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The Gilded Serpent presents...
Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival 2004
Travel Journal by Shira

Sunday, July 27, 2004 marks the beginning of the 5th annual Ahlan Wa Sahlan dance festival in Cairo, Egypt. Middle Eastern dance artists and students from throughout the world attend this event to immerse themselves in instruction by leading Egyptian instructors, shop for costumes and other supplies offered by Egyptian vendors, and enjoy the gala shows featuring top Egyptian dancers.

In 2004, the weeklong festival returns for its second year at Mena House Oberoi, a five-star hotel on the outskirts of the Cairo metropolitan area adjacent to the famous pyramids of Giza.  The event opens on Sunday, June 27 with class registration. Festival participants examine the list of available classes and select the ones they wish to take.  Each day, Monday through Saturday, June 28 through July 2, there will be three classtime slots per day:  Three-Hour Morning Oriental Class Slot 10:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. for Oriental, Two-Hour Afternoon Folkloric Class Slot 1:30 p.m. through 3:30 p.m., and Three-Hour Evening Oriental Slot 4:00 p.m. through 7:00 p.m. With only 30-minute breaks between classes, there isn't much time left in between for eating or resting, so most attendees enroll in only 1-2 classes per day to pace themselves.  For 2004, the 3-hour Oriental classes cost $60 each, while the 2-hour folkloric classes cost $30.

An advance list of 2004 classes was distributed to help attendees plan ahead what they might want to take.  It indicates the following choices will be offered:

Oriental-Style ,
Each 3 Hours In Length
Plus a Few Additional Oriental,
Each 2 Hours In Length:
Lubna Imam
Mahmoud Reda
Farida Fahmy
Momo Kadous
Faten Salama
Randa Kamel
Zaza Hassan
Raqia Hassan
Mo Geddawi
Mona el Said
Nagwa Fouad
Hamada Hossam (Nubian)
Matrouh Troupe (Hagallah)
Nermine Azzazi (Oriental)
Freiz (Saidi)
Mahsoub (Ghawazee)
Morocco (Sagat)
Farouk Mustafa (Saidi)
Nani Sabri (Oriental)
Beba (Hagallah)
Gabi (Leganese Debke)
Khaled Mahmoud (Baladi)
Shalaby (Raqs al Assaya)
Mervat Mongui (Melaya Leff)
Nawal Ben Abdullah (Moroccan)
Wafaa Salem (Khaleegy)
Djamila (Algerian)
Allaa Yousef (Sword)

In 2003, the advance list was very different from the actual list that was made available the first day at the registration desk, so it's entirely possible it could change for 2004. This advance list can provide some assistance in researching the instructors and determining whose styles might be of interest, but the actual list made available at registration may be quite different.

The 2004 class lineup does contain some significant differences from 2003.  Certain instructors who taught in 2003 such as Khairiyya Maazin (of the Ghawazee Banat Maazin), Aida Nour, and Magdy el Leithy do not appear on the 2004 advance roster. 

The evening of June 27, a gala show with buffet dinner will begin the weeklong festivities in earnest.  The advance information has not announced who the performers will be.  In 2003, they included Khairiyya Maazin and a partner performing Ghawazee, a tannoura (whirling dervish) exhibition, a dancing horse (outdoors, before the show moved inside), and exciting Oriental performances by Dandash, Randa Kamel, and Soraya. There was also a fashion show featuring one of the vendors.

June 28 through July 2, the days are filled with classes. Those who don't wish to attend classes can spend their time resting up from jet lag, exploring the wares offered in the vendor area, swimmning and sunbathing at the pool on the hotel grounds, wandering over to the pyramids which are within walking distance, or eating in the hotel restaurant. Every evening, beginning about 9:00, there is a "summer party" featuring performances by the worldwide festival attendees. Anybody who attends the festival is welcome to sign up for a 5-minute performing spot on one of these evenings. Performers may choose between using the live band or bringing their own tape/CD of pre-recorded music.

July 3 marks the end of the festival, with a closing gala show. The 2004 performers for this show have not yet been announced.

Trip Prep & Flight to Cairo

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Ready for more?
First Two Days
Day 4: More Egyptian
more from Shira-
Last years report-
6-16-03 Breaking News from the Ahlan wa Sahlan 2003 in Cairo reported by Shira
The flavor of the instruction and dancing are very different from that offered by the U.S. festivals, and it offers an exciting opportunity for immersion in the Egyptian dance arts.
6-29-03 Photos from the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival, The Opening Night Gala by Tahseen Alkoudsi and Shira
held at the Mena House Oberoi Hotel on June 10-17, Cairo, Egypt.
Raqia Hassan's Dance Festival (Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2000) By Latifa
Then my dance idol, Suhair Zaki, walked in, creating eddies of excitement that ran through the crowd.

6-16-04 Egypt Travel Health Checklist
Here is a packing checklist that may help you anticipate your own needs.

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