Saidi class series starts Thursday, Sept. 8; live music show in Manhattan Sunday, Sept. 11
Hi everyone!

I hope you've been having a good summer. Now that Labor Day is approaching, it's back-to-school time, and that means us too! Open-level Egyptian-style classes will resume in Brooklyn on Thursday, Sept. 8 -- read on for details. I'll also be performing in Manhattan next week, and in the spirit of back-to-school, I've included some useful material on Arabic language, music, and culture that ties in to the upcoming series focusing on Saidi dance.

Hope to see you soon, in class or at a show!


Saidi series
Thursdays, 8-9 p.m.
Sept. 8, 22, 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20
1203 Church Avenue, Brooklyn
$105 series, $20 drop-in

This series introduces Saidi dance from the ground up. We'll discuss the cultural and performance contexts for the dance and typical characteristics of Saidi music. We'll also work on movement techniques to capture the Saidi flavor and Mahmoud Reda-style combinations. Although Saidi dance is often associated with cane, this series will focus on the dance and footwork. (We may add finger cymbals depending on interest.)

I recommend signing up for the full series if you can, since the combinations will build from week to week, but a drop-in rate is available. If you drop in for one class and decide to take the full series, I'll apply your $20 toward the $105 series rate. 

Dance shoes are a good idea for this series, if you have them. (Please note that street shoes are not allowed in the studio.)

If you have any questions, check out the FAQ page at, and feel free to contact me at

Class location
Thursday evening classes take place at Studio 1203, 1203 Church Avenue, Brooklyn. The cross streets are Westminster and Argyle. This studio is convenient to the B/Q stop at Church Avenue, and also accessible from the F/G at Fort Hamilton Parkway or Church Avenue.



On Sunday, Sept. 11, I'll be performing at a gala dance party presented by Anahid Sofian. Come enjoy great live music from Rachid Halihal, Richard Khuzami, Said Fahmy, a lineup of wonderful dancers, and tasty sushi and noodles at Jebon. The show runs from 7-9:30 p.m. Jebon is located at 15 St. Mark's Place. Admission is $15, and there is a $10 food/drink minimum.

Hope to see you there!

This newsletter brought to you by the Arabic letter


This Arabic letter is called "qaf," and it represents a sound that we don't have in English, a sound like "k" pronounced at the back of the mouth. Here's one YouTube video that demonstrates the sound, explains how to make it, and contrasts it with the "k" sound, which is similar in both English and Arabic. 
Just as English has upper-case and lower-case letters (like "Q" and "q"), Arabic letters have different shapes depending on whether they are at the beginning, middle, or end of a word, or standing alone. Arabic is written from right to left, so the beginning of the word is on the right side.

In English, this letter is sometimes represented as "q" and sometimes as "k." This is a useful point for dancers to know, because the Arabic word for dance includes this letter.

In English, this word is transliterated as either "raqs" or "raks." You'll see it written both ways in the names of dance companies, festivals, and so on. 

I just said that this letter is pronounced similar to "k" at the back of the mouth, but in fact, the pronunciation depends on context. We saw in a previous newsletter that ث is pronounced as "th" in contexts like Modern Standard Arabic, but as "s" in spoken Egyptian Arabic. (You can catch up on all the newsletters on the "news" page at This is another letter that's pronounced differently depending on the type of Arabic that's being spoken. Here's a good example for dancers to know.
This word means "heart," and you'll hear it a lot in dance music. (You'll also hear "my heart" and "your heart" -- this is the way to recognize them.) But you'll hear it differently depending on the context. In more formal or classical contexts, like muwashahat, it will be "qalb." But in modern Egyptian songs, it will be "alb." In Saidi (upper Egypt) and Khaleegi (gulf region) music, it will be "galb" -- the ق is pronounced like "g."

To get you in the mood for the fall Saidi series, here's one song where you can hear the singer, Metqal Qenawy, pronouncing "heart" in the Saidi way (listen carefully around 1:26). 

Although we're sometimes casual about the difference between "q" and "k" when saying Arabic words in English (since English doesn't have letters that are pronounced at the back of the mouth), it does make a difference in Arabic. "Qalb" is "heart," but "kalb" is dog. Two words you don't want to mix up!

Thanks for reading, and happy shimmies!
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