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Monica has been studying a variety of Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean dance forms since she was a teenager. She lives in the beautiful city of San Francisco, California, where she directs an award winning dance company, teaches ongoing dance classes, and performs.

Monica is interested in and inspired by the folk dances that are at the root of raqs sharqi. For nearly two decades, she has followed a disciplined study of modern American and Egyptian belly dance, folkloric Near Eastern and North African dance, and and cross training in other movement forms, including flamenco and yoga. A believer in the value of a cross-disciplinary education, Monica has traveled to Egypt for several extended study tours, and continues to study the Arabic language and Middle Eastern percussion, including the darbouka/doumbek and the riqq.

The best dancers and instructors remain life long students, knowing there is always more to learn. Along with her own teaching, rehearsal and performance schedule, Monica takes weekly dance classes, regular workshops with master instructors, and practices a lot! She is passionate about this dance, and hopes to be a part of the growing movement toward making Middle Eastern Dance recognized as a serious discipline.

Monica received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, from the Peace and Conflict Studies program. She also has a Masters Degree from San Francisco State University with a focus on adult education.

More information about Monica, her San Francisco dance classes, and current projects please visit her web site.

Web site:

Monica Berini
Monica Raqs // Zakiyya Dance Productions
Post Office Box 421537
San Francisco, California 94142

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Monica

  • Sula, An Artisic Life
    Sula continued to study with Bert through the early 1970s, though by 1972 she called him “my ex-teacher and now equal partner”. Bert was extremely proud of Sula, as she was among the first students he trained who began teaching seriously.
  • Bellydance Superstars, Our Plans for 2006
    There is nothing like consistency and constant pressure to deliver at your best each night to weld a group or troupe together.
  • Keti Sharif’s A to Z Advanced Stage Instructional DVD and booklet review
    It is rare that an instructional video marketed to advanced dancers follows through to actually challenge experienced students or performers. This one does.
  • Bert and Amaya Workshop
    “He makes you feel special and sexy!”, one participant was overheard to exclaim.

Photos of Monica on Gilded Serpent