Intimate * Visceral * Revealing
Yasmina Ramzy Arts presents “Al Qamar”
Egyptian dance and acoustic music
The way Middle Eastern dance and music is best experienced, free from Western contructs and directly connecting to the heart with a Sufi based theme.
Currently being made into a film to be released late Summer 2021
June 4-7, 2020 theatre dates have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
YASMINA RAMZY, Artistic Director, Choreographer
Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and pioneer. Her prolific and highly sought after choreography is best known for its originality, elaborate staging and full range of emotional expression. She has created over 200 ensemble choreographies for 25 dance companies in USA and Canada including Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra, Earthshakers and Bellydance Superstars. As mentor to countless professional Raqs Sharqi dance artists, Yasmina is known as a “Dance Whisperer” inspiring individuality and a path to artistic self expression. Her passion to represent an authentic art form compelled her to create 7 large international dance festivals featuring discussion and debate while staging as many as 150 artists in each festival and presenting over 50 master teachers such as Dina Talaat, Mahmoud Reda, Mohamed Khalil and Aida Nour.
Yasmina received her primary training from various teachers in Egypt and Syria. Since 1981, she has taught in more than 65 cities around the world. Yasmina has performed extensively in the Middle East, primarily with the master Muwashahaat trained musicians of Aleppo, Syria. Her full length six day theatrical productions have been presented 10 times with as many as 45 dancers and musicians at a time. Some of her productions have toured in USA, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and across Canada. Yasmina has been awarded several arts grants from all three levels of government for her ground breaking and authentic choreography as well receiving awards from Arab communities for helping to nurture and uplift Arab dance and live music. She has produced 7 CDs and 15 DVDs. Currently, Yasmina teaches daily in Toronto as well as online, directs four dance companies (one online), offers the “Be The Canvas” programs in various cities, writing a book and in Spring 2020 will stage a new vision in presenting Raqs Sharqi dance and music with the production entitled “Al Qamar”.
HANY MORGAN, Percussion Director, Composer
Hany Morgan began playing percussion at age five and performing Sufi drum and dance at age seven. Raised in a musical family in Cairo, Egypt, he was surrounded by musical art and taught to play the derbeki (Arab drum) by his father Sheikh Ibrahim. The Morgan family have performed Islamic traditional religious choral music in the time of King Farouk and special concerts for dignitaries. As well as the derbeki, Hany plays the duff, tura/segat, violin and naye. Hany has been the lead drummer for Egypt’s famous El Tanoura Dance Troupe in the Sufi tradition since 2002 to present. He has toured the globe with this large ensemble sponsored by the Egyptian government. In October 2017, Hany took over reigns as Percussion Director and instructor at Arabesque Canada and Yasmina Ramzy Arts in Toronto, Canada. As well as composing and teaching, he records and tours with many other musical and dance productions worldwide. In 2019, Hany was voted Best Percussionist in the World at the Shanghai International Percussion Festival.
MANUEL GARCIA, Videographer & Editor
Manuel is a graduate from “Universidad Modelo” (Yucatan) with a BA in Communications, as well as from the “Escuela Activa de Fotografía” (México City) with a Diploma in Digital Photography. Further education includes courses taught by personalities such as Fernando Ödagled (The Photographer México), Juan Carlos Piña (Canon Ambassador), Alex Reynaud (SAE Institute Mexico), Leonardo Garcia Tsao (Director of the Mexican National Film Archives 2006-2010), Oscar Urrutia and some courses at LIFT.
Early in his career he did volunteer work in documentary pieces for “Deportes Para Compartir A.C.”, “Indignación A.C.” and “DocsDF”. He was part of the production of the section called Deporte Inaudito on the Adrenalina TV show, along with Anibal Santiago and Agustín Carreño. “El estadio que nunca fue”, one of the stories for “Deporte Inaudito”, was amongst the twenty best Sport Documentaries in 2018, according to the International Sport Press Association. In September 2017 he covered the Sept 19th earthquake in Mexico City for Imagen TV and Excelsior TV.
Now living in Toronto, Canada, Manuel is the videographer and editor for the Leilit Hob video in September 2020 as well several social media video collages for Yasmina Ramzy Arts. In October 2020, he was videographer and editor for SooRyu Festival under the direction of Sashar Zarif.
MAYADA MEAGAN HESHAM – Dance Artist
Since falling in love with Middle Eastern dance in 1994 when she was fifteen years old, Mayada has become a dynamic teacher, a popular performer, a creative choreographer, creator of Canada’s first bellydance magazine: MID-BITS, and creator of Bellydance Talk Radio. Mayada has taught bellydance classes across Toronto at venues including Fierce Fitness, Arabesque Academy, Royal Ontario Museum, Ryerson University, York University, Toronto Bellydance Collective, as well as running specialty workshops across the continent. Mayada has performed throughout Canada and the US. Highlights have included opening for many great masters (Wael Kfoury, Assi Helani, George Wassouf, Ragheb Alameh, and others), Royal Ontario Museum, Caravan, CNE, United Nations Millennium Summit (NYC), Int’l Conference on Middle Eastern Dance (LA), Int’l Bellydance Conference of Canada, theatrical presentations Descent of Ishtar and Isis, as well as performing for years as a regular soloist at Arabic restaurants, clubs, and special events. Mayada loves to blend knowledge from her fitness background, her own self-love theories, and bellydance to spread the message of loving yourself fit!
CHRISTINA DJOKOTO, Dance Artist
Christina Djokoto began her music and dance education at an early age with training in classical piano, flute, ballet and jazz. In 1995 her interests turned to Middle Eastern Dance and she began a twenty year journey studying, touring, and performing as both a member of the original Arabesque Dance Company, and as a featured soloist. Along the way Christina has also explored and performed Latin, Brazilian, and Afro-Caribbean dance forms. Christina’s enthusiasm for music and dance persists today, mostly by dancing in her kitchen when only her dogs are watching.
LEANNA MENDOLIA, Dance Artist
In 2006 Leanna started studying Oriental Dance with local teachers in Hamilton and eventually in Toronto. She has also learned from many international instructors such as Mahmoud Reda, Aida Nour, Tito Seif and Randa Kamel. Leanna’s most memorable dance experiences include playing a bellydancer on the TV show Reign (2016) and performing in the Cirque du Soleil Opening Ceremony of the Pan-Am Games (2015). As a lead dancer in Arabesque Dance Company (now Yasmina Ramzy Arts) she has performed in the production of Sawah (2014), the International Stage at the CNE (2016- 2018) and Dance Ontario Dance Weekend (2014-2020). Leanna directs BellaDance who performed in Hamilton’s biggest arts festival, Supercrawl in 2019. Leanna also performs regularly as a soloist with the Arabesque Entertainment Agency and has engaged audiences for over 10 years.
KATY SOLORZANO, Dance Artist
Seduced by the richness of Middle Eastern Music and the beauty of the dance movements, Katy began taking Middle Eastern Dance classes in 2003 at Arabesque Academy with Yasmina Ramzy, Denise Mireau, Audra Simmons, Mary and Saba. In 2005, Katy joined the Rhythm of the Nile Dance Company, under the direction of Nada El Masriya. There, she discovered her passion for Egyptian Folkloric dance, realizing her dream to perform as a lead dancer in “Rhythm of the Nile”, “Ayyam Zaman”, and later in “Egyptian Panorama”, and “El Toreth El Masryi”,with the now named Egyptian Dance Company. A highlight of Katy’s career was having the honour to share the same stage as The Reda Troupe, when they performed in Toronto in 2012. Katy has explored and studied other dance forms such as Ballet, Hip Hop, and Flamenco. She has also taken workshops with renowned artists, Fifi Abdo, Randa Kamal, Aida Nour, Doaa Salaam, Aziza of Montreal, Hannan Sultan, Nesrin Bahaa, Ehab Hassan, Tito Seif, Roula Said, Mohamed Shahin, Mohamed Salah, and Dr. George Sawa. Passing on her love of bellydance to her students at Egyptian Dance Academy, Katy worked as an instructor from 2008 to 2016. In November of 2016, Katy joined The Arabesque Dance Company, where she continues to grow as a dancer and performs at various events in Toronto such as Dance Ontario Dance Weekend, Bellydance Blossom Festival 2017, and Scrubs the City: Marrakech Fundraiser in support of SickKids Foundation.
ASLI RAKKAS, Dance Artist
Asli has always been impressed with belly dancing and admired it in her home country, Turkey. In 2010, she started learning under the instruction of Joanne Camilleri at University of Toronto. These classes enhanced her passion for this art form. From 2010 to 2018, she was part of Dragonfly Belly Dance Studio, and she improved her dance skills under the tutelage of Zahira and Anuka. During this time, she was also part of the Dragonfly Student Troupe (2013-2016), performing in Luminescence (2015) and Alchemy (2017). As of 2019, she is a new member of Yasmina Ramzy Arts/Arabesque Dance Company, under the mentorship of Yasmina Ramzy. She has performed in many festivals including Dance Ontario Dance Weekend (2019), Habari Africa Festival (2019) and Canadian Arab Orchestra Multicultural Festival (2019). Alongside belly dance, she also performs Turkish Rom and she is an ardent student of Egyptian Folklore styles. In 2016, she won an award for her Turkish Rom style performance at Star Belly Dance Canada.
ANASTASSIA LACHINA, Dance Artist
Anastassia began her Egyptian dance journey at Arabesque when she was 16; taught by Melissa Gamal, Saba Alemayehu, Sarita, Amy Leung, Yasmina Ramzy herself, and many others. For her, this dance is a way to manifest more beauty into the world. Performing has been a big part of her life; she has been a devoted troupe member of diverse and dynamic groups: including the Arabesque Academy Troupe (director: Yasmina Ramzy), the Undines (director: Ioana Timariu), and Snake Bite (director: Laura McCutchan). The past few years have been transformative in her dance with the help of Yasmina Ramzy, Badia Star, Zahira, Mohamed Salah, and Nada el Masriya. She has taken workshops with renowned dancers such as Randa Kamel, Esmeralda Colabone, and Shahrzad. In 2018 she joined Arabesque Dance Company / Yasmina Ramzy Arts (a long-time dream) and is now excited to help the vision of Al Qamar come to life.
RHYTHM VEKARIYA, Dance Artist
Rhythm Vekariya started Belly dancing in India in 2014 under her dance teacher Joseph Stanley. Since then she won numerous dance competitions and talent shows. Belly Dance just came naturally to her. In 2016, she decided to pass on this knowledge further to other girls. She started organizing belly dance workshops and choreographed various shows all over the small city of Ahmedabad in India. She also studied belly dance with the famous Belly dancer of India – Meher Malik. Currently Rhythm is a part of a company named – Yasmina Ramzy Arts in Toronto. She looks forward to study oriental dance under different teachers and grow as an artist.
VIVIAN MU, Dance Artist
Vivian has always been surrounded with dance and music. Her mom is a piano teacher who also directs singing classes. She sent Vivian to learn Chinese folklore dance and piano since she was 6 year old. Fell in love with Bellydance was at a lecture about world dance forms, Vivian was amazed by how charming and beautiful Bellydance is and deeply attractive to it. She taught by Dariya Mitskevich for two semesters and graduated from her professional training class. She’s been performing and teaching classes ever since. After moving to Canada, she won 2cd place of professional soloist from Hamilton International Bellydance Competition, she got invited to perform on CANADA NATIONAL TV (CNTV) for Chinese New Year Gala. She is a new member of Yasmina Ramzy Arts/Arabesque Dance Company. Keep exploring and passing the passion of Bellydance.