Arab Dance Night brings community and celebration

Mike Brown

Iowa State’s first annual Arab Dance Night was a night of community and a celebration of Arab art from the cultures of multiple different Arab countries.

From 6 to 10 p.m. on April 25 in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union, with a $3 entrance fee, students had the opportunity to relax, dance and receive henna tattoos at either $1 or $2, depending on the size of the design.

Members of the Arab Students Association (ASA) took the stage to teach attendees four different styles of dabke dancing. Dabke is a dance originating from the Levant region and combines circle dancing and line dancing.

The styles of dabke performed at Arab Dance Night were Jordanian, Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi styles of dabke. ASA members also came off the stage and danced along with the audience. In addition to dabke there was khaleeji dancing, a dance from the gulf region; Egyptian dance and Algerian dance.

Audience members were also invited to wear coin belts and other costuming provided by ASA at the event.

One of the members of the Arab dance troupe that performed Iowa State’s first annual Arabic Night in 2017 also made a return to Iowa State’s campus for the event.

She performed a variety of different styles of belly dance, explaining the variety and diversity among the different styles of belly dance across Arabic Culture.

The dancer explained, across the Middle East, each style of belly dance has its own flavor, costuming and music to accompany the performance.

The crowd was also invited to learn basic components to belly dancing, focusing mostly on learning some basic arm movements involved in the Persian Gulf style of belly dance.

The event drew attendees from both the Iowa State community and the Arab community surrounding Ames.

Maab Salim, freshman at Ames High School whose father is a graduate student at Iowa State, talked about her favorite dances she participated in at the event.

Salim said her favorite dance of the night was the dabke, specifically the Jordanian style, as she enjoys the speed of the dance and the large amount of stomps and kicks involved.

Emily Bannantine, senior in political science and international studies, enjoyed the performance portion of the event.

Bannantine also talked about her experience as one of the audience members who took part in the instructional portion of the belly dancing performance.

“The class was really fun,” Bannantine said. “It was really neat how she picked a couple of us out and we got to dance with her personally.”

Bannantine enjoyed the informal and fun approach taken in the instructional portion of the performance and liked that as someone with less experience she was still able to learn and have fun.