Banat al-Beled is one of the most popular Middle Eastern dance troupes in the Baltimore-Washington area. Over the years, Banat al-Beled has built a solid repertoire of both folkloric and nightclub-style dances, derived from such different cultural influences as the African-nuanced dancing at traditional Saudi Arabian women’s parties, the melding of Spanish and Arabic culture in Andalusian Spain, the proud line dances of the Levant, the night clubs of Cairo, and the “melting pot” of American belly dance.
Their founder Latifa is a nationally recognized performer, instructor, and choreographer. She studied for over ten years with the late Ibrahim Farrah, who designated her as one of his protégées shortly before his death. Latifa holds a master’s degree in Arab studies from Georgetown University and was awarded a fellowship after graduation to study Arabic at the American University in Cairo. While there, she divided her time between her academic studies and private and semi-private dance lessons with prominent Egyptian instructors. Latifa has performed to great acclaim at Rakkasah East and West, Art of the Belly, and local shows and haflas. Latifa’s students are known for their expressiveness, musicality, and stage presence. In addition to teaching and directing her dance company, Latifa currently organizes the Fez Tones Hafla, the best regular live music and belly dance event in the state.