I began my first classes with A'isha in January 2003 and was instantly hooked on the authentic classical Egyptian style of dance. A few months after this, my schedule cleared enough for me to take the community college course which was in a more Americanized style of dance- at the time was good to know and explore but quickly found this was not to my taste. I continued my studies in Egyptian Raqs el Shargi as well as various folkloric dances, and began gaining some performance chops in her local student nights and the yearly Fall Folkloric Festivals with her dance company Baharat!
Eventually, I graduated college and moved off to Seattle for my first job. I continued my travels across the state to study for some time, however the practicality of spending 9-10 hours on the road each weekend wore me down over time. I sought a teacher in the Seattle area, attempting to study with Hasani and Mahasti Abidi. Hasani is a wonderful woman, and a terrific dancer of American cabaret, and Mahasti does do some good Egyptian but was pregnant at the time and the time I was able to spend with her learning my first shaabi prior to her being on bed rest were too few. (I fully admit that at the time, having never studied shaabi before, I did not know exactly what it was I was learning in there). I contacted several other teachers in the area, however they were either not teaching Egyptian style as I was studying and wished to continue with, or had retired from teaching and performing. Thus by late 2007 I was only practicing at home, studying from videos and catching an occasional workshop.
In 2008 I began my search for a new job in Phoenix, AZ, and in March 2009 I was moving to Phoenix. After some time to settle in and some more to lose the weight I gained in those years of laziness, I began perusing the local dance community online. In March 2010 I began my studies with Roza, and come July 2010 I was also studying with Mahin. January 2011 through June 2011 I spent with Shahrazad Dance Company ran by Roza, and after coming to a firm conclusion that Modern Cairo Style is not my thing I made the decision that I should be doing what I am good at which was not that. I have been with Zahr Jamil Middle Eastern Dance Company directed by Mahin since August 2011, and have had a blast learning about the other side of this glam and sparkly side of life- producing shows and choreographing group pieces. I was able to make one of my first big dance dreams come true as my first project with Zahr Jamil- coming up with a large stage show, recruit dancers, and see it through from start to finish. Dream #2 was fulfilled as well, as in this show I did the infamous Fifi Abdo style shisha skit which I could not have done without Mahin's support and help and the greatest shisha-boy ever Manny Garcia. Dream #3 is in progress right now, which is bringing A'isha to Phoenix to teach workshops. All this in 10 years- I need new dreams for the next decade apparently!
But I do have dreams for this next decade. Dreams that are one of the hardest things I could probably be doing. I'm preparing for graduate school, taking a variety of courses related to history, anthropology, and Near East studies. Ever since I was young, I was always fascinated with anything old and Middle Eastern- and that fascination as only swelled with time. Many of my undergrad courses were at least history, geology, and some basic anthropology courses- but as needed to be done at the time to get a decent paying job I earned my business degree and went to work in corporate America as an accountant. Not a bad gig, but somewhat dull for someone whose mind is always at work thinking of art, travel, and the past.
There's much more about me, but those will come later as I think I've managed to spew much more than I intended into this blog post tonight :-)