On Sunday 8th July 2018 it was the 28th edition of the Arab Quarterly, London's longest running live Arabic music and belly dancing stage show, at Hoxton Hall. It first began in June 2011 at the Royal Overseas League Hall under the direction of Melanie Norman and Hassan Mostafa. As the Arab Quarter state themselves, "it celebrates famous numbers from Um Kalsoum, Abdelhalim Hafez, Warda, Mohammed Abdelwahab and other classics as well as more popularised numbers of different styles. The emphasis is on a refined and yet fun presentation of Arabic dance as an art form in a theatrical setting".
The Arab Quarter musicians themselves are a little piece of Arabic musical heritage, with Emile Bassili, the violinist, having played with Egyptian legend Um Kalsoum, and the accordionist, El Gamal El Kordy, having played in the orchestra of celebrated Egyptian dancer Suheir Zaki. Hassan Mostafa, the singer and darbuka player, is a recording artist and toured with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant on their world tour. Last but not least, keyboardist George Dergham tour internationally and plays with renowned Arabic recording artists.
It was therefore my absolute pleasure to dance at this event. Here is a video capture from the audience; official footage to follow shortly.
You can find out more about the Arab Quarterly on their website at The Arab Quarter. Of special interest to dancers are the live music workshops, which lead to selection to perform at a future Arab Quarterly event.