The Arab Quarter was set up in 2009 by Melanie Norman and Hassan Mostafa to create a centre of quality and excellence in the fields of Arabic dance and live music in London. TAQ has produced over 30 shows in London in venues of distinction and with national and international casts, namely Oriental Dreams and The Call of Arabia at The Bloomsbury Theatre, and The Arab Quarterly, London’s long running Arabic live music and dance stage show at Islington Assembly Hall and Hoxton Hall. TAQ has held live band workshops and classes throughout, empowering many dancers and passing on a depth of experience. The vision is long term and fuelled by passion for dance and music.
Thank you to all those good people who have in various capacities been part of our journey, without whom none of this would have been possible.
Melanie Norman has been developing her individual way of dancing for the best part of 20 years and is established and respected in her field for her distinctive choreographical style, significant choreographical output and classically elegant and expressive dancing. Melanie Norman Dance is characterised by an originality that comes from a raw place of instinct and personal musicality: truthful creations with integrity. Melanie draws all choreography directly from her passion for improvising, enjoying the natural response to musical flow that this gives. Top quality ongoing training is key: ballet class with Louise Bracey (ex Royal Ballet/English National Ballet) in Bristol twice a week and constant travel abroad to train with Egyptian dancers leaves a mark. Melanie attended over 20 Nile Group Festivals in Cairo from inception in about 2005, as well as other prominent festivals in Cairo. Attendance at a beautifully detailed jazz dance class for 10 years was also influential. A rigorous personal practise regime prevails.
The Arab Quarter Band is made of distinguished musicians Hassan Mostafa (vocal/tabla), George Dergham (keyboard), Emile Bassili (violin) and Elgamal Elkordy (accordion). This totally unique band has decades of musical experience and combined musical heritage that spans even to the famous Golden Era of musical output in the Arab world. They are modest Kings in London and deeply respected for their contribution to the world of Arabian music and for their unusual talents. George Dergham is a wizard on the keyboard with a razor sharp musicianship and unique classical creativity; he has played internationally all his life. Emile Bassili graced Umm Kulthoum’s orchestra, the most legendary singer in the Arab world, as well as other leading orchestras over his long career and brings his own inimitable violin sound, improvising richly with ease or playing beautiful renditions with tight classical structure. Gamal’s innate classicism has been partly honed too by a lifetime of playing the accordion in the most prestigious orchestras in Egypt, including that of Soheir Zaki, and his own considerable talents.
Hassan Mostafa started his professional musical career in Morocco, his homeland, and from the outset was touring with professional orchestras, playing in theatres and a variety of settings. Hassan moved to London in the early 80’s and enjoyed a long period of intense music making when Arab orchestras in London enjoyed great heights and activity. Hassan played with all the most respected and sought after musicians of the day and grew decades of experience of a vast musical repertoire. Hassan’s gifts as a multi-instrumentalist shine through with rich, velvety and highly expressive singing, sensitive tabla and oud playing, and the ability to play keyboard. Hassan’s passions include a dedication to preserving his heritage of classical songs and constantly referencing the original versions from the great Golden Era of Arabian music with his band. Hassan Mostafa has enjoyed playing for both English and Arab royalty at a high level. One of the principal highlights of his career was playing with the Page and Plant World Tour.
© 2019 Melanie Norman t/as The Arab Quarter