Torkom Movsesiyan is representative of what is today a rare breed: he is a Renaissance man-a cultural ambassador of the arts, dancer, scholar, polyglot, actor, singer, model, entrepreneur, the president of a not-for-profit organization, TORKOMADA, and the founder of Raqs without Borders: a Middle Eastern and North African dance festival in NYC. In 2020, The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Torkom's folk dance festival project, Raqs Without Borders' Fifth Anniversary, a media art grant. CATCH, a consortium including City Lore, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Bronx Music Heritage Center, Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York Folklore, and the Folk Arts Program of the Brooklyn Arts Council awarded Torkom the Folk Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund. From 2016-2019, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and New York State Council on the Arts awarded TORKOMADA the prestigious Creative Engagement grant to host an annual Middle Eastern dance festival to strengthen and empower the Middle Eastern dance community, as well as to foster a mutual understanding between the Middle East and the West. In 2018, Brooklyn Arts Council awarded Torkom the Brooklyn Art Fund grant to create a Middle Eastern dance project called, "Arabic Nights in Brooklyn," and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone awarded his project, "Raqs Revoltuion" the UMEZ grant. In 2015, Torkom appeared as the guest dancer at the Off-Broadway show-Blood on the Veil. His organization became a recipient of the prestigious CUNY Dance Initiative Residency to create lecture-demonstration series about Raqs Sharqi in cultural diplomacy at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, where he taught master Raqs Sharqi classes. Following that, UNESCO's International Dance Council invited him to present a lecture on Raqs Sharqi at the 42nd World Dance Congress on Research in Florida. Torkom studied Raqs Sharqi extensively with Morocco, Tarik Sultan, Raqia Hassan, Tito, Ahmed Hussien, and Amel Tafsout. Torkom currently teaches Raqs Sharqi, a traditional Egyptian dance, more popularly known in the West under the misnomer—“belly dance,” and conducts academic research on the importance of dance in cultural diplomacy, including many scholarly publications on dance. In 2015, The University of Minnesota, Kean University, and IDance Studio invited him to present a lecture on dance. He holds a Master's degree in international relations focusing on dance in cultural diplomacy and an honors Bachelor's degree in international studies from the City College of New York. His work has been featured in the Daily News, Lincoln Center, The United Nations, HBO, Time Out New York, The Indie Flava Magazine, Pregnant with Heels, Law and Order, Everyday with Rachael Ray, the Discovery Channel, Guiding Light, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Hanane El-Ouadi is a French-Moroccan dancer, who was born and raised in Haguenau, France by her Moroccan parents originally from Taza, Morocco. Growing up in the Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Lebanese and Turkish communities, she has been dancing Raqs al Maghrebi (Dance of Maghreb) since she was a child. As dancing is an integral part of her culture, Hanane has performed with women in ethnic celebrations such as weddings and haflas. As an early teen, she created a group with friends along with choreographies for each member of the troupe. They danced various forms of traditional Moroccan chaâbi, reggada/aâlaoui, Amazight, raï, Algerian raï, chaouï, kabil, Tunisian, Turkish oriental, oriental and hip-hop. Later on, she moved to Strasbourg to study at the Technical Science of Sports and Physical Activities University (S.T.A.P.S.) and pursue her kickboxing career. Hanane joined a troupe of African dancers, performing Congolese/Zaïroise, Ivories, hip hop and solo Oriental and Maghribi dance at community gatherings, clubs, festivals and shows in France and Germany. In 2016 and 2017, Hanane was honored to perform as a guest dancer at the award-winning dance festival "Raqs Without Borders" in NYC, hosted by Torkomada. Similarly, Hanane was one of the competition judges at the closing gala show of "Raqs Without Border 2017." She currently teaches workshops and classes of Raqs al Maghrebi (Moroccan Dance) in NYC
Veronique is the Treasurer of Torkomada, and the Director/Founder of the non-profit, Circle of World Arts in which she also choreographs and performs for its resident dance company, Arabesque Dance Theatre, and teaches at its resident dance school, the Arabesque Dance Academy. She currently performs and collaborates with world music percussionist Tom Teasley and teaches at Ballet Nova, Mosaique Center for Cultural Arts, and The Yellow House, an arts initiative. She is also nominated for president of UNESCO’s International Council of Dance, Washington DC Section. She brings her diverse experience in the arts and business, as well as her proficiency in six languages, to CWA’s mission of fostering
cooperation and understanding among diverse cultures.
cooperation and understanding among diverse cultures.
Jacques Al-Asmar was born in Accra, Ghana. He was raised in Beirut, Lebanon. For the past twenty-five years, he has lived in the United States. He holds an LPC licensure, and is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology in Atlanta, Georgia. He has studied, performed and taught Internationally. His passion for dance was noticed at an early age. Influenced by the legendary Nadia Gamal, Jacques watched his own body move in the same genre as Nadia Gamal. However, his lack of formal training in dance and cultural barriers held him back from pursuing a much loved art form. Jacques' formal training came at a later stage of his career. Thanks to the Legendary Amina of the ASWAN DANCERS, who trained, educated and supported Jacques, he became a dance sensation overnight. Jacques is the co-founder of the Arabian Knights band and producer of Salamat Sundays in San Francisco, California. Jacques Al-Asmar has sponsored artists and performers in concerts and festivals in the US. To mention a few of the incredible artists such as, Sabah, Hakim, Asala, Wael Kfoury, Nawal El Zoughbi, Nabila Metwali, Basem Fhegali, and many many more.