Nabila Sabha [Original Arabic Dancer] PART1

Photo by André Elbing
1. Why did you start Raqs Sharqi? 

Photo by André Elbing

It must be like this – My Destiny.   

First, I started to dance with a ballet education when I was 5 years old.  I was always dancing, even if our family had guests – I was dancing as if I entertained our guests!  When I was 16, I visited my Arabic family in Jordan/Amman.  (I recently heard that our family has 1.800 members in Jordan!)  One of the most favorite habits in the Arabic world is big wedding parties.  So, we were invited to several weddings every weekend.  It was fun to attend the wedding party and eat wedding cakes!  Especially, Raqs Sharqi attracted me. I got a contact with oriental dancing on real lives! 

Photo by Andre Elbing

Of course, nobody was dreaming to hire an oriental dancer for a wedding party, because the culture in Jordan was too conservative at this time.  On the other hand, every young girl who was not married had to dance with the live music – It was a big marriage market!  One of cousins was playing the drum as well Tabla and Zills (Zagatt). We played Zagat and eat a hell of sweets in Jordan when we were bored. This is one of the best memories of teenage in Amman.  Then, I went to an Oriental Dancing Dinner Show in Berlin, and I met a beautiful oriental dancer FEYROUZ from USA! When I saw her, it  became clear that I want to be an oriental dancer one day! It was as if oriental dance virus came to my blood via an American Dancer! Feyrouz was so incredible, sensitive, and wonderful dancer – she touched my heart and she is still my idol! Finally, I decided my career. 

I went to see my dad immediately and told him: “I want to be a Belly dancer!”  


Photo by André Elbing

Naila Sabha’s Official Home Page 

 My father is an Arabic man and a Muslim and Hudsch (went to Mecca). Therefore, he was not happy about the decision!  I had to wait some years until my dream came true.  

Finally, I started to dance and teach as a professional dancer in 1988 and I went to Egypt.  After my first Egyptian trip, I went to Cairo 4-5 times in a year.  Actually, I spent half of the year in Cairo, and I worked in German for the rest of time to earn the money for Cairo life. In Cairo, I took classes with Mdm. Nadia Hamdi. She loved the dancing and gave the right spirit to her students – I love and respect her. She used to say, “No Zagat – no Artist!” as simple as that!  

I went to all 5-Star Hotels to go t Night Clubs, because I could see the great dancers’ show like Nagua Fuad, Fifi Abdou, Lucy, Dina and many other dancers from other countries such as Diana (Martinique), Asmahan (Argentina), and Sahra Saeeda!  

I saw the oldest Sahra’s show, which she performed at Meridian Heliopolos Hotel.  That was around 1990.  She inspired me a lot with the way of performing ART and Entertainment.  Moreover, I went to see all the famous Folklore Shows like “Hassan – Hassan Show” and  Tanura Show. I think it was the right way for me that watching the shows and getting the spirit out of it to learn Raqs Sharqi!  I did not copy any steps or movements of their dancing – I just inherited the spirit of Egyptian dancing!  This is how I learn dancing – feeling emotions and moods from great dancers’ show – the movements are coming out of my body naturally.

2. What is the most important thing to do when we dance in public? 

 1. We have a duty to show the oriental dance and it´s ART in the right way!

2. Mind that oriental dance is an entertainment! Do not forget show and feel the joy of oriental dance!  If you dance for a birthday party or wedding, it is better to focus on entertain people.  If you are on a stage, you should show the ART of Raqs Sharqi, because people want to see ART.  

3. Mind always that it would be a daily job for you to dance in public but it would be the special one moment for customers to book a belly dancer in their life.  Customers want to get the benefit, and dancers have to make it to entertain the most wonderful show they have ever seen, and they will love to remember it!  We have to control our behaviors in public and on a stage because we are women to present the beauty of the Raqs Sharqi!  We have to prepare for the dancing show with perfect Make-Up, Hairstyle, and costume before we arrive to the place.  

My opinion seems a little bit old fashion for you, but the appearance, good education and behavior is always very important for our life!   

3. Could you tell about your Raqs Sharqi style?

 I sometimes love to dance modern and jazz-dance, and my next favorite dance is Samba that I started to perform 10 years ago.  I love to dance traditional style like Um Kulthum .  However, I also love to add some Modern Steps and Samba Steps.  In addition to them, I love Egyptian Ballady!  I feel the soul of Egypt when I dance the Egyptian Ballady style!  I love to dance with Shabi or Ballady music like “Daht Il Shebak” from Fatma Serhan. When I started to dance, I danced with live music.  I danced a lot for Arabic and Turkish parties with their bands.  Moreover, I danced every night with live music in London and Geneva.  I made a long-term contract with Arabic nightclubs from 1996 to 1997.  It was a great experience.

 I could develop my own dance style because I learned the dance on my special way. Oriental Dance lives with expressions and feelings.  It is necessary for dancers to develop your oriental dancing not only with your body but also in your mind!

About Yuki Okamoto

Freelance Internet Marketer/ Bellydance Japan Magazine Writer/ Raqs Sharqi -The Joy of Dance- SNS Managerとして活躍中。 2010年には、ベリーダンスイベント運営/ Marketing戦略立案施行を行うRaqs ART Internaitonalを立ち上げ、Suhaila Salimpour, Huleya HiromiのSNSの運営管理、インターネットにおける市場戦略立案施行を行う。 I hope that Raqs Sharqi -The Joy of Dance- promote every Oriental/Middle Eastern/Belly/Raqs Sharqi dancers and everyone who loves dancing sisterhood!
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