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Leila Delivers Live Music Under the Stars!

Camp Negum 2010

Camp Negum 2010, Dahab, Egypt

Text, Video and (some) Photos by Yasmin Henkesh
posted June 17, 2010

Camp Negum did indeed happen May 4-8, 2010. It was everything Leila promised and more – 5 days and nights of music and dance classes, almost all to live music. Those who wished to performed not once but twice with Leila’s band – which was, as advertized, in a Bedouin tent on a golden beach in a biblical part of Egypt.  It was a magical week and I enjoyed every minute of it, even though I spent most of it behind the camera. But someone had to record the serious fun that went on – until all hours of the morning. And I won’t even get into how many shooting stars or exotic fish I saw. Some things are too awesome for words.

The images with a * were taken by one of my students, Fionna, who has a gifted eye through a lens.

Don’t miss the video collage at bottom of page!


1. (photos at top of page) Leila, her husband Safa’a and our superstar teacher, Azza Sherif. The camp / hotel is in the background, bordered by the edge of the Sinai Mountains at sunset.
Sunrise on the bus
2*. Those coming from Cairo met before dawn near the Nile Hilton to board a chartered bus to Sinai. Sunrise on the bus.
Leila and Youssef
3. Leila and her son Youssef on the bus. He was the camp mascot.
Sinai Desert
4. Driving through the Sinai desert was stark but beautiful.
Hotel lobby
5. We stayed in a hotel called Miami Beach. It was right on the Red Sea coast. This is the lobby. Leila said "camp" but the only tent we were in was the performance tent set up on the beach. The hotel was clean, with spacious rooms and simple but good food – 3 meals per day.
Russian dancers
6. 2 of our lovely Russian speaking campers with the hotel complex in the background.
The pool
7. The pool with the terrace entrance to the hotel lobby in the background.
Tent and pool
8. From the hotel terrace looking the other way toward the Camp Negum tent beyond the pool, the Red Sea and the hills of Saudi Arabia on the other side of the water.
Other side of the tent
9. The other side of the tent from the beach, with the Sinai Mountains in the background.
Tanoura lesson
10*. The first class was how to spin with a tanoura. It’s harder than it looks…
Leila gets ready to teach
11. Leila getting ready to teach her first class – How to Dance with a Live Band. She covered what musicians expect from the dancer on stage (like how to get on and off, slow down or speed up) to make everyone’s performances go smoothly. At the end of camp, everyone was grateful for this class in particular.
Class in the tent
12. Class in the tent.
Folklore class
13. Rabea Abou Taleb teaching folklore, one of the few classes without the band. The class size was kept small – 40 people – to make sure everyone had space and individual attention.
Sahra teaches class
14. There were also lectures every day on different topics. Here is Sahra Saeeda giving an overview of the dances of Egypt.
Yoga by the pool
15. There was relaxation time for yoga on the beach …
Students on the beach
16. or getting to know the other campers.
Band plays backgammon
17. The band played backgammon on the terrace…
Band in the pool
18. or swam in the pool with Youssef the mascot.
Camels on the beach
19*. Camels wandered up and down the beach …
boys on a camel
20*. vaguely accompanied by their owners. "You want camel ride? … Very cheap!"
tanoura show
21*. Then there were the shows every night. They started with a teacher followed by 8 or 9 campers, one better than the other. Everyone was a pleasure to watch. The performers were relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed dancing for each other.
22*. Leila even brought in a small troupe of Bedouin musicians. Their music was very similar to khaleegi – no surprise, seeing how close Saudi Arabia is.
23. And then there was the incomparable Azza Sharif.
She so mesmerized the class that people just sat down to watch her. Her style of dance is fast disappearing.
Everyone felt it was a rare gift to witness and learn from such an icon of 1980s raqs sharqi.
Azza with musician
23b. With the sagat player, Sayed Lacky, who was a hoot all by himself. Combined with Azza, sparks flew!
Azza in class
23c. Azza was also a crowd pleaser …
Azza the teaser
23d. … and teaser.
23e. And of course she loved playing with the mascot. (also picture- Sahra, Azza’s assistant, Leila, author Yasmin, drummer Yousrey Hefney in red, Sayed Lacky)
The teachers
24. The teachers- Sahra, Azza, Rabea Abou Taleb, Leila, Azza’s assistant, Yasmin- author
The group
25. The group with the band and singers. slightly larger image here

26 – 27. Then there were the extra-curricular activities – snorkeling in the Blue Hole, fish dinner in downtown Dahab and the mystical trek up Mount Sinai from Saint Catherine’s monastery to watch the sun rise from the Mountain of God. For those of us who decided to take the 3000 stairs down again, instead of riding camels,
our thighs will never be the same…
28*. particularly after performing the next night in the last show. (Yasmin the author)
29*. There was a raucous good-bye party, where even the hotel staff let go.

30*. Everyone had such a good time that the party continued on the bus home. The sagat player trying out Serpentine Clappers.
In fact, everyone had such a good time that they convinced Leila to host not one but two camps per year –one in Dahab in May-June and another on a Nile cruise ship from Luxor to Aswan in late January. So mark your calendars. Leila’s next “camp” will be January 23-28 and feature not one, but two master teachers, Azza Sharif and Raqia Hassan, along with Safa’a’s incomparable band. The theme will be “Awalim and Ghawazee.” I can’t wait.

Christie and Azza
32- One more-Fionna and Azza!


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Ready for more?

  • 3-12-10 Creating Camp Negum by Leila of Cairo
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  1. Barbara Grant

    Jun 19, 2010 - 01:06:21

    What a beautiful collection of pictures and video! Great scenery and artistry. I’m sure the campers loved it !

  2. maria

    Nov 20, 2013 - 01:11:10

    hi evrybody i amary from athens greece and i have to admit that i am realy jaluse from all of you having agood time in my mother country,but also i have to thank you  giving me the oportunity looking at your pictures to see my beloving beatifull dancer aaza sheriff,i was realy very luky because evrytime i was visiting cairo i use to go  evry night in red carpet, and after when she moove tomena house i had to folow her with all my friends,for a long times .maybe she dont remmeber me now but i have many pictures with here,i wish if i can foumd where she is teaching in cairo for me 3aaza sherif was and is one of the first class belly dancer ,now i am leaving in athens but planning to go to cairo and find here ,you know she was the reason to make me love the belly dance i adore here,happy to know you ,mary.  EAAZA ANA BAHEBIK GEDAN.

  3. irit librot

    Jan 29, 2019 - 08:01:33

    That was an amazing trip! Those pictures really captured so much. Thank you Leila. I will always remember it.

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