Footloose but not fancy free: Dancing in Morocco

By Alexis Miller. Photos by Alexandria Saurman

Rabat — “I don’t get paid for this and I don’t think I would want to be…,” Hajar Regragui says while unlocking the door to the dance studio at International University of Rabat (UIR). She’s about to teach 60 college students choreographed dance routines in various styles: Hip-hop, African inspired dance, and Salsa. The course lasts three hours and is completely a labor of love. She seems to look happiest when drenched in sweat.

Hajar Regragui is a 21-year-old political science and international relations student at UIR, but she introduced herself to me first and foremost as a dancer and told me about her favorite spots in Casablanca for dancing.

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Being a (Secret) Atheist in a Country Full of Faith

RABAT–A café on the hem of Rabat’s medina basks in its atmosphere of quiet anonymity. This suits Mohamed Abdallah, a 27-year-old translator born and raised a few short alley twists away. He shifts a bit uneasily in his sun-drenched seat by the window, his sharp brown eyes scanning the space for possible eavesdroppers.

“I hope no one here speaks English,” Abdallah  says apprehensively. Though the small cafe is sparsely populated, its patrons preoccupied and noises soft, the conversation that is about to ensue makes him uneasy. Abdallah is an atheist, a belief that carries heavy implications in a country built on Islam.

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Street Art: The Urban Canvas of Morocco

By Emily Vega, Photography by Anna Bongardino

RABAT, Morocco — Jammed between a blank wall and a rushing train headed to Casablanca, Zakaria Essadiki, 22, uses his ten seconds of concealment to spray paint his graffiti name: ZED. Unseen and unscathed, he leaves behind his mark and continues around his city reclaiming walls.

Essadiki is a part of a growing community of young Moroccans participating in the urban alternative culture of street art. Although street art has been a thriving genre around the world for over half a century, it has just begun its debut across Morocco.

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Three Generations Find Pride and Opportunity in Family Leather Business

by Emily Vega

RABAT, Morocco – Ayoub El Khalifi stands against a wall covered in his family’s handmade traditional leather goods. He wears a black felt fedora hat. Every square inch behind him displays polished and hand crafted leather bags, cushions, belts and more. As customers explore the store, the smell of tanned leather follows them. Hanging from the ceilings and lining the walls, hundreds of designs are displayed.

This traditional craft has provided the El Khalifi family with an escape from a troubled region and livelihood in a country where many young people struggle to find jobs.

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