Program Descriptions


Raqs Shaabi
Vintage Raqs Sharqui - Egyptian Orientale

“Lifting the Veil: Women’s Dances of the Middle East and North Africa,”

                Performance of the different styles of Middle Eastern and North African dance - fusion, traditional, and classical.  Turkish pop fusion, veil fusion, Egyptian classical/traditional fusion, Saudi Khaleej, Moroccan, Tunisian, Egyptian traditional-beladi & drum dialogues & finale.



Dance Residencies/Workshops/Master Classes


 “Revealing & Concealing:  The Mysterious Veil”
Performed for centuries by women across the Orient and Mediterranean, the veil dance is a fascinating expression of femininity and grace.    In this creative, improvisational workshop, expand your movement vocabulary by learning the techniques of veil movement, wrapping, twirling, and turning.   Practice with these movements, strengthens and develops the upper body and arms, opens one‘s breathing capacity, and enhances one’s posture and alignment.  Play with these movements and discover a whole world of expression and gesture that is uniquely feminine, vulnerable, mysterious and freeing. This program can be tailored to fit either a master class, half day, full day, or two-day workshop format, with choreography and/or mini-choreographies included. 


Danse Orientale: The Expression of Love & Beauty

In residency or workshop format, students of every level and experience are introduced to the fundamentals of contemporary Middle Eastern dance technique, performance, and choreography. From narrative & cultural gesture to specific dance technique to stage presentation and attitude to dramatic and musical composition, students will not only walk away with these concrete, invaluable tools for self expression but also with an experience of their infinite creative spirit within themselves.    Whether your interest is classical, cultural, or fusion, private or public performance, student or master level, this is a class not to be missed!

Danse Orientale:  A Choreographer’s Companion

Taught in workshop or residency format, this class provides an opportunity for exploring and understanding the structure of the dance for one's own creative purposes.  Subjects introduced in class include dance history, presentation, technique, dramatic structure, music interpretation, costuming, dynamics, and choreographic elements such as air and floor design, group choreography, props.  Discover your personal relationship with the music, learn the different types of Middle Eastern music and dance techniques available, the dos and don’ts of mixing, and tips on structuring and creating dances.

The Dancer’s Body

 Learn the proper way to train and care for your body as you develop your skills and experience as a dancer.  Taught it workshop or residency format. Learn how warm-ups, cool-downs, relaxation techniques, meditation, alignment, diet,  the practice and performance environment, care and prevention of injuries, massage and bodywork, costuming, rituals, are all a part of the care and development of the dancer’s body.


The Dancer’s Body: Centering and Power

Explore your relationship to your body and discover how to better connect with your spirit, the dancer in the dance.  Visulaization, relaxation, breath technques, and various exercises for discovering and developing real connection with one's precious instrument to dance and dance fully and creatively.

 “The Language of Expression and Gesture in Middle Eastern Dance.”
 Intensive workshop on the culturally specific and interpretive gestures and expressions of Middle Eastern dance.  Integration of feeling and expression into technique and personalization of movement is emphasized.    Choreography and improvisational time both presented.


Costumes & Body Adornment: Mehndi, Make-up, & Vogue

Class(es) on the body adornment, make-up, and traditional dress worn for Egyptian and other forms of Middle Eastern dance.  Each subject, henna art make-up, and costume design, and  is taught by an expert of their craft. Each segment can be presented in separate as well as combined workshops.  Participants would learn: how to mix and make henna paste, how to apply henna, and how to draw traditional designs (and learn their meaning); what make-up is used, how it is made and/or where to purchase it, and how to apply it,; modern and traditional patterns of dress specific to culture and dance style, the use of motifs and embroidery,  head and hip wraps (and how to wrap them) e.g. turban wraps, hairstyles and how to  create them i.e. ghawazee braids. 


Designing an Economy of Dance

A general how-to-set-up-your business as a dancer guide.   Liability, contracts, invoices, publicity and  creative marketing and so much more….


Traditional dance is limited to certain movements and gestures.  These dances have great meaning, beauty, and variation, each contributing movements to what is called “Raqs Sharqui” or danse orientale-the contemporary classical dance of the Middle East today.  Communal in nature, these dances also foster a sense of solidarity (as wellas individuality) in celebrating unique passages of time in a women’s life that connects women of every culture, of every age, of every era to each other throughout the world.


Students learn the history and techniques of whirling as both a sacred and communal art.  Taught in workshop and master class format.


Performed by women of the Gulf States, especially Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, coastal Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, this raks al nasha’ar or dance of the women is both a celebratory and ceremonial dance.  Performed with a special dress (tobe),  the dance emphasizes the beauty and wealth of the women performing it.  The rhythmic movements, skillful flow of the dress, and especially the tossing of their hair, the beauty, wealth, and desirability of a women is displayed for fun, social competition, or to attract a husband.

Raqs Ghawazee

Introduction to the history, traditions, costumes, music, and movements of the Nawar  (Egyptian Romany) whose Ghawazee (dancing girls) became famed for their talent and beauty.  Known for    the inclusion of sagat (finger cymbals) and the incredible hip work, this dance style is one of the most distinct, traditional Egyptian dances.  Contributing many movements to the contemporary Raqs Sharqui or danse orientale classical Middle Eastern dance style of today, raqs ghawazee is a rich heritage of movement and tradition not to be missed.

Raqs Hawwanem - "dance of the women"

Raqs Saidi

Introduction to the history, traditions, costumes, music, and movements of the women of the fellahin or settled, farming people of the Saidi  region of Southern Egypt.  With  the unique inclusion of the bellas (water jug) and asa/assaya (stick or cane), these movements are very similar to those performed as Raqs Masri (Misri).  ”

Raqs Assaya
or “stick dance”  (a.k.a. cane dance)

Performed in the Saidi region of Egypt, the raqa assaya shows off the dancer's dexterity in skillfully moving a cane at the same time she is performing other movements. With complicated hip and  torso movements, the dancer simultaneously twirls, swings, whirls, and strikes a cane in time to the music.  She also balances the cane on her head, shifts it back and forth between her hands, and makes gestures of farming, herding, or miming with it .   Double cane dances as well as a  men’s stick dance or Tahtib (a form of martial arts performed with a six foot long, thick stalk of bamboo), are also performed.  Tahtib practice of whirling the staff can also be seen on horseback (standing still, of course).

 Raqs Masri or Misri (a.k.a. Egyptian dance)

According to Hossam Ramzy in his article “Beladi,” this Egyptian dance and rhythm is the foundation for the dramatic/rhythmic composition of contemporary Raqs Sharqui.  Famous for improvisational movement and dancer/drummer rhythmic dialogues, the emphasis within this dance style is an individual's expression “of      happiness” or the dancer’s relationship with the music.  Personal interpretation is the key to working with all of the hip work, abdominal movements, and other culturally specific movements of this style.  This dance is often performed at weddings, parties, coming-of-age celebrations, and versions of it are seen in popular nightclubs.

  Raqs al Sayf

Literally translated the “dance of the sword,” is a name I give to describe a dance created from celebratory dances and traditional wedding rituals in the Middle East/North Africa involving a sword.  Passed down from a family member,  the sword symbolizes protection and promise-vows made between not only the betrothed but also their families.    Sword dancing has also been seen in 18th century sketches of female dancers in a market square (in Jericho) and in North African night club dancers who it is said would dance with the swords of the French soldiers before stealing them for the local resistance movement.  The dance displays the skill of the dancer and brings a hushed sense of ceremony to a gathering.


Egyptian Percussion I: Sagat

Originally developed from the East Indian Romany tala or hand cymbals and ancestors to the castanets of Spanish flamenco dance, the sagat a.k.a. zils or finger cymbals are a distinctive feature of both traditional and contemporary Egyptian dance.  As far as I am aware, traditionally only the Egyptian Nawar, esp. the ghazeeyeh, or dancing girls of the Benaat Maazin family, use the sagat a.k.a. zils (Turkish) or finger cymbals with their dance.  Currently, sagat are an integral part of contemporary Middle Eastern dance, useful in expressing and displaying a dancer’s passion and skill with rhythm. Classes focus on the basic patterns of sagat playing to the rhythms of beladi, saidi, maksoum, masmoudi kabir, and tsftitelli while coordinating these patterns with basic Egyptian dance movements.   Posture, hand and arm techniques are also emphasized.

Turkish Romagni Social Dance

Turkish Romagni/Orientale Skirt Dance

North African
Kabyle (algerian Berber scarf dance)
Rai (algerian social dance)
Moroccan Shikaat Dance - with tambouine & without
Tunisian Folkloric Style
Spiritual Dance (guedra, desert dance, hadra and so on)

Other Traditional Dances

Greek Folk Dances

Community dances of the mainland and islands-both men’s and women’s dances--invigorating,   absorbing, and inspiriing of  freedom and dignity.   Dances include: Karagouna, Syrto, Politiko Syrto, Kritiko Syrto, Pentozalis, Hassapiko, Hassaposerviko, Tsfitetelli, Kalamatiano, Tsamiko, Ikariotiko, Zonoradikos, Zembeikiko, and so on.


Individual attention is an essential component of all classes.

Hand-outs/class guides/outlines avalilable upon request.

Programs include authentic or authentically based costumes and music i.e. , as close to authentic as possible.

Theatrical: adapted for stage presentation; interpretive: based on movement that is as authentic as possible

Arts-In-Education Programs
“The Jewels of North Africa,” Houston, TX.

Performance program created specifically for public and private educational institutions. The performance illustrates the life of the women of North Africa-i.e., Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco & Egypt through interpretative traditional and theatrical, sacred and secular dance. Students participate by learning different components of the dances. Programs are tailored to individual class interests and levels of experience

“Dances of the Middle East and North Africa,”
Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA)
Touring Artist Program, Austin, TX
Flexible arts-in-education program about the various arts and cultures of the Middle East as expressed through dance. Program is also offered through TCA, a state-wide, nationally funded institution that provides quality and culturally diverse performing and visual artists to member educational institutions throughout the state of Texas.

“Faces of Beauty: Sacred & Secular Dances of Women in the Middle East”

Illustrating the development of women’s culture through their dances, this audience participatory arts-in-education program shares aspects of the daily life of women from various regions of the Middle East. Including both interpretive and traditional dances of the Middle East and North Africa, this program has been performed at numerous locations including Rice University, the University of Texas Health Science Center, The University of Texas at Austin, with selected segments presented at the annual “Caravan of the Beautiful” seminar series in Austin, TX.

"Nomadic Journey,"
created for The Texas Institute for the Arts in Education, Houston, TX.

Performance program highlighting dances of different nomadic cultures in the Middle East. Program has been performed at numerous Houston schools including Cauldwell, Lee, Rusk, Sanchez, and T.H. Rogers Elementary and at several core training sessions for teachers at Montgomery, Petersen, & other Houston elementary schools as well as for teachers at Dowling Middle School and Petersen Elementary School.

"Mysteries Behind the Veil," a.k.a. "Dances of the Middle East" and "Dance My Brothers, Dance My Sisters," Young Audiences of Houston (YAH), Houston, TX.

Performance program created specifically for YAH, the local chapter of the national non-profit arts-in-education organization, to be presented in Houston and Harris County public and private educational institutions. Program highlights dances from the four major geographic regions of the Middle East emphasizing the unity and diversity of Middle Eastern culture to ours here in America. This audience participatory program has been performed at numerous locations including ABC West, The Children's Museum of Houston, Texas Children's Hospital, Tomball College, The Ronald McDonald House, and almost 100 public and private educational institutions including public libraries.

“Dances of the Middle East,” Young Audiences of Houston (YAH), Houston, TX.

Based upon Mysteries Behind the Veil, this workshop/residency presents an in-depth focus on experiencing the modern-day and/or ancient cultures of the Middle East through dance. Students learn one or more traditional dances of those performed and have the opportunity to create their own. Classes are tailored to individual class interests and levels of experience. This program has been selected by the national YA organization to be one of six programs participating in DreamLab, an exclusive project sponsored by Honda & promoted by S.T.O.M.P.


“Mysteries of Egypt,” Young Audiences of Houston (YAH), Houston, TX.

Performance program created specifically for YAH to be presented in Houston and Harris County public and private educational institutions. Through this interdisciplinary series of sessions, students get hands-on experience with the performing arts and culture of ancient Egypt. Ancient dances, music, stories, mythology, clothing, and body adornments, give students the opportunity to learn about famous Pharohs and their Queens, priests and rituals, scribes and writing, warriors and combat, entertainers and holidays, farmers and economy of ancient Egyptian society and its contributions to modern day American society. Specially re-created from translations of ancient texts and academic research, this program is a rare opportunity to explore the dimensions of a civilization that has fascinated the world for centuries.


“Exploring the World through Dance“ a.k.a. “Learning through Dance,”

Performance program created specifically for YAH to be presented in Houston and Harris County public and private educational institutions. Utilizing dance and dance-related activities from many countries, this workshop/residency, provides students with an opportunity to discover a world of movement within their bodies, freeing their creativity and self-confidence while having fun. Students explore basic elements of dance including centering, weight shift, balance, alignment, gesture and expression, breath and relaxation while also learning to inter-relate with others in solo and group activities. Encouraging risk taking, decision making, discipline, self-expression, these improvisational and choreographed activities raise self esteem and help students to integrate their lessons into real life situations.


“Renaissance Court Dance”
-Artist Residency

Originally designed for students from first grade through high school, this program introduces the history of 14th & 15th Century Europe through the manners, traditions, music, movements, and costumes of the Renaissance. Practicing movements and dances which were of nobility and royalty, students experience first-hand the conventions and manners of court as well as learn the intimate relationship between
environment, society, art, and culture.

Basic Latin Dance for Children

Hatha Yoga for Children
Basic Martial Arts for Children 


And still more to come!!!!