Ibrahim Farrah Tribute
“WHY BE GOOD WHEN YOU CAN BE GREAT?”
Ibrahim Farrah was a well-known performer, teacher, choreographer and scholar of Middle Eastern dance, who also became the founder and publisher of Arabesqué, a notable journal of world ethnic dance. Farrah was a life long scholar of Middle Eastern Danse Orientale also known as belly dance”, a term Farrah opposed.
Farrah, whose full name was Robert Abrahim Farrah, was known among his colleagues, family and friends as “Bobby.” Born in Everson, Pennsylvania in 1939 to George Jacob and Abla Nassar Farrah, he was raised in a strong Lebanese-American community. It was not until his time as a student at Pennsylvania State University, however, that Farrah seriously began to explore his cultural heritage, as well as to investigate the possibilities of a career as a dancer.
After graduating with a degree in history, he moved to Washington, D.C. in the autumn of 1961 and began working at the Library of Congress, as well as regularly attending the Port Said nightclub. He studied dance and was befriended by the top Washington, DC dancer, Adriana. This mentor would encourage Young Farrah onstage at the Port Said.
His professional career got firmly underway in 1963, when he began appearing under the name "Ibrahim," in a partnership with Emar Gamal. The team worked in area nightclubs, such as Syriana, and toured throughout the United States. He was also closely affiliated with international star, Dahlena and had close business and friendship ties to Ali of Turquoise Finger Cymbal fame.
In 1967, he moved to NYC and began teaching at the “International Dance School” at Carnegie Hall, and later would continue to hold performance and private classes at studios, such as the infamous Fazil's.
In the early 1970s, Bobby received a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation, a dance enthusiast and tobacco heiress. Using this grant money, Bobby Farrah embarked on several dance related projects including an extended research trip to Lebanon and the establishment of his own school known as the “Ibrahim School of Near East Dance” in a loft on 72nd Street. This company presented a theatrical conception of Middle Eastern dance styles based on a rigorous study of traditional dance form. The company performed through out the Eastern U.S., NYC, Town Hall, Carnegie Hall and also at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.