A Working Dancer’s Life: Making a living as a professional performer of Raqs Sharqi 1975-2010. Sharing experiences, trends, fads, fun and folly.
(see conference topics for detailed descriptions)
Egyptian Ghawazee Style
Egyptian Sa’idi Style
Arabic Dance Rhythms and How to Use Them
Group Choreography Concepts
Oriental Dance Combinations and Phrases
Technique and Combinations with Finger Cymbals
Internationally-acclaimed Cassandra Shore is one of the world’s foremost performers of Middle Eastern dance, recognized for her artistic intensity, her sumptuous mastery of the form’s technical complexity, and the lyrical grace and musicality that set her apart from other artists. Sought after as a star-quality collaborator, Cassandra has worked with such acclaimed artists as Mahmoud Reda, Director of Cairo’s Reda Group and former Egyptian Undersecretary of Culture; Mohammed Khalil, Director of the National Folklore Group of Egypt; Vivian Hamamjian, former Caracalla Ballet dancer in Beirut; Ragia Hassan, choreographer to Egypt’s top dance artists; and Ibrahim Farrah, Director of the Near Eastern Ensemble, NYC, the first professional US performing company in Middle Eastern dance. Palestinian oud superstar Simon Shaheen calls Cassandra his “choreographer of choice.”
With an early background in the Wigman and Graham styles of modern dance, Cassandra embraced Middle Eastern dance as a student of San Francisco’s Jamila Salimpour in the 1970s. An immediate success, she returned to Minneapolis in 1978 to found The Cassandra School in response to the mandate from artists who saw her perform and were inspired to learn. From the outset, she grounded her cultural immersion with performance, research and study in Egypt, North Africa, Turkey, Greece, and throughout the Arabic-speaking Middle East. Today, her recognition continues to grow as she travels widely as guest artist and master teacher.
Cassandra’s background in modern dance, with a flavoring of Jazz, Flamenco, and Tai Chi Ch’uan, drove her to look for ways to move Middle Eastern dance “beyond the museum,” and to create original choreography that showcases this exciting work as a vibrant living art form, steeped in generations of traditional learning, and resonating with new times and new cultural experiences. She was inspired and encouraged when she saw other Arabic artists moving in this direction, and in 1989 she founded Jawaahir Dance Company (JaWAHheer, meaning “jewels”), dedicated to cultural authenticity, artistic excellence, and a spirit of exploration that blends traditional and contemporary Middle Eastern dance.
Today, Cassandra Shore has earned worldwide acclaim as master teacher, star performer, and visionary choreographer. Examples of her work include being honored in 1996 and 2004 as the only non-Arab dancer to perform at the Maharajan al-Fan, the annual festival of Arabic arts staged in New York City and the Brooklyn Museum; and being commissioned in 2013 to choreograph and perform for Simon Shaheen’s premiere of “The Call,” in Vancouver, British Columbia. Cassandra teaches and performs nationally and internationally in Helsinki, Los Angeles, London, Houston, Cologne, Vienna, New York City, Miami, and a long list of other cultural centers. She is in residence annually at Oasis Dance Camps in Morocco, Luxor (Egypt), Seattle, St. Simons Island (GA), and Traverse City (MI).
Here at home, The Cassandra School reaches hundreds of professional and amateur students at two Twin Cities’ locations, offering classes in technique, choreography, performance skills, and Arabic language and cultural studies. Jawaahir Dance Company collaborates regularly with internationally recognized Middle Eastern artists, such as Palestinian oud and violin virtuoso/composer Simon Shaheen, dancers Amel Tafsout, Sahra C Kent, and vocalist Mayssa Karaa. Their not-to-be-missed annual concerts honor Arabic traditions of live music, on stage, with the exciting Georges Lammam Ensemble.