Dance Workshop & Discussion: Leila of Cairo and Anthropologist Najwa Adra

Wed, September 1, 2010 6:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all dance workshop & discussions »)

Workshop: 6:00-8:30 pm
Discussion: 8:30-10:00 pm

This evening of dance and discussion provides an opportunity much needed in the bellydance scene: to both embody the feeling of Egyptian raqs sharqi through movement and music, and also to speak to the controversial issues surrounding the dance through dialogue with experts. Alwan welcomes acclaimed dancer Leila of Cairo, and esteemed scholar Najwa Adra, to kick off its 2010-2011 season of culturally contextualized, quality dance and performance.

Dance Workshop with Leila of Cairo

Understanding Classical Egyptian Music for Dance

6:00-8:30 pm

The historic songs of Oum Kalthoum, Abdel Halim Hafez and Warda can be intimidating for dancers of all levels. Join Leila as she navigates through the musical structure of these complex compositions. Explore Egyptian versus Western interpretation of these songs, and utilize Egyptian technique to express the music and ultimately, yourself, within the dance.

Take advantage this rare opportunity to learn with Cairo-based, American-born Leila, who has won over Egyptian audiences with her dance, film and stage appearances.

Discussion with Najwa Adra PhD and Leila

Raqs, What’s the Point? Diverging Bellydance Traditions in Egypt and the U.S.

8:30-10:00 pm

This discussion focuses on differences of perception, meaning, context and technique of the dance known simply as raqs or raqs sharqi in the Arab world, and as bellydance in the US. Leila draws upon her experiences as a US-born dancer who has an exceptionally successful career as a performing artist in Eygpt, while Najwa highlights related issues from her fieldwork research, writings and lifetime of participating in social dance traditions of the Arab world. The talk-back will touch upon notions of authenticity, cultural appropriation and orientalization in the dance. Come with questions and comments!


In advance:
$55 for workshop and panel, pay here.

At the door:
$65 for workshop and panel
$10 for panel alone

For more information please contact Nicole Macotsis at or 646.462.5691

About the Artists:


Born in the U.S., Leila is one of Egypt’s brightest bellydance stars. She performs nightly in some of the best venues in Cairo and is also one of the most popular and requested dancers for weddings and parties in Egypt, Europe and the Gulf. Leila’s work with several star singers in music videos and on live television has brought her recognition throughout the Middle East. Along with dancing, Leila works as an actress and model. She has appeared with some of Egypt’s top actors and directors in TV commercials, TV sit-coms, and in film.. Leila has produced three Oriental dance CD’s (“Helwa,” “Sukara,” and “Om al Dunya”) and a DVD of her Cairo show “Bint al Belad.”

Najwa Adra, PhD

Najwa Adra is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in the links between dancing and culture in the Middle East. She has conducted field research on dancing and tribal values in Yemen since 1978. Her publications include, "Belly Dance: An Urban Folk Genre," published in Shay and Sellers-Young’s Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism, and Harem Fantasy, 2005. She is currently completing an ethnography of dancing in Yemen’s northern highlands. Her experience with dancing is not only academic, however. Dancing was an integral part of social occasions during her childhood in Baghdad; sometimes this meant ballroom dancing and at other times, belly dancing.

Last updated: 2010-08-03 12:29:56

Leila in Performance
Leila in Performance

Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

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