Photo copyright Jal Schrof

Shahrazad Dance Ensemble performs folkloric Middle Eastern dances based on dances of the Levant, Egypt, North Africa, Turkey and the Persian Gulf. We also perform fusion dances using innovative music, and the classic Jamila Salimpour style of western tribal Belly Dance.

Our performances are colorful and full of activity. We love to perform at gatherings for seniors or youth. If requested we will include information about the dances we perform and the costumes we wear. Shahrazad Dance Ensemble is available for parties, weddings, festivals, corporate events, and shows.

How much does it cost to have the troupe perform at my event?

Our prices are flexible based on the type of event, the length of the show and the number of dancers needed. Please click the Contact Us link and send us a message with some information about your event or party and your contact information. We need to know the date. location and type of event, size of performing space, and – very important – the length of time of the performance you wish to have . We will be happy to discuss your event with you, determine how many dancers will participate, offer thematic ideas and a price. We want our performance to be an outstanding addition to your event.

Solo Performances by Troupe Members?

We invest our dance time and energy in our troupe performances.

Do you teach? Where can we take classes from one of the members of Shahrazad Dance Ensemble?

Our troupe members are not teaching at this time. Please see the teachers on our links page. We’ve known them for a long time and they are experienced and knowledgeable instructors.

Where do you get your costumes?

We make most of our costumes. We have a lot of different sets of costumes. Most of us sew and we share the work of design, construction and embellishment. We purchase the brightly-colored, beaded and coined hip scarves we wear with some of our costumes; they are made by craftswomen in Egypt. Our thobs for the khalegy dance come from India and are purchased from costume vendors such as Hasani and Kay Hardy Campbell. See our links page for links.

You know those cool shoes we wear so we look like we are barefoot but we have traction and protection? We wear Capezio jazz shoes (color suntan.)  We have also been trying out the Bloch Super Jazz shoe, which has a very good stage grip and is less expensive.

 Where does the choreography you perform come from?

Our artistic director, Inzar, is one of the Pacific Northwest’s notable choreographers of original folkloric Middle Eastern dances and a leading choreographer and performer of American Belly Dance. Her inspiration is drawn from long-time research and dance experience. In addition, troupe members Noura, Melinda Shiraz and Zorina have choreographed dances for the troupe. Troupe members have taken classes from leading instructors from Egypt, the Levant and other cultures, and from leading American dance ethnologists such as Morocco and Aisha Ali. Troupe members collaborate on each dance with ideas and the important element of polish. We also perform, by permission and with credit whenever possible dances we learned from Mahmoud Reda of Egypt, Lala Hakim of Toronto, and L’Emir Hassan Harfouche of Los Angeles and Lebanon.

How long have you been dancing?

As a group, or individually? Shahrazad Dance Ensemble was founded in 1978 in Seattle. The current dancers have all been dancing together for 20 years or more. Some of us have been dancing for more than 30 years. The troupe has a long resume of performances at ethnic festivals, cultural events, gala shows, parties, events of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), and science fiction conventions all over the Pacific Northwest. We once performed at a season-launch party for the Portland Trailblazers! Together we have more than 150 years of dance and performance experience. Most of us have also been solo performers of Oriental Dance in nightclubs and festivals.

You look like you’re having so much fun!

We look like we are having so much fun because…well, we are! We enjoy sharing a vision of the music with our audience, and we are happy to be showing people these wonderful dance styles. We rehearse together once a week or more depending on our show schedule, and we practice independently to keep our skills honed. We strive to fill every performance with enthusiasm, excitement and a sprinkling of humor.

Do any troupe members have Middle Eastern ancestry?

We are asked this question more often by people who are from countries in the Middle East. Usually it’s because they recognize dance and music they know and are charmed that we know it, too. They wonder if one of us learned the music and the dance from our mother and grandmother. None of us is of Middle Eastern ancestry. Troupe members have travelled to Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, and we have studied dance with some of the most notable teachers of the art from all over the world.