Where are you from?
I am Palestinian, born in Kuwait and living in Toronto.
Who do you dance with (Soloist/Company/Studio affiliation)?
I teach more than I perform as a dancer these days. I tend to perform
more as a singer. When I do dance, it’s mainly as a soloist and often
with one of my bands, namely Nomadica (big Arabic-Gypsy Funk outfit),
Nesma (my smaller Arabic trad ensemble) or my trio with Maryem Tollar
and Naghmeh Farahmand formerly known as Doula (which is perilously
close to the word for penis in Persian). My studio is Om Laila.
How long have you been dancing?
What is your favourite music?
That’s a big one.
I love Arabic music – especially vocal music. I heart the divas Om
Kalsoum, Warda, Fairouz, Sabah, Ghada Schbeir, Dorsaf Hamdani, Rima
I love Middle Eastern fusion bands Kardes Turkuler, Mercan Dede,
Natacha Atlas, Selda, Yemen Blues…
Also love Roma music from Eastern Europe and Turkey…Besh o Drom,
Kocani Orkestar, Esma Redzepova, Mahala Rai Banda, Kal, …
…and Toronto jewel of Turkish/Balkan song, Brenna MacCrimmon.
And I love funk, R&B, soul, gospel.
And a place in my heart forever for Kate Bush, Rickie Lee Jones, Joni
Mitchell, Billie Holiday…and so much more
Favourite costume piece?
My silver crochet dress handmade by my grandmother in the 1960’s
originally as a wedding dress.
The darkest possible chocolate. Really good coffee. Occasional bouts of whininess and grumpitude.
The darkest possible chocolate. Really good coffee. Daily meditation practice.
My Musical Dancer Choir is the new project I am most excited about. A group of women who sing, play percussion and dance together is some kind of heaven for me. I guess the choir is not so much upcoming as in the works!
I am excited about 2 nights at May Cafe: November 8 and December 13.
A FunkaBelly revival featuring Nomadica, fabulous dancers…and the Choir too inshallah.
Because of Arabic music.
Because it helped me find my way back into my body and saved my life.
Because I can’t imagine how I would ever manage without it.
Who inspires you?
at this moment…
My daughter Laila. <3
My teachers – especially my singing guru, Fides Krucker.
My mentors: cookbook author and all-round goddess, Naomi Duguid;
Yogini and friend Karusia Wroblewski who radiates love and generosity;
and Yasmina Ramzy, who is a passionate dance artist and force of
nature, and who instigated and facilitated the creation of my one
woman show, 40 Days, that continues to heal and change my life even as
it sits waiting to be revisited.
My husband, David Buchbinder – musician, composer, cultural innovator,