Majda taught me about the sacred and the sacrifice. Driving up to a mountain retreat, the Harvest Moon nestled into the valleys between the peaks like an exclamation point, we wrestled with conceptions around time, space, and our own bodies. Majda explored why she felt so pulled up to the mountains for that specific weekend– why, despite a certain blankness she felt when I’d asked her about “spirit,” this time, these people, the kindness she was about to offer her frenetic mind and work-weary soul, all coincided to make our trip feel like a pilgrimage, turning all our sacrifices to get there into a series of sacred acts.
If you’ve ever taken a car ride with Majda, then you know how illuminating a conversation can get. You can also probably imagine that we sang our way through half of it.
As the video welcome illustrates, Majda has gifted me with music. Il Bint Shalabiyya is the name of that magical song, and some of my fondest memories are of the bright trill of her violin, of locking eyes with her over a microphone for the call and response of Sidi Mansour.
These are tunes of her childhood, and her fluency with them is breathtaking. Majda will set down her violin and step center stage to improvise as the musicians themselves improvise, creating pure magic that entices her audience into the spell. Bewilderingly talented, meticulously informed, and fluidly graceful, Majda’s mastery echoes from every movement.
Majda is stunning. It’s as simple as that.
When it comes to dancing, Majda’s creative process begins with visualizations of colored fabric floating, twirling, rippling and snapping in her own electric field. She intuitively maps these textured emotional responses directly into the music. It’s so exciting, especially for a synesthete like me.
Across the near decade of this project, Majda has grappled deeply with her identity and self-definition. Extending her passion for research into how she lives her daily life emphasizes the delicate Balance between the tools in our toolbox we plan to use and how we must often discard all of our plans and improvise as gracefully as possible with whatever life throws our way. Majda inspires me with her commitment to Compassion as the first, last, and everyday lesson.
You can learn more about Majda on her website, and by supporting this project, you are making it possible for Majda’s stories to be told in full color.