Meroe and Troupe Rakkasah '84

Meroe and Troupe
Rakkasah '84

Meroe & troupe at Carnaval in the Mission Distric of San Francisco

Meroe & troupe
Carnaval in the Mission Distric of San Francisco

Meroe dancing with Fifi Abdu

Meroe dancing with Fifi Abdu

The Gilded Serpent presents...

Princesse Meroe

Cassandra Wimbs

Ninteen years ago, Princesse Meroe and the Moorish Dance Diaspora were the first African-American group to perform at The Rakkasah Festival of Middle Eastern Dance held in Richmond, California. Meroe had been involved in an automobile accident (among other personal tragedies) and subsequently had to return home to New York City with her mother.

Princesse Meroe, formerly of the San Francisco Bay Area's "Aswan Dancers", and "The Meroe and the Moorish Dance Diaspora" has enjoyed an international career, and has had occasion to receive dance and community honors. For more information on her classes you may also wish to contact her by email at

A personal statement from Princesse Meroe(Cassandra Wimbs):

I want to thank you for the quality and comprehensiveness of The Gilded Serpent. Through it, I was able to reunite with Amina of San Francisco with whom I did "Culture Caravan" as a member of the Aswan Dancers, at the El Valenciano Club. I hope you will be able to utilize the review I wrote about Reda Darwish.

For an African-American woman, I've had an unusual dance career!

Blessings to all dancers in the joy of movement

Princesse Meroe*

In 1982, I was diagnosed with terminal asthma, my father had suddenly died, I lost my radio show in New York City, and as if that were not enough, the center where I taught dance was closed. My girlfriend persuaded me to come out West to start a new life. Was that ever an understatement! I came out to the Bay Area for a last chance at life and prepared myself to die. Twice before I had visited California, but had no idea I would relocate there. The first time was at a conference and the second time I was on the Isley Brothers Middle Eastern Dance Tour. At that time, I met and spoke with Jamila Shalipour who was hospitable, and she introduced me to Bob Zalot, a dear future friend, who later invited me to be on the cover of Habibi Magazine of which he was a co-owner and editor.

Bob took three members of our tour group everywhere. Talk about déjà vu! I eventually performed with a group at every club into which he had taken us, and I also became a writer for Habibi Magazine. At the time, it was popularly believed that an East Coast African-American can more easily make it out West. What an under statement that seems now, when I consider the overseas fellowship I won, the awards my group won, the publication of my book, "Traditional Healing Systems of the African Diaspora" etc.!

When I brought my teacher, El-Khadija Nakla out West to be presented in a concert, the concert hall was actually packed on the same day that the Olympics were shown on television. I felt that the San Francisco Bay Area Dance Community had backed me in my challenge of City Celebration!

There's much more I can say in gratitude, but I will present more in future articles for Gilded Serpent as my way of saying "Thank you!"

Meroe (Cassandra Wimbs)