The Gilded Serpent presents...


Yasmin, a native of Washington D.C., began learning Middle Eastern dance at the age of fifteen. After college, she moved to Europe to become a professional dancer. She first appeared in a small Arabic cabaret on the left bank of Paris called Al Djazair, but quickly moved to the “big time” on the Champs Elysees. There she starred as the featured dancer in two famous clubs, Le Beirut and Le Yildizlar. She worked with some of the most well-known Arabic stars and musicians of the time. Sabah, Walid Toufiq, Ahmed Adawia, Mohammed El Aizabi and Hassan Abou Saoud were regular attractions.

Yasmin not only contributes to GS with her writing but also with her advertising dollars and wise council. Thank you Yasmin!

After a number of years in France, Yasmin moved to London to work at The Omar Khayyam, the renowned club of dancer Mona Said. It was there that she met and worked with Khamis Henkesh, one of Egypt’s best tabla players. When she later moved to Cairo, Yasmin was introduced to Khamis' older brother Sayed who became her band leader. Sayed and Yasmin appeared together at The Auberge on the Sharia al Haram and at the Holiday Inn near the pyramids, in addition to performing at countless weddings and other private functions.

Eventually Yasmin returned to London to obtain her MBA at the London School of Economics. She performed once again at The Omar Khayyam and at Le Cave des Rois with Khamis. When she graduated Yasmin moved back to Paris to start a film distribution company with her husband. She also continued to dance in clubs and appeared on several European television shows.

Contributor to the Belly Dance Reader Volumn 1

Yasmin moved back to the Washington DC area in the early 1990’s where she currently teaches Egyptian style Middle Eastern dance at Joy of Motion, one of the area’s premier dance schools. In April 2001 The Washington Post named her as “the area’s most sought after teacher of the Egyptian style of dance.”

In 2005, Yasmin created Sands of Time / Sout al-Beled Music to share with her students the rich, multifaceted sounds she fell in love with in Egypt. Sayed and Khamis agreed to help and now their musical gifts can be enjoyed by all.

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Yasmin

  • Zar: Trance Dancing with Yasmin, 2014 Workshop at Amina’s in San Francisco
    Here in the Bay Area, so many excellent instructors make appearances that I always feel I need to choose carefully to make the most of my workshop budget. But when I heard that Yasmin Henkesh was coming to give a daylong workshop on zar, I knew right off that this was one I wouldn’t want to miss – how often do most of us get a chance for an in-depth look at this fascinating ritual?
  • Behind the Scenes, 3rd Coast Tribal Festival
    I had never been to a tribal dance convention before, even though I have been a professional (Egyptian style) belly dancer for 40 years. From my “glitz and tits” perspective, this belly dance offshoot wasn’t something I recognized as mine.
  • Planting Flowers and Dodging Riots, Dancing in Cairo After the Revolution
    I left Cairo on September 9th, 2012, after a three-week visit to research the zar. I wrote the following article on my flight home – two days before the Libyan tragedy* and the violence outside Cairo’s US Embassy. As my plane circled the pyramids I had no idea Egypt would once again become the center of world attention.
  • You Say Zills, I say Sagat, So What’s the Difference?
    Nevertheless, many dancers outside the Middle East still think the only difference between zills and sagat is semantics – “two words for the same instrument.” If you’ve played both – correctly – I doubt you would agree.
  • A Bust to Be Proud of...
    When she introduces me to her dance friends, it’s the first story out of her mouth – eighteen years after the fact. We still laugh about it.
  • Shoo Shoo Amin, A Forgotten Treasure of the 80s
    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.
  • Sex, Belly Dance and the Afterlife
    To these people, sex was not dirty, shameful, frightening or forbidden. It was a natural part of daily life and the essential prerequisite for birth - on earth or in the Afterlife.
  • 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.
  • To Buy or Not to Buy – A Guide to Mass Market Belly Dance Instructional DVDs
    Most producers ask or hire others to write glowing reviews. You will often see the same people reviewing a producer’s entire line of product. Those are suspect. Look for the one-off comments. They will give a better overview, along with anything less than 5 stars.
  • Music Copyright Law for Belly Dancers (or for any Performing Artist) (commenting now available on this article)
    You are not going to like what you are about to read. But if you are performing publicly to music you do not own, for your own protection, please keep reading. Every professional dancer should know at least the basics of music publishing law, particularly if she wants to appear in an audio-visual production destined for commercial distribution.

  • The Devil's Details, Show Ethics for Professionals

    • Part 1- Booking a Party
      When a dancer looks good, she, or another, will get called back to perform again. When she looks bad, customers might be turned off to our lovely art form forever. Therefore, a bad dancer not only ruins things for herself, but for all of us
    • Part 2- The Cross Cultural Factor
      Warning. There is a great deal of passive aggressive face-saving behavior in this profession. It is not always woman friendly either. Respect is not a given...
    • Part 3- Separating the Girls from the Women
      If a performer conducts herself as a professional she is much more likely to obtain repeat engagements and referrals. No one wants to be seen knowingly hiring an amateur. It is bad for business and a customer’s image.
    • Part 4 - What NOT To Do
      Show up drunk or stoned. No more needs to be said
    • Part 5 - Beauty
      For new dancers, mastering the art of glamour can be daunting. But take heart, while internal sensuality requires character work, external beauty is easier to fix

  • Om Kalthoum, The Voice of Egypt
    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.
  • The Zar
    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.
Yasmins Cds Yasmin sponsors Leila