In the 1970s, I fell in love with Arabic dance and music. Ever since then, I have dedicated my time and talent to studying, performing, and teaching Raqs Sharqi and Egyptian style folklore dance. I am internationally known for my Saidi style cane dance and expert cymbal playing as well as my ability to “get along,” speaking Arabic. Over the last 30+ years, I’ve performed and taught belly dance, Egyptian folkloric dance, finger cymbals, raqs sharqi, and essential Arabic words and phrases for dancers in classes and workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area and northern California. I currently play finger cymbals on a regular basis in a local Arabic music ensemble.
Over the years, I have studied with many of the best dance artists, both Arab and American, in the USA and in Cairo, Egypt, making frequent trips to Egypt to study with Mdm. Raqia Hassan and other Egyptian dance masters and to spend most of my free time with the Egyptian people.
In 2006, I was thrilled when Mdm. Raqia Hassan invited me to join the staff of the prestigious Ahlan Wa Sahlan festival in Cairo, Egypt. Almost every summer since then, I have taught finger cymbals with dance at this glorious festival.
Also in Cairo, along with the fabulous Lebanese singer Khalil Abboud, I co-produced Golden Days Enchanting Nights, a CD of Arabic music for dancing and listening, featuring Khalil’s sensational voice and some of the best composers and musicians to be found in Egypt.
In 2009, recognizing how important it is for dancers to know the lyrics of songs they use for dancing, I released a DVD called Habibi You Are My… WHAT?! Leyla Lanty’s Essential Arabic for Dancers Volume 1, a recording of my workshop in which I teach Arabic words and phrases useful to dancers when performing to Arabic music.
For a glimpse into daily life in Cairo, I’ve included a page based on my private diary of one of my month-long stays there in 2011. In it, you’ll find a description of day-to-day life, my experiences attending and teaching at the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival, and a look at how life in the capitol compared to life before the revolution that had taken place nearly five months earlier.