New York, New York!



Waking up in Manhattan, before heading to teach some kick ass workshops

“Joana Saahirah in New York by popular demand” – that was what the public announcement said but the truth is New York was in Joana. By popular and personal demand. Further correction: the girl was not in the city – the girl is everywhere, never only somewhere (the destiny of a Gipsy); but the city is in the girl. Temporarily, eternally.


Our survival filters are amazing – they retain only what keeps us operational. And operational can, some times, mean insane with enough practical skills to pass on as a regular, perfectly stable person. I´ve embraced the fact that my filters don´t do a full house cleaning. They leave stuff behind, dirty dishes I wish they´d taken away, almost invisible crumbs on the carpet. The filters get attached to certain wounds and refuse to let them go, despite my begging. So I´ve come to terms with a reality: some wounds are meant to be kept and madness is that bouncing wrestling ring where you manage to keep your head off the water, breathing, digesting what can be digested and swallowing the fish you can´t eat.

Wounds are important, I´ve concluded in the lack of a better solution.

Some wounds can never be healed. People die from wounds, not necessarily physical. They die of emotional, mental, spiritual wounds they find no cure for. The bleeding is real despite the fact that no one can see it. And that´s probably fine.

Wounds, not the killer type, open us up. They make us human, able to feel compassion towards others; they´re blisters on our feet, reminders of how rough the road can get. They give us perspective, protection and courage. When you´re wounded in the core, no healing in sight, you become totally OPEN. Nothing to lose – the ultimate danger, the ultimate leap of faith. You´re already at the bottom of the Ocean – where else can you go if you fall? Which takes me to NY and to living life in a brave, often mad, way.

Joana Saahirah wearing sharifwear.jpg

Photo taken for SharifWear brand, a fabulous cloth line created by Nourhan Sharif. Photo by Samer Ibrahim

One of the joys my last New York work trip provided was The Voice and how it allowed me to embrace my wounds. Some call it hallucinations. I call it The Voice or, more simply, The Wind: a whisper that follows everyone around; a voice that speaks, indifferent to the mainstream deafness.

We had our BIG event in New York – sponsored by the Legend Morocco (aka Aunt Rocky) and co-sponsored by Nourhan Sharif – but before we started to shine, I had the chance to remain in the shadow for a couple of days. I stayed in Bethlehem, on the outskirts of the city, with Nourhan.


Me and Nourhan, our amazing co-host, in Manhattan, before heading to work

First days of November. The silence of the suburbs – I like it. An Autumn that felt like Spring – hhmmm…

The tour was about to start but I was already burnt toast, coming from a year filled with work trips and periods of demanding, savage writing (my new book, still working on it).

– Ah! I have a long tour – USA & Mexico – ahead of me. I´m exhausted and I haven´t even started it. – I thought to myself.

I knew I had to make the best of the 2 days I had left before the wheel started spinning.

Energy management has become one of my most essential tools. Knowing how to take advantage of every chance, big or small, to rest, recharge and recenter. Knowing when to say NO. Respecting my body, distinguishing self-respect from self-indulgence. 

Back to Bethlehem and to the wounds without victim syndrome hanging from its belt. I put my running shoes on and went around Bethlehem, marvelling at the Autumn colours, the extraordinary details of the ordinary lives of people who passed me by. I tried “Bikram yoga” – hot, hot, hot, just the way I like it – and sweated my worries away. I allowed my liver to smile. But, above all, I ravished that wound and allowed The Voice to come out of it.

Sit back and receive. You don´t have to struggle and prove your worth. You DESERVE to receive abundance. Just open your arms and RECEIVE; L-E-A-R-N how to RECEIVE. 

I know a Master when I see/listen to It. So I followed instructions. I opened my arms, relaxed and received. Literally.


Waking up in Manhattan series. Photo by Nourhan Sharif

Yes, there was a girl, running at sunset, in Bethlehem. She was running with her arms wide open and her eyes closed. She looked out, occasionally, to wonder at the beauty of the colours (reds, browns, yellow, undefinable shades of green), those American porches she loves so much, children´s laughter. The wind kept running by her side, almost annoying, whispering “sit back and receive” as she kept smiling, embracing the NOW without kNOWing how. How is overrated, a stray cat meoWed at her.


At Morocco´s home, in Brooklyn, after we wrapped our magical event. Workshops and performances that, I hope, challenge the pre-concepts people have of Oriental Dance. P.S: Brooklyn light is unique.

Our event rocked New York in ways that words fail to express. My goal is to serve the Art – always. Using what I have/am, in each moment, in order to awaken others. Or awakening others while I awaken myself. Can you have one without the other? From wounds we made JOY, from pre-concepts we made a Revolution. Or the beginning of it.

Gratitude towards Morocco – the person who first brought me and my work to USA – Nourhan Sharif – for her collaboration in this event and for making me feel at home -, every student, audience member and supporter who made this possible.

Show in NY November 2015

A huge part of The Shift but not all of it. Our event in NY was a major success! I´m nothing but grateful to everyone who was part of it.

Dreams DO come true 🙂


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