Azza Sherif, Egyptian dance icon, passed away in early February of 2019
I had the pleasure of learning from Mme. Azza at Camp Negum in 2010 and 2011. She was a vibrant, funny, lovely woman. One time, she danced the same song five times in a row (to live music), so we could see and follow her as she (and the musicians) interpreted the song differently every time.
I had the honor of Azza correcting me.
It was in 2011. Camp Negum was set on a cruise boat en route to Aswan. It was a Tuesday.
Madame Azza was teaching us a move, a deep hip circle with a head drop and a side lift. She went around the group, correcting each person individually. When she got to me, she called me to the front of the room. “Look, here,” she said to the rest of the group. “Demonstration.”
She turned to me.”What is this?” she asked, pointing to my shirt. I looked down. She chucked me under the nose, lifting my face, like Moe in the Three Stooges, only nicely. “Look up,” she said, smiling.
“Where are you from?”
America, I said.
“You speak English?”
“I like your dance,” she said. She spoke English slowly, her voice rich and warm. “You,” she gestured top to bottom, “all dance.” She turned to the rest of the group and touched under her eyes, saying, “I watch. I see.”
Then she turned back to me and said, “I love your dance.”
Out loud. In front of everyone.
“Shukran gezilan,” I gasped.
“Now, do,” she said.
So I did the move. And nearly fell on my head.
“Slower,” she said.
“Ah,” she said, nodding, pleased. “Very good.”
Then she eyed my tummy full of lunch. “After tomorrow, you don’t eat so much.” And she went on to the next dancer.
That trip was the last time I saw her.
That Friday, the Egyptian Revolution shocked the world. We were in Aswan when the curfew came; Lisa and I ended up stuck there for most of a week.
Mme. Azza made it back to Cairo, which was maybe not so good, as Cairo was devastated by the upheaval. But she survived, even coming back to teaching. I went back to Egypt in 2016, but she had hurt her knee and did not teach that time.
I am so sorry that she has gone, and so grateful that she has left us so much of herself on film. Here is a link to her page on the Carovan where you can see some of her performances (please copy and paste if links are not clickable). https://thecarovan.com/category/azza-sherif/
Farewell, Madame Azza. God loves you, and so do all of us.
We also say farewell to something more mundane. I am moving our email service from Mailchimp to Convertkit. This will be the last newsletter coming from Mailchimp. I’ll be back in touch soon with a brand new service. Fingers crossed for success!
News and happenings
Mar 24 – Mar 30: March into the Spotlight: Bring Basic Belly Dance Back Challenge
Tamalyn Dallal’s new book is out! The Belly Dancing Kitties of Constantinople. http://www.bellydancingkitties.com
Alia’s Upcoming Classes and Workshops
FunClasses. I’m teaching live weekly-ish online dance classes! Each class is streamed live (currently on Thursdays at 7pm EST) and a recording is posted until the next class replaces it. Registration coming soon! Email me if interested.
July 14. I’ll be at Cairo Cabaret in Chicopee MA, dancing and teaching workshops in Improv and Group Dance composition. https://www.facebook.com/events/2223293227683591/
Aug 12-Sept 23. I’ll be covering for Amity’s Session Four Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced classes in WRJ. http://raq-on.net/index.php/classes-events/classes
Any time. Zitastic and Embodiment are now available on Teachable!
Thank you for being here!