by Luna

by Luna



Blog Intro

Hello, I'm Luna, and I'd like to welcome you to "Kisses from Kairo,"* my blog about living and working as an American belly dancer in Cairo.

Life in Cairo isn't easy for dancers, foreigners, women, or even Egyptians. It is, however, always exciting. That’s why after living here for seven years, I've decided to share my experiences with the world. From being contracted at the Semiramis Hotel to almost being deported, not a day has gone by without something odd or magical happening. I will therefore fill these pages with bits of my history in Cairo—my experiences, successes, mistakes, and observations. Admittedly, my time here has been rather unique, so I want to stress that while everything I write is true, my experiences do not necessarily reflect the lives of other dancers.

In addition to my life as a belly dancer, I will write about developments in costuming, performances, festivals, and, of course, the dance itself. I will also make frequent references to Egyptian culture. I should note that I have a love/hate relationship with Egypt. If I make any criticisms about the country, please keep in mind that I do so with the utmost love, respect, and most of all, honesty. Egypt has become my home, so I want to avoid romanticizing and apologizing for social maladies, as most foreigners tend to do. Nothing could be more misguided, patronizing, or insulting.

I hope you find this blog informative, insightful and entertaining, and that we can make this as interactive as possible. That means I'd love to hear from you. Send me your comments, questions, complaints, suggestions, pics, doctoral dissertations, money, etc., and I will get back to you. Promise. :)~

My Videos

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Entirely Possible Possibility

Until now, I’ve refrained from dabbling in political discussions about Egypt.  Mainly because watching this so-called revolution unfold before my eyes elicits intense emotions.  A year later and with elections currently underway, however, I don’t know how much longer I can keep silent without exploding.  I mean, I didn’t get a degree in Middle Eastern politics for nothing. :) 

When Egyptians first took to the streets to overthrow Dictator Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25th, 2011, I couldn’t help being swept away by all the revolutionary fervor.  Indeed, since moving here 3 years ago, I’ve been saying that Egypt is ripe for revolution. Life for the average Egyptian has become intolerable. Poverty is rampant, food prices are unreasonably high, government corruption and inefficiency know no limits, and unemployment rates are well over 50 percent.  I predicted that violence would erupt before the upcoming presidential elections in November, for which Mubarak intended to nominate his son.  Due to the jolt of inspiration Egypt received from Tunisia, however, it happened earlier than I expected. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flying High...

…well, more like drunk.  But hey, it’s been a while since I’ve consumed alcohol. Alcohol just isn’t a priority when you live in Egypt—a relatively dry country (pun intended).  At least for me it’s not.  And what better way to celebrate my coming back to Brooklyn than by drinking cranberry and vodka on the flight home? :)
I’ll admit, I’m a lightweight.  That’s because I rarely drink.  It only took one cup of the stuff to blur my already blurry vision and make me giggle out loud while watching “Aasal Eswed.”   “Aasal Eswed,” is an Egyptian comedy which translates as “Sour Honey.”  It satirizes the oftentimes repugnant ways in which Egyptians treat each other by juxtaposing it with the royal treatment they bestow on foreigners.  The protagonist is Egyptian actor Ahmed Hilmy, who returns to Cairo to work as a photographer after living in the United States for 20 years.  Intent on “going native,” Ahmed deliberately leaves his American passport in the States and proudly identifies himself as Egyptian.  The film progresses by showing all the unnecessary hassles he endures because of this.  From taxi drivers to authorities to horses(!), no one treats Ahmed the way he expects to be treated as an Egyptian.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Teaching in NYC Nov. 14th-16th

11/13: Performing @ Columbia University Raqs    2-4pm
11/14: Egyptian Shaabi Choreography                       5-7pm
11/15: “Feeling” & Sas - Taqsim Baladi                       6-8pm
11/16: Classical Egyptian Choreography                   6-8pm

All classes are $45 and require prior notification of attendance.  Please e-mail to reserve a spot. Classes will be held
@ Anamita Navatman Studios
344 W 38th Street, 5th floor, New York, NY, 10018 

I will also be available for private lessons.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Interview with BellyDanceFinder!

Bellydancefinder: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background? What do you do when you aren’t dancing?
Luna: Three years ago, I won a Fulbright Scholarship to write a book about the history, development and decline of belly dance in Egypt. I had just graduated from Harvard University with a Masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies, and would soon be moving to Cairo. I originally planned to return home after 9 months upon terminating the scholarship. However the dance distracted me and I never finished my book! I kept taking classes and meeting new people, and one thing led to another. Before I knew it, I was performing regularly at all of the 5-star resorts along the Red Sea. Exactly one year later, I auditioned at the Semiramis Hotel and the Nile Memphis and was awarded contracts to dance at both. The Semiramis gig didn’t work out (for very ugly reasons), but I am happily dancing at the Nile Memphis every night. I also perform regularly at weddings and upscale corporate events with my band.