Raqia, and Dee Dee
Gilded Serpent presents...
Dee Dee Asad
like to accept this opportunity that Gilded Serpent has offered
Raqia to address several points brought up in Zeina’s
article regarding The Nile Group & Raqia Hassan
because there are always two sides to every story!
Group was, and is now, spearheaded by Mohamed Abou
Shebika. The group was his idea and his creation; the
organizer of the Stockholm Belly Dance Festival is also
Mohamed Abou Shebika.
Nile Group is supposedly comprised of other dance instructors,
one might easily conclude that the Nile Group and The Stockholm
Belly Dance Festival were synonymous. (Just for the record, the
first AWS was in June 2000 also.)
Raqia went on
a tour that lasted almost a month in which she went from Singapore
to Japan to Los Angeles teaching workshops. She left Los Angeles
on April 28, 2005 and went back home to Cairo. The Stockholm festival
was a few days after, on May 5-8, 2005. As soon as Raqia returned
home, (as often happens to flight passengers these days) she became
illness worsened, and she went to the hospital. I visited her
in the Masr el Dawly Hospital, near where Raqia lives in el
Dokki, the next week. Raqia was unable to travel to Sweden
stating that “She stood us up just a few days before the festival”
could only be true if Raqia had intentionally waited until the
last minute and not show up purposefully, but she was not in any
condition to travel! We dancers have very little control over
illnesses even though we make plans that do not include them...
Raqia had nothing
to do with the fact that Soraya could not travel
to Sweden. A few months before the Stockholm festival, Soraya
taught and performed in Sweden. However, too many absences forced
the Sheraton-Gizera to tell Soraya that if she left again, she
would no longer be a Sheraton-Gizera employee; a single performance
and workshop outside of Cairo would trigger her dismissal!
that Raqia was using Soraya to get back at Abou Shebika would
be a baseless assumption. Raqia does not have control over Soraya’s
actions, nor does she tell Soraya or any other dancers where
they can (or cannot) dance!
we, at Little Egypt, have been bringing Egyptian teachers
to the states for workshops and performances. The person that
stood behind us and helped as no one else was Raqia Hassan. She
was the first instructor we sponsored (Dallas ‘03) and since then,
she has assisted us to contact other teachers. Raqia introduced
us to Dina, Aida Nour, Magdy
el-Leisy, Lubna, Freiz,
Faten Salama, Mona el Said,
Dandash, and many others. If Raqia were a greedy
person, taking work and opportunities from colleagues, she would
not have helped us in our efforts. I know that Raqia would gladly
help anyone interested in sponsoring workshops with these
renowned performers and instructors.
I was shocked
to read “many of the teachers in Egypt are unhappy with the fact
that Raqia is controlling them in this way, both inside and outside
of Egypt. When dancers around the world start asking about these
teachers, they are told these teachers are not allowed to work
except once a year at her festival.” I would like to know the name of just
one instructor who can say such a case has happened to him or
I have met many
instructors through Raqia and through the Ahlan wa Sahlan
festival. Personally, I have not heard a single person complain
about her. I can tell you about ten names of dancers that attended
last year’s AWS festival and left the hotel several times to attend
the other festival that was literally held down the street. Was
the only hotel available the one almost next door to Mena
House? Cairo has so many hotels to choose from I doubt that all
hotels in Cairo were booked on the dates of Ahlan wa Sahlan.
The fact that
several dancers went to both festivals negates the
claim that “Raqia’s assistants were guarding the hotel doors”.
I scoffed when I read this claim! Obviously, no one has the authority
to stand at the doors and question people as to where they are
going! Many people who come to Cairo do not just come for dance
lessons; they go out, see the Nile, the pyramids, shop in Khan
el Khalili, etc.
I know dancers
who performed at the other festival and as well as in one of the
nightly shows in AWS. Raqia was aware of this as well as I. The
whole concept of appointing guards at the doors not allowing people
to leave or asking people where they are going is absurdly false.
The whole idea that Raqia called Lubna Emam and
forced her to choose which festival she wanted to teach at is
also false; Raqia never made such a call to Lubna.
If one side
of the story is out in the public eye, so should the other, so
I am glad for the opportunity to write about a few items on Raqia’s
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
The Nile Group Workshops in Cairo
absurd it sounds! How could we, in a small country that a lot
of people couldn’t even locate on a world map, compete with
her enormous festival in Cairo?
Ahlan Wa Sahlan 2005, Cairo
a review and diary by Leyla Lanty
Monday night, the opening gala was a great success in all senses
of the word! It was one of the best large scale events I've attended.
Interview with Mahmoud Reda
Part 2: The Troupe by Morocco
what I call my choreography is not folkloric. It’s inspired
by the folkloric.
My Experience With Amani’s
Oriental Festival by Beverley Joffe
Lebanon, June 14-19, 2005.
Amani placed strong emphasis on the folklore and identity of Oriental
Dance when compiling the program and offered touring to assist
in blending technique with emotion.
The 2005 Eilat Festival, My Fete
in Israel by Orit
was the first professional festival of its kind in Israel. Despite
its being overwhelmingly exhausting and loaded with material,
the celebrating continued in the lobby, well into the night, with
endless conversations and the exchange of tales.
Interview with Maya Gaorry of Italy, Talks about Size, Fat, and
American dancers, by Lucy Lipschitz
there was no rule on how big dancers should be, and now it’s
changing. Changing everywhere.