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May 10, 2014
July 28/29 : Casablanca
After the mystique of Fez “le Bleu”, we are ready for our trip south west to the city of Casablanca. Upon our arrival we will check in to our rooms at at the Hotel Al Mounia in Casablanca, which will also be our choice for a scrumptious dinner.
In afternoon, your guide will take you on a monumental tour exploring Casablanca, the largest port of the Maghreb, and “capital in all but administration.” Next, you will visit the Habous quarter to be introduced to your first Spanish Moorish ambiance of a lively market in old Casablanca, then of course the Art Deco colonial downtown with the real flavor of the Mystic French connection.
Your guide will introduce you to La Corniche and Ain Diab shoreline. This will give you an idea of the creative architecture in neighborhoods of the well off Moroccans of Anfa quarter, and also the inclusive resort of La Corniche. And of course, you will not miss the great mosque of Hassan II, the second largest mosque in the world. Finally, you will return to your hotel for dinner.
July 30: Casablanca – Montreal or New York
You will take a morning drive to the airport in Casablanca. We will assist you with checking and wish you a wonderful trip back home. Those of you who depart from Marrakech will take the train directly to the airport for your connection.
May 7, 2014
Now that we have been completely captivated by Marrakech’s Magical beauty and immersed ourselves in the vibrant living folk traditions of the people of Morocco, it is time to fall under the timeless spell of the country itself. After our morning departure on the train, we will spend our day en route to Fez, which will give us our first taste of Moroccan daily life outside of the impressively modern cities of this fascinating North African country. This is where we will experience the best of Arabic, Berber and French people, as they merge to create a unique and truly magical culture.
As we arrive into the oasis of Fez ‘le Bleu’, we find a city that captivates the imagination and provides satisfaction for every possible taste. Little surprise stops along the way will include visits to Berber villages, a wealth of scenic views and traditional markets, before we arrive in Fez, home of the Sacred Music Festival, where a yummy dinner at our hotel awaits us.
We will spend our next day exploring the majestic city of Fez, beginning with visits to the Mellah, the King’s palace and the Bat’ha museum of Moroccan Arts. The remainder of our morning will be spent on a walking tour of the Medina (the old city), a walled city with a maze of medieval twisting alleys, blind turns, mosques, shrines, fountains, workshops, and numerous markets. We will break for lunch at a typical local Moroccan restaurant, before continuing to explore and shop, shop, shop!
We will also have the completely relaxing and renewing experience of treating ourselves to an authentic, traditional Moroccan bath called a “hamam”. Although the baths of Middle Eastern countries are famous throughout the world, Morocco is famous for its traditional and all natural products such as Rasoul and Moroccan Argan Oil. Then we will end the day at our hotel with dinner and sweet dreams of the dessert, oh and don’t forget the deserts!!
May 5, 2014
It’s “All Aboard the Marrakech Express!” on July 19th arriving in Marrakech the morning of the 20th. Our phenomenal Moroccan guide will be waiting for us at the airport before whisking us off to our hotel for warm welcome including Moroccan mint tea, sweets and a delightful presentation about our upcoming program for the exciting days ahead. Then we will be free to relax, get unpacked and have a nap before celebrating our first night in this incredible city with the opening festivities of the 49th International Festival of Folk Arts.
July 21: Marrakech
After breakfast, we will spend the morning with our guide exploring the majesties and wonders of Marrakech. We will being with a visit to the beautiful and historic Moorish edifice called the Menara, with its a magnificent pool surrounded by flowerbeds. The construction, built in 1866, was designed for the dignitaries, so that they could enjoy glorious sunsets with the snow-capped Atlas Mountains which provided an ethereal backdrop. The pool is also an innovative, functional irrigation system belonging to an ancient architectural style adapted to the desert lifestyle. We will visit several other impressive sights, including the Koutoubia Minaret (identical to la Giralda tower located in Sevilla, Spain), and the Saadian tombs, which demonstrate Moorish architecture at its greatest. The tombs, a collection of sixteenth century mausoleums, were hidden behind walls until their discovery in 1917. Next will be visiting the museum of Dar Si Said, featuring a very impressive display of Berber arts and crafts from all over Morocco. Next will we visit Bahia Palace, which exemplifies Moorish splendor at its finest. It is situated in the heart of the Mellah, and continues to host dignitaries to this day. The tour will end at the colorful souks (markets) of Marrakech. An hour is offered for you to mingle or take a drink at the square Jamaa El Fna before we return to the hotel before being whisked off to our second evening at the festival for more fabulous performances!
We will spend the next three days taking our very special and exclusive workshops with the Festival performers. These day time workshops will be held in the performers’ tents (their temporary homes for the week) and will include the Ahwash of Houwara group, the Chikhat of Al Aita Hawziyya and the every famous Guedra dancers. I will also be teaching my Body Logic magic and Egyptian oriental classes, as well as reviews of the workshops. We are also planning a session of Morocco’s own version of Egypt’s Zar ceremony. For the extra energetic and adventurous, our guides will be happy to offer us optional excursions to some of the special sites in the regions surrounding Marrakech. Our evenings with treat us to yet more amazing dancers and musicians from all corners of the country at the Festival.
Finally, a day off to immerse ourselves in the exotic handcrafts, artwork and riches of the endless souks of the city. Then if time permits Hadia will treat you to a review of our fabulous folklore and her orientale classes. Then we will celebrate our brief but unforgettable expérience in Marrakech with the Festival’s Grand Finale Closing Ceremony before we head over to Fez in the morning!l!
For full details, including, registration forms, dates, prices, payment options, our super interesting flight deal and deadlines for flight booking and tour payments, just click on the link below:
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly on Facebook or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can also reach me by phone: 902 640-2473 or 514 969-2220.
April 7, 2014
“Hadia’s Tours” are renowned for sharing authentic and unparalleled experiences into the History, Culture, Dance and Music of Exotic and Vibrant lands, including Turkey. Now I invite you to join her for an unforgettable journey to the Magical Kingdom of Morocco.
After more than a year in the planning, this Moorish adventure sets a new precedent by bringing you into the heart of the thousand year old Moroccan Berber culture via the 49th Festival of Folk Art in Marrakech. Unlike most countries who present professionally-trained dance companies to perform their folklore, it is the people of Morocco’s villages who travel to Marrakech from the mountains, desserts, oases, river valleys and sea sides, to present their living folklore in the outdoor theatre of the ancient El Badi Palace near D’jma al Fna. Among this year’s performances will be ‘Bidat Rma, Ahidous, Ain A’arma, Ahouash Imentanout, Ahouash Ouarzazate, Ahouash Tisint, Aissawa, Daqqa lMerrakshiya, Gnawa, and lGuedra.
New to this year’s event has set up a small village in the olive groves of the Shabab gardens of the red city, which will feature authentic Moroccan culture and traditions. A mobile exhibition will also roam Mohammed V Avenue to bring traditional music, song and dance to the general public. Finally, a large residence will also be provided for the Lem’elmin (masters of Moroccan folk arts), their traditional bands, and a group of students artists to share their knowledge and culture across the generations.
We have been able to arrange exclusive lessons during the day with several of the festival’s groups of dancers and musicians. I will also review the folkloric class material plus share my own unique and oh-so-yummy version of oriental dance with the group during our stay in Marrakech.
We will have many more fascinating things to do and see in Marrakech as well as 5 days of Fesitval performances and classes, before continuing our adventure through Berber villages of the Atlas Mountains (including Kenifra and Azrou) en route to the majestic medieval city of Fez, home of the Sacred Music Festival. Our exploration continues in Fez with a multitude of ancient sites and a very special trip to an authentic Moroccan hamam (bath). We will continue onto Voulubis, the Roman capital of Northwest Africa; Rabat with its many amazing sites and finally end our adventure in Casablanca, the largest port city in the Maghreb, as we discover the mystique of Spanish Moorish influence, as well and Colonial French Connection of its Art Deco décor. But, I will paint these pictures for you in my next post, coming up in the next few days. While you are waiting, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com (I am still on tour over in Asia, so please don’t call before April 18th) and I will be very happy to give you more details about this very special journey. You can also have a look through our itinerary and pricing at http://www.hadia.com/travel/morocco2014.
This really will be the trip of a lifetime, so hope to have you along for the ride. See you soon!
September 9, 2013
The Sahara, Mountains, Mesas, Beaches, Verdant Valleys, Oases, Magic, Music, and the most incredible living Folklore, Tribal Berber Life and French Elegance, Sumptuous Cuisine, Hamams, Africa ….
As I was writing Chapter Eight of my memoirs, which begins in Spain and continues into Morocco, every memory, sound, sight, feeling, smell, and touch was as clear as though I was right back there in Marrakech; exploring the Medina and Djema al Fna; soaking up the magnificent Marrakech Folk Festival under the stars; driving through the ever-changing, mystical country. So, I thought that I would share a little glimpse of this amazing place with you right here and now and the exciting news that I am setting up our very first Tour to Morocco this coming summer. Make sure that you mark your calendars right now for the end of July!! I will continue to give you details of this amazing tour that we are planning along with a short introduction to a different selection of Moroccan Folklore with each new article. Today I am going to introduce you to one of my favourite and perhaps the best know of all Moroccan Folklore – the Guedra.
The Guedra is actually a large earthenware cooking pot, which is transformed into the primary percussion instrument for this intriguing dance of the same name. It is a ritual dance practiced by of a faction of the Tuareg People (also known as the Blue people from the indigo dye that stains their skin a blue colour). Although the Tuareg are largely nomadic people who traverse the sands of the Sahara, some have chosen to settle in areas like Goulimine and Tan Tan. They are a matriarchal society, where women enjoy a great deal of freedom and independence. In fact, the women do not wear a face veil (like many of the traditional Berber tribes in Morocco). This is an honour reserved for the men, once they reach puberty. Now this version definitely gets my vote!!
Unlike the Moroccan ‘Hadra’ or the Egyptian Zar, which are ‘exoricsim’ or trance dances, the Guedra Dance is an ancient ritual of healing and blessing. The ritual begins with the Guedra Drum played at a slow tempo that resembles the heartbeat.
Click the “play” button to hear Guedra
This is accompanied by hand clapping. and singing in the traditional African ‘call and answer’ fashion. The dancer wears a kaftan or ‘jalaba’ covered by a very long length of fabric called a ‘haik,’ which is wrapped around the kaftan, pinned at the mid collarbone with fibulae (old roman safety pins), a complex headdress of cowrie shells and beads, with tightly braided hair incorporated into the headdress. A blue or black veil covers her head and face and a large “magic” necklace is placed over this veil, around the neck.
Often the dancer will begin moving hypnotically from a standing position, which is called the T’bal, while the hands follow the rhythm with small staccato movements, sometimes flicking the fingers in particular directions. Once she moves to a kneeling position this is referred to as the Guedra. As the tempo increases, so do the hand and arm movements which address the four directions: North, South, East and West; the four elements: Fire (the sun) , Earth, Wind and Watesun, the sand, the past the future, the liver, the soul, and all present who receive the blessings of the dancer.
As the tempo and dance crescendo, she will also incorporate swaying and tossing of the head from side to side and chest lifts and drops and eventually removes the veil from her face and head. But a video is worth a thousand words so enjoy…
I will be back soon with another featured dance of Morocco and more details about our fabulous Moroccan Magical Mystery Tour!!
Also don’t forget to join the incomparable Master of Egyptian Folklore and Lead Dancer of the National Egyptian Folkloric Company and myself for a Fabulous Four day weekend of wonderful workshops featuring authentic and traditional dances of Egypt, oriental dance and (perhaps) a chance to try out the Guedra!!? Winnipeg, November 8-11, 2013. For all info and registrations just click on this link http://www.nicola-bellydance.com/?p=2241
And don’t forget to get your deposit in before the September 30 deadline and make sure that Denise and I don’t forget to come and teach you a tons of wonderful information and fill you with inspiration!!