Shiraz began her wondrous journey in dances of the Arab world (raqs sharqi and folkloric) nine years ago; instantly falling in love with the cultural art form. The dance has become her passion as well as purpose. Shiraz loves to share the beauty of the Arab world through their rich, diverse, and delightful dances. Shiraz is continually deepening her knowledge and understanding of the Arab world; and hopes to use her dance career to build meaningful and positive relationships between cultures. So much truth, beauty, and extraordinary potential is possible through something as human as dancing – it can be used to learn about, and unlock true value, within oneself and between oneself and another culture. This is Shiraz’s purpose; whether through dance performance, instruction, or scholarly research.
For years, Shiraz was a top award-winning belly dance performer on the East Coast, highly sought after in prestigious Middle Eastern and Turkish establishments throughout Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Delaware. Shiraz was also entrusted as the featured belly dance artist at hundreds of cultural celebrations, weddings, haflat (parties), and appeared on television and MTV. Having earned her B.A. degree in Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language, from the University of Delaware; Shiraz ventured to Riverside, California to earn her PhD in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California, Riverside. Her research objective is discovering and promoting cross-cultural understanding, knowledge, and authentic images of Arab culture through interdisciplinary dance scholarship with an anthropological lens; exploring dances potential to communicate, express, create, and embody cultural meaning locally and transnationally.
Shiraz is also a Raqs Sharqi (Belly Dance) and Folkloric Instructor available for group and private lessons, as well as belly dance workshops. She is available for belly dance classes in Riverside, California as well as private instruction. Her teaching is infused with strong foundational technique, supportive encouragement, the necessary cultural and historic nuance, and a sincere love for the art form and her beautiful students; all providing a safe and meaningful environment to learn the rich dances of the Arab world- folkloric and raqs sharqi. Again, with something as human and joyful as dancing you can learn to better love yourself while mutually learning to better love other people and cultures in an authentic way.
Shiraz’s core dance mentors and teachers from the East Coast are forever a part of her journey and accomplishments, and she delights in honoring them through each dance performance, class, and academic endeavor. She sends dearest love and thanks to Latifa of Maryland, Artemis Mourat of Washington D.C., and Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, director of Silk Road Dance Company, Washington, D.C. These women are pioneers in the realm of dance, the best master instructors a dancer could hope for, and leave a glittering trail of beauty wherever they go. Alf shukar – you all make this world so much more wonderful.
Shiraz’s other significant training and accomplishments include being a graduate of Sahra Saeeda’s renowned Journey Through Egypt 1-4 dance ethnology certification courses; having completed 3 & 4 on site throughout dance zones of Egypt in December 2012. She has overseas research experience in Tunisia – where she lived, danced, and studied in both 2010 and 2012. Shiraz also has traveled to beautiful Turkey with teacher Artemis Mourat in May 2013 to study Turkish Oriental and Romani dance. Additionally, Shiraz has apprenticed with Artemis assisting her with dance history research and archiving projects. Shiraz was also honored to be a company member of the internationally acclaimed Silk Road Dance Company, directed by Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, up until her California move.
Further accomplishments include: In 2010 Shiraz competed in three categories and won five awards in Za-Beth’s National Belly Dance Competition in Boston, MA: 1st place & People’s Choice for the Drum Solo, 2nd place & People’s Choice for the Belly Dancer of the Year, and 2nd place for the Improvisation to a Live Band. In 2010 Shiraz was also one of twenty-three contestants world-wide featured in America’s first ever belly dance show, Project BellyDance- The Search for America’s Next Top Belly Dancer, hosted by Michelle Joyce and Lotus Niraja.