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Instructors

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Aziza is the biggest, brightest Egyptian-born superstars dancing in Cairo today. A protege of the legendary Raqia Hassan, she dances at the best nightclubs and festivals! Aziza is classy, elegant but strong, with superb technique and her musical interpretation will just blow you away. She has a style all of her own which is powerful and earthy, yet feminine and playful. She also has a very special blend of old-school style with a very modern twist.

Born in Alexandria, Aziza moved to Cairo and soon was dancing in the top five star hotels and for weddings. There she met the great Raqia Hassan who soon encouraged her to teach and perform at the world-famous Ahlan Wa Sahlan festival. She was an immediate hit!

Aziza is in great demand around the world as a Egyptian dance teacher for her high quality teaching skills and unique dance technique.

Check out the Full Weekend Schedule HERE

 

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Suhaila Salimpour is a highly-acclaimed belly dance performer, instructor, and choreographer. As a teenager, she began integrating the Middle Eastern dance passed on to her from her mother, Jamila Salimpour, with her own extensive training in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and American street styles. She also studied Flamenco with Rosa Montoya, Kathak with the late Chitresh Das, and tap with Tony Award-winner Hinton Battle. Through her work with Boogaloo and tap dancer Walter -Sundance- Freeman (now of Riverdance fame), Suhaila revolutionized belly dance movement through the quick and sudden movements now known as isolations.

In the mid-1980s, Suhaila moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles, where she appeared on television series such as Fame and Max Headroom and choreographed various music videos. There she also worked with music video choreographer Michael Rooney. She was also the first belly dancer to be featured on Arab-American television, even before Nagwa Fouad. For six years, she was the featured dancer at the prestigious Arabic nightclub Byblos, where she shared the stage with the most renowned singers of the Middle East. She also had the honor of studying with the late acting coach Sanford Meisner, whose method profoundly influenced her approach to performance and instruction. At this time, too, she produced the groundbreaking solo performance recording Dances for the Sultan.

She spent 10 years in the Middle East as a featured performer in top nightclubs and 5-star hotels in Cairo, Beirut, and other major cities. There she works with some of the Arab world’s most famous singers, including Ahmad Adawiyya, Sabah, and Amr Diab. Her fresh approach to belly dance movement, musical interpretation, and deep understanding of Arab culture and sentiment made her one of the most celebrated performers of her generation. Her experiences in the Middle East inspired her to create an educational program for belly dancers that valued both virtuosic technique and experiential cultural knowledge.

When she returned to the United States, she sought to fill a need in belly dance for training that emphasized both dance technique and cultural context. She established her school and her five-level certification program. In 1996, she created the Suhaila Dance Company, which to this day performs her choreographic repertoire, which includes hundreds of dances, from the classic to the avant garde. She also revived her mother’s world-famous Bal Anat, a faux-loric company that inspired the creation of tribal style belly dance. She also began producing her own recordings of classic Arabic compositions, drum solos, rhythmic teaching tools, and fusion belly dance music. She also continued to produce video recordings of her performances. By the mid-2000s, she had firmly established herself as a leader and innovator in her field.

Always striving to bring belly dance to a wider audience and to theatrical stages, she choreographed and produced the full-length stage show Sheherezade in 2004, featuring the Suhaila Dance Company. For this work, she was nominated for an Isadora Duncan award for solo performance in 2005, the first belly dancer to have received this accolade. Blending her experience as an aerobics instructor in her youth, she created the Fitness Fusion belly dance DVD instructional series for Goldhill Entertainment. Also at this time, she was featured prominently in the documentary American Bellydancer by Miles Copeland, producer of the rock band The Police.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, in 2009 Suhaila launched the first belly dance online class website. Filmed in her home studio in California, the Salimpour School Online Class website has subscribers from North America to Africa. In 2013, she choreographed Enta Omri, an original concert-length theatrical production set to classic Arabic love songs and performed by the Suhaila Dance Company. Enta Omri has appeared in both the United States and Europe, and continues to tour with its current cast.

In addition to teaching across the globe, Suhaila maintains her second-generation family business, the Suhaila Salimpour School of Belly Dance, in Berkeley, California. Her certification program has also spread worldwide, with schools in the United States and Europe offering licensed classes. Suhaila looks forward to expanding the audience for and appreciation of traditional Middle Eastern dance in a distinctly contemporary style. 

Check out the Full Weekend Schedule HERE

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Amy Sigil is an international instructor in dance and team building, director of UNMATA, owner of Hot Pot Studios and the creator of Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS).  She has been studying dance for over 20 years with training in Bellydance, American Tribal Style, Hula, Tahitian, Volleyball, Basketball and Track. 

Amy is known for traveling the world infecting each city with her signature Sigil Style; building communities of hard work, heart, and a lot of fun! Amy's dance classroom is better described as a gym. A born athlete, dance is her language and movement is survival. When taking class with her, expect a full body experience. Never give up, never settle.

Fate Favors the Risky.

Amy has been creating & building on her Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS) vocabulary for the last 10 years, and building her ITS community around the world. During Essence of Belly Dance 9, Amy shares some of her ITS work, introducing basic moves and transitions so you are ready for the quickness that is Sigil Style!

Check out the Full Weekend Schedule HERE

 
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Mohamed Shahin is an inspirational instructor, world-renowned performer, and challenging choreographer of Egyptian Oriental Dance (Raqs Sharqi) and Egyptian/ Middle Eastern Folkloric Dance. His powerful technique, magnetic personality, and masterful knowledge of all styles of Middle Eastern Dance has turned Mohamed Shahin into one of the most sought after dance instructors and performers in the world today.

A native of Cairo and originally trained as a mechanical engineer, Shahin discovered his passion for Egyptian Dance at the young age of fifteen.  Throughout Shahins childhood, he was fascinated by all forms of dance. But at the young age of 15, Shahin decided quite suddenly that he would dedicate himself to learning Egyptian Folkloric Dance. After many years of the intense study of various Middle Eastern styles of dance, Modern dance, and Ballet- Shahin developed a complex methodology of instruction that has made him a Master teacher beloved to his students worldwide, today. Shahin currently lives in New York City but has been touring internationally full-time since 2004.

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Arish Lam was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He began his journey into the world of oriental dancing in 1998 with Leyla Zahar. Known for his theatrical fusion style belly dance, Arish is one of the leading stars in Puerto Rico today!

Check out the Full Weekend Schedule HERE