Thursday, February 21, 2019

Remembering Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak


 The world at large lost an indescribable force in the world of Middle Eastern music and dance, in the passing of Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak in December 2018, at 98-years young!

  Eddie was a tremendous influence on many, many dancers and musicians, creating recordings of new and traditional music in his trademark "Amer-Abic" sound. His recordings, having made the transitions from LP to cassette to CD to iTunes were (and still are) "musts" for every dancer's music library. 
And who better to remember Eddie than those who knew him well.

  Samara, MDTC's Artistic Director for Dance and Choreographer:
L to R: Gary Kupper, Samara, Eddie Kochak, Jehan Kamal

   There are some people in life who are so unique they hold a special meaning in your heart, and therefore contribute a significant  perspective of how you see the world. Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak was one of those people. He was an interesting combination of Arabic/American culture. He was a bridge for so many artists from the Middle East that immigrated to the US. They all knew the best thing was to contact Eddie Kochak and he would advise them.

   Eddie was always very supportive since the beginning of my career. His humor and warm-hearted personality always made it fun to work with him. He had a very personable way of entertaining and making people laugh and enjoy themselves. The humorous delivery of his songs and his wonderful music makes him one of the most memorable entertainers in our field! I feel so lucky to have Eddie as a dear friend.  He was actually more like family to me.
  I will never forget all those wonderful dinners on Atlantic Avenue (Brooklyn) with Eddie, where he would go into the kitchen to make sure our Baba Ganoush was fresh! He was the King of the neighborhood! Rock, Rock, Rock, Ya Habbibi! Eddie you are bigger than life! You will live on and on in your music and all who loved you. Thank you for all the wonderful memories! Priceless!

L to R: Dr. Phyllis "Phaedra" Saretta, Eddie Kochak, Soraya Melik

This article (see link below) about Eddie by Phaedra (Dr. Phyllis Saretta), MDTC's special artistic consultant, and dance legend appeared in Arabesque Magazine.

  At MDTC's October 2009 gala benefit, a special tribute was paid to Eddie and his music.  (The color photos by Gary Heller shown here are from that delightful evening.)  The evening was a perfect occasion for comedy.  Below, as a parody of B-movie interpretations of Middle Eastern dance, the Company performs Samara's choreography to to Eddie's "Salaam to You."

  No celebration of Eddie "The Sheik" would be complete without everyone joining in on the chorus of his unforgettable "Calories." In the video clip below, Samara, Jehan, are Eddie's onstage back-up dancers, while Gary Kupper plays the keys.

But Eddie's music wasn't always about comedy. Enjoy a short clip from our Harem Fantasy, a dreamy veil dance to one of his incredibly romantic rumbas.  Choreography by Samara.

  We love you, Eddie, and we miss you! You've got all those angels in heaven who are used to dancing on the head of a pin now doing drum solos!