On the 15th of last month, I was lucky enough to be included in Kay Kizi’ah’s event: Katrina’s School’s Out Hafla Summer Edition. It was the first time I ever really got to spend time with Kay, who is very prominent in the NYC bellydance scene. She is a talented, passionate dancer and such a warm and sweet person.
In addition to dancing, Kay has been working at a high school for eight years as a special education teacher working with emotionally disturbed children. She has also been an adjunct at the College of New Rochelle for six years, teaching courses in the Psychology Department.
In fact, her event, which included 17 performers, was also offered as a part of a summer college course called “Dance as a form of Cultural Expression”. This course is 6 credits, matriculated, and was the first Middle Eastern dance course offered at The College of New Rochelle. The course, taught by Kay, was offered last year and became SO popular that despite budget cuts, it was offered again this year and recieved double enrollment!
Kay has her students approach the study of Middle Eastern dance from theoretical, cultural, spiritual, historical and practical angles. They study the history of the dance, learn basic movements, interview dancers, write poetry, and view clips of the great stars like Fifi Abdo and Nagwa Fouad. Attending shows, like the Summer Hafla, is an important part of the course. Students get to see dancers of different ages, genders, sizes, and races express themselves and dance in a way that is true to them and their own style.
I was so impressed with the organization of the show, the line up of dancers, and with how amazing and chill Kay is, so I approached her about an interview, and lucky for me – she said yes!
TBB: How and why did you get started in bellydance?
KK: I was a middle school teacher, and one of my colleagues wore a low key hip scarf to work. I liked how she walked with it on and I asked her what it was. She invited me to class, and as usual, I was hesitant, but it sounded like fun. I passed on it the 1st Friday night and the next one I said, ” Ok, I’m going.”
TBB: What is your favorite bellydance style?
KK: Definitely Egyptian! To me it’s about the music. There are so many instruments and hidden layers, so many dynamics and I really feel at home when I hear it. I used to say “I like that song” for instance: Alf Leyla, Princess of Cairo (Princess of Cairo on iTunes), Bitwannes Beek (Bitwannes Beek on iTunes) and people would say “That’s Egyptian.”