Seven small girls — beautifully costumed in jewel-toned satin and flowing head scarves — sway their arms and stomp their feet to the music.
The intimate group of spectators claps with the beat, cheering and snapping photos.
The dancers, called the Buds of Peace, performed in the Joplin-Boone Room of Memorial Union on Monday for the Muslim Student Organization’s Islam Awareness Week Culture Night.
MSO’s Culture Night invited the MU campus community to experience Islamic culture by tasting native foods, listening to music and poetry, enjoying Mehndi — the art of body decoration practiced in many Arabic cultures that uses henna to stain the skin and nails, learning about Islam with a trivia game and watching the Buds of Peace dance.
Jude El-Buri, 10, a member of the Buds of Peace, said the group began as singers, but then Jude’s mother had the idea to teach the girls a traditional Middle Eastern folk dance called the Debka.
“We have been on TV and radio,” Jude said. “Usually we do the dance for fun, but sometimes we perform for special occasions.”
Farah Ali, an MU student and public relations chairperson for the event, said it is meant to foster understanding of Islam, especially among people who have little or no interaction with the culture.
“It is something we do every year to promote knowledge of Islam,” Ali said.