Monica is a San Francisco based performer and instructor who has been studying Middle Eastern dance since her teens, with training in San Francisco, New York and Cairo. Monica has an extensive performance history that includes improvisational solo work and award-winning choreographed troupe experience. Her dance style is based on both vintage American "cabaret" belly dance and Egyptian raqs sharqi and raqs baladi, with a foundation of solid folkloric roots from various regions.
Monica currently lives, teaches, and performs in San Francisco, California.
Dance Education and Background
Monica is interested in and inspired by the folk dances that are at the root of raqs sharqi (Arabic for Eastern dance). For over fifteen years, she has followed a disciplined study that includes modern American and Egyptian belly dance as well as folkloric Arabic and North African dances. She has trained in San Francisco, New York, and Cairo.
Company and Troupe Work
Monica was a principal dancer in the award winning Ya Habibi from 1993 to 1996. Monica then formed her own troupe in August of 1997. Raks Sahibat danced together until 2004. Currently Monica choreographs for and dances with with the collectively run Raqs Habibi and is a performing member of North African folkloric company Danse Maghreb.
In 2002, after teacher training and support from two of her primary instructors and mentors, several successful Bay Area workshops, and numerous requests from private students, Monica began teaching group classes. Teaching dance has become a passion for Monica, and she holds several multi-level weekly classes in San Francisco.
A proponent of the value of a cross-disciplinary education, Monica has also pursued studies in several dance and fitness related areas to augment her dance expression and for the health and safety of her students.
While receiving her bachelor's degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, Monica studied Arabic in the Near Eastern Studies department for two years. She continued her Arabic language study with intensive language classes in Cairo, Egypt and with with weekly classes in San Francisco up until 2006. Today she works with a tutor regularly to keep her language skills up. In preparation for teaching dance, she has also studied human anatomy and physiology at City College of San Francisco in order to understand safe movement practices, as well as to prevent injury. Monica recently completed her masters degree at San Francisco State University with a focus on adult education.
Monica has traveled to Cairo, Egypt three times to study dance, and has done extensive personal academic research into the regions her dances are inspired by.
Monica is also a dedicated flamenco dance student, and has studied Middle Eastern drumming (tabla, duff, and riqq).
Monica continues to study the traditional dances of the Near East and North Africa, as well as modern movement influenced by the region, with local, national and international master instructors. She takes weekly dance classes in a variety of styles, and maintains a daily practice.
Monica performs regularly at select private celebrations and parties as well as at most of the major Middle Eastern Dance festivals on the west coast.
What to Expect
Typical Gig Duration: 5 - 30 minutes
Audience members can expect a lively, artistic, fun, respectful, entertaining show appropriate for all ages.
Performer requires a clean, safe, hazard free space to dance; a secure dressing room; a good stereo system to play a CD or iPod/MP3 player (performer can arrange to bring her own if necessary).
A clean, safe, hazard free space to dance
A secure dressing room
A good stereo system to play a CD or iPod/MP3 player (performer can arrange to bring her own if necessary)
Generally a set to recorded music runs 20 to 25 minutes.
Monica uses music appropriate to the event. In general a show includes a fast and exciting entrance with finger cymbals, a classic slow piece, a folkloric piece, and a fiery drum solo.
Audience dancing at the end of the show is a fun part of the package if you choose.
Specialties can be arranged (for example, Egyptian cane (raqs Asaya), veil, Moroccan style tray balancing, or a particular style or ethnic focus.
Monica is available for a zeffa (wedding procession) with or without shamadan (balanced candelabra).
Monica is available to teach dance classes or workshops as part of a performance package, or as a distinct event.
Moncia is available for lectures, academic presentations, and demonstrations about Middle Eastern, North African and Belly Dance.
Available for Your
Anniversary Party, Awards Night, Baby Shower, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Party, Birthday Party, Bridal Shower, Christmas Party, Church Service, Club/Nightclub, Concert Venue, Convention, Corporate Event, Cruise, Dinner Dance, Ethnic Celebration, Fair, Festival, Graduation, Grand Opening, Holiday Party, Launch Party, Luncheon/Tea, Private Party, Prom, Quinceañera, Restaurant, Reunion, Seminar, Sweet 16 Party, Wedding Reception, Workshop
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