Opening 2019 with the climbing of NEW mountains

Joana Saahirah Ilhas Dornes

Opening 2019 with open arms and heart

Flying into 2019 with the Passion and the Love I´ve always carried in my heart, a renewed sense of purpose and hope.

Here´s what they rarely tell us: evolution takes work; growth can be painful; letting go of limiting beliefs, wounds, old ghosts can be a never-ending battle but, YES, we can do it. If we genuinely want to.

I´ve never sat in my comfort zone – whenever I reach the top of one mountain, I start looking for a new mountain to climb. It´s the climbing, not the arrival, that builds our character.

From Portugal, my homeland where I was safe and comfortable, to Egypt where I spent 8 years building my career and myself in the midst of unimaginable challenges and blessings; from Egypt to the whole World where I´ve been traveling as an invited artist to perform, teach, and lecture on Egyptian Dance, Music, and Culture; from the World to wherever I dream.


Along the way, I´ve written an endless amount of articles for highly respected maganizes and newspapers; I´ve written and published my first book – The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life & Beyond” (follow link to get your own copy: ); I´ve created a pioneering school – Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School -, I´m about to publish my second book – Behind the Curtain – and I´m already working on my third book.  A brand new, upgraded, platform for Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School will soon be released. Stay tuned at this blog or ask to join our dance community via email (send email to

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is is just a little sample of how much I´ve lived, dreamed and materialized and how much I´m doing in the present. I hope it inspires you to turn your Wish List* into a Dreams Accomplished List.

wink-happy-16Hint: I have no intention to stop growing and making IT happen.

In 2019, more than in any other year, I thrive for new mountains – the most unexplored, frightening, amazing mountains; the ones that will ultimately bring me closer to my truest self. I hope YOU´re brave enough to do the same.

Happy climbing, my friends!


In this video: Joana Saahirah BOMBASTIC Majance Performance in Quebec, Canada. Quebec was one of the cities included in Joana Saahirah´s USA & CANADA SOULful Tour.


May Wisdom, Light, Love, and Beauty rule our new year.

The Ballroom (Shall We Dance?)

Joana Saahirah Online Dance School June 2018.jpg

A new morning, fresh and generously damp, is upon Bali. Another big celebration is keeping the streets empty and the temples beaming with colors, life, rituals performed for so long time itself has forgotten when they´ve started.

I´ve arrived two days ago, after traveling for two days, and I haven´t stopped a second. Not physically, not mentally, certainly not emotionally. Much less spirituality.

Part of me is scared – our brains don´t like insecurity, we don´t like insecurity, the world tells us we shouldn´t like insecurity. Not knowing. Stepping on foreign ground – truly foreign, wild. Why would someone put her/himself through that?

They wouldn´t (most people don´t), unless they´re aware Life´s too short for small minds, small dreams, small hearts.

This is perhaps what it feels to be alive – out of the comfort zone, raw & open, our chest courageously open towards the wilderness: a mix of adrenaline, fear, excitement, moments of “why do I keep putting myself in these pickles?!” with moments of “Oh, God! I love myself and my life so much. I´m proud of myself for growing continuously”.

Moving to a faraway, exotic, country isn´t new to me. I´ve lived, and worked, in Spain, Lebanon, and Egypt. I´ve also traveled the world, consistently, for work in the last 5 years, dealing with people from varied cultures, educational backgrounds, perspectives.

None of that protects me from being human. Each adventure is new – the 40th leap of faith is as scary as the 1st. The risk of getting disappointed, hurt, open to failure and success; the possibility of not being able to adapt, love, engage; the possibilities for disaster and bliss are there, fresh out of the oven, as they were the first time we went out of our comfortable zone. 

I don´t think everybody should follow their dreams, the same way I don´t think everybody should avoid television, meat, gossip, self-hatred; a wide set of stuff I dislike.

I don´t even think everybody should live their fullest, brightest, life.

I do think everybody´s free to CHOOSE what they wish to do. Or not to do. Even if that means they´ll choose apathy, cowardice, fear, laziness, remaining in their comfort zone, not going for what they love, not fulfilling their purpose.

This is our biggest blessing and/or our doom: FREE WILL. WE GET TO CHOOSE who we want to be and how our lives are going to unfold. 

At our pioneering Online Course “Enta Omri, a Journey of Soulful Egyptian Dance & Self-Love”, I taught a module on Co-creation. In that module, I called Life our biggest, and most faithful, “Dance Partner”. And that´s how I see it: 

We´re all in a ballroom. Our lives are handing their hand to us, inviting us to dance. We check the dance floor – wet, slippery, dangerous; with holes that lead God knows where, weird corners, dark spots we cannot see in detail. 


Most of us will bow our head and decline Life´s Invitation:

-Nah! I´ll pass. My feet are hurting.

Some, perhaps the crazy ones, will say yes with shaking legs; they´ll allow Life to take them to the dance floor. They´ll be lead and they´ll lead.

That´s the thing about accepting Life´s invitation: WE GET TO LEAD AS MUCH AS WE ARE LEAD.

The ones who stay on the sideways, complaining about their feet, are not lead and are certainly not leading. They´re stuck to the ballroom walls, watching Life go by, whirling-whirling-whirling with the ones who don´t mind falling, or breaking a leg thanks to the slippery floor. They´ll criticize them for falling, for making mistakes, for daring:

-Ah, how do they dare!

They´ll probably not know despair, the fear of the unknown, the risks; they´ll also not know what it means to be alive. Fully, unsafely, passionately alive.

Sooner than later, they´ll watch as their feet get stuck to the floor, their muscles become frozen, and their brains dead before time.

Yes, it´s a choice. Living or dying before time. Watching life go by or DANCING WITH IT – ALLOWING IT TO LEAD YOU WHILE LEADING IT YOURSELF. Wherever you end up, in this case, will be a good place. The Dance always takes you where you´re supposed to be.


One of the many religious celebrations that parade in the streets of Bali on a practically daily basis.


“I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.
The great affair is to move.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Preparing to take off (Bali, here I come!)


Balinese children, a symbol of purity, faith, limitless possibilities (photo taken by me, two years ago, on my first visit to Bali)

Confession: I´m a little scared – my heart’s going BUM, BUM, BUM! – and beyond excited.

Big leaps of faith are uncomfortable – how many of those have I taken? – but I don’t know any other way of living.
🚀First, I moved to Spain to study Acting at the National Conservatoire.
🚀Then, I started a new market for Egyptian Dance in Portugal when nobody had ever heard about it.
🚀Then, I built a successful career – no prostitution strings attached – by myself in Egypt where I struggled and won for 8 years.
🚀Then, I started to teach-perform-lecture around the world; writing and publishing my first book, growing, and loving.
🚀Then, I opened a pioneering school which is changing the way Egyptian Dance is practiced and taught around the world – my newest baby, Joana Saahirah’s Online Dance School
Now, the biggest of my biggest dreams happening in Bali, Indonesia.
When I read that list, I doubt if I sleep at night, if my days have 24 hours, if I manage to breathe.
The answers are yes, yes, yes.
🚀Luck has very little to do with it. We build our luck with our own hands. And, if luck doesn’t show up after we’ve showed up for it, we build it from scratch. We invent it. We become It.
No excuses; no complaining; life belongs to the dreamers who dare to be Doers.
🌎 Getting ready to take off 🌞 Bali, here I come!

This is how May kicked my ass (so sweetly); this is how you´ll kick ass in June!

waterlily-graphicsfairy006c.jpgI can hardly believe we´re in June (what a cliché!).

Here´s the thing I dislike about clichés: we end up bumping into them, even if we don´t want to.

Here´s today´s inevitable cliché: where did time go?

The more you focus on your own life, your dreams, your people, and your priorities, the less you feel inclined to check your neighbor´s garden and the faster time will pass. In fact, you won´t feel it passing.

Eye_of_Horus_Right.svgMay was particularly blessed, busy, and fast-paced. Here are the goals I set, & accomplished, this month:


Vintage-Pointing-Hand-Image-GraphicsFairy.jpgI celebrated Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School 1st anniversary with our beautiful dance community. We had several events, Facebook live sessions, contests, gifts, and our special pioneering Course “Enta Omri, a Journey of Soulful Egyptian Dance & Self-Love”.


Vintage-Pointing-Hand-Image-GraphicsFairyI´ve moved forward with the editing of my upcoming book – a collaboration between me and a talented Slovenian photographer, Breda Jurecko;


Vintage-Pointing-Hand-Image-GraphicsFairyI´ve created, and delivered, our game changer Online Course: Enta Omri, a Journey of Soulful Egyptian Dance & Self-Love (now available, fully recorded, at our school). Aside from the classes I taught – 10, to be more exact, each focused on a particular theme related with dance, personal, and life expansion -, I´ve created extra material that totally kicked my ass; it pushed me beyond everything I´ve done, so far.

The bonus material – videos, articles, music, images, Love Sheets with Life Changing Questions & Exercises – offered with the course was in itself enough to make me work like a maniac for 6 months, at least. But I´ve made it in one month, adapting, changing, improving as we went along.

The participation of the students and their feedback was an essential key to the success of this course.

Enta Omri Journey by Joana Saahirah Online Dance School*Follow the link for more information:


Vintage-Pointing-Hand-Image-GraphicsFairyI´ve made the final decision to move to Bali, Indonesia & took care of the logistics behind such a huge life shift. 


Vintage-Pointing-Hand-Image-GraphicsFairyFurthermore, I´ve studied and challenged myself on a personal level like I hadn´t done in many, many years. 

Am I exhausted? Heavens, yes. Am I happy? Absolutely.


As far as I´m concerned, June will be even better, and more intense, than May.

At least, I plan on showing up for my part of the deal.

What about YOU? How was your month? Did you achieve the goals you´ve set for yourself? Wait a second…you haven´t set your goals?

No worries. There´s no better time than NOW.

May´s gone – bye, darling! -; June´s here – hello, gorgeous!

You CAN act upon your dreams now.


Grab a Journal, or a blank paper;

Write JUNE, the most blessed month (so far), at the top;

Write a list of your TOP 3 GOALS for the month which is now starting;

Then, write the STEPS you´ll take to make them happen;

Go ahead and schedule those steps on your agenda. 

The present moment is all we have – make the best of it.


The Big Move (Joana Saahirah´s NEW life in Bali, Indonesia)


In Bali, two years ago, on my way to work in New Zealand

Yet another rEvolution in my life & career – I´m moving to Bali, Indonesia, this June.

I fell in love with Bali two years ago, on my way to work in New Zealand (with the lovely Candice Frankland) and, since then, my mind was set upon it.

Big life changes are often scary. I know the fear because I´ve been through it many times, never allowing it to stop me.

-What´s the big deal? I would…(fill the gap with your dream)…but I…(fill the gap with your excuse).

“I would… if.” – I´d be a millionaire if I earned a buck every time I hear this.

The ones who actually go after their dreams – that may, or not, include moving to a faraway, exotic, country – are fully aware of the gigantic enterprise they have ahead. They´re also aware of the excuses – always easy to find -, the fears, the possibility of failure and, what can be even scarier, the possibility of success.


In my life, a short but intense existence that already feels like a 200 years old adventure, I´ve done what everybody told me was impossible. First, in Egypt; then, around the world; and then, inside myself. It seems like proving people wrong has been my life mission.

I didn´t grow up in a particularly supportive environment, quite the opposite. I love my parents, and I know they do the best they can, but what they gave me, and my sister, while we were growing up was mostly negative critics, demands, the claim that we didn´t deserve much in life, and we´d never become financially abundant because, and I quote, “only dishonest people make money”; they made a point on making us feel we weren´t special. And we couldn´t dream big.

Whenever we brought A grades home, which was always, my mum would dismiss it as “nothing more than your obligation”.

I don´t remember them patting us on the back, or congratulating us for something we´ve done. Ever. At least not in our presence. Whatever we tried to do, it was never good enough.

They´d been raised in austere, poor, emotionally empty homes and that´s how they´ve raised us. Despite that, I made – keep making –  an effort to give myself what I didn´t receive in my childhood: love, sense of worth, self-confidence, a new set of beliefs about life.

The reason I´m telling you this is to tell YOU, too, independently of your circumstances, CAN grow, reeducate yourself, start LOVING yourself to the point of believing you can materialize any dream you commit to.

Reminder: 7bf53db5fa2aa74fb5bcafaea5a5f0de--dream-quotes-good-quotes.jpg

I´ve ventured into different kinds of wilderness, only to discover most of the danger is within us, & I´ve gone beyond my limits, never setting for mediocrity, comfortable zones, less than what I know deserve. None of this makes me a hero – it just proves every human being has the ability to dream & give their best shot at the materialization of that dream.

For me, failure is not failing to arrive where you wish to go; failure is not even trying, out of arrogance-cowardice-weakness, joining the Haters Crusade as a consequence.

“Do what you preach; let your words reflect who you are.”

If I teach courage, self-confidence, uniqueness, & the strength to DARE GREATLY, I have to set an example. That´s the most important part of being a Teacher.

You have to live what you teach.

Time has arrived to evolve & trust life, some more.

I can do it. YOU can do it.


Ready to take off, keep growing & sharing the light with the world.


My Moroccan Journey


A whole month of work, discovery, new dreams, and expansion -on a personal and professional level – in Morocco has come to an end but, somehow, it feels like it has just started.

I´ve rejected work proposals – not everything that glitters is gold -, I rethought my goals, studied business and marketing (way out of my comfort zone) and dared to expand, on a romantic/intimate level, in ways I´ve never done before.


Guts, honesty and an open heart always take the prize, at the end of the day. And, I, dear friends, am proud of myself. This may well be the most precious gift we can give to ourselves: loving and being proud of who we are.


I´m aware of the value of time, focus, purpose, truthfulness – life. Therefore, my daily decisions, the big and the small ones, are shaped by that appreciation.


I refuse to do things I dislike, unless they´re an obligation I cannot escape (doctor´s appointments, taxes, the logistics of ordinary life), I only work in what I love and with the people I respect; I choose my intimate circle carefully and I try – try* – to take care of myself, body, mind, heart and soul. IMG_20180324_100509_041.jpg

My work trips around the world are part of a package I call MY DREAM LIFE, the existence I was born to lead. They bring me joy, growth, discovery, the opportunity to share all I´ve been learning in my career, and life (they´re never apart),  and the possibility to find my nest, a place I can call home.

Morocco surprised me and it didn´t surprise me at all. A huge part of the country was familiar to me: the language, the mentality, the mix between the Arabic and the African cultures, the rhythm of life, the air. Another side, one I underestimated, astonished me. I had no idea Morocco was so peculiar, so rich in its colorful palette of subcultures, dialects, traditions, music, and dance; I didn´t know you could eat so well, and so much!, there. I had no idea I´d fall in love with the country, despite the exhaustion it can provoke.

IMG_20180311_221501_792.jpgWhen compared to Egypt, and it was impossible for me not to compare it after having lived in Egypt for so long, Morocco is a walk in the park. Even the old medina of Marrakech, a living hell for many tourists, is paradise when compared with the chaos, the noise, the crowds, the overstimulation, the privacy invasion – or privacy non-existence -, the sexual harassment and speed of Cairo. I felt relaxed in the midst of Marrakech´s messy, labyrinthic streets; the harassment of men was mild, almost invisible, when compared with the Egyptian world I (still) carry within.


I could write many posts on Morocco, and all the amazing things I´ve done, and learned, there but time limitation, and priorities, speak louder. What I can say, for the record, is GO.

Go there. Go anywhere your soul calls for.

Traveling, for work or for leisure, is a blessing, a university degree, a window that keeps you from going stale. Water, as humans, was made to move. So, move!


Through The Other, the foreigner, the one we often don´t understand, we discover ourselves.

Through Traveling, an active dip into a foreign culture with a minimum of prejudices blurring our sight, we discover the meaning of life.


Through Adventure – coming face to face with values, and ways of living, which are not our own -, we discover peace of mind. Through peace of mind we discover that, despite our differences, we´re all ONE.


The power of small steps

ab03699.gifNew Year´s resolutions end up in no action, more often than not. We think big and do little.

Here´s what I´ve come to realize through my experience and the experience of others (which I observe with a detective´s magnifying glass held up high): the best policy is to think small. And do small. Small steps, one after the other. Practical. Doable. Shaped by reality instead of wishful thinking. Commitments we have no reason, or considerable excuse, to betray.

Dream big – do small. Many small steps take you far.

Here are the – simple, small, almost insignificant – steps I´ll take today, the 1st January 2018, to turn this year into everything I dream of: 

  1. I´ll work on my current book project. That means book writing for 3 hours. Not too much. Just three hours. A lot can be achieved in three hours!
  2. I´ll prepare my first private online class of the year, happening tomorrow; I´ll choose the music for the upcoming courses at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.
  3. I´ll go back to my workout routine – the softer version. Running outdoors for 30 minutes and doing 1 hour of Ashtanga Yoga plus 15 minutes of meditation.
  4. I´ll drink more water (1,30h, at least) and cut on the sugar.
  5. I´ll enjoy a New Year celebratory family lunch – no mobiles, or pcs, invited.
  6. I´ll organize this week´s agenda to make sure my priorities are met instead of losing time with secondary tasks.

I´m done with resolutions for today. The list I´ve shared may seem too humble – doable – but, believe me, that´s how dreams come true. One little step at a time. Then another and another and. And.

When you have a big dream on your horizon, it helps not to focus on its conclusion –  the final destination or, as I like to call it, the top of the mountain. It can be overwhelming and you´ll be tricked into thinking you´ll never get there. Instead of focusing on the top of that mountain, focus on the next – small, realistic – step that will take you a little bit closer to it.

The ones who want to do it, find a way; the ones who don´t want to do it find an excuse. Beware: it´s easier to find excuses not to do it than it is to find the reasons to do it. Nothing is impossible unless you decide it is so. But you have to be diligent, persistent, ready to work your butt off. You have to expose yourself to risks, failure, getting lost on your way to that mountain top.

And, mostly, you have to be sneaky with yourself. Our minds are quite childish – we have to learn how to trick them into getting out of our way. The best way to trick yourself into DOING THE THINGS THAT WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO is to focus on the small step.

11825853_10153463911997731_5885023105145182388_nIf you´re a dance student, you can create a realistic, yet disciplined, Dance Practice Schedule. It sounds depressing, even to a discipline freak like me, to have such a pleasureable, spontaneous art form stuck in a timetable. But that´s how you make sure you develop your dancing skills. Set specific days to your dance practice. Examples:

Monday: from 7pm till 8pm

Wednesday: from 7am till 9am

Saturday: from 3pm till 5pm

As a professional dancer, the preparation of my work and the work itself is my practice. They´re scheduled too. Time – deadlines and pressures –  isn´t pleasant. Or forgiving. But it´s something we cannot escape, at least in this third dimension. If you cannot beat it, join it.

Dream. Set an ACTION plan. Do, do, do. PERSIST. Do NOT give up.


And that´s what they don´t tell us.

Happy 2018, my beloved!


19225096_10155378778702731_1747508637645553645_n“I don’t like to discuss my marriage, but I will tell you something which may sound corny but which happens to be true. I have steak at home. Why should I go out for hamburger?”
~ Paul Newman

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Although comparing his woman to a steak is not a good idea – not for me, at least -, the truth hidden behind these words is spotless and it can only make me respect Paul Newman, more than I already did.

He was not just a great, charismatic actor and the most gorgeous man ever lived on earth but he also happened to be a MAN. Not a kid old enough to be a man but an actual man. A rare diamond!

Egyptian Dance Intermediate Level starting at Joana Saahirah´s School!

Egyptian Dance Group Course – Intermediate Level – by Joana Saahirah starting next Saturday, 13th May, at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance school operated by Powhow.

Authentic Egyptian Dance & Personal Empowerment guaranteed.
Work of

Let´s get this party started!

Follow the link for more informations on this and other courses available at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School:

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