Category Archives: Arabian Nights Entertainment

Whirling Dervishes and Tanoura Dancers

Meditation and Entertainment 

The original Whirling Dervish dance was – and is – a dance mediation. However, the whirling dance has long been adapted for entertainment as well, with the performers using multicolored, multilayered, skirts that are manipulated to create optical illusions rather than spiritual enlightenment.

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The whirling dance performed for entertainment is called TANOURA. It evolved from the dance meditation that migrated to Egypt with the Sufi Almoez Ledun Ellah Alfatime. Theatrical versions of the Sufi dance began to appear in Egypt in the late 19th century. The best dancers use more than one skirt, separating and combining them while twirling for hypnotic optical illusions.

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While a tanoura dancer whirls, s/he may play large sagat (TOURA) or a frame drum.

Mohamed Shahin: Whirling dervish, or ‘raqis tanoura’ in Arabic (literally translated as ‘skirt dance’) is the traditional dance of the Sufis, and has its origins in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It started as an alternative form of worship within Islam, and is performed as a way of inducing an intense personal communion with the divine, of inducing ecstasy.

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Sufi practitioners of the dance wear long white kaftans, fez-like hats, and a heavy white skirt traditionally made of wool, in which they spin for hours around a fixed imaginary point. With his circular motion and accompanying hand gestures, the Sufi dancer engages in a sort of physical prayer, whereby he emits a huge bout of energy to the heavens. Sufi dancing is usually done in groups, with one man in the middle whirling, while the other practitioners dance around him in a circle. It is as if the dervish were the sun, and the dancers revolving around him, the stars.

The Egyptian tanoura dance is similar to the one practiced in Turkey in all but dress. Primarily performed for theatrical rather than spiritual reasons, Egyptian dervishes wear ornate and colorful skirts and incorporate the use of accessories to demonstrate the difficulty of the dance and the dancer’s skill.

From article written by Maura Enright, BABA YAGA Newsletter 

See A Live Tanoura Performance By Mohamed Shahin Here

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The 13th-century Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi (Mevlâna) is all but considered a saint. One of the world’s great mystic philosophers, his poetry and religious writings are among the most beloved and respected in Islam and well beyond.

In a time of increasing tension in the region the festival is a beacon of hope for culture and freedom. Rumi was a scholar, who taught peace, love and tolerance, and eventually gained a large following.

Only a few hundred miles from the borders of war-torn Syria, the festival in the Anatolian city of Konya brings together over a million people from all over the world to celebrate Rumi’s work, his life and ultimately his death – also known as his union with god. The day of his death is referred to as his wedding night.

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Whirling dervishes at the Rumi Festival in Konya.

Since the death of Jalaluddin Rumi in 1273, the Mevlevi order has commemorated his life. Kashfi Halford captures the celebrations and performances all over the Turkish city during the 10-day festival.

Sema is the inspiration of Rumi as well as a part of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture. The Sema ceremony represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection.

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Article and photos by Kashfi Halford and Matt Fidler, The Guardian

 

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Filed under Arabian Nights Entertainment, Whirling Dervish

A Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream Part III

Part III: MoRock ‘N’ Roll the Night Away

 This is the third part of a three-part series offering inspiration and helpful tips for hosting a Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream event.

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Belly Dancers and Moroccan Musicians

 Entertaining Your Guests

 If you are hosting a Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream party, entertainment should be an important part of the event. Belly dancers accompanied by musicians are some of the most popular forms of entertainment at Moroccan themed events and will truly amaze guests. For a sneak peak at exciting performances, view our Moroccan entertainment video on YouTube.

 Dancing with fire is another type of Moroccan dance and entertainment that will undoubtedly impress your party guests. Fire dancers truly bring that ‘wow factor’ to every event.

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Hookah Lounge

 A hookah is a single or multi-hosed water pipe for vaporizing and/or smoking flavored tobacco called Shisha (Shisha is available with or without nicotine in it). The smoke is passed through the water basin before inhalation. Hookah tents and lounges at parties are a very popular way to guarantee a unique and exotic party.

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For information on how to prepare a Hookah, you can view a how-to video on YouTube.

Invite Snake Charmers

A sure way to attract the attention of the crowd is by introducing a snake charmer at your event. Snake charmers are intriguing Moroccan entertainers who spark interest and enthusiasm at every event. These performers only work with friendly, non-venomous snakes that are used to being handled at parties. To learn more about having snakes or other animals at your party, read Zohar Productions’ blog on hiring exotic animals for your special event.

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Snake charmers provide a wonderful photo opportunity for party guests.

Read all the articles in our three-part series guide to hosting a Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream party, so that planning your next event will be a breeze. Enjoy your themed party and MoRock ‘N’ Roll the Night Away!

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Filed under Arabian Nights Entertainment, Belly Dancing, Hookah, Party Planning

A Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream Part II

Zohar Productions, A Nationally Acclaimed Event Planning Company, Shares
Their Expertise on
How to Plan Your Own Moroccan or Arabian Nights
Themed Party This Summer.
This is part two in a three-part series. 

Part II: Simply Savory Party Delights 

Your guests will be eager to try unique party dishes of Moroccan Cuisine.
After all, what’s a party without spice?

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A Traditional Dish

A popular Moroccan dish, known as Couscous, is a traditional Berber dish made of semolina. Today, couscous is usually served with meat and vegetable stew, but can also be eaten alone. On House and Garden’s website, you can find fourteen unique couscous recipes to prepare for your Moroccan Midsummer Night’s event.

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Let’s Get Cookin’

Featured below is a simple yet flavorful dish from Food and Wine Recipes that is perfect to serve at any summer get-together.

Moroccan Chicken and Potato Salad with Olives

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  • ACTIVE:10 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME:35 MIN
  • SERVINGS:4

A savory lemon dressing with cumin, paprika, ginger, and oregano gives this salad an exotic flavor.

  1. 1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 5)
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  3. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  4. 1 teaspoon paprika
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. Fresh-ground black pepper
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  8. 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  9. 7 tablespoons olive oil
  10. 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3)
  11. 1/2 red onion, chopped fine
  12. 1/3 cup black olives, such as Kalamata, halved and pitted
  13. 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan with salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cumin, paprika, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the ginger, and the oregano. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the oil.
  3. Heat a grill pan or a heavy frying pan over moderate heat. For the grill pan, coat the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes. Turn and cook until browned and just done, about 4 minutes longer. Remove, and when cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into small pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the warm potatoes with half of the dressing. Add the chicken, onion, olives, parsley, and the remaining dressing and toss.

Next up: Finally, in part three, view unique performance acts that will inspire and guide your entertainment plans for your Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream party.

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Filed under Arabian Nights Entertainment, Moroccan cuisine, Party Planning

A Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream Part I

Zohar Productions, A Nationally Acclaimed Event Planning Company,
Shares Their Expertise on How to Plan Your Own Moroccan or Arabian Nights
Themed Party This Summer.
This is part one in a three-part series.

Part I: Setting the Scene

Hosting a summer barbecue or pool party is fun for us all; however, coming up with an exciting theme party idea will surprise and delight your guests. Choosing an unusual theme, such as a Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a refreshing change from your typical summer affair, and the first step to planning your Moroccan-themed event is to set the scene.

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 Important Elements to Consider When Setting the Scene

Location and décor are the two most important elements to consider when setting the scene for your Moroccan event. Once you have decided upon the ideal location for your party, such as a hotel, restaurant, or even your own home, transforming this venue with décor can be a trying task. Thankfully, do-it-yourself décor is a simple and inexpensive decorating option that will set the theme for your Moroccan Midsummer Night’s party.

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Create a Moroccan Vibe with Themed Décor

 Incorporating leather poufs and low couches for seating will create a truly Moroccan vibe at your event. Some of the best ways to decorate for a Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream theme include: bringing in bright and colorful pillows, adding low tables covered with Moroccan linens and floral or lantern centerpieces, draping the ceiling and walls, and hanging lanterns.

Embellishing on-hand furniture, such as setting out brass trays on low tables, is a budget-wise and resourceful way to introduce Moroccan décor at your venue. For even more Moroccan decorating tips check out a Moroccan Decor Pinterest Board.

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Next up: Part two of the three-part series will leave your mouth watering after reading the recipes and viewing the pictures of delicious Moroccan cuisine. In part three, prepare to be entertained by Arabian-style performances that could be featured at your Moroccan Midsummer Night’s Dream party.

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Filed under Arabian Nights Entertainment, Moroccan cuisine, Moroccan Decor, Party Planning

Hookah Party Ideas

Hookah Resist…!

The practice of smoking hookah originated in ancient India. It was not only a custom, but also a matter of prestige. The rich and landed classes would gather around to smoke hookah and socialize. Centuries later, hookah has become quite popular in the United States and elsewhere as an exotic and popular focal point at parties. Pictured below are tented hookah lounges provided at parties produced by Zohar Productions.

Hookah Lounge

Hookah Pipes

Hookah or Shisha is a hookah pipe with a long, flexible tube that draws the smoke through water contained in a bowl.  A person sucks on the end of the pipe and smoke is carried through the tube to the person’s mouth.

Tented Hookah Lounge, lady smoking hookah in a tent

In India and Pakistan, the name most similar to the English  hookah is huqqa. Depending on locality, hookahs are referred to by many names, Narghilè is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Greece, and Turkey. Narghile derives from the Persian word nārgil (meaning coconut, and in turn from the Sanskrit nārikela suggesting that early hookahs were hewn from coconut shells. Shisha from the Persian word shīshe meaning glass, is the common term for the hookah in Egypt and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf (including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia), and in Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen.

The origins of the hookah began nearly 10,000 years ago in the northwestern provinces of India along the border of Pakistan in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The first hookahs were simple and primitive in design and did not look like the hookahs that are seen today.

Persian, hookah

When the hookah made its way to Turkey almost 500 years ago, it entered the upper class and became popular among intellectuals. Here, the hookah grew in size and complexity, becoming more similar to designs that are seen today.

Hookah came into Western culture when Lewis Carroll first wrote about a hookah-smoking caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865. After the book was published, hookah lounges sprang up in England and America, where today it is still popular to imitate the caterpillar by blowing rings and bubbles with colorful smoke. Hookah tents at parties are also very popular and are a great way to guarantee a unique and exotic party.

Caterpillar smoking hookah

Sweet scented tobacco is smoked in the hookah and comes in a variety of flavors. Some of the flavors are based on flowers such as rose and jasmine. Others flavors are derived from fruits like apple, mango and strawberry. There are also flavors such as chocolate, coffee, licorice, and even cotton candy! It is important to be creative in combining flavors in order to create a rich and complex blend.

Even though many centuries have passed since the hookah was invented, its  popularity remains, and it still bringing people together to socialize and celebrate special moments.

Hookah lounges at parties are available by contacting Zohar Productions at 800-658-0258 or info@zoharproduction.com. We have locations in NYC, LA, Miami, and Phoenix. Visit  www.zoharproductions.com  for additional information.

Watch this video to learn how to set-up a hookah:

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June 21, 2013 · 6:56 pm

Men’s Dances of the Middle East

When picturing a Middle Eastern dancer, most of us have some image of an enchanting, bare midriff woman shimmying with a coin scarf around her hips.  While this stereotype may be true of many of today’s belly dancers, men have been publicly performing a variety of folkloric dance styles for centuries. Some of the most popular folkloric styles of dance are Raqs Sharqi, Whirling Dervish, Debke, and the Cane or Stick Dance.

Belly dancing, also known as Oriental Dance or Raqs Sharqi is a theatrical adaptation of traditional Arabic folk dances performed by both men and women. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that it became an exclusively female dance for men. Prior to the period of European influence [late 1800’s], male oriental dancers were not novelties; they were quite common.

Male oriental dancers wear colorfully embroidered vests, shirts, and loose fitting pants. They also wear scarves around their hips, not only for style, but also to emphasize the visibility of their intricate hip movements.  Audiences are pleasantly surprised by their ability to control their bodies as they shimmy and undulate, much like their female counterparts, but from a masculine point of view. This oriental dancer is balancing a 3’ tall hookah on his head at the same time as dancing and playing finger cymbals to exemplify his high level of skill.

The Stick or Cane dance, known as Tahtib, is an Egyptian folk dance. This dance involves a lightweight stick or cane that’s typically about 4’ long. Some say this dance is similar to fencing because the dancers use the canes to depict a strategic fighting routine.

Stick and Cane dancing has been featured at many events booked through Zohar Productions including a media event debuting the Trump Organization’s joint real estate venture with Nakheel, a Dubai luxury hotel developer. Below are the dancers posing with Donald Trump, Jr.

Zohar also provided a cane dance performance for an event inaugurating Qatar Airline’s new airline route to Dallas International Airport.

The Whirling Dervish dance is a Sufi dance originating in Turkey. Traditionally, it is performed at a customary worship ceremony where the dancers dress in an all white costume with a tall hat. The spinning of the dervishes symbolizes the journey to reach the source of all perfection.

The Egyptian style of this dance, Tanoura, is a popular form of entertainment at parties. Tanoura dancers wear multiple layers of colorful skirts, mesmerizing the audience as they spin and dance to the music. Zohar Productions provides the Whirling Dervish dance at parties and festivals across the United States.

Debke is a popular Arabic folk dance in several countries including Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Debke performers, dance in a line holding hands or linking arms. When the music begins, they are led by what is called a raas or a lawweeh in a dance of synchronized steps. Debke is traditionally performed at weddings and other festive celebrations where guests can join in on the celebratory dance. The Al-Arz Lebanese Art Group is a Canadian troupe that performs and teaches Debke, as well as other dance styles including Oriental Dance and Zaffé (traditional bride and groom entrance). Zohar booked this talented troupe for the opening night of the U.S. tour of the Jordanian Petra Exhibition, which was underwritten and sponsored by the Queen of Jordan.

Zohar Productions also offers ballroom dancers as party facilitators to dance with the female guests. This “Persian Prince” was a popular party addition at the Arizona Symphony Ball.

Zohar Productions is an event planning company that specializes in Middle Eastern entertainment and authentic decorations for Arabian Nights and Moroccan themed events. Zohar Productions can supply any of the entertainment featured in this blog at your next social or corporate event.  Call 800-658-0258 or visit http://www.zoharproductions.com for more information.

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June 28, 2012 · 11:16 pm