My group and I had the good fortune to take a class with Raqia Hassan during my last tour to Egypt in March 2006. Like most things in Egypt, we weren’t sure it was going to happen. I called Raqia before leaving the United States and she said she would be out of town during most of our stay, but would return two days before we left and that we could see her then. On the appointed day, I called and was told that Raqia would not be returning after all. I called the next day to see if we could study with Raqia’s assistant instead and Raqia answered the phone! We had plans to do a Nile dinner cruise so the only time to squeeze in a class would be afterward. Dressed in our evening finery, we arrived at 10:30 p.m. on the evening before our return to the United States ready to dance.
Raqia Hassan is a generous teacher. She kept her eye on all of us, gently correcting as we went along. She explained in clear English why she wanted things a particular way. In each correction, there was a subtle emotional or energetic difference that demonstrated the difference between the “wrong” way and Raqia’s way. Each time the subtle emotional or energetic difference was done either in the “wrong” way or her way.
Each explanation brought the class closer to understanding the essence of Egyptian style.
One of the most valuable things I took away from Raqia’s class was the practice of “becoming” during rehearsal. Whenever the music started, Raqia went from being the teacher to being the teacher/performer. Any time she moved, she moved as if her whole being were on stage. Her performing persona was always visible yet she never took her eyes off us. Seeing that made me want to follow with the heart, not just the body.
Raqia Hassan kept the class fun, warm, and entertaining. We all enjoyed her so much that we bought a stack of her instructional DVDs and music. We wanted to take her back with us to the USA in whatever small way we could.
I have been dancing for ten years and this was my first time seeing Raqia. I have been to Egypt many times and Raqia has been to the USA.
There was always a reason to put off a class. I deeply regret the time wasted in not seeing her before now.
For those of you who have not yet seen Raqia, put it on your list of things to do NOW. Do not wait as I did. (And video study doesn’t count. I have had her videos for years, and it is not the same thing.) Her teaching style is easy to understand. Her material is different from others’. It’s emotional, passionate, connected to the music and the culture which gives Americans an opportunity to feel and express the dance through an Egyptian perspective. Raqia is giving and accessible. You feel as if you have made a friend when you are with her. I highly recommend studying with Raqia.