Ibrahim Farrah: 1939-1998
Artist, Educator, Ethnologist
by Michelle L. Forner
I gave my life to a profession. To have stayed in it this long…no matter what the problems are…I have to remember the joy that this dance brought me, the inspiration it brought me, the acknowledgment it brought me…If I can bring the same to somebody else, I welcome them to my club. [Farrah 1992d]
The news of Ibrahim “Bobby” Farrah’s death a few months ago was a shock felt around the world. How does one describe the contributions of a man whose life and work were inextricably linked to the growth and development of an ethnic dance movement, who personally affected so many? On the stage, he inspired and entertained. He brought us sounds, movements, and feelings from other, yet familiar worlds. In the classroom, he pushed hard, shouted loudly, and worked us until we thought we could do no more—but we did. His harsh words could make us slink into a corner, while his praise made us float on a cloud. He gave us a vocabulary, a structure, a vision to make our own. Through the pages of Arabesque, he informed, educated, and pontificated. He had an opinion about everyone and everything, and expected the same from others.
Whether loved or disliked, lauded or disdained, Bobby was key to the formation and evolution of the Middle Eastern dance field in the United States during the past 35 years, and influenced its global progression. His high educational standards, aesthetic sensibilities, and intellectual pursuits helped to elevate the dance beyond myth and stereotype and to link it to the greater cultural arts arena.
Although I only knew Bobby for ten years or so, I feel confident making these assertions, not only because I am among those he influenced, but also because I have studied him and the Middle Eastern dance field in a scholarly way. As a “baby belly dancer” in the mid-1980s living in Los Angeles, I avidly read Arabesque—it was the first place I saw the term “ dance ethnology,” the study of dance as an aspect of human behavior found in all cultures. After taking a few workshops with Bobby, I was enamoured with his approach to the dance and fascinated by his stories and anecdotes. When I went to graduate school at UCLA to study dance ethnology in the early 1990s, a number of factors—the lack of comprehensive documentation and analysis of Middle Eastern dance in America, my day-to-day involvement as a working dancer, and intensive study with Bobby and other teachers—led to an obvious choice for my thesis topic: the description and analysis of the transmission of Oriental dance in the United States and the subculture that developed, including a case study of Bobby’s teaching method [Forner, 1993].
The complex phenomenon we call the Middle Eastern dance field was forged by a number of individuals, factors, and events. Yet only a small handful of pioneers have played the most significant roles. Bobby and his few contemporaries—who all began in the 1960s and continued full-time in the field for the next thirty years or so—each created unique paths that developed through a combination of personality and talent, promotion and reputation, luck and perseverance. In Bobby’s case, his many overlapping roles and innovations in the art and business of dance enabled him to make an enormous contribution within and beyond the Middle Eastern dance community. A brief breakdown tells the tale:
First and foremost, Bobby was a dancer/performer. From the early days in the cabarets and clubs to the concert stage, he shined in front of an audience. As a choreographer he designed dances for himself, individual dancers, and particularly the Near East Dance Group, following established artistic and theatrical principles and inventing a few of his own. By forming the Near East Dance Group, Bobby became a dance company director. Through high artistic standards and theatrical know-how, he fulfilled a dream of taking his dance to Carnegie Hall (among other major venues), and helped bring the dance form to the attention of the public, critics, and others in mainstream performing arts. Bobby’s most influential role may have been as teacher/coach. Almost from the beginning of his career, he was educating others through classes, workshops, and seminars. Generations of dancers have learned his dance technique, choreographic sense, and pedagogy. From New York to Texas, Australia to Japan, students, protégés, and colleagues turned to him as mentor. He guided many a career and helped others fulfill their dreams.
As an ethnologist/researcher, Bobby brought another dimension to the dance. A thirst for knowledge of culture and history led to fieldwork and other research on the roots of the dance, the dancers, and their context, which he documented and used. Though a constant challenge, his role as publisher/writer enabled him to communicate knowledge and opinion and provided a printed record of the dance field for current and future researchers. Bobby’s collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, videotapes, and so forth—the documentation of historic and contemporary Near Eastern dance—also made him an archivist. Other roles such as workshop sponsor, lecturer, videotape producer, and distributor/vendor rounded out his career.
These roles evolved through time, through many twists and turns of life beyond the scope of this article. Much has been written about Bobby, and more will be forthcoming. Here is a brief look at parts of his story for us to revisit and remember.
Ibrahim Farrah: Selected Chronology
The list below contains significant activities and events related to Ibrahim Farrah’s life in the areas of education, performance, choreography, publishing, teaching, and travel. It demonstrates the depth and breadth of Farrah’s involvement in Middle Eastern dance through his multiple roles and affinity groups.
February 27, 1939 Born in Everson, PA to George Jacob and Alba Nassar Farrah.
1953-57 Attended Scottdale High School, Scottdale, PA. Organized assembly programs. Voted “Most Popular” in 13 out of 15 categories, including “Best Dancer.”
1957-61 Attended the Pennsylvania State University. Danced in thespian productions. Taught Lebanese dabka to Interlandia folk dance group.
April, 1960 Attended Middle Eastern night club for the first time (Club Zara, Boston, MA); saw first professional Oriental dancer.
Spring, 1961 Graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts.
Summer, 1961 Traveled to Lebanon for six weeks.
September, 1961 Moved to Washington, D.C. for job at the Library of Congress. Began regular attendance at Port Said nightclub.
Summer, 1962 Became drummer/M.C. at Club Suez, Washington, D.C.
November, 1963 Became dance partner to Emar Gemal for club dates, private parties.
1964-1967 Became full-time dancer. Toured U.S. with Emar Gemal; taught private classes to professional dancers.
1965 Accepted first foreign engagements in Greece and Turkey. Began teaching “the public” in Washington, D.C.
June, 1967 Moved to New York City; taught at Stairway to the Stars (three weeks).
July, 1967 Began teaching at International School of Dance, Carnegie Hall (two years). Began teaching performance and private classes at Rudy’s and LeRoy’s studios.
July, 1968 Took family trip with mother to Lebanon for four months.
1968-1974 Partnered with Phaedra in New York; toured Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries .
September, 1969 Opened own dance school in loft on 72nd St., NYC (two years).
Fall, 1969 Formed Near East Dance Group with some of his students. First performances were at special Arab affairs in greater New York.
Spring, 1970 Near East Dance Group performed theatrical debut at original Clark Center Theater of Performing Arts.
May, 1971 Doris Duke’s Near East Dance Foundation sponsored Near East Dance Group.
June, 1971 Received a grant from Doris Duke Foundation to do research in Lebanon for six months. Included short trip to Egypt.
November, 1971 Dissolved Doris Duke Foundation affiliation.
1972-1975 Re-established group and private classes. Performed with Phaedra in nightclubs and at club dates, then developed Trio Fantasia with Eba and Azuri .
September, 1974 Re-formed Near East Dance Group.
October, 1974 Taught at International Dance Seminar, Chicago.
1975 Conducted first national seminar teaching tour: Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and Philadelphia. Choreographed for the Arab Immigrant Theater of Fine Arts, Brooklyn, NY.
May, 1975 Published first issue of bi-monthly Arabesque magazine.
June, 1975 Performed with Lebanese group at the Smithsonian Institute’s Bicentennial Celebration, Washington D.C.
Fall, 1975 Held first Teachers Course in New York City (evolved into a week-long seminar offered three times a year).
December, 1976 Near East Dance Group’s first performance as part of the Town Hall Interlude Series, Town Hall Theater, New York.
1977-80 Near East Dance Group performed at Town Hall, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Riverside Dance Festival and other venues outside New York.
October, 1979 Awarded Ruth St. Denis Award in Choreography.
April, 1980 Near East Dance Group performed at Lincoln Center.
September, 1981 Led his first dance tour to Egypt (tour including Lebanon planned in 1975 canceled due to war); made almost annual trips with Ali Hamidzadeh of Turquoise International through 1987.
Winter, 1981 Taught one semester of Oriental dance at New York University.
June, 1981 Near East Dance Group performed at Town Hall with guest artist Nadia Gamal.
April, 1984 Near East Dance Group performed at Riverside Dance Festival.
March, 1987 Near East Dance Group performed at Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall.
May, 1991 Appeared as faculty and featured performer at Jerusalem Arts Festival, Jerusalem, Israel. Inducted into the American Academy of Middle Eastern Dancers’ Hall of Fame as a charter member.
March, 1992 Appeared as faculty member at Egyptian Dance Festival in Cairo, Egypt, produced by Dietlinde Kartuli of Frankfurt, Germany.
1994 Produced and distributed videotape, “Rare Glimpses.”
June, 1996 Teaching tour of Australia and Japan
July, 1996 Last week-long seminar, N.Y.
May, 1997 Honored at International Conference on Middle Eastern Dance, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA.
February 6, 1998 Died at home in New York City.
Adapted from: Forner, 1993: The Transmission of Oriental Dance in the United States: From Raqs Sharqi to “Belly Dance”
He was born Robert Abraham Farrah on February 27, 1939 in Everson, a small town in western Pennsylvania, to parents who had immigrated from Lebanon. Bobby prided himself on his Lebanese heritage, a cultural influence that shaped his dance and aesthetic. In a series of articles in Arabesque titled “A Dancer’s Chronicle. . . The Lebanese Chapters,” Bobby described childhood experiences “that would not have been much different had I been born in Lebanon” [Farrah 1991:9]. Dance and song were an important tradition maintained in his Lebanese-American community. Parents encouraged their children’s participation in singing, playing music, and dancing at social occasions. Bobby recounted that after guests would leave their home,
we children imitated, as near as possible. . . our elders’ body gestures…I relished showing off that I could not only do the steps as well or better, but also I could adopt those intimate personal expressions—the idiosyncratic personality of those whom I was imitating…[Farrah 1992:12].
Bobby traced his dancing roots to the 19th century: “my birthright is the bedrock of my aesthetics” [Farrah 1991b:10]. Although his father was not a dancer, Bobby watched his paternal grandfather, Yaoub Gergis Farrah (who was more than 100 years old when he died in 1962) dance, and believed the elder’s machismo and expressions were evident in his own dancing. Bobby credited his mother as his first dance teacher. She loved the traditional dances she learned from her mother in Lebanon. In their home, Mrs. Farrah taught young Ibrahim how to dance with a woman:
If I got up and danced with my sister, my mother used to say, “this is what you should do, this is when you should go, both of you, to the public and greet them and say hello, this is when you should dance for each other…You danced off and left your sister standing in the middle of the floor alone. You’re not supposed to show off when you dance. You’re supposed to respect who you are dancing with.” [Farrah 1992b]
These informal lessons later guided Bobby during his early performing career when he danced with female partners such as Emar Gemal, Phaedra, and Dahlena.
In high school in the 1950s, Bobby, like many other adolescents, rejected his cultural heritage to be more like the other kids, more “all-American.” Nonetheless, his natural talents in dance and theater sought expression through rock-and-roll music and school assembly productions. In great demand as a dancing partner, he was voted “best dancer” in his senior class. [Farrah, 1992b]
After graduating from the Pennsylvania State University in 1961, Bobby went to work at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. He spent part of his free time at the Port Said nightclub, where he was entranced with the entertainment and the night life. After a few years, Bobby began his professional career as an Oriental dancer with partner Emar Gemal. They spent several years traveling the national nightclub circuit, performing in American and ethnic clubs. During these tours, he found dance schools in local yellow pages, “looking for anything that would make me understand dance better.” [Farrah 1992c] Bobby observed ballet, tap, jazz, modern, baton twirling, juggling, and acrobatics—the kinds of movement classes offered throughout America at that time. “I took classes in every form that existed but didn’t study any form intensively. I wanted to understand the totalness of dance.” [Solomon 1979:9] Constant travel and lack of funds limited Bobby’s formal dance studies, but exposure to various variety acts in the American clubs gave him a practical education on performance aspects such as timing, lighting, audience reaction, and “polish.” [Farrah 1992a, 1992c]
Bobby’s powers of observation, imitation, and creative expression fueled his Oriental dance education. Whether watching imported Arab films or live performances, he saw many of the great dancers of the East. He began his dance career at a time when almost all Oriental dancers and musicians performing in the United States were from Middle Eastern countries, and had the opportunity to share the bill with stars such as the Jamal Twins, Badia, and Ozel Turkbas. [Farrah 1992a] Since they worked together six nights a week, Bobby spent much time observing and conversing with native performers.
Bobby’s early studies of Arab dance and culture extended beyond American soil. Several extended trips to Lebanon and nearby countries in 1968 and 1971 furthered his exposure to and education about Middle Eastern culture in general, and dance in particular. These excursions provided numerous opportunities to witness dance at family celebrations, summer festivals, stage concerts, and nightclubs. [Farrah 1992c]
In addition to exchanging ideas with native artists and studying both Oriental dance and regional folk dances, I had the opportunity to watch people gesture as they shop, to see how they walk in the streets, as well as how they use the dance to mark their sorrows and joys. This gave me a structure to communicate the soul—the very spirit of these people through dance. No one can be a true ethnic dancer without communicating the emotion of the people whose culture the dance comes from. [Lahm 1980:21]
This kind of first-hand observation continued during numerous trips to the Middle East in later years. Bobby believed strongly that dancers should have an intellectual understanding of the culture and history surrounding a dance form. “If a certain art form is born of a particular culture, then the culture is the source of inspiration for that form. Know that culture to get that inspiration!” [Lahm 1979:32] Along with fieldwork, Bobby conducted archival research, from reading travelers’ accounts to studying historical pictorial representations of dances. The results of this research appeared in Arabesque, as well as on the stage and in the dance studio.
Before I taught ten versions of ten styles of this dance form, be it the folkloric or the Oriental style, I mastered one at a time…I evolved my method and my knowledge and when I was sure that I could give something in a new form and thought I was doing it justice, then I added it to my curriculum. [Monty 1982:25]
It was during his 1968 Lebanon trip that Bobby first saw Nadia Gamal perform in person. Gamal, one of the few Oriental dance artists to achieve international stardom, was an inspiration, mentor, and close friend of Bobby’s until her death in 1990. Their strong bond is seen in much of his dance aesthetic and teaching style.
Bobby’s teaching experiences began almost simultaneously with his dancing career. Again, the roots of being an educator lay in childhood, when he often played “teacher” or helped other children at school. In college, he taught dabke to the Interlandia folk dance group, and intended to teach history after he got his degree, but did not have the necessary education credits. [Farrah 1992a] When observing dance classes, he not only noted what they were teaching, but how: “I felt that I would eventually become a teacher…I began to see what was a good teacher and what was a bad one…I found it interesting, if not artistically or aesthetically fulfilling, to see how people handled different people.” [Farrah 1992c; Solomon 1979:9] In those early days, Oriental dancers who wanted to improve their act approached him for private lessons:
Everywhere I went other dancers were asking me to help them…I figured that somewhere along the line some kind of teaching situation’s going to develop with me…I found myself very pleased to help people play the zills (finger cymbals)…to show people how to turn and not get dizzy…It wasn’t formal teaching. [Farrah 1992c]
Bobby saw teaching as a natural extension of performing. Tired of traveling, he thought teaching would offer a more stable, secure income. Back in Washington, D.C., in 1965, Bobby began teaching regularly in his small apartment. His first classes were composed of beginning professional dancers, former strippers who wanted to become Oriental dancers, and women working in the federal government who “saw the dance as an art…This is when I saw my abilities to teach.” [Farrah 1992c]
Yearning to “expand my dimensions as an artist and try to do other things rather than stay in nightclubs,” Bobby moved to New York in the summer of 1967 [Farrah 1992c]; he had been hired by theatrical agent Joe Williams to teach at Stairway to Stardom, said to be the only school at the time specializing in “Oriental belly dancing” [Monty 1986:243]. Through a series of circumstances Bobby ended his association with Stairway to Stardom after several weeks and began teaching “Middle Eastern Oriental dance” at the International School of Dance at Carnegie Hall. To my knowledge, he was the first teacher of Oriental dance in an accredited dance academy.
The experience of working at the Carnegie Hall school for two years enriched Bobby’s teaching and dancing skills. Here he was exposed to “a whole different optical aesthetic of dance.” [Farrah 1992b] Classes included flamenco, Afro-Cuban, and Russian character, and Bobby availed himself of these learning opportunities. Many students at the school were actors and dancers from Broadway musicals and ballet companies. He was impressed with their professional attitude and work ethic:
[It was] my most inspiring teaching period, maybe because I was young and beginning, but there was something about teaching there that has never been replaced…It was the attitude and the discipline and working with people, the vast majority [who] were professional in the sense that some didn’t even aspire to do this dance but they did other dances, and others were inspired for character types in case they could ever get a role in a Broadway show.
…Everybody was working hard and looking like you had a class of dancers…It still remains the most illuminating part of my academic life as a dancer. [Farrah 1992c]
The classes he taught included students who soon became professional Oriental dancers, such as long-time collaborator Phaedra (Phyllis Saretta). Since some students were asking for additional, more advanced classes, Bobby rented studio space at less expensive rehearsal halls such as Rudy’s and LeRoy’s. Many dancers who were drawn to study with Bobby had professional aspirations; they requested private classes, primarily to perfect nightclub acts. [Farrah 1992d]
Although Oriental dance in the 1960s was traditionally performed in nightclub and restaurant contexts, Bobby was one of the few who saw it as an art form that could expand to the theater. In the fall of 1969 Bobby formed the Near East Dance Group, which showcased his research on Middle Eastern dance forms as well as his show-business sensibilities. “The Near East dance artist [must] ascribe Western theatrical standards to an Eastern form.” [Farrah 1980:3] The company’s repertoire enacted religious, secular, social, and historical aspects of these cultures through dance pieces. Accompanied by live music, regional dances from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria were featured most on the program, as well as interpretations of “ancient Egyptian pharaonic” and “harem fantasy” Oriental dance numbers. Program notes explained some background and cultural information. The company performed at such venerable theaters as Town Hall, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as at universities, high schools, and local auditoriums. Through the years the Near East Dance Group transmitted Bobby’s approach to the theatrical presentation of Near Eastern dances to the public as well as to dancers and dance groups throughout the country, who often copied their styles and repertoire. [Phaedra 1992]
The spread of interest in “belly dance” in the early 1970’s from a small group of performers and teachers to the larger mainstream of American culture led to the development of day-long instructional programs created by Paul Monty’s company, International Dance Seminars. The conventions featured classes taught by several different teachers who exhibited “varying degrees of expertise and talent in both teaching and performing.” [Monty 1986:329] Student response was overwhelming; “America was starving for the dance.” [Farrah 1992c] Each convention attracted literally hundreds of students, many of whom were instructors of the form, as well as a modicum of press coverage. Bobby, who began teaching at IDS conventions in Chicago in the fall of 1974, was surprised at first by the number of teachers that emerged out of the general public:
The students were dancers from other forms…[They were] people you could train. Plus those that weren’t made up for it with the sheer enthusiasm of being emotionally moved, because they saw something in the dance that they may have felt but never experienced before. There were tears and there was this sense of trying…I would show them a step and I would get applause. [Farrah 1992c]
What resulted was the beginning of the workshop/seminar format for teaching Oriental dance and related dance forms. On the basis of requests and established relationships with local dance leaders, Bobby began teaching in cities throughout the country in 1975. [Farrah 1992c, 1975:7]
Around the same time, many dancers going to New York for events such as the International Dance Seminars inquired about Bobby’s group or private classes. Other dancers from the surrounding suburbs who were teaching local classes were also eager for more training. Concerned about the level of knowledge that these teachers possessed, Bobby organized a special, unadvertised two-day class in the fall of 1975. The seminar focused on teaching as opposed to dancing as Bobby strove to “improve their knowledge of the body”:
What to be aware of with the general masses of people…[how] they could benefit from my experience of having worked with bodies that are trained…If a student [has bad posture] you can do what I do…I began to show them some of the images I use when I teach. [Farrah 1992d]
The response from the fifty or so participants was positive. By the early 1980’s the annual Teachers Course had expanded to a week of classes, and through the years evolved in format and content.
While teaching during the boom of the dance in the early 1970s, Bobby realized that many dancers throughout the country were ignorant or naive about Oriental dance and related cultural information, and were eager to learn more. Their reactions confirmed Bobby’s belief in the need for more information on Middle Eastern culture, and contributed to his desire to start Arabesque magazine. In the first issue in 1975, he wrote that the purpose in publishing Arabesque was “to unravel some of the mysteries of the Middle East and to bring our readers more knowledge of the culture, the customs, the traditions of this vast and diverse part of the world.” [Farrah 1975:3]
The success of both Habibi and Arabesque can…be largely attributed to the proliferation of activities in Middle Eastern dance in the early 1970s. There were many American dancers who were also researchers traveling, working and studying in the Middle East (which did not make their quest for information particularly easy). Articles assisted American dancers toward an understanding of Middle Eastern dance artists, dance groups and cultural differences. [Monty 1986:382]
The bimonthly publication on high-quality paper stock took a scholarly approach to Middle Eastern dance and related cultural topics while reporting contemporary events and interests of the international dance community. “We try to cover from a serious point of view everything ranging from the classical and traditional to the secular and more entertaining aspects.” [Farrah 1977:9]
While articles were written by noted authorities and academics, Arabesque often covered the Oriental dance scene from Bobby’s perspective, which was unique, due to his extensive teaching, performing, and research activities, and reflected the people with whom he came in contact. Bobby penned a number of series that offered insight and overviews of contemporary and historic phenomena. Early issues (volume 1 number 4, 1975 to volume 3 number 6, 1978) featured an “Editorial” which discussed issues of concern to Oriental dancers, such as professionalism, recognition and respect as an art form, seminar quality, terminology, and a standardized dance vocabulary. A “Byline” series contained letters from readers on the same or related subjects. “Dance Encyclopedias” (volume 3 number 3, 1977 to volume 4 number 6, 1979) examined different forms of Middle Eastern dance, such as the zar and raks al-asaya (stick dance). “Vive la danse Orientale” (volume 10, numbers 1 to 6, 1984-1985) traced the evolution of modern costuming tastes and trends through history; “Cairo on the Hudson, San Francisco on the Nile” (primarily volume 10 numbers 1 to 6, 1984-1985) explored the development and growth of the dance movement to that point. Bobby discussed the spread of Oriental dance among a number of countries around the world in “Internationalization of Dance” (volume 14 numbers 5 to 6, 1989). In “Questions, please” (volume 11 numbers 1 to 6, 1985-1986), he responded to a variety of readers’ inquiries. “Photos, please,” a sporadic series in the late 1980s featured photographs with accompanying textual explanations, mostly of contemporary as well as historic dancers in the United States and the Middle East.
These glimpses into the chronicle of Bobby’s career highlight his multifaceted contribution as a pioneering artist, educator, and ethnologist devoted to a cadre of ethnic dance. Knowledgeable, articulate, and controversial, he influenced almost every facet of the art and business of contemporary Middle Eastern dance, and will continue to do so.
When teaching or giving to people…though you might only see these people on a particular day, you realize that you are making an impression and influencing someone else’s growth, energy, life…That spark is very important to me, that transferring of knowledge to other people who disseminate it to others…because I believe in continuity. [Solomon 1979:8]
1975 “Dance News.” Arabesque 1(1):7-9, 12. New York: Ibrahim Farrah.
1977 “Arabesque reports.” Arabesque 3(4):9-10. New York: Ibrahim Farrah.
1980 “From the publisher…” Arabesque 5(5):3. New York: Ibrahim Farrah.
1991 “A dancer’s chronicle…the Lebanese chapters.” Arabesque 16(5):9-12. New York: Ibrahim Farrah.
1992 “A dancer’s chronicle: the Lebanese chapters… ‘growing up in dance.’” Arabesque 17(6):12-13. New York: Ibrahim Farrah.
Farrah, Ibrahim (resource person)
1992a Interview by Michelle Forner, in New York, New York; 7 July. Los Angeles: private collection of Michelle Forner (audiocassette).
1992b Interview by Michelle Forner, in New York, New York; 31 July. Los Angeles: private collection of Michelle Forner (audiocassette).
1992c Interview by Michelle Forner, in New York, New York; 13 August Los Angeles: private collection of Michelle Forner (audiocassette).
1992d Interview by Michelle Forner, in New York, New York; 5 September. Los Angeles: private collection of Michelle Forner (audiocassette).
1993 The Transmission of Oriental Dance in the United States: From Raqs Sharqi to “Belly Dance” (master’s thesis). Los Angeles: University of California, Dance Department.
1979 “Ibrahim Farrah: a commitment to dance, a commitment to life.” Arabesque 15(2):4-5, 21, 32. New York: Ibrahim Farrah.
1980 “Oriental dance: the technique of Ibrahim Farrah.” Dance Teacher Now 2(4):18-22. Davis, California: SMW Communications.
Monty, Paul [facilitator]
1982 Symposium: ten years of Middle Eastern dance in retrospect, a panel held on July 23 as part of the Midsummer Magic Convention for belly dancers held in New York, New York (transcript from an audio recording). New York: New York Public Library Dance Collection.
Monty, Paul Eugene
1986 Serena, Ruth St. Denis, and the Evolution of Belly Dance in America (1876-1976) (doctoral dissertation). New York: New York University.
Phaedra [Phyllis Saretta] (resource person)
1992 Interview taped by Michelle Forner, in New York, New York; 4 August. Los Angeles: private collection of Michelle Forner (audiocassette).
1979 “Interview with Ibrahim Farrah.” Wind and Spirit: The Magazine of Middle Eastern Dance 1(3):8-12. Bronx, New York: Wind and Spirit, Inc.
Michelle L. Forner holds a master of arts degree in dance ethnology from UCLA. She won the Egyptian-style category of the Southern California International Belly Dance Competition in 1994. As a consulting archivist at the Library of Congress, she processed world dance and music collections from 1994-97. Michelle currently serves as director of the Dance Heritage Coalition, a national alliance of institutions holding major dance collections whose mission is to better preserve and make accessible the record of dance in America. She continues to perform and teach Oriental dance and also lecture and write about issues in dance ethnology and Middle Eastern dance.