Literally meaning "Stomp" in Arabic, Dabke (also spelled Dabka, Dubki, Dabkeh, plural Dabkaat) is a group dance found in the Eastern Arab countries. Performed mostly as a unisex line dance, Dabke is avidly done at the weddings and parties of Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian communities. A version can also be found in Iraq, known as Chobie. The movements include rhythmic stomping, kicking, sidewards walking, hoping and jumping. In social settings the dancers hold hands and form long moving lines or wide rotating circles. There are also many stage performances and musical theater shows that feature Dabke dances. You may also find Dabke used as a form of non-violent social protest during war and conflicts. But it is primarily a proud and energetic group line dance enjoyed by all ages and both genders.


The southern half of Egypt, know as Upper Egypt due to its higher altitude, is called "al-Sa'id" in Arabic (pronounced iSa-yeed)". The Saidi people are famous for this semi-acrobatic stick dance called "Tahteeb" for men and "Raqs Assaya" for women. It is essentially a form of martial art where the manipulation of the stick and the demeanor of movement replicated a battle scene. The main motions with the stick include spinning, twirling, rowing, flipping and striking. Often two dancers will enact a friendly battle with synchronized sparing and coordinated strikes. But the essence of the Saidi dance is in its demeanor. The body moves heavily and confidently with a subtle pulse. Grace is more valued than aggression. This dance is done solo or in groups where the sticks are operated in unison, and men and/or women play together.


There are innumerable Muslims in the world who actively use movement, rhythm and chanting as an extension of prayer. Sufis (meaning "mystics" or also "those who wear wool", in Arabic) are Muslims who use artistic ritual to help reach a state of knowledge or trance. The goal is to have an active experience of God "Allah" or Peace "Salaam". The movements are primarily swaying, spinning, bobbing, turning and tossing. Sometimes the energy swells to a point of abandon and emotive release. The rhythm is essential in propelling the meditative motions. Drumming and Percussion are the main catalysts. The beat can also given by rhythmic chanting. These chants can be as simple as repeating the name of God "Allah" or as complex as a hymn or sung poem. Regardless of religious affiliation, the Sufi ceremony can be done by any group using unified movement, and lead by a strong rhythm that accelerates until it reaches an ecstatic climax.

Instructional DVD for Arab Folk Dance includes detailed steps, technique, history, and choreographies.
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Folk Dance is INCLUSIVE !! It is done by "the people" in ritual settings. It is more commonly enjoyed as play, rather than labored as performance. The gender differences are demphasized, and the dance is forgiving of all physical sizes and abilities. Therfore women and men, old and young, expert and amateur, foreign and native, can all play together.

KARIM NAGI, folkdancer and musician, presents these three Arab folk dances to young audiences, schools, community groups, and dance troupes. The lessons are designed to give a classes of 8 to 50 people the essential experiences of these ethnic group dances. Each class can be a concise 45-60 minute activity, or can be extended to train for performance level (including master classes and residencies). Karim gives cultural background, demonstrates the rhythms, teaches several steps and movements, and then leads in an enthusiastic group rendition. He uses live drumming to help lead the group, teach at progressive speeds, and to keep excitement and vigor. After training, authentic music recordings are played to help create the traditional folk dance experience. Karim has taught these dances to hundreds of elementary, middle and high schools in the USA, college master classes, Arab student associations, dance troops, and multitudes of dance professionals in the USA, Egypt, and the Far East.

These classes not only provide a traditional dance experience, they also help teach about Arab and Muslim culture, at a critical time in American political life. The Arab world is dehumanized by the media proccupation with only politics and conflicts. But dance is so uterly human, there is no way to dehumanize a dancing people. And the mythical "clash of civilizations" between the West and the Arab/Muslim world can be muted. When dancing these inclusive Arab folk dances, all sides will learn something joyous about the other.

To arrange a performance or workshop, please contact Karim at nagikarim(at)aol.com or call 617.924.7675

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