About Aziyade (Amanda)

For me, it has always been about the music.

I was introduced to Middle Eastern music through my father's collection of old "Hookah Lounge" vinyl LPs. A band leader himself, my father introduced me to the sounds of musicians like Sonny Lester and Freddie Elias. Later, Eddie Kochak, George Abdo, and Chris Kalogerson, served as my introduction to what would then be called “Amarabic” music: the amazing fusion of sounds and ethnicities found in the American Arab nightclubs.

In 1995, I came across a videotape of American belly dancer Alexandra King and immediately fell in love with the amazing dance form that had grown out of that music of my childhood. Abandoning a lifetime of ballet, I signed up for a 4-week beginning “belly dance” class. No sooner had I fastened the brass cymbals to my fingers did I realize my passion for this dance. Not long after I started taking regular belly dance classes, I came across videotapes of the fabulous Egyptian dancer Sohair Zaki, and my love affair with Egyptian dance was born.

Over the years I have traveled the country to study with many of the masters of Egyptian and American belly dance and I have worked extensively with choreographers Shareen el Safy, Hadia, and Suhaila Salimpour.  I count these women as my primary influences in this dance, along with Ranya Renee, Ansuya, DaVid of Scandinavia, and Egyptian superstars Dina and Tito.

After I began working with ‘Azraa, she introduced me to the dance and staging techniques of the late Ibrahim (Bobby) Farrah. What I have since learned from his students and dance company members has had a huge influence on my dancing (and teaching) in the last few years.

I have danced for weddings, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, church socials, and community cultural events. I enjoy performing Classical and Modern Egyptian dance, as well as both Vintage American Oriental dance and modern Western-style belly dance.