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COVER STORY: Travel with Ahmed Hussein

Fanoos Magazine spoke with Egyptian Master Instructor on the future of travel as it concerns Bellydancers. First of all, welcome and thank you for taking time to speak with Fanoos! We'll get started by talking about your current student travel experiences to Egypt. Tell us how you plan your trips to Egypt for your students and what your travel programs entail.   The tours to Egypt are designed to provide a culturally immersive experience. We customize the tour to accommodate every tour participant’s lifestyle and dream list. We pride ourselves on offering concierge-style service, luxurious five star accommodations, gourmet meals, shopping and nightlife in every city we visit. While in Cairo, we stay at the Sheraton Hotel and Casino right alongside the Nile River. Our sightseeing expeditions include the most important landmarks of interest such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Saqqara, the Citadel, Khan el-Khalili, The Egyptian Museum and of course, the Perfumeries.

We are always accompanied by very knowledgeable Egyptologists. Our Upper Egypt tour begins by visiting all of the Temples such as Philae, Kom Ombo and Edfu as we cruise the Nile on Luxurious Boat Cruises such as the Farah. Our second home is at Luxor’s Winter Palace which is just a few blocks away from Luxor and Karnak Temple. We also make day-trip visits to Abydos and Dendera as well as to the Valley of Kings and Queens. Our next destination is a relaxing beach city. We usually travel to the Hurghada or Sharm el-

Sheik for a few days when we are ready to take a vacation from our vacation!

That sounds amazing! Do you believe Middle Eastern Dance students should travel abroad to Egypt or elsewhere to travel and experience the culture?  Why or why not? I believe it is an invaluable experience for Middle Eastern Dance students to travel to Egypt to immerse themselves in the culture. Traveling to Egypt provides the student with an entirely new appreciation of how people live, socialize and celebrate. I like to believe that the dance is richly rooted in these specific traditions of the Egyptian people. There is a very specific transformation that occurs within the soul of each Middle Eastern Dance student when they begin to connect to the Egyptian community.

Ahmed Hussein
Ahmed and a past tour to Egypt at El Ghouri Arts Center

The big question: how do you believe COVID-19 will affect the education of Middle Eastern Dance students when it comes to festivals and competitions?  Do you see these events continuing or changing? Covid 19 has sent a shockwave of fear throughout the world and many feel disoriented and struggle to define the new normal. It is everyone’s hope to find the effective vaccine as quickly as possible. However, that will take time just as it will take time to return to normal, everyday life as we knew it before Covid. I am certain that festivals and competitions will adapt to an online presence and on a much smaller scale. I am happy to see the dance community persevere and become as creative as possible in sharing their joy and love for Middle Eastern Dance.

How do you plan to move forward with your student travel programs following the quarantine? We will resume conducting tours when the threat of Covid 19 exposure is minimized.

After all of the traveling you've done, what would be your dream travel experience? My dream vacation is to completely disconnect from electronics and spend time on the ocean and in nature!

You jump from place to place to teach and tour frequently.  Tell us how you stay creative and focused in this constant motion.   I receive energy and inspiration by traveling to new destinations. I feel rejuvenated meeting new people. I also become creatively charged and inspired when I am teaching students that learn quickly.

Do you believe your travel experiences have personally changed you as dancer/choreographer?  

My extensive travel experiences have developed a deep appreciation in me for so many different cultures. The different music and social interactions are like a muse. My mind is sparked with new ideas and leaves me completely open and receptive to limitless possibilities. Fantastic advice, Ahmed! Thank you so much again for talking to us! For more information on Ahmed Husseins' tours and classes:

Ahmed Hussien is undeniably an iconic figure and a source of inspiration for dancers and teachers alike in the world of Classic Oriental and Egyptian Folkloric Dance. Ahmed's masterful and dynamic teaching method is the result of his absolute dedication to dance combined with his comprehensive experience in the area of performance and choreography. Ahmed is the ONLY Egyptian Dance Master to have Ballet, Belly Dance, Ballroom, and Broadway experience in his repertoire.

Ahmed Hussien was recognized by The Higher Institute of Ballet in Cairo, Egypt and accepted his enrollment into their elite academy at eight years of age. He studied both academics and dance for nine years, 12 hours a day; included in his rigorous training were formal instruction and mentorship in Classical Oriental and Folkloric Dances of Egypt by Egyptian Dance Masters, and Russian Ballet by experts affiliated with the prestigious ballet companies of Russia. By the age of 17, Ahmed had toured internationally with the Cairo National Ballet under the direction of Dr. Abdel Moneim Kamel, and had graduated from The Higher

Institute of Ballet with the highest degree of honors. He came to the US and expanded his dance education into ballroom dance, while working for Madame Darvish of New York. Soon thereafter, Ahmed was presented with countless opportunities including

touring with the Near East Dance Group, performing several times at Lincoln Center and choreographing “Oh, Brother” for a Broadway production. He has since been sponsored in many workshop intensives and been on judging panels for competitions worldwide.

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