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Layla Taj

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Layla Taj

Occupation /Belly dancer, Master Teacher, choreographer

Years active1999–present

Height172.72 cm (5 ft 8 in)

Dances Raqs al-sharqi, Egyptian Folklore, Pharonic


Layla Taj, (Arabic: ليلى تاج‎), is a belly dancer in the classical Egyptian raqs al-sharqi style. She includes in her repertoire dances devoted to communicating facets of Egyptian culture.[1] Taj's honorable title, "Dancing Queen," derives from newspaper headlines.[1][2]


Early life

Taj is descended from a long line of opulent Greek Athenians and Egyptiotes (Greek: Αιγυπτιώτες).[1] Her mother was a beauty queen who won the national pageant sponsored by the Greek-American Progressive Association (GAPA)[3] and later became a singer and a Screen Actors Guild actress


Taj was introduced to Middle Eastern dance in childhood.[4]:B19 Later, as she developed her professional career, Taj trained in belly dance in the United States and Germany, where she studied with Dr. Mo Geddawi (a founding member of the Reda Troup),[5] who praised her work.[6]



Hyatt Regency Resort, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Taj has been contracted annually as an in-house solo Egyptian belly dancer at upscale hotel venues throughout the Middle East,[7] including Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, where cultural and legal norms have been selective regarding who is eligible to perform.[8][9] In Egypt, Taj was contracted as a principal belly dancer at the Hyatt Regency in Sharm El Sheikh and the Sheraton Towers and Casino in Cairo.[1][6] Taj's audiences have included dignitaries such as politicians (including Egyptian Ambassador Youssef Zada)[10] and Middle Eastern royalty.[4] Outside of the Middle East, she has been selected to perform at events sponsored by the United Nations and by the Egyptian Tourism Authority.[4]:B18[2] In 2009, Taj performed in New York City in an educational cultural program sponsored by the World Heritage Cultural Center.[11] Taj also performed at the wedding celebration, termed the "Wedding of the Decade",[12] of Middle-Eastern[13] author and publisher Yara Michaels and ophthalmologist David W. Shoemaker;[14][15] the event took place at Cà d’Zan at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.[16]


Gold Hall Theater, New York.

Taj focuses on belly dance as being an artistic medium through which to communicate features of Egyptian culture. Taj rejects the floorwork that is common in other approaches (such as the Turkish style), believing the upright posture of the classical Egyptian genre to be more culturally representative.[4] Her interpretation of musical accompaniment is influenced by the vocal style of the late Egyptian singer and actress Umm Kulthum.[4]:B19

Taj performs through The Egyptian Cultural Performing Arts Society Inc., whose mission is to educate the public about Egyptian culture.[10] The cornerstone of Taj's repertoire for the Society is Journey Down the Nile,[4]:B1 a multi-media Egyptian cultural program during which she performs numerous regional dances of Egypt interspersed with film clips that explain them.[17] The signature dance in the program is Wings of Isis, in which Taj portrays Cleopatra VII and illustrates the queen's identification with the goddess Isis.[18] In addition, Taj produced, wrote, and performed in the educational short film, Ancient and Modern Dances of Egypt.[19][20]

Taj has written about her experiences dancing professionally in Berlin, Germany[21] and Stockholm, Sweden and her pioneering performances in the first Stockholm belly dance festival known as The Nile Group.[22] She has been a repeated contributor to Bennu, the publication of the Associated Artists of Middle Eastern Dance (ASAmed).[23][24] Her 2015 essay, The Difference Between Art and Entertainment,[25] is a component of the dance curriculum at Brigham Young University.[26]

Before developing her career in professional dance, Taj was a recording artist with a single that hit the Billboard charts.[10]


  1. Jump up to:a b c d Brokaw, Sommer (November 29, 2014). "Dancing queen: World-traveled Egyptian dancer to perform here". The Sun. p. 2. Retrieved November 19, 2018.

  2. Jump up to:a b Russo, Mike (April 23, 2009). "She's the dancing queen". Long Island Herald. p. 11. Retrieved November 21, 2018.

  3. ^ "Greek-American Progressive Association", Flps.newberry.org, retrieved May 6, 2019

  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f Pray, Rusty (November 27, 2014). "Worlds apart: Taj to present free Egyptian dance concert". Florida Weekly. Retrieved November 19, 2018.

  5. ^ Morocco. "Gilded Serpent presents...Interview with Mahmoud Reda, Part I: The Beginning". gildedserpent.com. Retrieved November 22, 2018.

  6. Jump up to:a b "Taj Takes Belly Dancing to New Heights". The Queens Gazette. June 8, 2005. p. 18. Retrieved November 5, 2018.

  7. ^ Phillips, Sophia (July–August 2005). "Belly Dancing in the Middle East". Zaghareet!.

  8. ^ Luna (June 2011). "Kisses from Kairo". kissesfromkairo.blogspot.com. Retrieved November 5, 2018.

  9. ^ Arvizu, Shannon (2004). "The Politics of Bellydancing in Cairo". The Arab Studies Journal. 12/13 (2/1): 165. JSTOR 27933913.

  10. Jump up to:a b c "Bio". Laylataj.com. Retrieved November 6, 2018.

  11. ^ World Heritage Cultural Center (June 12, 2013). "Global Beats Stage - October 2009". mywhcc.org. Retrieved December 11,2018.

  12. ^ McDonald, Megan (April 30, 2012). "The Wedding of the Decade and a Baby Shower". Sarasota Magazine. Retrieved December 28,2018.

  13. ^ Weingarten, Abby (November 1, 2012). "Cooks at Home: Yara Shoemaker". Retrieved December 28, 2018.

  14. ^ "Michael Shoemaker's Wedding". Jasmyne Salazar. June 20, 2012. 5:02 minutes in. Retrieved December 28, 2018.

  15. ^ "Sneak peek of Yara's wedding-Jackie Evancho". Femme Rouge Magazine. June 27, 2012. 1:24 minutes in. Retrieved December 28,2018.

  16. ^ McDonald, Megan (August 1, 2012). "Oh, Happy Day". Sarasotamagazine.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.

  17. ^ "Layla Taj -Egyptian Cultural Dance Program". Retrieved December 28, 2018.

  18. ^ Brown, Chris (July 2011). "The Search for Cleopatra". National Geographic. Retrieved December 28, 2018.

  19. ^ "Film by Egyptian Dancer to Air on QPTV". The Queens Gazette. May 6, 2009. p. 32. Retrieved November 5, 2018.

  20. ^ "Layla Taj Ancient and Modern Dances of Egypt". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 5, 2018.

  21. ^ Taj, Layla, "Belly Dancing Berlin", Bennu, 1 (4): 8–9

  22. ^ Taj, Layla, "Stockholm, Sweden Belly Dance Festival (The Nile Group)", Bennu, 2 (3): 27–28

  23. ^ Taj, Layla, "Sukkah Ziyaeda, Coffee with Raquia Hassan, International Egyptian Master Teacher", Bennu, 3 (3): 10–12

  24. ^ Taj, Layla, "Put Your Best Face Forward", Bennu, 3 (1): 25–26

  25. ^ Taj, Layla (June 29, 2015). "The Difference Between Art and Entertainment". Linkedin.com. Retrieved November 5, 2018.

  26. ^ "Subject Guides: Dance 261: Orientation to Dance: Art vs Entertainment". Byu.edu. August 21, 2018. Retrieved November 2,2018.

Professional Verification

Belly dance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belly_dance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Belly dance, also sometimes referred to as Raqs Sharqi[1][2][3] (Arabic: رقص شرقي‎, lit. 'Raqs sharqi', literally: "oriental dancing") is an Arabic expressive dance[4][5][6][7] that originated in Egypt[8] and that emphasizes complex movements of the torso.[9] It has evolved to take many different forms depending on the country and region, both in costume and dance style; with Egyptian style and its famous traditional rhymes being the most common worldwide having many schools around the globe practicing it.

In Egypt

Main article: Raqs sharqi


Layla Taj, Egyptian belly dancer (American born), performing in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Many bellydancers work in Cairo. The modern Egyptian belly dance style (and the modern costume) are said to have originated in Cairo's nightclubs. Many of the local dancers went on to appear in Egyptian films and had a great influence on the development of the Egyptian style and became famous, like Samia Gamal and Taheyya Kariokka, both of whom helped attract eyes to the Egyptian style worldwide.[23]


Traditional belly dancer on a Cairo Nile River cruise

Professional belly dance in Cairo has not been exclusive to native Egyptians, although the country prohibited foreign-born dancers from obtaining licenses for solo work for much of 2004 out of concern that potentially inauthentic performances would dilute its culture. (Other genres of performing arts were not affected.) The ban was lifted in September 2004, but a culture of exclusivity and selectivity remained. The few non-native Egyptians permitted to perform in an authentic way invigorated the dance circuit and helped spread global awareness of the art form.[24] American-born Layla Taj is one example of a non-native Egyptian belly dancer who has performed extensively in Cairo and the Sinai resorts.[25]

Egyptian belly dance is noted for its controlled, precise movements.[26]

Although it's seen as a dance mainly for women, nowadays we see many men trying to defy these social norms.[27]

Layla Taj wikipedia article - Copy.jpg
Layla Taj, Egyptian belly dancer (American born), performing in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
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LAYLA TAJ is an international Egyptian style belly dancer. She has conquered the many genres of the entertainment industry with worldly attainment and prestige.  Born in Long Beach, New York, her journey in the performing arts began as a child. Layla's mother, a native Greek Egyptian raven haired beauty and artist herself (beauty queen GAPA and SAG actress/singer) matriculated Layla in ballet classes at the Rockville Center Ballet Academy and in oriental dance when she was just nine years old. Dance training and classical piano indoctrination was part of Layla's itinerary on a daily basis. Following her academics in school, Layla composed numerous music demos and acquired three major record deals. She was branded a successful recording artist landing her hit single on the Billboard chart. Her career set the high standard of artist professionalism early on in the Performing Arts but Layla longed to return to her first love " Dancing. "  

Layla sought out the primary master teachers overseas, she was dedicated to learning the classical style of Egyptian Orientale and not fusion which was so popular in New York. She soon discovered top master teachers residing in Germany. Layla then emigrated to Europe and began seeking out workshops with the top master teachers from Cairo such as Raqia Hassan, Mahmoud Reda and Mohammed Gadawwi.  Mohammed Gadawwi met up with Layla one evening with her friend . He bluntly remarked " There are dancers and there are stars, Layla is a star ! ".  This comment fueled her artistic impetus for years to come. 

Shortly after her training, Layla was requested to perform in the Gala show at the Stockholm Belly Dance Festival in Sweden. From there her career began to accelerate. She procured several contracts to perform at five star hotels in Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Layla executed shows daily as an " in house daily performer and principal dancer " .  She was summoned to dance for Saudi royalty as well as leaders of the countries in the royal mansions on the resort grounds. Layla adjudged to continue her explorations and journeyed onto Dubai, UAE. She performed there for a short while being that she accepted a contract at the prestigious Sheraton Towers and Casino in Cairo. Upon honoring her contract Layla was offered an additional contract in Cairo at the Semiramis Hotel  but she turned it down politely.  Layla says ” The management offered to help me acquire an apartment in Cairo living independently and offered to put together an orchestra of 21 musicians for me, but I wasn’t interested in paying rent or living outside of the hotel independently ". After Cairo, Layla returned to Sharm el Sheikh for yet another contract where the resort provided a new condo and a personal driver for her to travel to and from the resort which was only five minutes away. Layla says " I was the first tenant  in the new complex but I felt secure there."  After five years of gathering experience in Egypt, Layla returned to the states and graced world news publications making headlines. She was given the honorific "The Dancing Queen." in several newspapers.


Layla then moved to Southwest Florida to enjoy the warm weather. It wasn't long before word spread out that " Layla Taj " was in town. Requests  began to pour in almost immediately for weddings and Layla had the honor of performing  for what was termed "The Wedding of the Century" at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. Layla says " out of all the innumerable weddings of which I've performed in the world, I didn't anticipate the most impressive to be in Sarasota, Florida. " 


She also cemented a relationship with The Egyptian Tourist Authority helping them promote goodwill for Egypt by presenting her famous Egyptian cultural program.  Ambassador Youssef Zada and his wife were VIP invites who sat in the front row and admired Layla’s program. Her Cleopatra VII signature number created a spectacle with the public who later surrounded her in awe, and so began the idea to create a non-profit Egyptian Society. Layla Taj is president of  “The Egyptian Cultural Performing Arts Society Inc. It's only one of its kind in the United States and is dedicated to educating the public about Egypt via her cultural program . The program combines historical, folkloric dances of Egypt combined with modern Raqs Sharqi numbers.  Layla Taj has carved her own path and signature style 

in the industry by presenting the audience with a full spectrum visual experience of Egyptian dance. 

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