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Gilded Serpent presents...
My Moment with Nagwa
by Ahava

“Are you Ahava?” Nora asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Ok you’re next. The dancer before you didn’t show up, so you’re next.”

Luckily, I was ready and prepared for a situation such as this one. Back in June, when I sent in my application for the Ahlan Cairo Nights: Queen of Raqs Sharqi competition, I was very hesitant and almost scared. Was I ready? Was I in way over my head ? Maybe I was, but there was no turning back now! The dancer ahead of me was halfway through her routine, and I was second in a line up of 20 dancers!

As I entered the stage, a calmness entered my body. There was no time for nerves. I had six minutes to impress my audience and the judges as well. My music started, and I began my dance.

While dancing I kept eye contact with the judges and guests of honor. I still remember their mannerisms and what I perceived to be their glares. Randa and Dr. Mo were conversing and smiling contently, Faten and Zahra were clapping. Also, there sat Nagwa Fouad, “Queen of Cairo!”

When I first looked at her she returned a hard stare, I admit that the moment was very intimidating. Toward the end of my first song, I looked up again, and she was staring only at me, intensely, her eyes following my every move. I remember experiencing a sense of joy. When I posed at the last note of my routine, I looked at Miss Fouad and saw that she had begun to clap immediately began and exclaimed, “Bravo!” In that moment, I realized that she had given me all of her attention.

I felt that I had done what I’d set out to do: I had become one with my music. I had taken my audience along with me so that they could hear and feel every hit and pause in the music. In a sense, they, too, became one with the music.

Walking off stage and into the restroom to change, I played back in my mind what had just happened. It was surreal. All my hard work, frustration, and late nights had paid off! My eyes began to fill with tears, but I couldn’t cry because I didn’t want to ruin my make up!

Saturday night finally arrived and it was time to find out who would be crowned 2006 Queen of Raqs Sharqi. However, first there was dinner and a show. On this night we would get to see Randa, Madrina, and Madame Nagwa perform!

Randa Kamel is an amazing dancer. She is very strong, her technique “is to die for” and her shimmies are flawless.

It was an honor to watch Nagwa perform. Dr. Mo Geddawi introduced her as she entered the stage to a standing ovation. She was playful, fun, and a good sport. (There were numerous technical difficulties with the music.) She handled them like the pro she is and continued to dance. Miss Fouad made an encore performance. Nagwa’s still “got it!”

Madrina’s performance was awesome. This was my first time seeing her perform in person. I had seen her performance from last year’s competition on a DVD, and she was a delight to see. She has such grace and fluidity.

At about 1 a.m., Dee Dee began to set up the trophies. First, all the judges and workshop instructors received awards for their contributions to the event. Then, the winners were announced.

The winners were:

  • Marilyn from Miami, Florida, won 2nd Runner-up.
  • Marjan Amar from Oklahoma won 1st Runner-up, and
  • Rimarah Hare from Miami, Florida, also won 1st Runner-up in a tie vote.

As the last envelope was handed to Nora, my heart began to pound; I had the chills and my feet were cold and numb. Nora opened the envelope and read, “The 2006 Queen of Raqs Sharqi is… Ahava!”

I couldn’t believe it! I walked towards the stage and Dee Dee greeted me with a big hug.

My weekend was filled with workshops, shows, and shopping. I had the opportunity to meet world-renowned instructors Zahra Zuhair, Faten Salama, Mohamed Abd el Al, Randa Kamel, Dr. Mo Geddawi, and, of course, Madame Nagwa Fouad. I got so much out of that weekend, but nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.

My prize includes a free trip to Cairo with the Asad family and a performance slot at Raqia Hassan’s Ahlan wa Sahlan Festival. Traveling to Cairo is something that I could not have imagined myself doing in the near future; because I’m a full time student with a part time salary; therefore, I’m really grateful for this opportunity. Winning the title Queen of Raqs Sharqi is my “dream come true!”

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