TORKOMADA is a not-for-profit organization that envisions the indigenous and folk dances of the Middle East and North Africa as an important, but neglected diplomatic tool in cultural diplomacy, especially in U.S.-Middle East relations. In 2016, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the NY State Council on the Arts awarded TORKOMADA the Creative Engagement grant to host its first Middle Eastern and North African Dance Festival in NYC-RAQS WITHOUT BORDERS. Its mission is to save the traditional dances of the Middle East from extinction, most importantly, Raqs Sharqi, an Egyptian dance. The President-Torkom Movsesiyan, created the festival not only to strengthen and empower the Middle Eastern dance community in NYC, but also to foster a mutual understanding between the Middle East and the West. From 08/31/2017-09/03/2017 NYC will become the epicenter of cultural diplomacy through Raqs Without Borders dance festival. The festival will kick off with an opening gala show on 08/31/2017 at 7:30pm at the Univesity Settlement Thater in NYC. All participants will be able to register online and pay a fee for either a VIP package that gives them access to workshops, gala show, competition, lecture-demonstration and certificate of completion, or an individual workshop of their choice. Each day there will be different dance workshops at the American Center for Alexander Technique, Union Square with seven master instructors teaching various dance styles and choreographies. Each choreography, will demonstrate aspects of the lives of people from the Middle East where the dances originated; for example, raqs sharqi, a cane dance, finger cymbals, shaabi, Saidi, baladi, and drum solo.
On day one, 08/24/17, from 7:30pm-10:30pm the event will commence with a gala show and intermission with seven master instructors, 18 guest performers, and a live band of three Egyptian musicians (Mohamed Nabawy, Maurice Chabad, and Ramy Nasser), presenting a variety of folkloric dances, including an award ceremony to honor pioneers in the field of Middle Eastern dance at the University Settlement. On day two, 08/25/17, from 9am-10am event registration will begin. A native Egyptian instructor, Ahmed Hussien will teach a baladi workshop from Upper Egypt with traditional Egyptian music and choreography from 10:00pm-1:00pm. Lunch break from 1-2pm. From 2-4pm, Shehrezad will teach an Egyptian drum solo choreography. Break from 4-4:30pm. Jacques Al-Asmar will teach an Egyptian shaabi choreography from 4:30pm-6:30pm. Break from 6:30-7:30pm. From 7:30-10:00pm, competition participants will demonstrate their skills in front of a panel of distinguished pioneers of Middle Eastern dance. The winner will be announced after the competition and proclaimed Queen of Raqs Sharqi with a certificate. On day three, 08/26/17, from 11pm-2pm, Nany of Egypt will teach classical Egyptian choreography with classical Egyptian music. Lunch break from 2-3pm. From 3:00-5:00pm, Torkom Movsesiyan will teach a finger cymbal workshop with various Egyptian rhythms and drills. Break from 5-5:30pm. From 5:30-6:30pm, Torkom Movsesiyan will present a lecture-demonstration on the traditional dances of the Middle East with a Q&A. On day four, 08/27/17, from 11-1pm, Habiba will teach a Tunisian dance with traditional Tunisian music. Lunch break from 1-2pm. Torkom Movsesiyan will teach an Egyptian cane dance choreography, Raqs AlAssaya, from 2-4pm. Break from 4-4:30pm. Uza will teach a traditional Iraqi dance choreography from 4:30-6:30pm with a classical Iraqi music. Break form 6:30-7pm. From 7-8pm, TORKOMADA will congratulate all participants and present them with certificates during a closing gala show at the University Settlement Theater. The festival is open to everyone. To register, please visit www.torkomada.weebly.com