Scope and arrangement
The Ibrahim Farrah Papers are comprised of correspondence, writings, teaching materials, promotional materials, clippings, research materials, and photographs that document the career of the eminent dancer and teacher of Middle Eastern dance, founder of Arabesqué magazine, and the Ibrahim Farrah Near East Dance Group. Perhaps because Arabesqué became such a central part of Farrah's life, there is considerable overlap among the six series that make up this collection. Throughout the collection can be found notes in Farrah's own hand (often addressed to Arabesqué editor, Adam Lahm) with some explanation of the significance of a particular item or suggestions on how to file it. Correspondence is almost exclusively of a professional nature and the vast majority consists of letters received relating to the editorial or administrative affairs of Arabesqué magazine. Farrah was an avid scholar of Middle Eastern dance and culture, and the collection is especially rich in its documentation of Orientalism as a motif in Western art forms, as well as in images of musicians, dancers, and practitioners of danse orientale (or belly dance, a term Farrah opposed). Particularly well represented by photographs are such performers as Nagwa Fouad, Nadia Gamal, the Jamal Twins, Lucy, Soheir Zaki, and Mahmoud Reda and his dance troupe. Also of note are five folders of photographs from the collection of the influential percussionist Eddie (the Sheik) Kochak, which provide an interesting window into the flourishing post-World War II nightclub scene, which often featured performers of Middle Eastern descent.
The Ibrahim Farrah papers are arranged in six series:
The Correspondence series consists primarily of letters, invoices, and contracts received pertaining to Arabesqué magazine, as well as some material relating to the Ibrahim Farrah Near East Dance Group. Also interfiled chronologically are thank you letters from students in response to Farrah's various teaching workshops or performances. Aside from a single letter from a family member, almost none of the material is of a personal nature. This series also includes one folder containing some of the award certificates received by Farrah.
The General Writings series is divided into two main sections: manuscripts that can be attributed confidently to Ibrahim Farrah and items that were written by others. Among Farrah's own writings are early drafts of interviews, notes on choreography or copies of significant letters, such as one regarding his dealings with Doris Duke. The majority of the writings by other authors are manuscripts or photocopies of material that most likely were submissions to Arabesqué.
The Teaching Materials series contains lecture notes, registration forms, schedules, and descriptions for classes given at Farrah's New York studio, as well information regarding various workshops and residencies conducted by Farrah or his associates in the United States and abroad.
- 1967 - 1997
The Promotional Materials series consists of programs, press releases, fliers, tickets, order forms and other materials documenting performances or workshops in which Ibrahim Farrah or his Near East Dance Group participated. Also interfiled occasionally are similar materials relating to other performers, teachers, or ensembles. Such materials probably were received for inclusion in Arabesqué magazine.
The Clippings and Research Materials series contains photocopies of articles, entire issues of magazines, programs, travel brochures, and other material relating to Middle Eastern culture and dance traditions. Also interfiled chronologically are press releases, reviews, and other materials on Farrah's own performances and teaching. This series includes items in Arabic, French, English, German, Hebrew, Swedish, and Turkish.
The Photographs series is comprised mainly of publicity and candid photographs documenting performances, workshops, and other classes conducted by Ibrahim Farrah, as well those given by the Near East Dance Group or other Middle Eastern dancers and musicians. The series contains considerable material relating to Eddie Kochak, Mahmoud Reda and his dance troupe (including Farida Fahmy), Nagwa Fouad, Nadia Gamal, the Jamal Twins, Lucy, and Soheir Zaki. Additionally, the series includes a significant amount of material on Orientalism, including reproductions of historic engravings, postcards, and photographs (many of the originals most likely dating from the nineteenth century) identified as being from the Virginia Damon collection, as well as a few actual vintage postcards collected by Farrah.