Arts – The Universal Language

We are into the 3rd day with our Moroccan friends and with each interaction it is clear that language, religious, political and cultural barriers don’t exist when it comes to the Arts.  I’m not sure who is having more fun, the performers, the Arts Center staff or the students.  All I see is smiles and enthusiasm.

Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble member interacting with Jamestown Middle School students.

I attended Monday afternoon’s workshop at Jamestown Middle School. The band and music students were quiet at first, wondering what to expect. Soon, with the encouragement of the performers, they were clapping and squirming.  When the time came for questions, I thought there would be a painful silence…but, I was wrong.  There were so many questions–finally they needed to be stopped or there wouldn’t be any more music.

Questions like:

  • What language are you singing in? Arabic and Gnawa
  • How many languages are spoken where you live? French, Arabic and hundreds of tribal dialects.
  • Your instrument has both a high and low range, how is that achieved? Its complicated, based on finger movements and strums.
  • Are your shoes wooden? (Laughing) …No, they are leather with traditional designs.
  • What are your hats decorated with? Cowrie shells.
  • Do you always stick your tongue out when you dance? (Laughing)…”He just gets into it”
  • Do you make your instruments? Yes, sometimes, this one is made of wood and the skin of a camel’s neck.
  • Do you always swing the tassels on your hats? or is just part of the performance? Its part of the performance.

The Ensemble visited the Anne Carlsen Center this morning and they are presently performing for Jamestown’s 4th and 5th graders at Jamestown High School. I’m told the Anne Carlsen experience was spectacularly moving for everyone – look for more updates on the Arts Center’s Facebook page as well as the Caravanserai Web page and blog (link below).

Don’t you want to share in the fun? There is a public performance – please join us. Details at left.

Want to take a virtual tour of Morocco?