Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Karim Nagi in a recent performance
Karim Nagi is a multi-talented musician, composer, folkloric dancer and deejay.  His performances are so high-energy and in the moment, and his connection to the music is so great, that he could probably   re-animate a room full of corpses. Born and raised in Egypt, he’s spent most of his life in America, though his global  travel schedule for teaching and performing is so hectic, I once heard him answer the question "Where do you live?" by saying:

  “In an airport!”

Karim in  the midst of a Saidi performance
Just in case you’re not familiar with his work, he’s released numerous instructional DVDs and a variety music CDs, both under his own name and as DJ Turbo Tabla. Since 1999, Karim has headed up the traditionally oriented Sharq Music Ensemble, and his Arab Dance Seminars routinely sell out months in advance.  He’s having one in New Mexico this November, but unless you’ve already secured your spot,  or if by come miraculous twist of fate someone drops out, there’s no way you’ll get in.

 His program Arabiqa educates   elementary school kids at over three hundred schools around the USA, but his educational efforts don’t stop there by any means.  In fact, his knowledge of his native Egyptian music dance and culture is so great, that he’s presented and lectured at many Ivy League universities, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Yale and many others.

We’ve performed together- in many places- for quite a few years, and in 2013, we also recorded a song “Heart Full Of Cairo” together- if you're interested in hearing it, you can find it on iTunes or Amazon.  Karim is  always a pleasure to work with because he’s so knowledgeable, and  a total perfectionist whose open to obsessive compulsive rehearsing and preparation.  But  he’s  also as much fun off stage as he is onstage… I once had the (dubious!) pleasure of hearing him  do an impromptu after-hours rendition of Ted Nugent’s hit “Cat Scratch Fever”, sung in a tongue-in-cheek Upper Egyptian Fellahin accent while he accompanied himself on the tabla !  In spite of-or maybe  because of incidents like this, I think he’s an absolute genius…though he’ll probably roll his eyes when he reads this. 
Karim & me  by Maharet Hughes

 Recently, he’s started a new four-hour-long workshop,  “Music Raqs”, which is a kind of “literacy program” for dancers who want to be able to better understand- and teach- oriental dance in a comprehensive way. In addition to music theory and technical info, he also goes into cultural and linguistic details that will no doubt be illuminating to dancers of any level, from absolute beginner to seasoned pro.  He’s putting on this workshop in Los Angeles this coming Sunday, October 26, and I’m very excited about it.

  Since Karim’s shows are so entertaining and high-energy, I thought he’d be a terrific candidate for my “Dancers Backstage Rituals” series.  So here’s what he has to say about his show preparation, in his own words:

“ I shine my boots. I iron my galabaya. I tape my assaya. I test my drum microphone. I stretch my legs and arms. I wrap the kufiya. I close the phone two hours prior. I recite the Quran's Surat al-Falak. I chose which sagat goes on which finger. ‎I do one hundred jumping jacks. I eat nothing for four  hours before. I watch most of the acts before me, to get an impression of the evening's overall message.
I choose a belt buckle. “

  I think he left  out one teensy thing though… the fact that he loves what he does so much, it can’t help but shine through in his performances!


Third Street Studio: 8558 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles California
 $50 before October 24: or $60 cash at the door
 Info  & registration here:



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