Ladies and gentlemen, under the heading of “Never Say Never”, I would like to introduce GoLive! An Arab Music and Dance Conference hosted by yours truly – in partnership with some esteemed colleagues - coming up in October of this year.
I can’t help but reflect on how I got here. I’ll spare you the full story; although, as usual, I’m going to tell a part of it. 😊
How many workshop sponsors over the years have asked me to host an event for someone they were bringing in from overseas? How many dance instructors have asked me to host them in a multi-day teaching event?
“No. I don’t do that.” was always the response.
I have participated in those events as a student (for the last 50 years) and as an instructor (for the last 30 years). They look like a lot of work. A LOT OF WORK. And sometimes a lot of work for a financial loss and and/or doubts about whether or not anyone really appreciated all of the effort. No way! No thanks! No. I don’t do that.
And then there’s that thing that makes you reconsider.
For me, that thing was a strong focus on live music - which led to finding Michael Ibrahim - which led to finding the National Arab Orchestra (NAO) – which is continuing to lead to so much more, but let’s stop there for now.
In October of 2021, I had 22 musicians in town for the 25th GBDAC (Give Belly Dance a Chance) – my studio’s annual showcase. OK, wait. Not JUST 22 musicians. TWENTY-TWO of the most accomplished Arab musicians in (at least) this country: The Ghafour Brothers Band from Houston – the BEST night club band in the country - a band with whom I have worked for over 3 decades, Georges Lammam – with whom I also go back a few decades, of course Michael Ibrahim and several musicians from the NAO – and more! I mean, if you are going to have 22 accomplished musicians in one place for a few days, you should do more than just have a studio showcase, right? Yep. That’s what I thought.
So as I was planning it, I decided to ask some dance colleagues about who might be a good guest dancer to invite. Michael and I had discussed an idea. I wanted to test it. I wanted someone who had the kind of experience that it takes to teach a workshop around the idea of “live music”. (Other than me. Ha ha.) ‘Leila Farid’ was the only name mentioned more than once. I had never met her; but I know her now!!! She was FANTASTIC at last year’s event and will be returning in October 2022. That experience in October 2021 solidified the concept of “GoLive!”.
Go Live! These days, it’s come to mean “that thing we do when we punch the button to start the online streaming of something so that those who are far away can participate too” – thereby maximizing the impact. It’s how we enormousize (Is that a word? Should be.) the small. It’s how we experience a more immediate benefit. When a social media platform tells me that “so-and-so is live”, I MUST look - even if I really don’t know so-and-so very well - because I feel like something important is happening!
Going live almost never goes as planned. Have you noticed? LOL. The number of variables that can affect the outcome seems endless: wifi connections, bandwidth, number of people using the wifi, software considerations, logistics of the event, microphone placement, speaker placement, camera placement, and then all of that again on the audience’s end. We “go live” for a lot of events at Karavan Studio. I’ve learned. Be ready for anything! Fix mistakes quickly but smoothly. Get what you can out of the experience. Learn something new. And then be more confident and better prepared next time.
Hmmm. Maximized impact. Emormousification (which should also be a word). More immediate benefits. Something important is happening. Be ready for anything - then be better next time. Interesting… this is also what happens when dancers improvise to live music and use the experience as a learning tool.
Ironically, the phrase “Go Live” also represents some of the farthest reaches of our digital world; the same digital world that has drawn us dancers AWAY from live music. But after ten years of my Project Band Curriculum and two years of social distance, online events, and badly buffered streaming, I believe it’s time. Time to go big! Time to GoLive!
Here’s what I know at every level of my existence: There is literally NOTHING that will inspire, advance, develop, challenge, and liberate a dancer faster and with more lasting impact than 1) taking the time to dig into professional live music , and 2) purposely exploring their relationship to it as it is created.
Everything at the GoLive! conference will have a live music component. All classes. All shows. All performances in all shows. Everything.
We, the lucky ones at Karavan Studio in San Antonio Texas who had 22 musicians in our shows - and will be doing it again - want the chance to better absorb the content and benefits of that weekend. We also want to share the opportunity.
The details are filling in as you read! Click on "GoLive!" to get on the list to be one of the first to know them.
Don’t miss out!
And don’t ever say ‘never’.