The Gilded Serpent presents...


of Lebanon

As a young girl, Amani of Lebanon hated school but had to go anyway just like other children all over the world. However, unlike other children, Amani dreamed of dancing --and nothing else! She took advantage of every spare moment to exercise in her room, enjoying Oriental dancing in front of the mirror, which became her most loyal companion.

Amani grew up in a town called Hamat in North Lebanon and was known as Angel Ayoub. Angel unwillingly entered the university to earn a degree in the social sciences, and also studied cosmetology. Angel's father, Nabil, made as his condition for granting her the key to her freedom, finishing school and graduating with a university degree. Angel began preparing for her start in the artistic world a month before she graduated and chose as her stage name the one that she felt was suitable for Oriental dancing: Amani (Amani means "wishes" in English.)

 All of Angel's practice in front of her mirror paid off at the engagement party of a relative where there was a crowd of important artists and journalists. She had complied with a friends' request and had performed a dance which was met with admiration. One of the distinguished journalists who was there, Mr. George Ibrahim Al Khoury,asked her for a second performance. That was only a small incident, but one that changed the course of Angel/Amani's life and encouraged her to join the artistic world.

A letter was published in a well-known artistic magazine under the title: "An Educated Girl Asks: Should I Take Oriental Dancing as a Profession?" The letter had been submitted by a girl using the name Amani, sent by the teen-ager while she was still a university student, asking the distinguished journalist his opinion about that matter to which he gave his famous answer:

"There is no such thing as trite dancing, but there is a trite dancer. It's the person himself who shapes his future, and not the other way around."

In spite of the some opposition, Angel went on pursuing her dreams in 1987. The war was still raging in Lebanon, hindering Amani's recognition in her own homeland. She began working abroad and strengthening her artistic foothold. She traveled to many countries, Arabian, and Foreign, Dubai, Abu Dabi, Jordan, Tunisia, Italy, France, Syria, Australia...

Amani telegraphed Mr.George Ibrahim Al-Khoury, and told him she had made a decision to enter the world of artistic performance and she would be dancing. Mr. Al-Khoury accepted the invitation and later wrote an article titled "Amani Holds Me Responsible for Her Oriental Dancing" stating poetically

"All I hope for Amani's reputation is that it remain as white as the snow that covers her beautiful town, Hamat."

During this time, Amani was introduced, through the famous writer, to one of Lebanon and the Arab world's singing stars, the maestro Melhem Barakatsingled her out as the only dancer in all his recitals inside and abroad Lebanon, and his sponsorship continued about two years.

In 1989, Amani started to work on her own style. She danced to her music and rhythms in a unique way. Since that time Amani's dancing has become a standard, and has introduced a new wave in Oriental dancing (Belly dancing) that distinguished Lebanese dance style from Egyptian.

Amani's education seemed to set her apart from many other dancers of the day, so she was asked to write her life story and also, to discuss philosophy and life. Additionally, Amani delved into old Arabic history books for the roots of Oriental dance, and excelled in her ability to discuss of the subject in press and TV interviews so that many endorsed her views about dancing and its history. Amani convincingly rejected the assertion that the origin of Oriental dance was Egypt.

AmaniAmani's aims to purify Oriental dance of all the blemishes that have distorted its image in regard to the social and religious concepts and beliefs which prevailed in the old days. She believes that this may have been where Oriental dancing had lost its rightful identity.

Amani presented two historical stories, told through dance, in an effort to introduce culture and education utilizing Oriental dance in 1993.

Since every kind of dance has its own history, Amani thought that it was appropriate to present a show titled "Stories" which aimed at narrating the history of the dance. The show was a success, and motivated Amani to present a second version, "Stories II" in 1994, and a third, "Stories III", the following year.

Amani's title became the Educated Dancer, and sometimes, "Angel of Dance". Many poets and writers wrote with admiration of her dance and her beauty. George Jurdak, the writer, poet, and sarcastic critic, said,

" [Amani is] A gorgeous feminine fantasy who surrenders to musical tunes as jasmine breath to the breeze of air, dancing in a beautiful dream from which the dreamer is afraid to wake up and lose sight of such a charm that could melt into a cloud of white, perfumed, fluttering, diaphanous gown..."

The writer George I. Al-Khoury wrote, after seeing her dancing at a nightclub:" A dancer from the Orient who became, within few years, one of the proficient dancers. I was infatuated by your dancing style ... a tender, flexible dancing body that deals with music as if it were a musical instrument, meets with dancing as if the music were a composition for dance and feels with sensation as a whole... all with gorgeous beauty, an intoxicated body, coquetry, provocation, hands that move flexibly and skillfully, and the walk of a gazelle... I, who once participated actively in your coming into the world of art, am very happy about your accomplishment...and for the brilliant future awaiting you..."

Mr. Al-Khoury once asked: "How many dancers dance to the tunes of music...and, how many make music dance to them? Only one, Amani."

One U.S magazine published an article about Amani written by Noria Tahan in which she states: "Internationally known, she is one of the top dance stars of  Lebanon... She is admired and respected by the Arab community world-wide... A petite, warm, and friendly young lady greeted me at the door... There is nothing plastic or fake about Amani"

One of the journalists wrote describing her: "Amani dances as a whole, and the dancer who denotes culture in this Arabian Lebanese art which interlocks with distant times... Amani realizes that every occasion has its particular dance...I saw her dancing or singing or, rather, flying in one of the most graceful of her performances. She was an original, expressive power capable of displaying the beauty of each more and each stillness."

Amani has produced three recordings-soon four-into the International market as well as a number of video clips featuring Oriental dance. For many years now, Amani has been demanding that dancers be allowed to join the Professional Artists Syndicate. 

When Amani represented Lebanon in an annual festival for Oriental dancing, that was held recently in Germany, she addressed the audience with the following words:

"I come to you from my small country, Lebanon, to prove that art, and especially dancing, hasn't faced a setback or died during the 17 years of civil war and destruction. On the contrary! It was renewed and improved. I am hoping you'll visit our country that we are now rebuilding"

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Amani