main page/topics
back to interviews
Chanel Arobas is guest at Leyla and Roland Jouvana's 24th Oriental Festival of Europe, 22. - 28.11.2016 in Duisburg!
Infos and workshop registration here:
Graphics/WebDesign: Konstanze Winkler
For the first time at Leyla and Roland Jouvana’s Oriental Dance Festival of Europe, Chanel Arobas, one of the most famous dancers of the Mediterranean East Coast. Her family roots are in Morocco and she grew up in the Moroccan culture … which gives her belly dance a special flavour.

But Morocco is no belly dance nation and how Chanel found to belly dance and took it as part of her like no other artist that she will tell us in the interview below. One of the major things she learned from belly dance:


Interview with Chanel Arobas

by Marcel Bieger

Please introduce yourself and how you found to dance.

Ok about me… Actually my parents and my brothers were born in Morocco and moved to Middle East. I was born in the new home, but into the old culture, the tastes, the music, the colors, and the Moroccan language; since I was a little girl, we were listening to Moroccan music. In the city we were living in, there was a large community of Moroccans, so it was like small Morocco, on holidays, weddings and so on we were dancing to the sounds of Moroccan singers.

In the Moroccan culture a few days before the wedding we have a party for the bride and for the groom - this party is called „hena“ and for this occasion we are dressing in the traditional clothing, the caftan, and we invite a Moroccan orchestra and singer, we hire a hall for this party, and we are dancing almost till the morning and dance with all the family and friends Moroccan dances.

In 1992 I have been to Morocco for a roots trip and when I arrived there, I felt that this country, which I have never been before, is no stranger for me… It‘s like I knew it and its culture. I saw performances of folklore dances and again it was familiar for me, in Morocco they don‘t have many bellydances, most of the dances are folklore. The reason in terms of Moroccans is that this dance is not a respectable dance, nobody wants that his wife or daughter will dance like the women in Egypt.

For my parents it was not easy to accept at first that I became a belly dancer, but when they saw me dancing in my show they understood that this dance is different from what they knew before. Today they‘re accepting bellydance as a form of art.
Since your roots are in the Berberian culture, who are neither Arabs nor belly dancers, and you grew up in a Moroccan community, how come you met the Arabic way of dancing?

As I said before, all dance occasions in our community are around dancing, food, and culture, some of the dances are looking like belly dancing, but their movements are not as deep as in bellydance. 

When I was 24 years old my sister joined a belly dance class, the studio was new in our city, and she tried to convince me for a year or so to join the class, but for me it sounded like bad idea. Of course I didn't know then, what belly dance can do for your soul and body… After that year I said to myself, ok, I‘ll go, just once, if only to show her that I'm not interested! But the moment I started with the class, I felt so good, the movement was so natural for me, and I stayed for 3 years. Then I went to the academy to study teaching. I'm a teacher since 2008 and I have done many things since then.

Why did you fall in love with belly dance, after it crossed your way, and what made you stick to it? 

When I started to learn belly dancing, I think I discovered myself, before I was a regular woman, going to work and coming back home to my baby girl and my husband. The dance gave me power that I didn't now I had. I learned that I have unique skills … with dancing and teaching I went through a process of empowerment. I'm doing the same with my students making them to discover themselves.
How do make use of your Moroccan folklore for your belly dances, we think that would make an interesting fusion?

Some of the Moroccan dance are done in a kind of trance, I usual start or finish my class with that kind of trance, it's making me and the students relax and feel free; I do also workshops of Moroccan trance.  

Do you have any other dance trainings besides folklore and belly dance?

I can dance all styles of belly dancing (baladi, falahi, Saidi, raqs sharqi, Moroccan, and more. I have absolute hearing plus that I grew up with the sound of Arabic music, making my body dance to all styles easily. I just have to understand the idea of the dance. Usually when I'm dancing I am a character, I have a story in my mind about this character, and I'm dancing (with no choreography only my body, my emotions, my story, and the music, which tell my soul and body what to do. 

We take it that this is your first time in Germany, what do you expect?

Well, this is not my first time in Germany, but it’s my first time at Leyla's festival and I heard so much about this event. I’m expecting to see many dancers from all over the world, to share our knowledge, to meet some people that I already know, and to get to know new people. I‘m really excited to see Leyla‘s school and the way she works, her production (the festival), which she is doing for many years, so everything is very interesting for me. Also I know that the German dancers are very strong and have a high technique.

Your other workshop is called „Articulating Hands & Arms“, same procedure, what will we learn from you there and why is working with hands and arms important to you.

The hands for me are huge tools to empower the feelings. The hands "tell" us, what is going on inside. When you see an angry person, you can see this at his hands’ movements; every emotion makes our arms to talk. At the workshop we will find the connection between our feelings and our hands’ and arms’ movements and how to put it in harmony with the body.

Another thing about the arms is this: If the dancer is like a beautiful painting of a dancer then the arms are like the beautiful frame around the painting. To be a great dancer, you have to work in harmony and in flowing of body & soul.  When you do that your arms will follow the soul …  I will also teach frameworking for hands. 

Chanel Arobas


Saturday, 26. November,
17:15 – 19:15 h
Tarab – Lyrical Dance
Modern Lyrical Balady, technique & combinations with Chanels unique personal style. Express your emotions, feel the music, become the music

Sunday, 27. November, 11:30 – 13:30 h

Articulating Hands & Arms
Beautiful technique & combinations incl. gestures & mime, poses & tension.
Chanel Arobas on facebook ...
Photos: Publishing with kindly permission of Chanel Arobas
Chanel Arobas with Dr. Hassan Khalil
What will we see from you on stage (at Leyla's, that is)?

I was sitting with my very good friend, Dr Hassan Khalil, the other day and I told him: "I don’t build choreos for myself, because if I do, I would feel, as if I‘m losing my passion and my soul on stage ... " His answer was "you are building your choreos for 20 years, already! With every day you are practicing your performing on stage!"

So, nobody knows, you just have to come and see! One thing is for sure, though, when you dance with your soul there is magic.

One of your workshops is titled „Tarab – Lyrical Dance“,  what will we learn from you there and what is your personal relation to Tarab and Lyrical Dance?

Tarab - I am tarab and tarab is my life… tarab is to be yourself, to feel something and express it, not to hide your feelings, to let your soul take you to guide you to your wills, secrets, and desires …  

We will learn at first, how to listen to our soul (all kind of feelings) and when you know, which feeling you have right now, we have to know how to express it… you can watch my videos (please look for Dorit Arobas, as all my videos are still under the original name.)
Even when you are very happy person, you might look inside yourself and find sadness it’s the strongest emotion you meet (it‘s nostalgia, rememberance, a yearning). And that way most of the tarab it’s lyrical.