Karim Nagi is an articulate & joyful public speaker who often incorporates music into his speeches. He is a TEDx Speaker, a Nationally Accredited TAC Teaching Artist for Young Audiences Arts for Learning, and a Kennedy Center TAP Teaching Artist. His many lecture venues include Yale, Stanford, Brown, NYU & Princeton Universities. He was a panelist in SXSW Arab Culture Panel, and the Arab American Museum Diwan Conference. He is a two time beneficiary of the Doris Duke Building Bridges grant for Muslim artists. He is currently serving a second term on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music America. College, University, Conservatory, Academy, Conference & Public lecture durations are flexible, ranging from 30 to 120 min.

The term Arab refers to an ethnic and/or language group within a geographical area comprised of over 20 countries. There are Christian, Muslim, Jewish and tribal roots in this region. From Algebra to the Arab Spring, the Arab world has always been relevant to the West. How do we define Arab, and how can one understand them through their cultural and artistic output? Karim Nagi uses music, dance, language and costume examples to introduce audiences to Arab culture, its unity and dicersity.

Arab Arts vs. Stereotyping & Islamophobia : 
This presentation includes Karim Nagi's research & career demonstrating how familiarity between cultural groups reduces racism. His outreach campaign teaching Arab music & dance in public schools and communities seeks to improve relations among those groups, and dispel stereotypes. ACLU data & Gallup polls are projected in multimedia, along with supporting quotes and videos. This presentation also includes musical performances on Arab instruments : Egyptain tablah, riqq and buzuq plus singing Baladi TukTuk & Oriental Magic Carpet from his album Detour Guide.

Percussion NOT Politics : 
An American's impression and assessment of Arab and Muslim character is heavily, if not exclusively, determined by Media coverage. In the post 9/11 era, the Arab and Muslim are easily perceived as antagonists. During the Arab Spring, the Arab world is consistently shown as radical, disorganized, and dangerous. What are the other information sources available to learn about Arabs and Muslims on a human level? Karim Nagi speaks extensively about his work visiting over 150 schools across America, and his concert and outreach work, where he demonstrates and teaches the Arab cultural arts.

Teacher Training : 
This session allows for educators to interact directly with Mr. Nagi. He will present to them an overview of traditional Arts from the Arab & Muslim world, and demonstrate how these arts can be used to better understand the people of this region, and their immigrants to the USA. Educators will be able to engage in performance examples, as well as ask questions and discuss techniques.

Percussion Master Class : 

Percussion students will learn the principles of Arabic percussion and the Iqaat system. Students may use any available percussion instrument, including African, Latin, Middle Easterm, and Western drums. Students will learn the names and histories of prominent Arab Awzan rhythms. They will learn to vocalize the "Dum Iss Tak" phrases, and clap each phrase. Karim will demonstrate how to apply each rhythm to the available drum by designating the three needed sounds. He will conclude by teaching an ensemble composition that includes rhythms for all 5 regions of the Arab world, and solo improvisations.

Music Master Class : 

Music majors, minors, as well as ethnomusicologists, will learn the principles of Arab music. Karim uses a lute, percussion and singing, to introduce the students to the modal and rhythmic systems of Maqam and Iqaa. A lecture format will allow students to follow with their voices and clapping. An ensemble format can allow instrumentalists and percussionists to apply the training to any instrument, Western or Eastern. Full cultural context and ethnographic background will be presented along with the repertoire.

Dance Master Class : 

Folk dance is the dance of regular people. It is enjoyed by folks of all sizes, ages, physical abilities, and shapes. You will find it in many settings where communities celebrate special occasions, or simply to enjoy the social moment. It is not necessary to be a professional dancer, nor to reserve the moment only for formal performances. It is everyones' dance. In addition to the Dabke, Saidi, and Sufi folk dances, a survey of other styles will be taught. This includes the "Shaabi" popular dance found in Morocco, where the infectious 6 beat rhythm is felt by aligning the feet with the syncopated beats. Also a collection of "Khaliji" gulf-style movements from around the Arabian peninsula will be engaged in, where the polyrhythmic drums create an undulating step, while the hands & hair complete the dance with energy & symbolism. For this survey, the drum is the main propulsion, helping all the steps be felt and absorbed.

Missing From The Census : 

An Arab can come from one of over 20 countries. They could be current immigrants, or up to 4th generation American citizens. When, and how, do they identify as Arab versus a more specific national identity (such as Lebanese or Egyptian)? How comfortable do they feel in America compared to other ethnic and immigrant groups? Karim Nagi, from his own life, studies of diaspora behavior, and his extensive interaction with Arab communities across America, gives insight into the loves and aversions of this growing American minority.

How To Be A Muslim Arab Immigrant Artist in America : 
Karim Nagi speaks of his life, and how he uses the arts to fight prejudice, gain respect, and find a role in American culture. There is a delicate balance of identity politics, in a society with factions that bear suspicion & unease towards Muslims, Arabs, immigrants, and even artists. Nagi speaks not only about minority relations, but how to be successful despite these parameters. He has distilled his technique into an upbeat anecdotal demonstration. He stresses Entrepreneurship, Dignity, Clarity, Generosity, and Humor as the "5 Pillars Guidebook". His message can lucidly be extrapolated to other marginalized groups who seek to raise their status in American society.

Purists and Innovators : ARAB MUSIC IN AMERICA
Like any ethnic group in America, Arab-Americans actively perform music. Despite America's diversity and pluralism, and the Arab World's percieved homogeny and conservatism, innovation in music among Arabs is more widespread in the Arab world, while Arab-Americans tend to be traditionalists and purists. Why? Karim Nagi presents this phenomenon of diaspora. This paper was published in the anthology Etching Our Own Image: Voices from Within the Arab American Art Movement published by Cambridge Scholars Press, UK.

Lauren of Arabia : 

Like in African, Latin, or Indian music and dance, there are many Americans who study and engross their entire life and identity in the Arab arts. What are their motivations, positive contributions, and how "authentic" are they? Moreover, how do native Arabs view these "ethnographers". Karim Nagi, a man who stands at the bridge between Arab and American dancer instruction, offers both analysis and "call to action". His goals are to encourage more native Arabs to train and dance professionally, and to support and give resources to the American dancers.

All melodic acoustic instruments are welcome is this ensemble-style workshops. Students can bring any western or eastern wind, plucked string, or bowed instrument. Reading notation is not mandatory. Students will follow Mr. Nagi and learn how to play melodic scales and phrases of Arabic music. This class will guide the students through famous Arabic Maqam scales, decoration & ornamental playing, and Taqasim improvisation. It will develop their ears, and understanding of the Arabic style, all while using an instrument that they are already comfortable with.


Students will learn how to sing in the Arabic style. This class will cover famous Maqam musical scales, vocal ornament, Arabic language pronunciation, layali and mawal & improvisation, and regional styles. Neither comprehension nor reading of Arabic language is mandatory. Famous song passages from Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait and Morocco will be taught, helping the student develop regional styles. In addition to singers, this class is open to dancers, drummers, instrumentalist, and anyone who wants to be closer to the Arabic music and language.


All drummers are welcome. Students may bring any type of Arabic or World percussion drum, as long as the instrument can make at least 2 different sounds. Mr. Nagi will teach several famous Arabic rhythms. These rhythms will come from various regions of the Arab world, including Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. The students will later link the rhythms into a composition, that can be performed. This class will not only teach rhythm and style, but also how the drummers can function in a group, and create percussive songs together.


Students may bring their Arabic Tabla, Dumbek, Darabuka, Riqq, Duff, Muzhar or Frame drum. Karim will teach multiple dynamic rhythms, emphasizing the Arab technique of double off-hand taks and running method. Students will learn how these rhythms propel specific dance styles from around the Arab world. Karim engages all levels from advanced beginner (someone with basic skills) to advanced intermediate. Every level will be adequately challenged and will benefit from the ensemble approach.

- Class 1 FOUNDATIONAL (90 or 120 min) The essential sounds for both hands, repetition, essential rhythms.
- Class 2 DEVELOPED (90 or 120 min) Advanced technique, rolls, alternative sounds, long rhythms, ornamentation
- Class 3 AMBITIOUS (90 or 120 min) Advanced rhythms, solo phrases, improvisation theory, advanced ornamentation


The "Riqq" tambourine is the lead percussion instrument in the Arabic orchestra and classical ensemble. It is played with the fingers on both the skin and the cymbals. The technique calls for three different holding possitions and techniques. In addition to Arabic music, these instruments are widely used in Turkish, Iranian, Balkan, Gypsy and Mediterranean music. Students will learn technique, stamina, rhythmic repertoire and various ethnic styles.

- Class 1 FOUNDATIONAL (90 or 120 min) The essential sounds for open and closed method, repetition, essential rhythms.
- Class 2 DEVELOPED (90 or 120 min) Advanced technique, rolls, alternative sounds, shaking, long rhythms, ornamentation
- Class 3 AMBITIOUS (90 or 120 min) Advanced rhythms, solo phrases, improvisation theory, advanced ornamentation



This class is an intensive introduction to the traditional group dances from the Arab world. These dances are primarily unisex, and emphasize synchronicity and group cohesion. This workshop includes Dabka Line Dance, Basic Tahteeb/Assaya Cane Dance, and the group-healing ritual motions found in Zikr and Zar practices. Each dance is taught efficiently as an introduction to the style, and is an initiation into possible future study. These dances are less glamourous than the performance-oriented heroism of the solo dances found in the Arab world. These are the dances done by "The People" in social, celebratory, and spiritual group settings. They can be taught to dancers at any level, as both a cultural and artistic experience. The group movements and concepts can later be extrapolated into performance-calibre skills and themes.


You are a dancer and a musician at the same time. Your hands can play any rhythm that a drummer can play. You can accent the orchestra, follow the dynamics of the song, or simply choose the right moment to not play. Sagat (Egyptian word) and Zills (Turkish word), when played correctly, can add to a dancer's dynamism and effect. Each dancer will be transformed into a moving musician.

- Class 1 FOUNDATIONAL (60 or 90 min) multiple sounds per hand, standard patterns, rhythms, travel steps
- Class 2 DEVELOPED (60 or 90 min) ambidexterity, advanced patterns, solos, song accompaniment, dance combinations


Karim teaches each rhythm using the three-sound clapping approach. Karim then performs sample rhythms on the Tublah. Students will learn each rhythm by name, "dum-tak" vocalization, clapping. Afterwards the dancers will learn a dance step or choreography segment that matches the rhythm, to help the body grasp the pattern. By physically personifying each rhythm, bodily mastery of that rhythm will be achieved.

- Class 1 FOUNDATIONAL (60 or 90 min) folkloric, popular and regional rhythms
- Class 2 DEVELOPED (60 or 90 min) classical, muwashahaat and advanced rhythms


Some dancers fear it ! Some overuse it ! Yet everyone adores a solo where the rhythmic drums and the accurate body lock together. Melodic songs are lyrical and eloquent, while drum songs are percussive & articulate. Drum solos in the Egyptian, Arabic, or Cabaret style are systematic. There have predictable themes. Each is like a variation on a famous story, retold with new voices and with different accents. Karim is a drummer and a dancer, so he knows what both creatures need in order to breed together.

- Class 1 FOUNDATIONAL (60 or 90 min) famous rhythms with steps, "Hagalla" pattern, travel entrance, standard "Qafla" endings
- Class 2 DEVELOPED (60 or 90 min) Dum and Tak combinations, rish/rash/roll, leading the drummer, "Zaar" segments, advanced "Qafla" endings

DRUMMING FOR DANCERS & DANCING FOR DRUMMERS (drummers and dancers together)

This revolutionary class will bring dancers and drummers together, to teach them how to perform and interact. The drummers will learn the famous Arabic rhythms, phrases, and drum solo themes. The dancers will learn how to respond to each rhythmic phrase, how to coordinate their body isolations with each drum passage, and how to dance properly with a drum solo. Both dancers and drummers will learn how to both lead and follow each other. Improvisation will be taught, as well as how to develop an entire Drum Solo Dance routine, with a perfect climax and finale ending !


Dancing with sticks and canes is a quintessential expression in Egyptian village dance. The southern half of Egypt, know as Upper Egypt due to its higher altitude, is called "al-Sa'id" in Arabic (pronounced iSa-yeed)". The Saidi people are famous for this semi-acrobatic stick dance called "Tahteeb" for men and "Raqs Assaya" for women. It is essentially a form of martial art where the manipulation of the stick and the demeanor of movement replicated village life or battle scene. Grace is more valued than aggression. This dance is done solo or in groups where the sticks are operated in unified motion, and men and/or women play together.Karim teaches with the strait cane (any dowel between 3' and 4').

- Class 1 FOUNDATIONAL (90 min) The essentials dance steps, the body demeanor, and the main motions with the stick including spinning, twirling, rowing, flipping and striking.
- Class 2 DEVELOPED (60 or 90 min) full ambidexterity, advanced stickiwork, mock battle, team formations, choreography
- Class 3 AMBITIOUS (60 or 90 min) advanced dance steps, double assaya, stick acrobatics, musical interpretation

DABKE (Arab line dancing)

Literally meaning "Stomp" in Arabic, Dabke (also spelled Dabka, Dubki, Dabkeh, plural Dabkaat) is a group dance found in the Eastern Arab countries. Performed mostly as a unisex line dance, Dabke is avidly done at the weddings and parties of Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian communities. A version can also be found in Iraq, known as Chobie. The movements include rhythmic stomping, kicking, sidewards walking, hoping and jumping. In social settings the dancers hold hands and form long moving lines or wide rotating circles. There are also many stage performances and musical theater shows that feature Dabke dances. You may also find Dabke used as a form of non-violent social protest during war and conflicts. But it is primarily a proud and energetic group line dance enjoyed by all ages and both genders.

- Class 1 FOUNDATIONAL (60 or 90 min) Community style social dance
- Class 2 DEVELOPED (60 or 90 min) Performance style stage dance and choreography

SUFI DANCE RITUAL (Egyptian Moulid Zikr & the rapture of the swaying dance)

There are innumerable Muslims in the world who actively use movement, rhythm and chanting as an extension of prayer. Sufis (meaning "mystics" or also "those who wear wool", in Arabic) are Muslims who use artistic ritual to help reach a state of knowledge or trance. The goal is to have an active experience of God "Allah" or Peace "Salaam". The movements are primarily swaying, spinning, bobbing, turning and tossing. Sometimes the energy swells to a point of abandon and emotive release. The rhythm is essential in propelling the meditative motions. Drumming and Percussion are the main catalysts. The beat can also given by rhythmic chanting. These chants can be as simple as repeating the name of God "Allah" or as complex as a hymn or sung poem. Regardless of religious affiliation, the Sufi ceremony can be done by any group using unified movement, and lead by a strong rhythm that accelerates until it reaches an ecstatic climax. The class is preceded with by a talk and explanation of Islamic Sufi practice and the concept of Nashwa (ecstatic bliss).


Maqam is the Arabic system of scales and melody creation. All songs, weather classical, pop or dance, are created in a Maqam, which dictates whether the song is happy, somber, uplifting, spiritual or sensual. We align notes in the scale with specific body isolations, allowing them to follow a maqam by using her dance vocabulary. Dancers will learn how to recognize, sing and move to maqams by learning famous song examples. For a dancer, maqam offers a link to the emotional & evocative qualities of Arabic music, bestowing them with the tools of interpretation.


Taqsim is the art of instrumental solo improvisation for musicians. The musician can use any instrument, yet the most emblematic are Oud, Nay, Violin, Qanun, Accordion and Buzuq. Although it is extemporaneous, there are several recurring aspects in the Arab style, including the maqam, story arc, and ending. The dancer will practice interpreting the instrumental music into movement and personifying the mood of the music. This workshop is vital for dancers who wish to better interpret melody into movement. It is a different experience from the drum solo because the melodies can be delivered outside of rhythmic confines, similar to speech. It is a lost art that is on the brink of revival.


Despite any mastery of technique and bodily dexterity, true dance expression requires musicality. The best dancers are those who emulate the music into their own movement. Karim will demystify Arab music for the dancer. Several recurring themes in Arab music will be identified (using recorded examples) and explained in emotive, non musical terms. The class will cover Taksim, Melodic Themes, Vocal vs Instrumental Songs, Rhythms & Rhythmic Changes, Melodic Modulation, Song Structure, Orchestration and Instrumentation. Karim will guide the students through several songs and lead them in dancing to each of these themes. This is a movement class that will help the dancer become the physical personification of the music.

MUSIC RAQS (Music Literacy for Dance)

A complete 3 hour course to help dancers and musicians learn how to understand and communicate Arabic music topics without.

* learn how to identify and sing 8 essential Arabic maqam scales, along with famous song examples
* learn how to clap and voice 20 prevalent Arabic iqaat rhythms, along with famous step examples
* learn all the major music terms, in Arabic and English, that are relevant to a dance performance
* learn cultural and linguistic references related to each melody and rhythm, promoting accuracy
* learn movements and traditional combination steps that help communicate each musical topic
* learn the basics of reading sheet music, to help understand melody and rhythm accurately
* receive a document of all rhythms, scales, terms, and famous Arabic words for your reference


Although music exists without dance, dance rarely exists without music. Arab culture has a strong dance tradition with specific music that propels it. Students will study the relationship between music and the movement it creates or accompanies. The context, storylines and themes of each song will be explained. Overviews and recording samples will be given in the categories of Performance (Stage Dabka and Raqs Sharqi), Ritual (Zikr, Zaar, Sama/Whirling), and Social Dance (Dabka and Raqs Baladi). Karim will also demonstrate the intimate connection between rhythm and movement in the Performance category, with live examples.

RIQQ RAQS (dancing while playing tambourine)

The dance of the tambourine is a perfect synthesis of rhythm and motion. Students will learn to play famous rhythms, accents, and improvised solo phrases on the riqq. A dozen steps, isolations, and folkloric ritual movement combinations will be added to the playing of the riqq. The dancing drummers will play above the head, rotate, travel, and step with their musical prop. The class will create formations using human patterns, where each dancer moves in opposition, and unison, with the other players. The class culminates in a choreographed ritual, where each dancer delivers a rhythmic riqq solo, as the rest answer in a tambourine chorus. Students must bring Any tambourine that has plastic or animal skin surface and cymbals. We will move to our own live music.