Qanun, Featuring Rare and Ancient Musical Instrument, Showcases Dances of the World

Categories: Dance
Oh, to lead the life of Tamalyn Dallal. In 1990, she founded Mid-Eastern Dance Exchange, the first belly dance studio in Miami Beach. Over the next 15 years, she trained many of the most successful dancers on the global belly dance scene (yes, there is one), including Amar Gamal, Bozenka, Hanan, Samay, and Virginia.

"I felt like the Forrest Gump of bellydancing," says Dallal modestly. In other words, she won't take credit for developing all that talent. She just happened to be in the right place, at the right time.

Well, she's not staying in one place anymore. Like any belly dance star, she travels the global circuit to give workshops in places like Morocco, Spain, and Argentina. She also has a regular gig teaching for two months every year in China, bankrolled by the Chinese government.

Since 2005, when Dallal left Miami, she also has been exploring traditional dances around the world. She is making a series of documentaries called Dance on Film that takes her to far-flung locals like Mongolia and Zanzibar, a tiny island off the coast of Kenya. That's the subject of her most recent feature: Zanzibar Dance, Trance, and Devotion. For the next few years, she'll be returning to East Africa to make Ethiopia Dances for Joy.

Dance on Film is independently funded. Which brings Dallal back to Miami this week for a fundraiser in the form of a "historical and theatrical dance performance," called Qanun. Miami's own superstar Bozenka will be there, along with local luminaries like Francesca and Alexandra. Visiting artists include Jacqui Lalita from Los Angeles and Leilaa Hiromi from Japan.

The real star of the show, though, will be the ancient 78-stringed lap harp called the qanun. Scholars debate whether this instrument originated in ancient Egypt or ancient China and have traced its descendents to the European dulcimer and the Appalachian zither. One thing's for sure: the qanun is extremely difficult to play. Dallal has enlisted the only guy in South Florida who can play it -- Syrian-born Elias Kilzi -- to accompany the dancers in the second half of the show.

The instrument is "really gorgeous," says Dallal. Listening to it may also bring unexpected benefits. "In Turkey, they would play it for mental patients," she points out. "That was the only music that could calm them down."

See Quanan at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Art of Bellydance Performance Space, 1431 Alton Road, Second Floor, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Half of the proceeds go to the Dance on Film project. Call 305-538-1608 or visit

--Celeste Fraser Delgado,

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Location Info


Mid Eastern Dance Exchange

350 Lincoln Road, St. 505., Miami Beach, FL

Category: General

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