Rahma Haddad

The Gilded Serpent presents...

Rahma Haddad

Born in Edmonton Alberta, the first grandchild of early Lebanese immigrants, Rahma spent her formative years immersed in an Arabic speaking milieu, enjoying the food, music, dance and pampering of the Bekka Valley culture.

“As a child dancing the ‘debke’ with the adults, I was fascinated by my maternal grandmother, Zakia, who would step out of the line to dance using fluid hand movements and cute little hip and shoulder movements. I would ask ‘What kind of dance is that?’ I was always told it was the women’s solo!”

Rahma earned a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Alberta in 1967, and has a background in modern dance, Afro-jazz, folk dance and gymnastics. Since following her heart into ‘Raks Araby’ (bellydance) she has appreciated and learned from the diverse styles of many talented performers and teachers; she was most inspired in the late 70’s and early 80’s by Badawia, a passionate Jordanian-born dancer from Portland, Oregon.

A performer and teacher of ‘bellydance’ since 1975, Rahma has an impressive record of film and T.V. appearances, and articles and reviews - both nationally and internationally. In addition to years of workshops and shows in the western U.S. and Canada, she was a guest performer at the Hilton in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1983), and the Ramses Hilton in Cairo (1989), where she received a standing ovation. She has also taught and performed in Sao Paulo and Bello Horizonte, Brazil (2001), and recently received a Canada Council Grant to teach and perform in Australia and Hong Kong (2006).

As a teacher, Rahma’s renowned ability to break down dance into easily learnable form stems from both her training as a teacher and her genuine desire for her students to learn. As a performer, the elegantly sensual and joyful expression of spirit that is embodied in Rahma’s personal style is dependent on her intense connection with, and spontaneous response to the music. She has been a true inspiration to many, from professionals to those who dance solely for personal joy and fitness.

From 1975-2000, Rahma was a regular performer in restaurants, festivals, theaters and more, in addition to teaching regular classes. She is currently teaching 8-9 classes/week, and still performing at special events and private functions.

Artist Statement

"The edge between art and entertainment is not so fine in the Eastern world as it is in the modern west. With this in mind I have been able to use historical and cultural elements of the Middle East in a contemporary context to create a personal style of dance. This style can flexibly cover the range from art to public entertainment while retaining the sensuality and joyful grace of the tradition and the athletic demands of the dance."

Web site: rahmahaddad.com

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Rahma Haddad

  • Improvisation, Taqsim, and Teaching, Things I Love
    Because improvisation is so instantaneous, the performer doesn’t know what he is going to do until he does it. Likewise, the dancer may not remember what was done when the dance is finished. This is why creating improvisational dance is rarely boring.