Road Trip to Morocco

Morocco and Tarik of New York, that is

Tale of a Road Trip and a Weekend of Workshops and Shows

2003 Anthea Kawakib Poole
originally published in JAREEDA Magazine, July 2003

NOTE: this article includes quotes from several dancers, as marked.

A road trip with the gals should be on everyone's yearly to-do list! (But actually I'm looking forward to the day when carloads of MALE belly dancers start rolling up to workshops and shows...)

My dance friend Miramar (Winchester VA) and I took off for the coast to see the inimitable Morocco and Tarik on the last weekend in April. I'd been looking forward to this trip for several reasons: another chance to study with Morocco, who's always a blast; I'd never seen Tarik but had heard much good about him; my friend Janeeda, who was producing the event, wanted me to dance in the Saturday night show; and one of my students and I were doing a duet in the Friday night Hafla. This was an especial treat since she's moving to California and I thought it was a great way to cap our relationship.

Fitting our gear into Miramar's little car took some time (figure one dancer's luggage for 4 days and 3 nights, including two days workshops and two shows - times 2!!) - and the backseat was taken up with a box containing my huge pair of Wings (more on that later) but we managed to get it all aboard and squeezed into the front seat.

It's always fun going to Virginia Beach - it's a real party town with plenty of boardwalk and beachfront. But "work comes first" and we stayed in the next town over, nearer the event location. Our hotel room ("a quiet one, please" requested Miramar) fronted onto a lovely hidden courtyard graced by a huge magnolia tree - what a surprisingly pleasant view! With more dance friends next door and next door to that we were happy to settle in.

Miramar relates:
"I picked Kawakib up late Friday morning for our road trip to Virginia Beach to see Rocky, Tarik and Janeeda. Four days of adventure and some fun in the sun awaited us. Plus we could chat together in person and not on the phone or via internet as we most often do. Arriving early and beating the rush hour, we found our quiet hotel room inside the court yard of the Ramada. A little "kick back" time before the evening Hafla." 

The Friday night Hafla featured many of Janeeda's students, who all carry her signature creative spark - it was a joy to see good old-fashioned "traditional American belly dance". Miramar and her student Joanne performed a duet as well, another poignant experience since Joanne is also moving away. My own duet with Lynne went well, and we sat down to enjoy the rest of the show. "Poor" Lynne (her job with the FBI is always jet-setting her off somewhere) had to fly to Kuwait the next day so missed the rest of the weekend! What dedication to our Duet!

Early next day we set off to see Morocco!
Janeeda is well-known in VA Beach for her unusual and well-attended dance shows, and the Masonic Lodge invited her to produce a show in their theater - so the weekend's events were held in their large auditorium. There was plenty of space for vendors and the large workshop turnout, surrounded on three sides by tiered seating. If one had to sit out for a while, it was still easy to watch and take notes.

Morocco taught two choreographies over the weekend, managing to finish both - always a plus. Her style is earthy, authentic and challenging - and watching her non-stop stamina is inspiring! Miramar says, "The workshops (were) true 'army boot-camp workouts' in the Rocky tradition." 

Tarik taught a fast-paced pop choreography over the two days. The choreography notes and the music were available too, which is SO convenient and thoughtful! Our only complaint was the concrete floor - we both wore dance shoes with support (I actually wore jazz sneakers) to minimize the effects from the unforgiving surface.

Since I was backstage during most of Saturday's show I missed the full effect but what I did see was amazing. The dances all interpreted the Elements - earth, air, fire, water, and ether (spirit).

Miramar relates:
"The show was incredible and lovely - a true fairy tale and Janeeda is to be commended for pulling together a variety of teachers and dancers and producing an outstanding theater show. Kawakib, as always - was an enchanting and graceful dancer." 

From the Program: the theme was "'loosely' based on the concept of Ritual practiced during the renaissance period of the middle ages, ritual that fostered respect and reverence for "Mother Earth". The dances, performed by soloists and groups, were set against the Masonic Temple's fantasy landscape backdrop and stage set. Fairies, snow queens, druids, fire dancers, and more followed Morocco's opening Guedra.

And what about those Wings? I wore them to portray the Etheric Air Goddess, who brings energies of Unconditional Love into this realm for grounding - amid a stage peopled by adorable little fairies!

After partaking of a Dessert Bar during Intermission, the 2nd Act culminated with performances by Tarik, Morocco, and their Duet. Miramar comments: "I think Morocco's dancing was the most beautiful I have ever seen her do - she amazed us all with her stage presence and stamina. Tarik was as enthralling as ever - his tray dancing is truly marvelous to behold!"

I got to watch from behind the side curtain, close enough to feel their incredible energy (after a long day's workshop!) and catch every nuance of their moves. Their shining professionalism and sheer enjoyment while dancing made a profound impression on me. To me, the "ultimate dancer" is one who can actually share his or her joy of dancing with the audience rather than simply impress everyone with technical expertise. Beyond technique, it's what's in a dancer's Heart that really takes dance "to the next level".

I was also close enough to fully appreciate many moments of "smooth spontaneity" between Morocco and Tarik, and witness their evident pleasure at dancing together in seemingly-effortless synchronicity. In short, it was a treat!

Janeeda closed the show by introducing all the dancers, and reiterating her premise that "the Performing Arts bridges the gulf between cultures and brings joy into the world."   

Up early again on Sunday to learn another dance piece from Morocco and finish Tarik's choreography.

I'd bruised my foot on a cable backstage the night before, so used the workshop time to take notes on many new combinations and steps since I could easily see from my vantage point in the bleacher seats.

Our brains were pretty full by the end of the second day's classes. Three of Miramar's students who had driven down to attend the workshop, found a simple way to cement the last number in their heads - practice in the parking lot! Susan relates: "Sunday, after Tarik had finished going over the choreography to the Hakim song, Joanne, Dawn and I were trying to get it fixed in our minds. When we got back to the motel, we parked in the shade, as far back as we could out of the way of the rooms, and compared our notes. I have the CD, but the only way to listen to it is through the car stereo system, so we opened the car doors, turned up the volume and ran through the choreography a few times in the parking lot, much to the amusement (bemusement?) of some of the other guests who happened to see us."

I wish I had a photo of that!

Miramar, her students, and I all stayed an extra night to relax and enjoy strolling around Virginia Beach and resting our tired muscles before we headed back to our country homes, energized and renewed.

Photos from the weekend's activites (in Happenings 2003)