caracal, Oltenia at a dance festival. Both men and women, with the typical finesse that is characteristic for the dances of the Roma in the Balkans and Turkey, dance Manea.

BACK TO TOP

Dance Cycle from Transylvania, Northern Romania
-- with Kálmán Dreisziger --

During the Renaissance a new, exciting and highly improvised couple dance fashion swept overEurope. The nobility danced it, townspeople copied them and the peasants eventually danced it and filled it with life. Bruegel painted it, Dürer and deBry reproduced it in detail and preachers damned it. Wondrously these dances have survived until today in an out-of-the-way corner of Europe. Romanians, Hungarians and Roma in approximately 30 villages around the city of Cluj in Western Transylvania preserved and polished these traditions and developed them into the most complicated and elegant of couple dances.The Roma, as well as the Romanians and Hungarians, who live in Transylvania, dance an exciting dance cycle which includes couples dances and men's exhibition dances. In addition the Roma also have a fast improvised solo dance Çingerica with finger snaps and fast footwork. Both Helene and Kálmán have had the opportunity to research and dance these dances in Transylvania.

BACK TO TOP

Çiftetelli and Karşılama (with finger cymbals) from Turkey

In this workshop we will learn to dance and play finger cymbals to the syncopated rhythm Çiftetelli and the 9/8 Rhythm Karşılama. The building blocks of improvisation in dance as well as for the finger cymbals will be explored through exercises. In this way we will become acquainted with two of the most common solo dance styles of Turkey. This workshop is not only a good beginning for finger cymbal beginners but is also ideal for the polishing and deepening of the dance for dancers with previous experience.

BACK TO TOP

Roman Dances in 9/8 from the Roma of Istanbul

During the Ottoman Empire Roma (Gypsies) were popular entertainers for the people and in the courts. Even today many of Istanbul's famous musicians are Roma. They perform at restaurants, in well-known spots such as Çiçek Pasajı, or in the Roma neighborhood of Suluküle. In addition to Çiftetelli, Roma are masters of dancing in 9/8, a rhythm called Karşılama or Roman. Roman is not danced with wild leaps and tambourines, as is often portrayed in "gypsy dances", but rather with exquisite, fine movements, that play with the varied possibilities for accentuation of the 9/8 rhythm.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was truly a multicultural society. In order to be a full citizen, one had to be a Muslim, but not necessarily a Turk. But also many religious minorities, such as Christians and Jews, had their place in the state. The capital and courts were a colorful mixture of Turks, Greeks, Slavs, Albanians, Armenians, Roma, Caucasians, etc. The music of the courts mirrored this mélange. In our workshop we will explore the rhythms Çiftetelli, 9/8, 10/8 Sama'i, as well as 7/8. This workshop gives the student and idea of what dance could have been like in the courts of Istanbul at the end of the 19th century.

Spoon Dances from Selifke, Southwest Turkey

Southwestern Turkey is a region known for its spoon dances Kaşık Oyunları. Especially famous are the spoon dances from the region of Selifke on the Mediterranean. The dance Türkmen Kızı demonstrates the everyday work of a Turkish woman: milking, making butter, and kneading bread. The dances Salama and Keklik (partridge) are accompanied by the rhythmic patterns of four wooden spoons Kaşık that are played with the hands while dancing. The students should bring spoons if they have them.

BACK TO TOP

Women's Dances of Armenia

The women's dances of the Caucuses are sometimes sad, sometimes fiery, but always lyrical and express the natural pride of Caucasian women. The dancers exhibit a queenly carriage yet dance with demure shyness. Wonderful hand and arm movements ornament this dance and intensify the atmosphere of melancholy and longing, while the feet of the dancers make tiny little steps under floor length skirts, which create the illusion that the dancer is floating across the floor. Armenia was the first Christian state (314 AD) and encompassed a large portion of eastern Anatolia. Due to forced deportations and genocide in 1915, the Armenians disappeared almost completely out of present day Turkey. Armenia today consists of only a small part of its previous territory. Armenian dances are often melancholy and full of longing; perhaps this mirrors the tragic history of the country. In this workshop we will learn line and solo dances.

BACK TO TOP

Women's Dances of Georgia

The dances of Georgia reflect the feudal history and knightly behavior of the population. Men's dances are extremely macho (they leap onto their knees, dance on the knuckles of their toes, toss knives, etc), while the women remain calm with a queenly, proud posture. Under their floor length skirts they dance with tiny steps, which create the illusion that the dancers are floating over the floor, while they move their arms in graceful patterns.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of Azerbijdzan

Azerbajdzan was once one of the Soviet Caucasian republics. Today it is an autonomous state, which has drawn international attention due to its rich oil reserves. A large number of Azeris also live in northwestern Iran in the region of the city Tabriz. The women's dances of the Caucuses are characterized by lovely hand and arm gestures and often by tiny steps, which danced under a floor length skirt, create the illusion that the dancer is floating. The dances -- sometimes sad, sometimes fiery -- are always lyrical and express the natural pride of the Azeri women. The solo and group dances were originally simple dances, danced at weddings and other festivities. In the ex Soviet Union they were developed into artistic stage dances.

BACK TO TOP

Women's Dances of the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and/or Georgia

This workshop provides an overview of the dances of the various Caucasian peoples.

BACK TO TOP

The Folkdances of Iran

This workshop provides an introduction to several folkdances from Iran, for example:

Gilaki: Gilan is a region in northern Iran on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. The mountains, which thrust upwards directly behind the coast, cut off this subtropical region from the dry, high plateaus of central Iran. Due to profuse precipitation, Gilan is a swampy region, in which the houses are built on stilts and the roads on dikes. Wheat, and an especially fragrant rice are cultivated here. This plays and important role in the dancing: sowing, harvesting, winnowing and gleaning of the grain are represented through pantomime. Students should bring a small tray.

Bandari: The population on the Persian Gulf lived originally from fishing and pearl diving. Because ofits location on the Gulf, the costumes, music and dance etc., are influenced by many elements: next toIranian influences, we find Arabic, Indian and also African elements. Dancing is accompaniedby bagpipes and hand clapping.

Qashqa'i: The Qashqa'iare a nomadic, Turkic people who wander in the southern Iranian province of Fars, near the city of Shiraz. They are well known in the West because of the very popular Gabeh carpets that they weave. The women wear incredibly colorful glittery clothes, with many full skirts one on top of the other, even to perform everyday tasks such as herding goats, milking, cooking and weaving. The dance music is played by a shrill double reed instrument Sorna and a small double drum played with sticks. The dance Raqs-e Dastmal is characterized by the waving of colorful scarves. Students should bring twosmall scarves.

BACK TO TOP

Kereshme Classical Persian Dance
of the Qajar-Dynasty

These dances belong to an urban genre called Kereshme. The words Kereshme and Naz mean "flirting" or "coquettishness" and express what is probably the most important characteristic for the urban social dances of Iran. Facial expressions, pantomime, exquisite movement of the hands and round movements of the hips, shoulders and arms play an important role. This workshop gives a glimpse into the atmosphere of courtly entertainment in the 19th century.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of Turkmenistan

The Turkmen are originally a nomadic people, who wandered through the regions of northeastern Iran, northwestern Afghanistan and the ex-Soviet republic of Turkmenistan. Today this ex-Soviet Republic is an independent state. Because of the nomadic lifestyle, the Turkmen developed a staged dance culture only under the influence of Soviet cultural programs. This dance form was created analogously with other Soviet dance styles.

BACK TO TOP

Uzbek Dance Ferghana Style

Uzbekistan is a former Soviet republic, which is now an independent state. Strategically located on the Silk Route, the khanates of Samarkand, Bokhara and Khiva were the cultural center of the world while Europe still lay in the "darkness" of the Middle Ages. Avicenna, the father of modern medicine, came from Uzbekistan. The mathematical term "Algorism" is named for the Uzbek scholar Al-Khorezmi (from Khorezem) . There are three main styles of Uzbek dance. In this workshop we will learn the lyrical style from the eastern valley of Ferghana with its typical spins, artful hand gestures and coy facial expressions. We will also learn about the costume made from the precious khan-atlas silk (ikat).

BACK TO TOP

Uzbek Dance: Khoresmi Style

Uzbekistan is a former Soviet republic, which is now an independent state. Strategically located on the Silk Route, the khanates of Samarkand, Bokhara and Khiva were the cultural center of the world while Europe still lay in the "darkness" of the Middle Ages. Avicenna, the father of modern medicine, came from Uzbekistan. There are three main styles of Uzbek dance. In this workshop we will learn the livelily dance from Khorezem, the region of the city of Khiva south of the Aral Sea. This region is famous among other things because the Uzbek scholar Al-Khorezmi (from Khorezem) for whom the mathematical term "Algorism" is named, came from here. We will learn the dance Lyazgi with its characteristic fluttery hand movements and dance figures, which resemble the movements of birds and animals.

BACK TO TOP

Usbekischer Tanz: Bokhara Stil

Uzbekistan is a former Soviet republic, which is now an independent state. Strategically located on the Silk Route, the khanates of Samarkand, Bokhara and Khiva were the cultural center of the world while Europe still lay in the "darkness" of the Middle Ages. Avicenna, the father of modern medicine, came from Uzbekistan. There are three main styles of Uzbek dance. In this workshop we will learn the dynamic, dramatic and virtuosic style from the courts of Bokhara.

BACK TO TOP


Dances from Tadjikistan

Tadjikistan is situated in central Asia and is an ex-Soviet republic which is now an independent state. Tadjikistan borders on Afghanistan, China, Uzbekistan and Kirghizistan. Although the Tadjiks speak an Iranian language, their dances have many similarities with the dances of the neighboring Turkic speaking Uzbeks. Expressive faces, beautiful hand movements, lyrical body movements and dizzying spins characterize the dances of Central Asia. The costumes -- whether made from Khan-Atlas silk (Ikat) or richly embroidered -- mirror Central Asia's important location on the ancient Silk Route. We will also learn a dance with wooden spoons. The students should bring 4 Russian painted spoons if they have them.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of the Silk Route

This workshop provides an overview of the different dance styles of Central Asia: Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and Afghanistan.

BACK TO TOP

Afghani Dance Logari

While the Taliban were in power no one in Afghanistan was allowed to dance, neither men nor women, neither in public nor in private. This had not always been the case. Women didn't dance in public but in private they enjoyed singing and dancing. Dancing boys performed for the eyes of men, in the Chaikhana (tea house) as well as at festivals and weddings. Very famous were the dancers from the Logar Valley south of Kabul. These Pashtun dancers managed to be both shy and coquettish and could freeze with bravado at the dramatic stops in the 7/8 music.

BACK TO TOP

Dances of the Sapera, Rajastan

Rajastan, the "Land of Kings" in northern India, is a Region with agricultural fields in the east and the Thar Desert in the west. Folk musicians, dancers and entertainers live mainly as nomads and herders. Strictly speaking the Langa, Manganizar, Dholie, Dhadir and Sapera are not gypsies, but they have a similar position in society as the Roma, Sinti or Nawar and live in the original homeland of the Gypsies. In this workshop we will learn the dance style of the Sapera, a caste that is closely associated with snake charmers. This is reflected in the dance, for example with the use of the Mudra (hand gesture) Sharpa Shisha (snake head). Dancers should bring Gungaroo (ankle bells) if they have them.

BACK TO TOP

Kathak, the Classical Dance of North India

(Live-Tabla-accompaniment possible)
Kathak is a classical Indian dance form, which developed as entertainment in the courts of the Mogul Dynasty of northern India. Especially interesting in this style is the melting of Hindu and Muslim elements. The origins of Kathak lie in the performances of traveling bards, the so-called Kathakas or "story tellers." In the courts the art of the Kathakas was patronized and developed. Today pantomime, virtuosic spins, expressive mimicry and very fast, rhythmic footwork characterize the dance. The students should bring gungaroo (ankle bells) if they have them. Kathak is danced both by men and women.

BACK TO TOP

Irregular Rhythms in the Balkans and the Orient -- with Bruno Aßenmacher, Percussionist --

This workshop is an introduction into the exciting world of irregular rhythms: 5/8, 7/8, 9/8, 10/8 and 11/8. What that means and how one plays and dances to these rhythms will be demonstrated by Helene and Bruno using interesting exercises and music and dance examples from Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Tadjikistan, Afghanistan and India.

BACK TO TOP

Kabyle Berbers of Algeria

Contact Helene for more information.

BACK TO TOP

Andalusian

Contact Helene for more information.

BACK TO TOP

Rhythms: Explore 9/8s and/or other rhythms

Contact Helene for more information.

BACK TO TOP