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An Evening with Alma Gitana & Safiya Nawaar

Oct 19



An Exciting Evening of Music and Dance is Planned for Saturday, October 19th 7:30-11:30pm as we welcome local music sensation Alma Gitana to Arabesque, accompanied by the amazing artistry of Belly Dance performer, Safiya Nawaar.

Alma Gitana is a Flamenco-Arabic-World music band that has been performing in Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnati and the State of Kentucky since 2003.
Taking listeners on an aural trip from the Andalucia region of Spain, to Lebanon, Columbia, and beyond, this Lexington, Ky band is a true musical melting pot. Alma Gitana is a unique hybrid of genres that brings together many traditions and cultures in a joyful and energetic mix. Alma Gitana, (Spanish for “Gypsy Soul”) fully embodies the seven-member group. The Louisville/Lexington collective of musicianship offers Flamenco guitars, violins, percussion and bass, and well as Middle Eastern oud and tres, all lead by fiery vocals and intertwining harmonies.


Show Tickets $15.00 +tax

Performer Bios

Performance Bios and Links

Safiya Nawaar (Middle Eastern Performing Artist)

International teacher, performer and mentor Safiya Nawaar, is the owner and artistic director of Arabesque World Dance in Lexington, Kentucky. This beautiful dancer brings the emotions of music to life through creative movement with a powerful yet delicate style, both on the stage and in the classroom. Safiya’s specialties include the traditional and folkloric dances from Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Persia. As well, she teaches and performs Theatrical, Interpretive, Lyrical, Tribaret, American Cabaret and ITS.
Her studio and show venue frequently host national and international talent for workshops, performances and educational presentations. Her passion for introducing culture to the community through movement and music, also brings her signature style out into the public by way of cultural festivals, stage shows, art exhibitions, school demonstrations, and themed events such as cosplay and comic cons. She produces and directs her annual events under the label, Arabesque World Dance Productions.
Safiya is a classically trained dancer with many years of Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical and Theatrical dance as a solid foundation before getting involved in MENAHT dance training. For a complete bio and list of upcoming appearances visit her at www.arabesquelex.com or www.dancesafiya.com.

Annette Hill McCulloch (World Music Fusion vocals)

Annette has been an actor and singer in the Southern Indiana/Louisville area for over 20 years. She has performed with Derby Dinner Playhouse, Stage on Spring, Pandora Productions, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Stage, The Kentucky Opera, and Story Station Children’s Theatre. She has also owned and operated a very successful private voice studio for the last 12 years. Annette studied vocal performance and music education at the University of Evansville and has made it a priority to continue developing her voice through the years by singing in a variety of musical styles including classical, Broadway, 40’s three part harmony and now world music fusion. ​

Maggie Lander (Violin, acoustic guitar and vocals)

Maggie started playing fiddle at age 11. A year later she was performing on stage. She plays many musical styles including Celtic, Contest-Style, Classical, Old-time and Bluegrass. She is also a talented songwriter. Maggie’s songs have gotten radio air-time world wide. She is a former member of the popular youth bluegrass band Kentucky Sassafras. In 2008, the band opened for bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley and was a headlining act at Festival Of The Bluegrass in Lexington, Ky. The band released an album in spring 2008 titled “In My Rearview”. The group went their separate ways in January 2009. Maggie has performed at such premiere venues such as the J.D. Crowe Bluegrass Festival and Red Barn Radio, including many others.

She has shared the stage with many esteemed musicians, including Sam Bush, Rob Ickes, Ben Sollee, Zach Brock, Carbon Leaf, Johnathon Edwards, Cherryholmes, members of Passafire and has opened for Maura O’Connell and Carrie Rodriguez…
A former member of the house band for Woodsongs Old-Time Radio hour, lead singer of Lexington, KY band, The City, she now works with The Patrick McNeese Band as well as playing solo shows. Her debut EP ‘Miss Me Moon’ was released in the winter of 2011 and is on all major online retailers. In February 2015, Maggie accepted the award for Best Singer/songwriter at the Lexington Music Awards. Maggie has performed with Alma Gitana since the summer of 2013 and officially joined the band in August 2014.

George Wakim (Arabic lead vocals, Oud, Arabic violin, percussion)

George W. Wakim is from Miye Ou Miye, a small village overlooking the coastal City of Sidon in South Lebanon. George is an avid fan of Arabic music in which he is an entirely self-taught (left-handed) performer on violin, oud, tabla, and voice! In 1984, he came to the University of Kentucky for his engineering degrees during which period he entertained in local and regional area events. Among the different venues involved during George’s engineering career with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, he opened a show for American Folk/Appalachian icon Singer Jean Richie and shared another stage with bluegrass musician and instrument maker legend Homer C. Ledford regarding musical instrument making at the Kentucky Folk-life Festival in Frankfort. He also opened the first Berry Hill Mansion Music Series show in Frankfort, Kentucky, participated in the “Secret Commonwealth” series of dance operas by Dan Dutton of Somerset, Kentucky, performed in a concert by “Baladna” group on KET Mixed Media Show in 2004, and opened for a show for Simon Shaheen at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, Bomhard Theatre in Louisville Kentucky in 2007. George is involved in hand crafting his own ouds and violins. He built five (5) left-handed violins under master maker and friend JB Miller of Lexington. His first oud showed in the “Made To Be Played” exhibit at the state museum in Frankfort in 2009 and oud No.3 just showed at the Kentucky Craft Luminaries exhibit in Lexington in 2015. In addition to entertaining in private parties, he currently performs with World Music fusion group in Lexington called Alma Gitana. He also teaches oud.

Duane Corn (Flamenco guitar, Spanish laud, Cuban tres, electric guitar, 12- string guitar and vocals)

Duane’s interest in flamenco was conceived during a trip to Paracho, Mexico in 1997. The highlight of this adventure was a visit to Benito Huipe’s guitar shop and the purchase of his first flamenco guitar. The following year he attended a flamenco guitar workshop and met fellow participant Bob Elliott. The two kept in sparse contact via email over the next two years. More on that in the next paragraph.
A classical guitarist by training, Duane gleaned what he could from various instructional material and recordings. As fate would have it, a career move for his ballet-dancer wife brought him from Indiana to Lexington, KY. Of course he immediately called Bob Elliott and convinced him to impart some of his knowledge of flamenco. During the lessons, the two became friends and the flamenco bug was rampant in the Corn household. At one point Bob said, “You know, if you really want to learn flamenco you should play with other flamencos.” To make a long story short, Duane joined Bob and Jaleos Flamencos. Unbeknownst to the musicians, the nucleus of Alma Gitana was formed. The rest is recent history!

Duane holds a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education degrees from the University of Evansville in Indiana where he studied with Renato Butturi. Additionally, he received a Master of Music degree in Classical Guitar from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as a student of Clare Callahan. He has studied flamenco guitar with Bob Elliott, Arturo Martinez of New York City and Manuel “El Carbonero” Lozano of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

In addition to Alma Gitana, Duane has performed in the United States and Mexico as a classical guitarist soloist, with the Lexington Guitar Trio, and with the Holland & Corn duo.

Jake Riddle (Bass guitar)

Jake is a bass player & composer who has been performing professionally for 10 years. He holds a B.F.A in music from The University of Rio Grande, and a Masters in Music Composition from The University of Kentucky. In the Summer of 2014, Jake toured China as a member of The U.K. Jazz Ensemble playing universities, music schools, and one of the country’s top Jazz clubs. As a member of the Magik Mama Blues Band Jake was a semifinalist and went on to place 2nd in the 2008 International Blues Competition sponsored by The Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society of Marietta O.H. Jake has played a wide range of styles professionally including, but not limited to; Jazz, Blues, Classic Rock, Pop Rock, Heavy Metal, Reggae, Funk, Soul, Bluegrass, Country, Polka, Progressive Jazz fusion and many more. Jake is also a founding member of U.K.’s “Free Improvisation Ensemble”, a group which specializes in performing entirely improvised music. This group was invited and performed at the 2014 I.S.I.M. conference in New York City; one of the largest conventions for Improvised music in the world. Jake also has an extensive background and training in classical composition and Music Theory. Jake currently lives in Lexington Kentucky where he works as a professional musician in the local Jazz scene.

Bob Elliott (Flamenco guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals)

Bob began playing guitar at age 17 and played folk and rock in the early years. While in college in the late 1970’s, he studied fingerstyle techniques with Lexington guitarist Jerry Belsak. Bob completed medical school at the University of Kentucky in 1985 and completed his residency in psychiatry in 1989. After starting his private practice, he began to study flamenco guitar. By August 1996, Bob began studying under flamenco guitarist René Heredia. Rene was a protégé of the legendary flamenco guitarist Sabicas and eventually became one of the lead guitarists for flamenco dance greats such as Carmen Amaya and José Greco.

In December 1997, Bob joined the Ballet Español of Louisville. During his work with the Ballet Español, Bob studied with classical/flamenco guitarist Doug Jones and flamenco guitarists Arturo Martinez and Greg Wolf. Bob performed with the Ballet Español on Kentucky Educational Television’s “In Performance at the Governor’s Mansion” in May 1999. Bob also gave a solo performance that year at Brescia University in Owensboro, KY. He appears playing flamenco guitar in the award-winning documentary “Beyond the Border” by Ari Palos and Eren McGinnis, which premiered at the Kentucky Theatre in September 2001. He organized Lexington’s first Flamenco Festival in 2003 featuring live performances and workshops by Arturo Martinez, Jaleos Flamencos and dancer Peter Suarez. In 2003, Bob co-founded Alma Gitana with Duane Corn and Stuart Waldner. He has appeared as a guest guitarist with flamenco dance company Flamenco Louisville numerous times over the past 10+ years. Bob is currently studying with flamenco guitarist/singer/dancer Marija Temo.

Dave Farris (Drum kit, percussion)

Simply put: Dave is an awesome drummer!!

Paul T Carney (Cajon, percussion, flamenco guitar)

Paul grew up in Louisiana surrounded by music, but developed a love for percussion while living in the Chicago area. He studied with Cuban jazz percussionist Dede’ Sampaio and accompanied him at the Giordano Dance Center while earning his degree from Northwestern University in Performance Studies. Paul’s first exposure to flamenco was in 2001, when he married flamenco dancer Diana Dinicola and he began playing cajon (box drum) with Flamenco Louisville in 2004. Then, in 2007, Paul began playing flamenco guitar as well, becoming an accompanist and solo musician.

His gracious teachers and fellow performers have included Juan Ramirez, Carmen Ledesma, Karolina González “La Negra”, Maribel Ramos “La Zambra”, José Manuel Ramos “El Oruco”, Marija Temo, Antonio Vargas, Michelle Iaccarino, John Lawrence, Richard Marlow, Chayito Champion, and Juan del Gastor (Juan Amaya).

Paul owns and operates Body Mechanics Massage Therapy Clinic, and is a performing musician with the Kentucky Art Center’s Arts in Healing program. Paul joined Alma Gitana as a percussionist and guitarist in January 2015.

Visit Alma Gitana

Henna Body Art

Henna by Anna Rose

Henna by Anna Rose

Beautiful, temporary henna body art in the Lexington KY area!  Available for individual sessions and parties, weddings and other events!

Visit Henna by Anna Rose














Arabesque World Dance

The ethnically inspired Arabesque World Dance studio was created and decorated with the purpose of complementing the Performance Arts, as well as providing a unique event space that caters to a wide range of cultural and community interests. The ‘Eastern Edgy’ health and wellness space converts into a show venue and hosts a number of annual shows that introduce culture to the community through dance and music. Its located at 451 B Chair Ave. Lexington, Ky 40508.
If you have any questions, you can contact Arabesque at 859.455.8991



So, join us for an adventurous evening with live music that you will want to get up and dance to (and we totally encourage that!!)

We are Planning to have a food vendor set up just outside the studio, and some great activities inside for you to enjoy between sets.

So mark your calendars and invite your friends!




Oct 19


Safiya Nawaar


Arabesque World Dance
451-B Chair Ave
Lexington, KY United States
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