Intimate * Visceral * Revealing
Yasmina Ramzy Arts presents “Al Qamar”
Egyptian dance and live acoustic music
8 top dance artists
8 acoustic musical masters
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.
Berkeley Street Upstairs Theatre
26 Berkeley St., Toronto, Ontario M5A 2W3
TENTATIVE new dates of Ocober 1-4, 2020 (4 evening performances and 3 matinees)
June 4-7, 2020 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”.
BASSAM BISHARA – Music Composer, Arranger, Lead Vocal, Oud
Bassam Bishara was born in the village Rama in Upper Galilee, Israel in 1954. He started his music education at the Robin Conservatory in Haifa, and graduated from the music Department of the Hebrew University. Bassam taught Middle Eastern music at the Music Academy in Jerusalem, and has performed internationally as a soloist, blending tradition and innovation, and forging important musical links between the Middle East and the West, from traditional Arab compositions and arrangements to jazz, documentary films, and orchestral scores. Bassam has received several awards: the “Award of Honour” for his achievements in linking traditional Arabic music and the music of the West; the “Jerusalem Encouragement Award” for his contribution to the revival of cultural heritage; the “Israeli Radio Broadcast Award”; and the “Arab Women Association Award” (London, England) for his role in reconstructing classical and traditional Arabic repertoires. He has performed in England, Germany, Sweden, and at several universities in the United States. Bassam moved to Canada in 2001. He teaches Middle Eastern music at York University and is the music director and composer for Arabesque Orchestra.
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.
MARYEM TOLLAR, Qanun
Maryem Tollar is a renowned Egyptian-Canadian vocalist, known for her world music performances. Her voice has been heard on the theme of CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and A.R. Rahman’s Bollywood hit, Mayya Mayya. She was the featured vocalist in Tafelmusik’s production of multi-media performances of “Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House” and the narrator and vocalist in “Safe Haven”. She performed Christos Hatzis’ piece “Syn-Phonia – Migration Patterns” with The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Inuit throat singer Tiffany Ayalik; and his multi-media piece “Constantinople” with The Gryphon Trio and Patricia O’Callaghan. Maryem performed with storyteller, Dawne McFarlane, adding music and sounds for performances at the Toronto Storytelling Festival, The Scottish International Storytelling Festival and at Silence Guelph. Maryem performs with several Toronto musical groups including Juno-nominated quartet, Turkwaz (vocal music from Turkey, Greece, The Middle East and The Balkans), and Al Qahwa (Traditional Arabic Music and Original compositions) who have been nominated for a 2020 Canadian Folk Music Award for World Music Group.
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.
SHARLEEN RIVERO, Dance Artist
Coming from a Middle-Eastern and Latin background, Sharleen Rivero has always been surrounded in dance. She started dancing at the age of five, and trained in various styles such as Ballet, Ballroom, Bellydancing, Contemporary, and Latin dances. She found her passion for Belly dancing at the tender age of seven. She studied dance at York University in 2009 and 2010. After being deeply moved by the Arabesque production “OUM” in 2010, Sharleen soon joined Arabesque as a student and was instructed by Amy Leung and Melissa Gamal throughout the years. In 2014 she became a part of Arabesque Dance Company where she continues to train at an advanced level under the artistic direction of Yasmina Ramzy. She has also been featured in multiple performances across the GTA, including cultural events, shows at the Harbourfront Centre Stage with Arabesque Dance Academy, performing at private corporate events, and being an understudy for the opening ceremonies with Cirque du Soleil for the 2015 Pan/Para PanAm Games. Sharleen has completed various bellydance courses including the Master-Pro course. She has been coached and taken workshops with various artists such as Luna of Cairo, Jeff Dimitriou, Robert Desrosier, Modrite Dimza, and many more. Sharleen continues to study and practice her forms of dance.
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 ROMM, 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.
REINE D’OR RAKOTO, Dance Artist
Reine d’Or is a French-Malagasy Bellydancer, freshly arrived from Paris. Her dance embodies both grace and authenticity. She first discovered and fell in love with Bellydancing at the young age of 7 during a workshop led by Fara Kadri, algerian singer and Bellydancer, with whom she went on to study for several years covering the artform’s basics and nuances while soaking up the Arab culture. Eager to improve and evolve, Reine d’Or had the pleasure to join several workshops and group lessons in Paris with various teachers. Now based in Toronto and still carrying this love for BD, she was invited to begin an amazing artistic and human adventure at Arabesque Canada. She participates in different shows and fulfills her desire to give more depth to her dance through her lessons with the company’s founder Yasmina Ramzy.
RHYTHM VEKARIYA, Dance Artist
Rhythm Vekariya started Belly dancing in India 6 years ago 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 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 learning from different Belly dancers from all over the world and performing with them.
TONG YU, Dance Artist
Tong has practiced belly dance as a hobby since she was a child. She started systematic training on belly dance since 2011. In 2012, Tong graduated from Huatai Mingjue Institute of Belly Dance in China. In 2013, Tong attended Shenzhen International Belly Dance Festival and learned from many famous international masters. She also participated in the 2013 Changchun TV Spring Festival Gala dance program recording and been invited to Changchun TV City Express program for interviews and performances. Tong attended Beijing Belly Dance Festival and workshop of Ukrainian belly dance master Yana in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, she studied belly dance at IPI Institute of Belly Dance, courses including advanced belly dance, creative dance choreography, music rhythm and eyang yoga. Tong attended workshop of Russian belly dance master Vaagn Tadevosyan in 2017. Now studying with Yasmina Ramzy and recently joined Yasmina Ramzy Arts.