APPRECIATION versus CRITICISM in Egyptian Dance as in Life by Joana Saahirah


I´ve recently shot, and shared, a video from Brazil. That video was about shifting the focus from criticism to appreciation. In Egyptian Dance as in Life (you know my motto).

We´re fast to point our finger to the things which are not working – I´m guilty as charged – but slow to publicly appreciate, thank and promote what´s WORKING.

Although CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, one that identifies problems and proposes solutions to those problems, is important, I believe there´s a serious lack of appreciation in our world.

When my niece, who´s 6 years old, does something wrong, I´ve started to remind her of all the things she is and does right instead of criticizing her for her mistake. Surprisingly, or not, she immediately corrects the mistake, learns from it and is less prone to repeat it than if I focused on her flaw and tortured her about it. All of us are children at heart. Therefore, I propose we start dealing with each other as I deal with my niece: more appreciative than critical, reminding others of what they do RIGHT instead of just speaking up when they do something wrong.

In all my years of career in Egypt, the Middle East and, more recently, around the World, I´ve met all sorts of people – audiences, students, managers, impresarios, musicians, colleagues, event organizers, supporters, and haters. I deal, on a daily basis, with people who think, feel and act differently from me; people with different concepts of ethics, professionalism, art, and life. There´s good, and less than good, folks everywhere and in every field. THAT* should not stop us from focusing on the GOODNESS, the QUALITY, the EFFORTS and the LOVE existing in our world.

We do the best we can with the knowledge, conscience, and circumstances we´ve been given – or, better said, co-created. And, yes, there are nasty folks. Really nasty. I´ve met a few of them. But I´ve also met amazing, hard-working, professional, passionate, honest people who make me be, and do, better.

It´s a question of choice: are you going to focus – focus = giving importance/energy – to the things, and people, you dislike or are you going to start appreciating the things, and people, you like?
For me, the answer has become clear.

Thanks, again and again, to everyone who has crossed paths with me. Friends and enemies (yes, they exist – I just don´t pay them attention), supporters and detractors, angels and devils. We´re all ONE and we´re all on the same Path.

Is your GRATITUDE mode ON?

The choice (JOY)

Joy, one that includes sadness when sadness shows up on the road, is an inside job. You create it, invite it, plant it within. It´s not a circumstance, a gift from destiny, a pleasant thunderbolt Gods throw your way.
You plant it, and water it, daily; you lose hope, perhaps, but you keep pouring water on the ground and you keep smiling at it just because you decide so.
And, suddenly, the sun above your head starts shining and others will call you lucky, blessed one, privileged. If only they knew how many gardens you´ve planted in your backyard when nobody was looking; if only they knew how many tears were needed to water those gardens; if only they knew you kept bowing in front of each seed, in gratitude, until it started to flourish.
It´s not luck – it´s decision.
Photo: Smile selfie for the road

Applaud yourself (you cocky, gorgeous, thing!)

tumblr_nka1jfU6CE1u41y3ao1_500.gifMore than an external motivation, Dance is an internal call.
You have to depend on your passion, self-motivation and purpose in order to keep moving through pleasant and hard times. The world doesn´t have to pat your back, tell you about your gifts and push you forward; in fact, the world rarely, if ever, does that. The world doesn´t have to be glamorous, shining, accepting of your dance and/or you; dance happens everywhere – on a big stage, in the street, in an empty room or in a fully packed theatre. You´re worthy, independently of the feedback the exterior world may, or not, give you.
YOU´re the one who has to pat your own back, remind yourself of the gifts, and consequent responsibility, you´ve been given and keep pushing yourself forward. It´s the dance itself, not the world outside of it, which keeps calling you back to the studio, to any ground where you can stand with your own two feet and move.

I often tell this to my students: applaud yourself; congratulate yourself for your evolution, for the mistakes which are nothing but precious rocks on the travelled world, for the light and the darkness, the victories and the setbacks. It´s great to receive others´support but you cannot depend on it. Don´t wait for your teacher, friends, family, strangers to value you. VALUE YOURSELF.

I know a lot of you will feel uncomfortable with this self-value thing. Our societies tell us, women, we cannot acknowlegde our qualities. If we do, we´re called egocentric, cocky, arrogant, full of ourselves. It´s your choice to listen to them or decide to take care of yourself. As a dancer and as a human being. You, and nobody else, must be your greatest motivator. The Passion for the Dance, and nothing else, is the reason why you keep coming back to the dance floor.
If you´re a dancer, someone who does it out of pure love, you´ll know why you keep going ahead, come rain or come shine. The world may not know but you do. And that´s all that matters.

Keep The Flame alive, dear ones ❤

Self-love for Oriental Dancers by Joana Saahirah (practical tips)

A message of Self-Love, Care and Esteem by Joana Saahirah inspired by dancers from all over the world. EnJOY (yourself):

P.S: Terrible hair day ALERT. I hope you´re not over sensitive towards bad hair 😉 In the end of the day, that´s not what really matters, any way.

Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School GIFTS to the World (Fall Class Schedule)

Joana Saahirah Online Dance School Magic

Here´s my motto: From Egypt to the World, bringing back the Soul of Oriental Dance. And that´s exactly what I do while traveling the world to teach, perform and lecture, on my private classes and at my NEW Online Dance School.

I love sharing the knowledge I´ve gathered in all these years of career in Egypt, the Middle East (Lebanon, Oman & Qatar) and around the globe. Teaching authentic Egyptian Dance, as I´ve rediscovered it in Egypt, and going further: empowering students to be, and dance, who they really are, making good use of their UNIQUE potential.

If you want to study high quality Egyptian Dance and unleash your personal identity/power, these live & recorded classes are for YOU. All our classes happen live, face to face with the teacher (moi!), but they´re also recorded which means you can view, and review, the classes at your own pace even if you miss the live sessions.

Everything I do comes from the soul – I hope it reaches YOUr soul.

Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School is rocking with the best of authentic Egyptian Dance, Self-Discovery & Empowerment. Check out our currently available Live & Recorded Online Trainings:

Isis Eye Joana Saahirah SchoolLive & recorded class packages scheduled for the upcoming weeks:

*Egyptian Dance ABC & Creative Awakening – LEVEL I – follow the link for more information:

*Egyptian Dance ABC & Creative Awakening – LEVEL II – follow the link for more information:

*Baladi Awadi Sensual Journey – follow the link for more information:

*Om Kolthoum & Tarab for Oriental Dancers – Level II – Interpretation Mastership – follow the link for more information:
Isis Eye Joana Saahirah SchoolRecorded class packages available:
*Introduction to the Secrets of Egyptian Dance – follow the link for more information:
*Baladi Extravaganza Intensive Training – follow the link for more information:
*Baladi Extravaganza Deeper into the Language of the Hips – follow the link for more information:

*Egyptian Rhythms for Oriental Dance Intensive Journey – Level 1 – follow the link for more information:
*Cairo Style Tabla Solo – follow the link for more information:

*Sexuality in Egyptian Dance – Unleashing Lilith – follow the link for information:
*Oriental Dance for the Stage – follow the link for more information:
*Egyptian Dance Intermediate Level – Complete First Series – follow the link for more information:

*Om Kolthoum & Tarab – follow the link for more information:

Joana Saahirah Online Dance School Empowerment
Isis Eye Joana Saahirah SchoolOnly the best for the best – from Egypt to the World, bringing back the Soul of Oriental Dance. Follow the link to visit our (proud & love filled) School:

Have you seen Summer?

Summer goneI didn´t. 

No complaints. Just facts. I´ve gone 1 time to the beach and no time to relax land. I´m always on – may that be wondering about my books, the ones I write on the rare moments of pause between dance work, may that be my new online school, my private online classes or the material I´m preparing for my upcoming world trips.

That Summer lunch – on my frontyard (I have land, flowers, trees and river surrounding my home), with neighbors and close friends – I´ve been planning since January hasn´t happened. My only dip in the river, right outside my door, took place while I was working, guiding my first MAGIC WOMB RETREAT in the heart of Portugal, Dornes, recently burnt to the ground.

No lavish dinners at sunset, no reading on the grass or by the pool; no salty, tanned skin; no naps by the shore; no partying throughout the night without a worry in the world. You see where this is going.

(I wonder if this is what they call “being an adult” or I´m just an extraordinarily busy person)tumblr_nkd6pn61ZI1sr1e3mo1_1280.jpg

I´ve been working every day – with a rare, scheduled, rest day here and there – and none of it will slow down. It´ll get even busier with the restart of my work world trips. I take refuge, and gratitude, in the fact that I do what I love and people often throw that on my face when I comment I´m exhausted: least you do what you love…you travel the world through your work…you´re expanding constantly…you live off the stuff that give you pleasure.

I get it. For most people, I don´t have the right to say I´m tired because I´m a lucky gal who turns her dreams into reality. First: I´m not a gal; I´m a woman. Second: although there´s a fate factor in the equation (God has to agree with my Plans and intentional action), presuming I do what I do and I got where I am because I´m lucky is at least idiotic.

I don´t rely on my past achievements – you´re only as good as your last work.

I push myself every single day; I aim high, outside of the box, and keep my integrity untouched. I work my ass off and never, ever, settle for less than excellence. Plus: life hasn´t been particularly tender to me. It has given me the tools to fight but, hell!, it has thrown me into constant battle fields.

I could tell you a bunch of tragedies which I´ve turned into victories. Luck has very little to do with it.

Doing what you love doesn´t mean you don´t get exhausted, bored, disoriented, occasionally hopeless.  Although people don´t publicly acknowledge it, there are sacrifices, hard work, low valleys and unpleasant tasks involved in the “dream making business”. You just gotta keep moving ahead, believing in yourself and in your contribution, making sure you remain human till the end.

My books, writing in process, have suffered enormously though other projects, like Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School, have been growing on a daily basis. I´ve learnt how to compromise, accept time and energy limitations. Waiting. Understanding life´s timing and all that jazz.

I´ve been carrying around a yoga mat, 2 pcs, music & books (my essentials) for the last months; jumping from home to home (huge, tragic, fires around my official house); twisting myself into a pretzel, not allowing the exterior world to disorient me, taking me away from my True Path. A few disappointments with close (ex)friends & (ex)lovers – nothing new there – and a thirst for CHANGE I haven´t felt in a long while.

They tell us living our Purpose is what we should do. They don´t tell us how hard it is.

The work, the inner search, the discipline, the invisible tasks that turn ideas into accomplishments and dreams into reality. Who´s got the stamina, and the drive, for it?

I do and I believe you do too. Here´s a little (unglamorous yet realistic) inspiration for the road:


Sexuality in Egyptian Dance Online Workshop -Reigniting your ZEST for LIFE!

pleasure bliss.jpg

Egyptian Dance and Sexuality have always been associated and not for the best reasons.

I call it The Elephant in the Room – that aspect of the dance people deny or misuse.

On one side, the false moralists, the diplomats and the crowd pleasers who believe “cleaning” the dance from its sexual dimension will assure the respect it deserves; on the other side, the porno flick weirdos, the ones who distort and misuse the dance and its sexual dimension. There´s something in the middle, a healthy way of seeing ourselves and our dance, in all its dimensions – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – but that place, the middle, is always the hardest to get to. Most people will fall into one extreme or the other.

We´re here to target the (im)possible: to clean our heads; to say YES to our bodies and to reconnect sensual pleasure with soul. We´re here to realize that Sexuality, in Egyptian Dance as in Life, is as a natural, powerful, positive force.

The origins of the dance remind us of its essential purpose: to celebrate life with its varied colours, to move in/through/for GRATITUDE towards existence´s abundance, to awaken the creative, sensual juices that make life possible, generation after generation, in Nature as well as in Humanity. Then we have an old association to deal with: the link between Oriental Dancers and Prostitution, one my 8 year career in Egypt proved to be painfully accurate.

The Ghawazi, the Gipsy dancers who entertained women, and men, in public were famous for their sagats, hip thrusts and extra services*; the “Awalem”, although more respected than their gipsy peers, were also associated with this plague. As if being a professional Oriental Dancer meant you HAD to be a prostitute. This association still exists in Egypt and in other countries throughout North Africa and Middle East.

We´re here to smash prejudices, open bodies, minds, hearts and souls to the following realities:

  1. If you´re an Oriental Dancer doesn´t mean, necessarily, that you´re a prostitute. There are indeed many Oriental Dancers who rise in their careers via prostitution, especially in Egypt, where the dance market perpetuates such association, but YOU´re an individual who can say yes or NO. The dance has nothing to do with the personal choices each dancer may take. So let´s separate the waters:  Oriental Dance and Prostitution are different professions, starting with the fact that Oriental Dancers please themselves and prostitutes please others; Oriental Dancers are…well…D-A-N-C-E-R-S and prostitutes are SEX WORKERS.
  2. Sexuality, in itself, is a natural dimension of our Human existence. Deny it and you´ll be denying an essential part of your life. Deny it and you´ll be turning something wonderful into something nasty. Deny it and you´ll be denying pleasure, stamina, vitality, criativity, instinctive wisdom, strenght, your VOICE and inner power from your dance. And life.
  3. We cannot understand and practice Egyptian Dance in depth if we don´t allow ourselves to enJOY our own bodies and all the sensations, and experiences, they provide. Physical pleasure is the beginning of spiritual pleasure. Egyptian Dance shows us the link between those apparently distant universes (“As above, as below”, Hermes once said).
  4. Sexuality is not a subject limited to intercourse but a dimension of life present everywhere: when you delight yourself with the smell of a rose; when you taste a great plate of food; when you touch, or are touched by, a loved one; when you listen to a beautiful melody; when you get into the sea in a particularly hot day; when you get your feet into a warm, cosy, pair of socks on a Winter day; when you feel, in your gut, you HAVE to accomplish a certain dream and you actually go for it; when you say I LOVE YOU to a certain person or GO on that trip you´ve been postponing forever. When you laugh out loud; when you run; when you lay down on the grass, playing with your dogs. When, when, when (it´s an infinite list).
  5. Sexuality is present in our every day lives although most of us are disconnected from it. Just because you´re disconnected from it, it doesn´t mean it doesn´t exist. Our NEW Online Workshop  – “Sexuality in Egyptian Dance – Unleashing Lilith” – will remind you of what it means to be FULLY alive. In dance as in life.

Are you in the mood to start enJOYing life without prejudices, shame and outdated ghosts?

Are you willing to take your dance, and life, into higher – oh, so, OMG, much more pleasureable – dimensions?

Do you want to know what FREEDOM tastes like?

Isis Eye Joana Saahirah School

“Sexuality in Egyptian Dance – Unleashing Lilith” Online Workshop created by Joana Saahirah exclusively for Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School, the place where your Uniqueness is celebrated.

Sexuality in Egyptian Dance Revolution.jpgIsis Eye Joana Saahirah SchoolFollow the link to join this rEVOLUTIONary Online Workshop divided in 3 different live & recorded classes that will change the way you dance & live: