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drawing by Michel Harris

Gilded Serpent presents...
Smoking with Dina:
a casual interview with an Egyptian star in California
by Alanna “Abir
of Albany, California
July 9, 2004

It didn’t take more than a New York second for me to reason it out for myself: because it’s a lot cheaper to go to Los Angeles than it is to go to Egypt, and because I really don’t feel too cool about flying to the Middle East under the current circumstances, as a reasonable alternative, I went to the May 14th to 16th workshop and show in Los Angeles sponsored by Little Egypt, featuring the sensual and fun Egyptian dance star, Dina.  I must have made the right choice because on Sunday’s break from her dance class at the LAX Radisson Hotel, I met with Dina outside for a quick couple of smokes …and a private casual interview!

I saw Dina dance in person in Egypt in 1994, and today, ten year later, she’s still one of my favorite dancers. She’s surprisingly down to earth and unpretentious, and when I asked her if there was anything that she wanted to say in particular, she replied, “ No, just go ahead and ask any questions you’d like.” Her English is quite good. She said that she had been dancing since the tender age of 9: she talked of her training with the National Folkloric Troupe of Egypt, of her dance instructor, Raqia Hassan, and also the birth of Ali, Dina’s 4 year old son.  Ali, who’s the spitting image of his mother, accompanied her for the weekend.

Having taken the Saturday and Sunday classes, (She presented different music and choreography for each one.) I mentioned that I thought I saw the influence of moves from Latin dance in some of her choreography. She seemed to acknowledge that it was so by saying that she had taken some Tango lessons. Also, I did overhear her telling someone that she wanted to go to Brazil sometime in the future.

The videos of the Saturday and Sunday dance classes will be a “must have” for me.

 Even though I had every intention of participating fully and getting Dina’s choreography straight, I got lost easily and pretty much just ended up observing Dina teach her class. Still, it was worth the money I paid for the classes just to observe.

 I got to see Dina dance and be herself again and again.

Dina is the featured star, performing 2 days per week at the Samiramis Hotel in Cairo.  She performs at many weddings, and she said that she had even starred in an Egyptian television soap opera last year.

Of course, I wanted to know who designs her distinctive costumes!  Whether you like them or hate them… they are always memorable!

 Dina said that she designs her costumes herself, and likes doing so. She didn’t wear anything too outrageous for her show Saturday night; still, she made four costume changes, which was rather tame for her, I thought to myself...

As “girls” sometimes do, we talked a bit about the state of the art of… no, not dance, …plastic surgery.  Dina commented that she would like to do something about the tip of her nose. “No, No! I protested.  Don’t let them change it!”  Then, (stupidly) I asked her what she thought I should have done by plastic surgery. 

Without hesitation, she knowingly tapped the bridge of my typical Italian (coin-worthy) profile! Enough said?

I heard that Dina went to Disneyland on Sunday after class, and “shopped (in Beverly Hills) ‘til she dropped” on Monday with Dee Dee from Little Egypt.  According to Nora from the Little Egypt group, Dina loved the nice and kind ways in which everyone treated her while she was in California.

When Dina talked on the phone to her honey in Egypt, he asked her if she was having a good time.  She smiled and said,

“Of course I am; I love it, and I’m very happy. I feel like a queen here!”

…And she is…

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