TALES 1001-Dance Educational Books

Arabic Dance, Belly Dance, Egyptian Dance, Lebanese Dance


Creativity for Dancers & Performers

Projects for 2016

Lebanon Vs Egypt

  1. Where does Lebanon fit into the scheme of things?

    Lebanon is one of the roots of the dance. We primarily think of Egypt but this is wrong. Egypt has only recently come into the picture due to the war in lebanon. Badia Masabni was a Lebanese dancer and moved to Egypt. THat is how the dance got promoted there in films. Check your old records, you will see that they were all produced primarily in Lebanon. We will go back for more research in 2012. We will kwwp you posted.

  2. When did we leave for Lebanon in 2011?

    We are on a countdown. We leave on October the 20th and arrive in Beirut on the 21st.  We plan on visiting and checking on things starting the 22nd -25th. On the 25th Amani opens her Oriental Festival that we will be part of. For the next 5 days we will be involved with Amani, teaching and meeting all the famous people she has hired. The 30th through the 6th we will be doing research throughout the area. We are particularly interested in the Baalbak area and the history of the Phoenicians. All will be reported on our return.

    We are back. Lebanon has equally if not more and longer history in the dance that Egypt. Now Egyptian dancers will dispute this. But their history of the dance is too short. Only goes back 30 years. Badia massabni was Lebanese and moved to Egypt to be near the filmmaking center. films were always made in Egypt. When the war broke out artists in droves move from lebanon to Egypt to continue their practice of the art.  Now there is peace they are coming back to Lebanon their original place. According to Amani Egypt has let the dance descend to the lowest place possible. Now we have to fight to raise the art up again.

  3. What will be in store for Lebanon this year 2012?

    We are planning on going back to Lebanonin JUne. The Amani Oeiental Festival is planned fro JUne 19th -24th. Amani has asked me to teach again. Very excited.

    This year we have plans to do way more research. Last year we tried our steps. We now know where to go and whom to contact.  Have peole lined up from Mexico City to Baalbek to help. People who know. The finest educators will be intervired to add to the interviews I got last year. This will cement all ideas.

    Since coming back last Novemember I have spent all my spare time researching in books the Phoenician's their dance. The dance of Crete gets in there too. It is exciting for me to put all the pieces together. Our research this year will culminate with the Bedouins of Lebanaon and Debke from the Bekaa vValley. Stay tuned for more information to come.

  4. 2014 is over What is in store fro 2015 & 2016????

    The amswer to 2015 is that Amani will be in Housotn in 2015. We give thanks to Simon Sarkis for sponsoring this event. The dates are May 1-3rd. Do not mis this momentous occasion.

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Tales 1001 Belly Dance Blog.

  1. A few words as we leave our home of 18 years.

    Just found notes I put together prior to leaving San Diego back in September 2014. I have decided to post them as they were very important to me while I was closing my studio and tearing my house apart and going to an unknown destination. This was written about August 20th, 2014. Things have changed since then.

    Here I am writing with terribly mixed emotions. I am anxuios to get back East  and start a new life.  there with friends and family. Yet, it is with a heavy heart that we leave some very fine people here in the San Diego North County area.and beyond that have been like family to us over the past 18 years.I will miss my students, my friends and my stidio. We have had a very memorable life here but it is time for us to returnto family.Our job here on the west coast is completed. Just a few years ago we were not ready to take the last big step in our lives and careers. 

    We tryly hope we have helped the community here is South Western CAas we have devoted our entire beings into it for 18 years. Please, take the informationwe have shared with you and keep not only the level of the dance high and professional but also keep the culture in "Arabic Dance and Music". We truly believe the dance form and related music are a marriage of the finest kind. Always be proud of what you do and never never let anyone talk youinto lowering your standards.Hold your head high and be the best you can be.

    With a heavey heart we closed the studio Friday night after the last student left. The floors are taken apart and the mirrors are down.All the little things that I loved and what made it special to me are in boxes. As I packed I felt I was burying a piece of myself. I wonder if I will ever be pit back together again? 

    The Studio will continue of that I am sure. There are several people who will carry the torch. Those people are Jamila, Jaimee, Judy and Julie. Each one has a different talent. Jamila and Jaimee will be available to teach beginners. Judy and Julie are equally qualified to teach but at higher levels of the dance. There are others too who will be assisting with the above ladies  to create your own version of a performing group.

    Jaimee and Jamila are fulfilling their obligation to become CID/RAIS Certified. Jusy us planning on opening her studio. She has been with ADA for 10 years , she has an extensive background and is working on being RAIS Certified. Julie has been at the sStudio for 8 years. She teaches in Escondido and started through ADA. All ladies are available for performing. Just keep up your level in mind as you find new dance partners to work with. I will always be at the end of the phone or on line once I get settled again. This should be by Oct 1st. I will stay as main head of ADA. The four people mentioned above will run ADA - West. I will run ADA - East. Classes cn continue here in the west as they always have with performances when available. ADA - East will be totally different, do not think we will be offering classes as such. We will do consilting sessions for individuals and dance companies. I will continue to write and open up more avenues in that area. My performing days are at an end so there will be no more  Raks el Anwar. I will never organize any type of performing group ever again.  This is the first time in over 40 years that that I have not  and will not have a group to choreograph for or rehearse. It has been a large part of my life but I am looking forward to having a stress free existennce.  Take the information you have , keep your minds open, get more educated and carry on.

    We thank you for your dedication and presence. May you all find happinessin the dance but realise you will never know everything and your learning and studying never ends. Every day I learn something new about this dance form I love.

    Luz and Christine remember what I told you!

    Now all of you move forward, learn more and dance.

    Much Love Always,

    Morwenna & Walid 

  2. When the next blog be put up?

    Starting February February 4th 2015 there will be blogs pertaining to belly dance every  week. Might even happen before that. Keep on the lookoit for new material. in 2015

  3. The Mosaic and Magic of Belly Dance: Read This Before You Take a Belly Dance Class!

    Someone told you you should dance, you have a nice body and you look good? You love to dance but do not know where to start. You think you can make money. People say it is easy! You can dance easily without knowledge. Just a little natural talent will take care of it. After all it is only belly dance!!!!! You do not need to know anything. Just a few lessons,a costume and business cards you will be all set. Maybe you are an avid club dancer, maybe you took classes as a kid at the local dance studio and you were considered pretty good. You think you have talent.

    As with everything, take it with a grain of salt. The good news is that everyone is right. You can have fun, dance, make friends and make some money. However, you have learn the rules of the game to succeed.

    The game has a goal. It has rules. As long as you stay within the rules you can achieve your goal. There are also some stakes, you could win or lose. You will be given lots of pieces of the puzzle. These pieces are your rules. You have to fill in the blanks. You will search for treasures that will help you pit this puzzle together. These are your teachers! The first thing they have to do is strengthen your body and your dance skills. This is no easy feat.

    Here are some basic rules:

    1. Find a great belly dance teacher ! How? First buy and read Shiny Beads and Shimmies

    2. You need technique that is razor sharp. A good belly dance teacher can help you here.

    3. You need breath control; This makes your dance come alive.

    4. You need control over all parts of your body. Head to toe.

    5. You need to understand Arabic music. Hello! Yes, it is an ethnic/world dance form. Not just shaking your booty.

    6. You need good interpretation of skills. This is a challenge and takes time. It takes 8 years to train an ethnic/world dancer according to “La Meri” the Grand Lady of ethnic dance .

    7. You need to be able to make good choices. This comes with education and experience.

    8. You must be able to take direction. This before you can give direction.

    9. Have a keen ear for rhythm, instrumentation and be able to transfer that over to the correct body movement.

    10. You also need impeccable timing. You have energy and emotion.

    11. You have to have a strong spirit. This gets you through the crap.

    12. You have to be able to look the part and be able to sell yourself and your skills. If you are overweight start that diet and exercise program. Realize that belly dance classes will help but will only go so far.

    13. You need to be a marketeer. Being just an artist is not enough these days.

    14. Be a people person. You will be dealing with people you dance with, plus you need audience rapport.

    15. Play the game to win but be honest and up front and a little humble too. This is no place for divas.

    16. Expect the unexpected. This is the fun one! Be ready to go and play the social game.

    17. Work hard by practicing and rehearsing. It is a lot of hard, sweaty work to get where you want to get.

    18. Watch your figure. No one wants to watch a fat dancer. Be realistic here!

    19. Find your pleasure in life. Hopefully it will be the dance.

    20. Experiment and enjoy. But always within the rules of the game.

    Own costumes, (they are expensive). Spend your money wisely or you will become like a kid in the candy store. Be versatile there is lots of styles within belly dance to be achieved. Do not be too hard on yourself. Take each day as it comes. But use it to the fullest. Do not rush things. But if you take classes 3x per week you will get where you want to be ( a beginner performer) quicker than taking just 1x per week 3x faster in fact. But remember always, everyone has their own timetable. U took classes for almost 4 years before I performed my first solo piece. I was prepared and it was a great start to a wonderful 40 year career to date. I am still learning. A dancer's education never ends. Thank goodness, as this is why I love what I do.

    Still fascinated and want to learn more? Then start by purchasing Shiny Beads and Shimmies from Create Space or Amazon. You can get it in book version or kindle. It will answer your questions about finding an educated teacher willing to share her wealth of knowledge to you. Enjoy life and “while here we should dance”.

    Morwenna Assaf

    Author and Arabic Dance Educator




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  1. How to be changing to be different than every other teacher and still keep the excellence high?

    We all have people eho lead us, support us and carry us to the top. I feel fortunate that some of the biggest names in the business have been not only my peers but very dear friends. People who I could talk to, sponsor, and run ideas through. These people I will not mention by name yet as there are too many for one article and I do not want to leave anyone out. My next article will be about 3 very special people that have marked my career. Maybe later I will honor some of the others but not now.

    See my next article on 1. La meri-The Grand Lady of Ethnic Dance 2. The Legend Mr Mahmoud Reda.  And finally the Master Instructor Mr Ibahim Farrah.

  2. Keeping You Up to Date

    This past year since moving from Southern CA to Knoxville has been both exhilerating but also vey hard. Somehow the year has got by us. Even though we have good friends and love the area we had sickness and setbacks to contend with. It has taken till now for us to feel well enough to move forward. 

    Each of us had our own thing but had to take care of eah other. Walid found out he was diabetic. That was a shock. We had no idea but when looking back the signs were all there. We ignored them. A big mistake, but is undercontrol now. Though several months were a little shaky. At the same time my eyes were so bad I could not get a TN license even with glasses. I was oblivious, I thought I could see. But that was not the case. Therefor I had emergency operations on both eyes. The worst part was I was allergic to the medicine. I have glaucoma so will need to keep in close check or will go blind. Everything now is under control now. But this took several months out of our year.

    Right now we are getting the studio back in running condition and deciding what to do with the space for both my dance space and a music section. What studios we will run classes in. What functions to pursue and where. No books have been written. Need to get back into that. Wanted 2 books done this year. It is October not one has been done. Also want to get audio bokks published and possibley a children's section. I am just now working on that.

    I hope you bear with us and I pray we stay well. 

    Morwenna Assaf

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Creativity for Dancers & Performers



    Daily ideas to help the new performer/instructor get over the humps that face all dancers.


    Exert yourself to the fullest. This is the biggest step.

    Recommit at least every year or sooner. I suggest every 3 months.

    Get off the couch, get warmed up and dance.

    You need to focus on dance creativity and this is about that.

    Channel your wishes into action.

    Realize your creative potential.

    Be a winner, whatever that means to you.

    These tips are to help you to keep moving ahead in all aspects and phases of creative and business work.


    Creativity is a habit.

    The best creativity is the result of good work habits.

    Do something every day on ideas. Work on talent.



    Pitch your work. Package your work. Sell your work.



    Check current career thrust. Handle one goal at a time.

    What do you need to do next?



    Self-promotion describes our willingness to make ourselves visible, heard, buzzed about, recommended and respected.

    ALL ART REQUIRES= 1) Craft 2) Selling 3) Perseverance 4) Self-Promotion ALL =PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY



    It is a necessity to invest in career always.

    Know about YOUR:– 1. Topic 2. Audience 3. Field 4. Industry Trends 5. Professionalism 6. Business Skills 7. Technology 8. Associations.

    9.Blogs in field 10. Online Networks ( Keys to growing in any field.)





    Aspiring anything forms actual anything.

    Get out there and DO IT!

    “Dare to be great!”

    Now, what ideas do you have? List 10!



    A coach’s job is to motivate. Push people to new levels of accomplishment.

    Don’t look to others to do the job for you.

    A.List all forms of the dance you know about.

    B.List all forms you dance about.

    C.Where are the places you have danced?

    D.Who are all the experts you have met?

    E.What milestones have you accomplished in the dance?

    F.Who has helped you?

    G.Who have you helped?

    H.List all books, articles, and DVDs you have seen.

    I.Guest appearances you have made.

    J.Any teaching you have done. Dance Schools or Workshops.

    K.All training you have completed.

    L.All the dances you have created.



    A. Ability is the capability of doing.

    B. Motivation is what you do.

    C. Attitude is how well you do it.



    Understand your motivation. Why do you dance?

    a.To express b. to tell c. to heal d. to see and listen e. share f. connect

    g. respond h. participate I. inspire j. explore k. grow l. discover m. individualize n. leave a legacy o. become known p. love q. pleasure r. have to s. revenge t. avoid home life u. establish career v. meditate w. channel ideas x. be free y. Emote z. money ( Mark all that relate to you)


    10.WARM – UPS

    Warm-ups imperative in anything you do. Brainstorm!

    A. Who are we as a group?

    3 key values for the world to know. They want and need to know

    B. What jobs do you hold (in dance)?

    C. What do you know and do?

    D.What do you have to learn about?

    E.What are you expert in?

    F.Finish: I know how to________________? List at least 5 -10.

    G.What would you pick to do for a year?

    H.What should we (as a group) be called?

    I.What is your mission statement?

    J.What legacy do you want to leave



    Dance stories, plays, vignettes, themes.

    Learn different forms and put into use. Reach wider audiences, this educates too. This makes this dance form especially more appealing.



    Potentiality becomes reality.

    Do not fritter away creative energy.

    Creative path needs to unfold.

    Have a safe harbor to work. Find that safe place for you.


    Put your best foot forward.

    Offer what people want.

    A.Something you are passionate about.

    B.Something to make you a better person.

    C.Something to satisfy your curiosity.

    D. Something to make you a better person.

    D.Something that will change your life for the better.

    E.Things that will help you meet people that you respect, admire and would like to meet.

    F.Something to expand your expertise.

    G.Something to show the expertise you already have.

    H.Something that energizes you.

    I.Something that pre-occupies your mind.

    J.Something that inspires you.

    K.Something that keeps cropping up.

    L.Something that just falls into your lap.

    M.A good specialty.

    N.Something to make money.

    O.Anything to do with sex, money, love, and time (Be careful here)

    P.Things that have a wider appeal.

    Q.Something that helps you gets over a challenge and also helps others.

    R.Something that moves you.

    S.Something that moves others.

    Comfort, survival, fear, anxiety, hope, love, joy, security, curiosity and death concern all people. I prefer to go with the positive things here rather than the negative.


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Projects for 2016

  1. What do we offer and how

    Walid and I are in a new phase of our life. And the following paragraph or two will explain where we are headed. Please read the whole thing and if you find you are curious, contact us.


    Together we have instructed thousands of students, helped teachers and troupe leaders to improve what they can offer their dancers. We sponsored the finest instructors in the business to teach Workshops and Master Classes for our students and the area. We organized thousands of shows from the US Marines to clubs, libraries and regular special gigs. Have to admit the highlight of our career was being invited by Amani of Lebanon to teach. And she asked for Lebanese style as she had heard that was my expertise. We have spent time extensively with Mr Mahmoud Reda. Who I believe every student should have access to his material and his way of attacking dance. We have written together 14 books on the dance-all educational ones. 9 on the dance and 5 on the creative process.


    We are interested in working with a core group of people that either teach belly dancing, run a dance troupe or even a soloist dancer who seriously want and have a need to improve. We are looking for a total of 10-12 people who would agree to us coming to their studio. This could be for either a workshop or intensive class periodically. Say every 6 weeks or every 3 months. We would say have a 1 ½ to 2 hour workshop to start to see if this would work for both of us. Are we a good match? We will teach something of your choice that maybe you are not so familiar with so you and your dancers can learn new things and become better, more rounded. You tell me what it is you are looking for and we can start from there.


    Maybe this sounds strange to you but it does work. It is a method we used in San Diego to expose my students to my peers. About every 2 or 3 months I had an experienced teacher I respected come to my studio and teach their forte. I have had Elena Lentini of NYC, Karim Nagi of Boston, Katia of Boston, Mia of Puerta Rico, Mahmoud Reda, Ava and Dahlena of AZ and Fadi el Saadi of Mexico City and Lebanon. This is just to name a few. Some of these were in conjunction with a workshop. Others not! My students loved it as they had already paid for their classes and only sometimes it cost them a few dollars more. Not like the heavy expense of a days full workshop.


    Below is a list of things that can be offered: I suggest you start out with an idea of what you want to accomplish and we discuss it. I can adapt to what you need. It is not about me it is about you and your group. This is a quick overview.

    1. Lebanese Oriental and Folklore: Based on the Ibrahim Farrah method of teaching and

    Amani and Margo Kelfayan of Lebanon. Starts with a video lecture of why he was so

    important to our dance.

    2.Lebanese Debke: The National dance of Lebanon and the Levant. Both a social and performing art.

    3.Reda Egytpian Style: ***Get Reda Educated*** Learn why the Reda style is so unique and favored. Understand his approach. Learn his drills, combinations and choreography. Have been teaching his style in Southern CA for over 10 years. Again, starts with a video/lecture.

    4.Egypt vs Lebanon: What is the difference between the 2. In depth look at the 2 styles.

    5.Musicality & Rhythm: Broaden your horizons. Understand the music and the way it relates to the dance. Know the instrumentation. Know the rhythms! Add finger cymbals.

    6.Percussion. Learn how to utilize drumming knowledge as either a dancer or as a drummer to accompany dancers.

    7.Choreography & Improvisation: Both sides are valuable and used. Learn when and how to use each.

    8.The Dance Approach: How to approach teaching. What to offer at what point. How to progress. What to look for. One cannot dance if one does not have the basic structure.

    9.RAIS Training: A teacher training course for teachers. It can include certification through CID.

    10.Business End: El Fen (The Studio) A. Learn how to run a professional studio. After 21 years in New England and 18 years in Southern CA I know this business inside and out.

    B. Consultation Services for Elite Dancers & Drummers: For those who just want to go above and beyond where they are now.


    Sincerely, Morwenna & Walid Assaf

    Dancer-Drummer@sbcglobal.net 865-375-0446 (Please leave a message)

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