Malika Zarra at Between the Seas--Liquid Roads and Flowing Melodies

Moroccan artist Malika Zarra and her band that's as worldly as she performed at the New York festival "Between the Seas" on Friday. She sang in at least four languages--Berber, Arabic, French, and English--songs that ranged from traditional Berber ballades to poetry she herself wrote. And they took the time to introduce the audience to musical styles associated with various Sufi "brotherhoods" in Morocco. This video does not do the evening justice; it's just to tempt you to go to her website (above).

Between the Seas is a new "Mediterranean world" art festival in New York City. It was begun by Aktina Stathaki, Ph.D. (a Greek dancer) with the sensibility that the Mediterranean Sea is itself a region of shared cultural resonances. So, instead of thinking "North Africa" or "Southern Europe" or "the Levant," the festival hearkens back to the conception of water and not landmasses as being the defining cultural or regional (or political) unit. Though now we think of social units in terms of land ("Europe," "North America"), for most of recorded history, people thought in terms of the rivers and seas that linked them. And so we had the Nile, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic. It's cool to see art and cultural expression once more being interpreted in this older vein.

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