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Hey Guys! So I’m late to the game with this one – but tomorrow  Ahmed Hussien is having a workshop in NYC  –   FACEBOOK PAGE !!!!!

ALSO his 3rd annual Spring Immersion is coming up in March! If you want to take class with a fantastic teacher and hang out in Southern California (like I do btw) then you should definitely mark your calendar!

Want to learn more about Ahmed? Read this short interview he did with The Belly Blog! 🙂

TBB: Being that you started dancing so young, what is your first dance memory?

AH: My first memory is dancing on the old Opera House in Cairo Egypt that was built in 1886. And I danced as the only child in the Don Juan ballet representing the Cairo National Ballet.

TBB: When did you know that dance was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

AH: Being that young, you don’t make a decision. I started the academy when I was 8 years old.  So it’s not a decision that I made but was a decision was put in front of me. I was guided and encouraged by an older cousin. He saw something in me. He noticed that I was very talented and active. He suggested that I needed to be placed in a program with either in music or dance, something. So I went and applied to the Higher Institute of Ballet and was accepted.

TBB: How has your ballet background influenced your classical oriental style? From where else do you draw inspiration?

AH: All formal dances relates to each other. And they all also have the basic form from ballet. It gives you grace, lines, flexibility and provides you with musical interpretation. Grace is the most important quality that ballet training can provide dancers. Music gives me the inspiration. There is nothing to draw inspiration from without the music.

TBB: What is the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome as a dancer? How did you grow from it?

AH: Maybe not finding the right music, the right venue, the right stage, poor lighting and/or sound. You learn by adapting to different situations. The show must go on. I came from Egypt and I adapted to life in the US. Adaptation is what you do in dance.

TBB: What has been your favorite moment in your dance career?

AH: Being on Broadway. I learned a lot about how things work. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity  to experience the processes of auditioning, planning, creating choreography, costuming. It’s amazing to see your final work on stage.

TBB: What is your favorite song right now?

I don’t have a favorite song. There is so many pieces of beautiful music and I like them all. I feel like it’s not fair to select one over the other.

 

Fair enough Ahmed! 

 

Learn more about this great dancer on his website!

 

 

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SO HERE’S THE DEAL:

In honor of Black History Month we thought we should recognize the wonderful Nakish. Nakish is known as the first African American belly dancer in the US and worldwide. She was also the first and only Black dancer in Bal- Anat in the early 70’s. Her other firsts include being first Black woman to teach at the YWCA (in San Fran) in 1977, and one of the first teachers to ever teach at Rakkasah.

Nakish was born in San Francisco. She was a dancer from a very early age. At 6 she took ballet and later in high school she studied flamenco and modern dance. Although she was studying the Martha Graham technique, she did not want to pursue this in New York after school, where she didn’t know anyone. Instead she went to the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and studied Modern Dance at City College simultaneously.

In 1962, Nakish explored other aspects of her creativity and went to the Louise Slinger Academy of Fashion and graduated in 1966 becoming an assistant to Patricia of London Design in 1967. Nakish also took interest in stone and gem cutting and jewelry design.

Nakish was introduced to belly dance through her boyfriend who worked at a Renaissance Pleasure Faire as a blacksmith. At first she didn’t’ feel right about participating as a belly dancer because it wasn’t part of her ethnic culture. A year later, she went to watch and saw Jamila Salimpour’s troupe Bal-Anat perform. In an interview with Gilded Serpent, Nakish said, “ Rhea (Rhea of Athens) was performing with her sword. She saw me standing there watching the dancers and came up to me and said, ‘You should be in our group!’”

And so it happened. In 1969 Nakish began studying with Jamila and became the next sword dancer in the group when Rhea left to go to Greece.

In 1973 Nakish left Bal-Anat and began teaching. Although she didn’t really like the nightclub scene she would gig about once a month and she was very protective of her students. She demanded that club owners respect her students, saying that if they were disrespected she would not dance at their club. If they were respected she would pack the house.

In 1983 Nakish was invited by Dr. Bousaini Farid, the President of the Women’s Club in Egypt at the time, to go to Egypt and dance for the Friendship Force International program. She said this experience was her pride and joy. She danced at the Nile Hilton for Egypt’s elite. While she was there she also danced on NYE at the Yacht Club for over 50,000 people, but it was cut short because she had pneumonia.

She stopped teaching in 1993 when she injured herself working on “The Phantom of the Opera” where she worked in the wardrobe department. She does teach the occasional workshop.read more