Morocco, also known affectionately as “Auntie Rocky”, is certainly one of America’s dance treasures. Multi-lingual and an avid world traveler, Morocco got her first Oriental dance job in late 1960.
Says Morocco….“The 1960s were a special time in New York. 8th Avenue, from 27th to 29th Streets, had 10 night clubs with continual live, nightly Mideastern music. That required 3 dancers 6 nights a week, & a 4th on the 3 days when the others were off. That’s 40 dancers needed in a city that had maybe 10, who knew what they were doing. The hit movie “Never On Sunday”, starring Melina Mercouri set in Athens, Greece, was the main reason there were so many successful, crowded Mideastern clubs in New York at that time… “
The first club Morocco worked in was called the “Arabian Nights”, because while the bouzoukee, clarinet & guitar players were Greek, the kanun, oud & accordion players were Arabic-speaking..thus Arabian nights. It was a wonderful time of sharing, where knowledge & friendship were freely given. This is where she received her stage name, “Morocco.” The Lebanese-Greek owner, Marianthe Stevens, insisted she looked Moroccan.
A prolific writer of articles since 1964, Morocco has worked to dispel the myths about Raks Sharki and other writes about other Mideastern dances for dance magazines. There were no publications specifically for Mideastern dancers and afficionados until the early mid ‘70s .
Over the years, she did innumerable TV shows, among them Ed Sullivan, David Frost, Johnny Carson (twice), Dr. Joyce Brothers, and more …educating the public all the way.
Morocco gives credit to Dr. Paul Monty for coming up with a wonderful concept in the early ‘70s. He was the first to envision and take the professional and financial risks involved in producing large-scale Mideastern dance seminars/ conventions with evening concerts all over the U.S. This was to become Rocky’s favorite teaching arena and a great opportunity to share her hard won knowledge on a wider scale, first all over the U.S.and Canada and now most of the world.
Director/Researcher and choreographer of ‘Morocco and the Casbah Dance Experience”, her non-profit company shows the varied and fascinating ethnic dance forms of the MidEast and North Africa.
In 2005, MECDA voted her the Humantarian Award for her body of work over a lifetime. In 2006, the Isis Foundation gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award in Ethnic Dance from the Near and Middle East.
This dancer’s achievements are too numerous to mention…Morocco’s incredible energy for all aspects of our art form is well known. Rocky has spent 40+ years trying to find, recover, preserve and present ethnic dances to save them from extinction.
She continues to perform, teach, research, write, lecture and hopes to keep on “till 6 weeks after I’m dead”…