Barakaat Middle Eastern Dance Company

Barakaat Middle Eastern Dance Company is a professional dance company based in Baltimore, Maryland specializing in Raqs Sharqi (belly dance) and other Middle Eastern folkloric and ethnic dances. Founded in 2010 under the artistic direction of Shems, Barakaat is made up of performers trained in the arts of Middle Eastern dance who have come together to inspire one another and to elevate the work, pushing the boundaries of Middle Eastern born arts in the context of modern America, while honoring the roots and traditions of these beautiful cultural dances.

Barakaat embraces the diversity each dancer brings to the group, allowing each one’s unique background and specialized skill set to shape the work and engage audiences with a multiplicity of authentic stories. Barakaat values collaboration with other artists, and has worked with some incredible musicians including: Karim Nagi, Nathaniel Stottlemyer and the Saltanah Middle Eastern Music Ensemble.

Barakaat has been honored to perform at wonderful institutions like the Smithsonian, Baltimore’s National Aquarium, Northern Virginia Community College, Harford Community College and has graced the stage at international festivals and charity events. In addition to their more serious artistic pursuits, Barakaat dancers love to entertain and are often hired to perform at private celebrations, to give educational presentations about Middle Eastern Dance and to teach engaging dance workshops both for serious students of the dance as well as just for fun.

In Arabic, Barakaat means “Blessings”. Barakaat dance company wants to share their blessings with you. Continuing in the traditions of the Middle East, where dancing brings friends and families together to celebrate life, Barakaat invites you to join in the celebration!

 

The Dancers

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Shems is a professional belly dancer and belly dance instructor based in Baltimore, Maryland and is the founding artistic director of the Barakaat Middle Eastern Dance Company.Originally from Utah, Shems has been involved in Oriental dance since 1996. During that time she has performed and taught in a wide variety of venues locally and nationally, as well as collaborated with world class musicians and artists. She has been featured on internationally distributed instructional and performance DVDs and has won multiple national awards for Middle Eastern Dance performance and choreography.

Shems’s dance work is shaped by Arabic, Turkish and American Vintage Oriental approaches to Oriental Dance and by the many traditional ethnic and folkloric dances from the throughout the Middle East that she has studied. Shems continually expands her dance knowledge in classes and workshops with many of the top dancers from all over the world, at this point having studied with over 100 unique specialty instructors from Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Algeria, America, Canada, Russia and the UK.

Outside of dance Shems has led a life full of music and art. Starting her training on violin when she was just 2 years old, she went on to study classical guitar as a teen and then the Arabic darbuka and finger cymbals to complement her dancing. Shems has her Bachelors of Fine Arts in painting from Utah State University, a Post-Baccalaureate in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, is currently working on 2 masters degrees, one in Architecture and the other in Urban Planning from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Shems can be seen performing with Barakaat and at select special events. To learn more about Shems please visit shemsdance.com.

 

Isabel is the Assistant Artistic Director of Barakaat and a sought after belly dancer and dance teacher in the Baltimore area. A life-long lover of dance, movement and costuming, Isabel fell in love with Oriental Dance for it’s supple movements, feminine mystique and powerful musical interpretation. Specializing in Oriental and American Cabaret styles, she has also been known to step on stage with Turkish, folkloric, tribal and fusion numbers. She joined Barakaat at it’s inception in 2010.Isabel began belly dancing in New Orleans in 2004, studying American Tribal Style with N.O.madic Tribal and cabaret with Layla Isis of New York. Since moving to the DC/Baltimore area, she has studied intensely with Sahara Dance and Samira Shuruk. She continues to deepen her movement vocabulary and her understanding of Middle Eastern dance and culture, taking workshops with diverse international teachers and performers including Suhaila Salimpour, Nourhan Sharif, Karim Nagi, Ava Flemming, Mohammad El Hosseny, Mohammad Shahin, Rachel Brice and the infamous Dina, among many others. She is certified in Levels 1 and 2 of Sahra Saeeda’s Journey through Egypt intensive dance ethnology program.

Isabel has been honored by the invitation to show her stuff at everything from weddings and private events to the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institute, the National Aquarium and the Egyptian Embassy. She performs weekly shows at restaurants and nightclubs throughout Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia. She completed a rigorous teacher training program at Sahara Dance in 2010 and offers weekly group classes at several area dance studios, as well as private lessons. Isabel also directs the Rising Tigris belly dance group at Towson University.

For more information, visit www.isabelly.com

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Ouranitsa is a professional belly dance performer and instructor in the Baltimore area. She is a founding member of Barakaat Middle Eastern Dance Company and the Managing Director of Egyptian Sun Productions belly dance troupe.Possessing a strong background in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and Broadway style dance, Ouranitsa picked up the art of Middle Eastern dance quickly and fell head over heels in 2005. At that time Ouranitsa began studying both at Friends School’s Middle Eastern Dance Club and Egyptian Sun. She has expanded her study of the art form under Piper (of the Daughters of Rhea), Shems, Lotus Niraja, and Artemis.

Professionally, Ouranitsa has performed in and around Baltimore as a featured solo artist and as part of her two troupes. However, Ouranitsa is also a gifted teacher and choreographer. She is currently the resident instructor for the beginner and intermediate classes of Egyptian Sun, and books teaching engagements throughout the Baltimore area and beyond.

As a soloist Ouranitsa is known for her charismatic, soulful interpretations of belly dance, and deeply appreciates the opportunity to connect with her Greek and Egyptian heritage through the rich musical landscape the dance has afforded her.

Her Egyptian Sun troupemates mark her as the troupe’s resident super spinner and her fellow Barakaat dancers celebrate her as spontaneous singer extraordinaire. Ouranitsa is honored to work with the creative, funny, and inspiring ladies of both troupes.

For more information about Ouranitsa, please visit ouranitsa.com.

 

Based in Columbia, MD, Ghadir is a professional belly dancer and one of the founding members of Barakaat.Ghadir first fell in love with Raqs Sharqi for it’s power and feminity, and the strong connection to the music and culture so much a part of this art form. In the dance, she is known for musicality, her flair for the dramatic, and performances filled with emotion. At the same time, she is vivacious, playful and approachable on and offstage. Specializing in Turkish and Egyptian oriental, this diverse dancer has been seen performing tribal fusion, American cabaret and folkloric pieces.

Ghadir began her dance journey in 1999, studying American Cabaret under Gozde Hilal of Chapel Hill, NC. Since then she has performed and studied in many parts of NC, SC and the surrounding areas. Since moving to the Baltimore/ Washington D.C. Area in 2007, she has studied intensively under Samira Shuruk, Shems and Artemis Mourat. She has taken numerous workshops and intensives from world renowned instructors including Tayyar Akdeniz, Eva Cernik, Suhaila Salimpour, Ava Flemming Mohammed Shahin, and Nourhan Sharif. She has had focused study in Turkish style, with Artemis’ Totally Turkish Intensive and travel to Turkey with Folk Tours.

Ghadir can be seen performing at haflas, benefits, festivals and private events across the Baltimore / Washington D.C. Area.

For more information about Ghadir, please go to ghadirdance.com.

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Rotrica is a passionate dancer and performer. Affectionately referring to belly dance as her addiction, Rotrica fell in love with how belly dance relates to feminine empowerment and health. She is known for her outgoing and multifaceted dance style with a range from R&B/hip-hop fusion, American Caberet to traditional folkloric performances. Starting a belly dance bootcamp class in 2006, Rotrica began performing in 2008. She joined Barakaat in 2012.Along with Barakaat, Rotrica is a member of Aleemah, based out of Columbia, maryland. She co-produced the breast cancer fundraising hafla, “Raq da ta-tas” and appeared in Belly of Jazz’s 2013 project, the Nina Simone Experiment.

She is certified in Sahra Saeeda’s Journey to Egypt, has attended Aziza’s DreamCamp and continues her studies with various instructors including Sacred Hipz of Washington D.C., Azhia of Philadelphia and Anitah Bah. She can be seen performing at a number of local haflas, restaurants and other venues.

 

Eugenia is a tribal fusion and tribal dancer and teacher. As a performer, she is known for her grace, solid technique, and musicality. As a teacher, she is known for her humor, scientific breakdown in her instruction, and attentiveness. Having danced since 2004, she began her journey in oriental style belly dance when she joined Barakaat in 2013. She also performs American Tribal Style (ATS) with Transcendence Tribal, co-directs the Brain Dance Collective, and formerly directed the Kebir student company at Saffron Dance.Eugenia holds a master’s degree in the field of psychophysics with a concentration in human motor learning, and uses knowledge of current research in biomechanics, kinesiology, and neuroscience to inform her teaching methods. Her dance background includes substantive training in tribal fusion, hip hop, ATS, flamenco, Chinese dance, and Level 1 certification in the Suhaila Salimpour format, and she has studied extensively with Mars of Devyani Dance Company and Asharah. You can find Eugenia performing at local venues for tribal and fusion belly dance, guest performing in burlesque and variety shows, and teaching workshops at Sahara Dance and out of her home studio.

For more information about Eugenia, please go to eugeniadance.com

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Fariha Banu is a professional belly dancer. Her multicultural upbringing and her love of Middle Eastern and Turkish culture and music inspired her to learn the art of belly dance. Her style of dance is a mixture of American Cabaret, classical Egyptian Oriental, and Turkish Oriental. Fariha’s performances are graceful, elegant, and authentic. 

Fariha is based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been belly dancing since 2010. In 2013, Fariha joined the Barakaat Middle Eastern Dance Company. Fariha has a strong background in ballet and jazz and has studied Egyptian folkloric dance, Middle Eastern folkloric dances, and Turkish Romani dance. Fariha currently studies belly dance with Samira Shuruk, Artemis Mourat, and Ruby Beh and has taken workshops from several world renown dancers including Dina, Leila of Cairo, Ozgen, Mohamed Shahin, and Reyhan Tuzsu.

She can be seen performing at various venues in the Baltimore/D.C. area including restaurants, hookah lounges, festivals, and private events.

 

Anisais the newest member of Barakaat, joining in 2014. She has been performing Oriental, folkloric, and fusion bellydance since 2004. Anisa also dances with the Middle Eastern dance troupe, Banat al-Beled, directed by Latifa, and serves as their Rehearsal Director.When she began her bellydance training, Anisa was intrigued by the intricate, complex layering movements and the way dancers embody rich, beautiful Middle Eastern music. She has studied primarily with renowned teacher, Latifa, but her background also includes training with Piper, Asharah, and Shems. Anisa has earned an Associate of Arts degree in Dance and has previously held Level 1 certification in the Suhaila Salimpour format and Level 2 certification in the Piper Method.

Anisa can be seen performing at area haflas, benefits, and festivals. She also teaches Middle Eastern dance to middle and high school dancers every summer at AACC’s Kids in College Youth Dance Festival.

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Affilliate Member

Mariza stumbled across a belly dance DVD in 2004 and has been dancing ever since. She began studying both Egyptian cabaret with Alexandra Bourque-Snyder and American Tribal Style/Tribal Fusion with Joy Rayman. As president of the Belly dance Club at the University of Virginia, Mariza worked with Alexandra to establish the club’s first student performance troupe which performs at various events around the university and in the local community.

After graduation Mariza moved to Baltimore and began studying with Shems in 2008. She has performed around Baltimore both as a soloist and as part of the Barakaat. She is excited to be part of such a dynamic, skilled and creative group of dancers!

Mariza offers classes at the MAC Harbor East in Baltimore. For more information about Mariza, including her class schedule, please visit marizadance.com.

 

Affilliate Member

Tydirah is an award winning Raqs Sharqi, Beladi, and Fusion styled performing artist. Known for her sass and mesmerizing gaze, Tydirah is a dedicated life time student of Middle Eastern Dance.

Her studies and training have been and are continuing under several nationally and internationally famous and noted instructors. An original performing member of Barakaat Dance Company, Tydirah is also a soloist, instructor, choreographer, and organizer of the community hafla in MD., All Seasons Hafla (ASH).

Ty is a positive force within the belly dance community and an exceptional example of the grace, passion, and technical mastery of a truly gifted and accomplished performer.

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