Gilded Serpent presents...

Foreign Dancers in Cairo

A Timeline

last update January 21, 2011
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Pre-license period 1970s
Leyla Amir USA 1976
Feirouz Aram USA 1976

Leyla Amir USA 1981-1990
Yasmin Henkesh USA 1981 -1983
Shareen el Safy USA 1988-1992
Samesem Sweden 1989-2004
Judy Jihan Reda
Safi ??
Badia Star 1983-1986
Kamelia Japan/France
Sahra Saeeda USA 1989-1995
DianeTarkan France
Sahra USA- dancing in Cairo 1989-1995

Zeina Sweden 1990-1994 - Safir, Hotel Dokki Cairo 1990-1994, Baron Heliopolis, Sheraton Alexandria apart from that performing in weddings in most of the hotels in Cairo. She was also working in private parties and New Year events in Mövenpick Sharm El sheik, and Boats in Cairo
Nesma Spain 1993-1998
Keti Sharif Australia- Danced in Cairo, Egypt 1993 and working as event co-ordiator until 2010
Jalilah USA 1995
Yasmina UK 1995-2002
Nour Russia 1997-?
Caroline Evanoff Australia 1998-present
Neva Jirak Germany 1999-2008?

need dates and more info for below
Bayehha el-Ghazal USA
Tamra Henna USA
Eva Spain
Sakti USA (AZ) 1991-1995
Ashamhan Argentina 1999? -(current)
Liza Laziza Persian
Yasmina Ramzy Canada

Amera Eid Australia
Ketty France

Soraya Brazil (current)
Katya Russian 2000?
Leila Farid USA 2002 (current)
Outi Finland 2005 (current)
Joana Portugal 2006 (current)
Astryd Farah USA -" 2003 to 2007 or 8 though not straight through but on and off. Venues were JW Marriott, Sheraton Royal Gardens(now called Amarante Hotel, Nile Peking, Concorde El Salam, Sharm el Sheikh, plus weddings and private parties in and around Cairo."
Lorna Gow Scotland 2008 (current)
Cherine France
Sabriye Tekbilek USA/Sweden/Turkey in Cairo since June 2010 at Semiramis Intercontinental
Luna USA - currently dancing every night on the Nile Memphis, 2010 - Semiramis

need dates and more info
Magda Monti
Marta Norway
Maya Sarsa France
Delila Italy
Asmahan, US and London- Meridian, Mena House, Holiday Inn, Cairo Sheraton, Hyatt el Salem and Nile Hilton

Additions to integrate: Do we start a new section for non Cairo locations?

  • DaVid- Majken Waerdahl danced in Cairo the summer of 2000 and almost all of 2001. 
  • Cassandra:
    Aegela (angela )
    from GA in the late 80's danced in Luxor;
    Wendy Bradfield (Eshta) danced in Cairo, Alexandria, Red Sea, Algiers2002-2004
  • Sahra: While I was dancing in Cairo (1989-1995), Samesem and Sharin El Safy were the first two foreign dancers I met. Later came in Karima from Japan, Nesma from Spain (many different venues), Katia from Russia, Sohaila from Escondido, California, (Meridien Hotel in Cairo) and Kamelia from Brazil (Semiramis). Jalilah Zamora auditioned for Meridien Hotel in Heliopolis the day before I left and landed that show, later Yasmina “from Cairo” (England), had the show there.
  • Yasmina Ramzy: Here is a synopsis of my Mid East dance history: A couple of private weddings/parties in Cairo 1983-1989 - not licensed (licensing became bigger issue later)
    Auditioned Mena House 1990 - agent organized music and band but work (not necessarily at Mena House) was stopped because of war (Iraq into Kuwait) so my family insisted I come home - planned to returned but fate led me to husband and school so I could not spend more than 3 months away at a time.
    1983-1995 - licensed for 3 month contracts in Damascus at least 5 times (most renowned stage with Mid East's most revered singers - Vendome Hotel ) and Amman at least 5 times in various 5 star and deluxe hotels including Forte Grande. In Syria, my musicians usually numbered sixteen with conductor.
    1995 - Lebanon - licensed - on tour with Walid Tawfik - 1.5 months
    In case you every get into dancers in Syria or Lebanon (Jordan, not looked to artistically, all artists are imported from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt), there was another foreign dancer before me in Syria who they loved. She was Japanese from Paris. Most celebrated foreign dancer in Lebanon was Giselle from Brazil. She worked there for years and the Lebanese love and respect her still today. Apparently no dancer has had as big an impact on Syria as I have according to Issam Houshan (drummer for BDSS and Fathi Aljarah (violinist for Suhaila Salimpour), Shadi Jamil, first disciple of Sabah Fakrih and many other high ranking Syrians. 
  • Amera's long list added to a temporary GS bio page for her.
  • Sabriye sends her updates: My own info for the "Foreign Dancers in Cairo Timeline", Sabriye Tekbilek USA/Sweden/Turkey, In Cairo since June 2010 and working at Semiramis Intercontinental
  • Emma Osmani sends this info-Samasem was licensed between 1989-2004 and some hotels where she worked was:
    Safir Doqqi,Marriott,Maxim,Nile Hilton,Mena House,Meridien,Semiramis, and Sheraton Heliopolis. Nightclubs:Sunset, Tivoli, and Cave de Roi+other cabarets on Pyramid st.
  • Neva Jirak-I am a German bellydancer with a 9-years-history of working (with license) in Egypt. I am very pleased to see there is such a list. There have always been dancers who use "danced in Egypt" for advertisement after maybe appearing as a guest dancer in a festival. This is misleading for students and viewers... It is a great and costy adventure to actually work and live in egypt. And - It will automatically change one´s dance style and knowlege...

Cairo Calendar and Club listings
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  • Permits, IDs, Licensing, Foreign Dancers in Cairo,
    It dawned on me that some dodgy nightclub manager, whom I didn’t know personally, had complete control over my passport and my freedom to leave! So, I had no alternative other than to end my contract in order to get my passport back which also meant halting the lengthy paper process.
  • Sahra Goes to Egypt, Follow Your Dreams
    Getting to know Sahra through the years I came to realize that all her richness and wealth was in her commitment to the dance and to the culture adjoining it. Like many artists, in many fields, she sacrificed for her art and she was always trying to find ways to share her art, her knowledge and her love of Egypt, dance and music.
  • Love Stories…The Choreographies of Raqia Hassan
    A new feeling emerged about how the music truly is the dance, it creates the dance… the feelings behind Egyptian music, the soul of the music, are that which we experience as artists and dance to; for performers, so that it can be visually displayed.
  • Oriental Dance: Myth and Reality, The Harem Slaves
    To say so would be like saying that playing music, singing, and reciting poetry are also only the occupations of slaves.
  • Living in Yemen, Part I - Tafruta
    A simple question was all they needed to get them into motion!
  • Dancing in Yemen, Part 2: El Arous
    I had been to many Middle Eastern weddings before, but none were as visually impressive as the ones I attended in Sanaa, Yemen. Jalilah's recommend reading list added-10-24-01
  • Streets of Cairo- Egyptian Rhythm, Language and Dance
    Cairo's streets are much like its dance – streams of freestyle movement guided by intuition rather than rules. There are no 'principles' as such in both circumstances – it’s the organic-ness of Egyptian life that creates order in chaos.
  • Dance - Deeper than the Moves
    A dancer who feels “safe” in the rhythm, footwork, technical movement feels grounded and secure as she dances. A grounded dancer will be less "in her head” and allow the authenticity of feeling to come through her body as a flowing, emotive movement that expresses the music and how she “feels” the music.
  • The Secret of Saiidi Song and Dance-Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
    "Saiidi". Say this word anywhere in Egypt (including El Saiid) and colloquially it implies someone who is funny, backward - a loveable, gullible character with salt-of-the-earth village simplicity. To call someone “Saiidi” is a local term or endearment for a likeable buffoon!
  • Dance for Dancers
    Art created for other artists will evolve differently from art created for the masses.
  • InsidePeek at Making Music Videos: Hakim, Khalid Selim, Walid Toufic, Ali el Hagar, Elam, & Samira Said
    I was either crying or yelling at Hakim for most of the shoot and went home each day with a headache from it.
  • Egyptian Wedding Stories
    All the guests were staring at us. The father of the bride demanded to know who ordered the bellydancer and it seemed a fight was going to break out between representatives of the brides’ family and the hotel organizer.
  • I Dance; You Follow
    As Westerners interested in an Eastern dance form, we might want to ask ourselves if we are missing certain critical aspects of Raqs Sharki because we are not open to Eastern teaching methods.
  • Interview with Safaa Farid
    These days there are times I feel I've seen everything an Egyptian dancer can do in the first five minutes of her show. She doesn't change. But foreigners study the dance very hard and they put much time into their show so that is it interesting for a whole hour.
  • What Middle Eastern Audiences Expect from a Belly Dance
    Audiences in the Middle East, especially Egyptians, see bellydancing as something to be participated in, critiqued, and loved (or hated) with gusto.
  • 7-29-09 At Home with Fifi Abdou by Yasmina of Cairo
    In America, one of the things that especially pleased me was the inclusiveness of the dance scene there – in my classes I saw women of many different ages – and body types – enjoying dancing, and that made me happy
  • 8-16-08 Randa Kamal by Yasmina of Cairo
    "Then the film roles that I've been offered have unfortunately been frivolous, or portrayed the dancer in the stereotypical way they always do. The cinema has done enough to spoil the reputation of dancers, without me adding to it by taking such a role."
  • My First Mid East Gig
    Once we landed in Amman, we were greeted on the tarmac by solid lines of soldiers on both sides leading to the doorway of the airport, machine guns pointed towards the passengers. I don't recall ever seeing even one Canadian soldier in the flesh and blood, let alone a gun, let alone so many big guns and pointed at me. I don't think I blinked during that endless walk. We were clearly not in Hawaii.
  • Lifting the Veil
    I excused myself first and then asked her “why on earth would someone obviously not of Middle Eastern heritage actually choose to wear the veil?” She smiled knowingly and gave me an answer that still keeps me thinking today.
  • The Summer School of Khaleegy Dance, Dance Style from the Saudi Arabian Penninsula,
    The “moral police” and hotel security watched every move I made. All my phone calls were monitored. I was not allowed to talk to or get into an elevator with an Arab man.
  • 1-27-10 Shoo Shoo Amin, A Forgotten Treasure of the 80s by Yasmin
    Twenty years ago when I told people I had worked with Shoo Shoo Amin in Cairo, the response was “Wow!” Now, people go “Who?” Today no one seems to know who she is. For belly dance purists, this is a tragedy. Every so often, someone my age or older will wax lyrical about her on-line, but for the most part, she’s an enigma – even to young Egyptians.
  • Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2008, Not So Welcoming this Year
    Prices have gone up everywhere, and Egypt is no exception. The reality hit me as soon as I walked into the Mena House. Bottled water was $4.00, where out in the street the same bottle was $.50. A bottle of beer was $10.00. Internet connection was $30.00 / hour. At those prices, life's little pleasures didn't seem important anymore.
  • 6-27-06 Om Kalthoum, The Voice of Egypt by Yasmin
    She was without contest the most well-known singer of the Arab world. She was also the most influential woman of her time in the Middle East.
  • 12-13-05 The Zar by Yasmin
    We do know that today thousands of women in Africa and the Middle East use this music to cure all kinds of illnesses. They literally dance until they drop.
  • 9-14-05 Behind The Nile Group Workshops in Cairo by Zeina
    How absurd it sounds! How could we, in a small country that a lot of people couldn’t even locate on a world map, compete with her enormous festival in Cairo?
  • 11-8-05 My Adventure Begins! by Asmahan
    At last, another North Beach Memory! "I was creating my life as an adventure, I was making my own destiny; this was Kismet!"
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