What is TARAB? I could answer with another question: What is LOVE?
Both concepts are hard to describe by words (and live beyond words) – easier to EXPERIENCE (for those are or were blessed to be offered experiences that made them merge with Life in the NOW and get lost in the moment).I believe there are feelings, experiences and concepts which belong to the realm of LIFE´s experience that is so extreme, rich and divine that tend to escape any explanation but we surely try to disconstruct them in order to share them or arise in others the curiosity or the will to SEE the horizons we once (or always) see.My vision of TARAB is – like everything else I do in my work (may it be dancing-performing, teaching, choreographing or writing) a result of passionate study, professional and personal experience and the ability to relate all the probable and improbable pieces of the puzzle.
The work I do and the perspective I have on Tarab is, specifically, the result of my 8 years of life, career in Egypt and the daily work I developed with some of the best musicians in the market and the interaction between me, my orchestra and the amazing egyptian audiences. Those were my biggest Masters and Inspirers and the way I perceive TARAB is related to them (as well as to some lovers whom I embraced the same way I embrace a piece of music when I dance it).
Trying to put it simply, TARAB is a state of mind-heart-spirit-even body achieved through the DEEP, VULNERABLE and LOVING connection to the MUSIC (music as a lover you hold so close to your heart) as if one got drunk with it in a way that he/she forgets about him/herself, loses his/her own ego and finds his/her own soul in the NOW.
I always experienced it as a state of Meditation, Orgasm (spiritual) or Ecstasyproduced by a magical (not mathematical) union of myself, the music and the audience. A moment of HUMAN connection through the music (which I allow to affect me on a visceral level), the dance and the spirit (the three of them mirrors of each other) – a LINK that turns reality into dust and transports all the involved people to that place of total peace where nothing is desired, needed, missed.
It´s impossible to mention the experience of TARAB without mentioning the ART of LISTENING (to the music which also includes SILENCE). This is a reality egyptians and arabs of other generations had as a natural way of enjoying life. The modern pace of today´s societies in North Africa and the Middle East is killing – on a great extent – that tradition. Modern egyptians and arabs have no time or mood (“mazeg”) to sit and listen. Where are those 5 hour long Om Kolthoum concerts that had people fainting from emotion just from the experience of LISTENING and FEELING the music (that was TARAB)?!
JUST listening and taking PLEASURE and exaltation from that – apparently passive – experience is the birth of TARAB. Allowing yourself to be pregnant with the sensation a certain moment, sound, feeling provokes in you is the path to TARAB.This is – by the way – one of the MAIN PILLARS of my Oriental Dance teaching method.
Tarab is not a dance or music style – as far as I´ve experienced it and learnt about it. It is a product of a GATHERING of people, conditions, feelings that allow a state of BLISS to happen within us.
Most of the times I performed with my orchestra I was BLESSED to live in a state of TARAB. I managed to allow myself to dig deep into the music, get lost in it, chew it with my heart´s teeth and let it dance inside my head, my chest, my blood, my muscles and soul. Then the audience joined this RELIGIOUS moment by “feeling” my exaltation and state of pure bliss so they joined me in this communal SENSATION of PEACE, LOVE and SPEECHLESS state of TOTALITY. THAT* is TARAB – at least, for me.
I don´t think there is an universal truth but I share what I believe in according to my direct experience, vision and current state of knowlege and CONSCIOUSNESS. Therefore I hope you read this article, comment and even disagree with it. Learning from other people is another kind of TARAB for me…always thankful for a good flight.
Do you know what moment when you forget about yourself and all that exists is NOW fully covered in LOVE?! THAT* is tarab (and that may happen when you´re listening to music, dancing, making love, sitting still, holding a loved one and many other moments we – humans – are blessed to experience; those same moments that remind us how Divine we truly are).