The art of Raqs Sharqi won my heart in the early 1970’s. It has led me on many amazing journeys around the world and has allowed me to live out my vision as a dance artist, choreographer, teacher and mentor. After 4 decades I am still in awe and humbled by the beauty and magic of this timeless dance, the deliciously hypnotic music, and the transformational journey it has taken me on. I feel it is my calling as a teacher to pass along my knowledge to my students. It is my duty to educate, mentor and guide the dancers who walk through my door. It is my passion to help them find themselves within the dance. My mission is not to create fantasy and feelings of false accomplishment, but to wipe the glitter from the eyes of the student and help them truly grow as creative beings.
International performer, luminary instructor, and choreographer, Zahra is globally renowned for her knowledge, authenticity, and dedication to the art of Middle Eastern dance. Raised in raqs sharqi from a young age, Zahra is known for her musicality, flawless technique, and elegant style. She has trained and influenced many of today’s international stars! Zahra fell in love with the dances of North Africa and the Middle East in the early 1970’s. She enthusiastically studied the traditional music and dance styles of Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, and the Saudi Arabian Gulf States.
She began a specialization in Egyptian dance with her first study tour to Egypt in 1979, studying with Cairo’s top teachers such a, Ibrahim Akef, Mahmoud Reda, Farida Fahmy and Raqia Hassan. Zahra has had the good fortune to see first hand, more than three decades of the great dancers of Egypt. Zahra has continued her study and love of Egyptian dance, and conducts study tours to Egypt, as well as Morocco, and Turkey, under the name Eternal Egypt Tours.
She is also the artistic director of the Ghazella Dance Company, and has written, directed and choreographed theatre productions intertwining Middle Eastern stories and dance, under the name PoNaNa Dance Theatre (loosely meaning a blend of many things) since 1997. Her productions include, Layla and Majnun, The Veils of Inanna, Caravan of
Secrets, Tapestry, and Journey – In Search of the Divine.She has staged many folkloric and oriental shows, including a concert for the revered Egyptian composer, Sayed Makawi.
Zahra loves to share her enthusiasm of music and dance, entertaining and educating audiences of all ages. From 1994 – 2000, Zahra’s PoNaNa Dance Theatre collaborated with Gulistan Dance Theatre in creating Silk and Sand (Dances of the Silk Road and the Arab World) an educational program for children, presented by Performing Tree, LAUSD’s (Los Angeles Unified School District) Intergroup Cultural Awareness Program (ICAP), and the Glendale Arts Commission.
Zahra’s certification program, Artistry In Motion (AIM), is a dance intensive and dancers symposium, created for the continuing development of oriental dance excellence. In 2007 Zahra co-founded DanceGardenLA dance studio, with dancer, Jenna (formerly of New York).
Music is why we dance. Always dance to the music, with the music, and only because of the music. Watching a dancer show off tricky complex moves one after another, just to try to wow the audience is like watching someone do aerobics. It becomes nothing more than an exercise drill. The simplest movement can be brilliant when executed beautifully, in perfect harmony with music. ~Zahra
A great dancer accomplishes a harmonious blend of strength, elegance, high technical ability, and musicality, all the while appearing a seamless, effortless vision. A great artist acquires all of these skills, yet with that acquisition comes the realization the journey has just begun. ~Zahra