A Cultural Combination – final video project

27 04 2010

No matter where you are from, traditional dance is a sort of art form that can bring people together. What is even more interesting is the combination of two cultures coming together. Arabic dance and Irish dance are both complete with fancy footwork and quick feet. Here the two cultures are brought together to form one dance.


The Power of Video

26 04 2010

In response to Herbert Zettl’s “Video Basics 3” Chapter 5.

Up to this point, our entire projects have consisted of photography and writing. Now it is time to get a little more creative. What I learned from the video reading assignment is that taking video can be as interesting and creative as you want it to be.

Creating a new angle or a new look can make the everyday interview looking incredibly engaging. Rather than shooting someone head on at medium length away, why not shoot from a corner of the room at a different height? There are so many options.

I had never capture a lot of video before, but since working on this project I have found myself bringing my flip camera with me everywhere just I case I can get a good clip. You never know when you will need to capture something.

What I liked about the videotext was that they gave you all sorts of information and tips as well. It was a great article.

New video added!

8 04 2010

For the beginning our of video project, the first video has been uploaded to Video, Interviews, & Audio. Check it out at the link.

It is the completed performance of the OAS dancers at International Fiesta at the University at Buffalo. The music is great, the lighting is pretty cool, and the dancing speaks for itself.

Final Audio Slideshow Project

31 03 2010

After many countless hours of editing & producing, the final audio slideshow project is officially finished. After learning and working with Soundslides, Audacity, Filezilla, and Lame, it has all come together in one finished piece. Thanks  again to Rawey for the interview!

Please check out my Audio Slideshow here: Arabic Dance: A Cultural Experience

A Visual War

22 03 2010

A combined response to The Long Haul, Sides of the Wire, and How I cover the Afghanistan war with the 5DmkII.  

If we have learned anything new from recent wars overseas, it is that they have been more visually available than ever. With the technology available today, images can be sent and posted all over the world. This is something that has never been seen before with any other conflict. The impact of a single photo can be so meaningful, especially in incredibly dangerous circumstances. Hope, joy, sorrow, and tragedy are all readily present. Emotions are just flooding out of people’s faces in these types of images. It is remarkable to view. As in “The Sides of the Wire”, the American presence overseas in Afghanistan makes life different for the everyday citizen. American soldiers are now as common as the man selling bread on the street or the woman walking to a mosque. One could argue Americans are nowhere near as affected by the constant reminder of war as the people of Afghanistan. But thanks to photojournalists, we can now be exposed to more information than ever before.

Second & Third Interviews posted.

4 03 2010

Check out the Videos, Interviews, & Audio page for my second & third interviews for my project on Cultural Dance.

Cultural Dance – an expanded story.

3 03 2010

There are only five practice days left before the big performance on Friday. Dancers start trickling into the old game room on campus and wait for others to arrive. International Fiesta is the biggest event for all of the international clubs at the University at Buffalo. It is a competition of culture, dance, and passion. Students from literally around the world come together on this one night, to showcase their dancing abilities that directly reflect who they are and where they came from. The music is getting prepared over at a make-shift DJ table in the center of the room. Even with a little speaker trouble, the dancers from the Organization of Arab Students (OAS) are ready to practice for their performance.  

The women line up in preparation for the belly dance routine that will be intermingled with a Dabkeh performance by both men and women. No costumes are necessary tonight, as most of the dancers are dressed in comfortable attire. Two girls have donned long black skirts that seem to sway effortlessly with the rattling coins that are embellished on them. It is beautiful to watch, even if it is a very informal practice. Snake like arm movements are perfectly choreographed with fast shaking hips. They are all college students and they are all keeping a tradition alive. What keeps these kids from being typical college students and going out on a week night? Why do they spend hours rehearsing and perfecting these choreographies? 

The excitement from just visualizing the dance is too difficult to pass up. Once the music starts playing, it just flows through your blood, making it impossible to not participate

says Zeyad Saeed, the current President of OAS.

A quick music change leads into a much stronger dance called Dabkeh. The men use quick footwork with straight-laced arms to make a very visual impact. They are very precise and in rhythm with the music. You can tell by the look on their faces how much effort and time was spent perfecting this piece especially. Rawey Kased, the choreographer and a principle dancer for the Dabkeh performance, helps the other students with some tough footwork. He knows the whole six minute routine by heart. The music unexpectedly cuts out and yet he does not stop.

I could do this all day

he reveals. The importance of carrying on this beautiful tradition by learning and performing cultural dance is incredibly inspiring.

A week later, the night of the show has finally come. After months of preparing for this performance the lights dim in the theatre. The audience is greeted with a golden yellow background and shadowed outlines of the belly dancers in a long line. It is incredibly striking to look at. Smoke fills the bottom of the stage as the music starts up. The OAS dancers complete effortless transitions from belly dance to Dabkeh back and forth until a very strong finale piece with both groups combined. It is really one of the most energetic and exciting dances of the entire night, as a student is overheard saying “that is the best I have ever seen them dance”.

Kased began his cultural dance journey at a young age, starting out when he was around ten years old. On coming to college, “I met people who were excited to learn” he says. He enjoyed teaching Dabkeh as well as learning from other students. It was a way for them to expose their culture and interact with other international clubs. OAS is one of those unique kinds of organizations with members from all over the Middle East including places like Yemen, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Kurdistan, and other Gulf States.

People bond over this kind of dance and it is the best way to visually expose our culture

says Kased. You can tell how much passion he has by the way he emphasizes the work they have all put in to performing at International Fiesta. “The competition maybe the last thing I really think about when I am dancing Dabkeh”, he says. “It keeps me in shape and I have fun doing it. Teaching non-Arabs is especially fun because I get to show people a dance they have never done and may have never even seen before”.

When asked why joining a cultural organization like the Organization of Arab Students and participating in cultural dance was so important, Saeed revealed,

Living in America, OAS gives you a chance to engage with the Arabic culture. There are not many opportunities to carry out these activities with the absence of a club like OAS. It creates that feeling of the Middle East”.

These students have created and developed an incredible organization that keeps their culture alive in college. It is refreshing to speak to such engaging individuals who have such a passion for traditional dance. When asked if he would ever consider stopping dancing, Kased says

I will never stop until my feet tell me to stop. I would stay up all night, every night to teach people this dance. One day I want to make a Dabkeh competition where people from all over can come to compete and show off new moves and new music. I will never, ever stop”.