Today we’d like to introduce you to Aubre Hill.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The Qabila Foundation believes Arabic folk dance has the power to bring people together across our differences to build bridges of understanding & to allow us all to belong. I started this folk dance company in September 2011 after a growing rise of violence, misinformation, and heavy emotions towards our Arab communities. General education was coming from news sources lacking cultural context or a focus on communities.
Simultaneously the growing popularity of belly dance was leaving behind its cultural roots, and new dancers were walking into a form devoid of history and cultural respect as it branched into a vast array of creative fusion forms. I wanted to help bring education but also the great celebratory quality of Arabic folk dance to anyone interested in learning.
I held auditions without any expectations of who would attend, and to my complete surprise, the response was huge, enthusiastic, and hungry to learn and be apart of exactly this vision. Over the past eight years, our folk dance company has expanded in dancers, repertoire, and opportunities. We even grew into two chapters, one here in Los Angeles and our newest chapter in the Bay Area with talks about extending a chapter into Seattle.
Our growth and success has come soloing from the dedication and devotion of our members who meet weekly to rehearse, practice on their own, perform frequently throughout Los Angeles, and support each other as chosen family. We share in the vision of breaking down barriers because when you dance together, you can feel how connected we all are, how we strive for so many of the same things, and how we truly are in this all together.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Rarely is an artistic path smooth but more of a seemingly blind trek through brambles. In today’s political climate, emotions are high, and assumptions are strong. We take a gentle approach to our educational outreach, but there are times people simply do not want to deal with anything Middle Eastern. Stereotypes are not changed overnight.
When I realized we needed to approach the broader community in different ways, I called an all member meeting to discuss what exchanges individual members were experiences within Arab and Middle Eastern topics. I invited our members to look for small opportunities to be cultural ambassadors to their own comfort level. People are more accepting of information from someone they trust.
We can be those people to our coworkers, our neighbors, every person we cross paths within small or large ways. In being the kind of community member we wish to see, we can also offer compassionate bits of education, speak up and offer differing perspectives, do whatever we can to open the door for everyone to experience Arabic culture away from the TV and with real people.
Our work is a labor of love. All of us hold another job or multiple. All of us use our free time/spare time to further nurture the Qabila Foundation because it is something we all believe needs to exist.
Qabila Foundation – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Qabila Foundation is an Arabic folk dance & music company offering performances and educational outreach sharing the diversity of folk arts from across the Arab World. We work with all ages and in a wide range of spaces.
We have shared full performances and workshops on large stages, in library meeting rooms, in dive bars, school assemblies, festivals, weddings, expos, farmers markets, everywhere. It is the enthusiasm and genuine love of this work that exudes from our performances that catches people’s attention the most. The infectious music and dance does the rest.
Our company is compromised of a wide range of ages and backgrounds giving a truly diverse visual as well as perspective. Not all of our members are professional dancers or musicians, but together we continue to learn, grow, and thrive as a tribe. And that family spirit comes across in everything we do. That’s the transformational experience of folk dance.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Although there are plans to creating more financial sustainability as we continue to grow, our success is defined by the people we reach and the impact we can have on the Los Angeles community as a whole, offering representation and accessibility of Arabic cultural arts.
- Website: www.qabilafoundation.org
- Phone: 323-868-7111
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: QabilaFoundation
- Facebook: QabilaFolkdanceCo
Rodin Eckenroth, Marcos Adrian, Kelli Li,