Photo by Ron Barber

The Gilded Serpent presents...


Habiba has gained an international reputation through her many performances across the United States and abroad. In addition to studying Middle Eastern Dance with the legendary Ibrahim Farrah, her dance background includes training in ballet, and modern dance. During her numerous trips to Tunisia and Egypt she studied with the members of the Tunisian National Folklore Troupe and the Reda Troupe. She has also documented numerous folk performances in villages in both Egypt and Tunisia, including the Benat Mazin and Tunisian pot dancers. Habiba goes beyond the choreographies of the national folkloric troupes which often incorporate western elements, in that she seeks the origins and essences of the various movement styles. It is only then that she reconstitutes the dances into exciting performances.

Habiba has mastered a variety of styles from the earthy Raks al Beledi to the exciting feat of balance seen in the Tunisian Pot Dance. Also a master of the classical Egyptian dance, Raks al-Sharqi, her depth of understanding of these cultures is such that she projects the distinct and separate personality unique to the peoples of each region. As a performer she has a deep understanding of the music and of the difference between folkloric and oriental styles.

Habiba is a well-known scholar and author on the subject of Middle Eastern dance. She has published more than twenty-two feature articles over a 25 year period and she has lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. She is a featured lecturer for the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology outreach lecture program.

In 1997 she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (AAMED) and in 2001 she was named IAMED Ethnic Dancer of the year. Habiba passes on the techniques and lore that she has acquired in her extensive travels in her own studio in Philadelphia and also by means of workshops and instructional DVDs. Habiba is director of The Habiba Dance Ensemble, a professional perfoming company dedicated to Oriental Dance. Many of Habiba's articles are available for free download on her web site.

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Habiba

Habiba's Articles on the Ghawazi (off the Gilded Serpent site)

Some of these are available free for download from Habiba’s web site.

  • Arabesque, v. 11, no. 4, Nov-Dec 1985, p.10-11, 19-20.
  • , Habibi, v. 20, no. 4,  Winter 2005, p.38-46.
  • , Habibi, v.21, no. 1,  Spring 2006, p. 40-47.
  • , Bennu v. 5, #1 2003.
  • , Bennu, v.5, #1 2003.
  • , Bennu, v. 5, no. 1 2003.