Leila of Cairo
Egypt’s New Star of Raqs Sharqi – Rises from the West
She’s tall and slender, dark and beautiful, and has almond eyes to die for.
She is the epitome of Arabian beauty, but she is not from the Middle East.
Leila is an American, and probably more of an American than most of us.
Part of her lineage is Native American, and she grew up on a reservation in
central Washington State. Yet after four years in Egypt, Leila has now
become one of Cairo’s brightest dance stars. Night after night she shines
in some of the city’s most exclusive nightclubs, restaurants and weddings.
She is in fact a recognizable personality throughout the Middle East. Her
work on Arabic television brings her into homes all over the region. From
high profile video clips with superstar singers to live televised stage
shows, her dancing can be seen everywhere. Her latest clip, with singer Ali
Hagar, won three prizes in the Cinema Magazine Film Festival at Sharm el
Sheik. She is also on clips with Samira Saieed, Hishem Abaz, Moustafa
Amr, Hakim, Khalid Seleem, and Ahmed Fahti, to name a few.
Leila is well-known in Egypt for her acting and modeling as well.
Occasionally, her face beams down from the giant billboards that tower
over Cairo's crowded streets. On television she trades lines with top Arabic
actors in sit-coms and commercials. And her most recent role for the
cinema, in the blockbuster film “Abu Araby Wasal,” won her rave reviews.
She is also a music producer. Her first Oriental Dance CD “Helwa,” has
sold well throughout Europe and North America, and will soon have a
companion. When Leila comes to the US in March of 2007 she will bring the
new addition with her. She has also produced a performance DVD of her
show “Bint al Belad” (that Serpentine Video hopes to re-release for the US
Yet I bet many of you have never heard of Leila. If you attended the
Raqia Hassan workshop in Houston in 2004, the Little Egypt workshop with
Aida Noor and Magdy el-Leisy in Los Angeles in 2006 or if you were at the
Ahlan wa Sahlan festivals, you might have seen her. Otherwise you could
hav. Her gentle but
firm way of telling it like it is ‘over there’ has won her many fans on the site.
Leila’s own w has a great deal of
information about her. But what it doesn’t mention is how she got her start
in the business. For an unknown dancer, it is hard to get your foot in the
door in Egypt. But it takes enormous stamina and perseverance for a
foreigner to do it. (Ever heard the expression “bringing coals to
Newcastle,” or more to the point, “selling sand in the desert”?) It takes
someone with thick skin, street smarts and will power, not to mention
talent, mental strength and intestinal fortitude, to succeed.
Leila’s entry into the world of dance was somewhat unconventional.
According to her, the public schools on the Indian reservation where she
grew up excelled only in their dance programs. She particularly loved the
folkloric classes. Leila left school early to pursue a modelin g career in New
York, and found enough work there to pay her way through university. But
in the end, she grew sick of the City and moved back to the West Coast, to
It was during a trip to Alexandria, for a friend’s wedding, that Leila fell in
love with belly dancing. When she returned home, she began to study
videos of Egyptian dancers to learn the movements. Her family’s musical
gifts helped her understand the Middle Eastern rhythms and melodies.
Eventually, she took workshops with visiting Egyptian teachers, joined a
folkloric troupe and began performing in local nightclubs and restaurants –
often with live bands. After only four years as a professional, Leila was
offered an opportunity to work in Egypt, and she took it.
Once in Cairo, things did not turn out to be cut and dry. She found work
within a week, but soon had to stop when another dancer reported her to
the police. Apparently Leila was working illegaly. She didn't have a
dancer's visa. It took 3 months for her papers to come through. Yet, she
stuck it out. She didn’t give up. She waited and kept hope. Luckily, her
other sources of income, modeling and acting, were professions governed
by different laws and visa requirements. She could at least eat and pay the
rent. She took dance classes, learned Arabic and carefully studied what
Egyptian audiences expected from their entertainers.
Leila finally got her papers and went back to work - one week before the
Egyptian government stopped all foreigners from applying for new papers.
She was the last one to be licensed. (The government has since repealed
the law, but has imposed strict regulations on any new foreign dancers
applying for work visas.)
Leila's dance career has been helped by her print and screen work. She
was able to reinvest additional funds into choreographies and costumes.
And you can't beat the "star recognition" factor! Now she performs three
shows per night, in addition to weddings, and her biggest concern is
Triathlon Summary Lecture 3: Common nutrition deficiencies- Are you at risk? Calcium Calcium is a major dietary mineral in the body, and is imperative for good bone health and healthy teeth. In addition, the skeleton protects our vital organs. Stress fractures in the bones are a high risk for athletes and can result from a number of dietary factors, including eating dis
MUBARIZ NAQVI, M.D. TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER EDUCATION BSC Gordon College Rawalpindi, Punjab University, Pakistan M.D., Dow Medical College University of Karachi, Pakistan GRADUATE TRAINING 1970-1971 Rotating Internship, St. Vincent Hospital Toledo, Ohio Pediatric Resident I, Medical College of Ohio at Toledo Toledo, Ohio Pediatric Resident 2-3, Children
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