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I started dancing in 1993 after seeing an advert for Egyptian Oriental Dance in Buckingham and from my very first lesson I was hooked! I watched with amazement while my first teacher, Maggie Caffrey, performed moves which I could at that time only dream of doing! Since then my enthusiasm and my love for this beautiful, feminine and graceful dance form has never diminished.
My meeting with Maggie also led to my initial involvement with the then "Midlands Arabic Dance Network" (now known as Mosaic) which was at that time in its inception. I became one of its first members and for the first few years was instrumental in designing and publishing the organisation's newsletter, only handing over the reigns to Lynn Embling when I went to live in Norway for three years in 1996. What started off as a photocopied publication, is now a glossy professionally produced magazine which hundreds of Mosaic Members look forward to receiving three times a year.
Since my first lesson with Maggie over fourteen years ago, I have been privileged to take lessons and workshops with many world renowned teachers including Raquia Hassan, Ava Fleming, Aziza and Sadie from America, Nabila Bergmann of Germany, Zaza Hassan of Paris, Morocco of New York, our own Maggie Caffrey, Sandra Thibault, Jo Wise and Heather Burby to name a few. In 2005 I decided that I would like to share the joy of this wonderful dance with other women and started teaching myself in January 2005 at Portfields Community Centre in Newport Pagnell. After only a short time the classes had proved so popular that I had to move to a bigger venue - I now teach a regular class at the Cross and Stable Community Centre in Downs Barn, Milton Keynes every Tuesday from 7.00 to 9.15. As well as teaching my regular classes I am also available to teach workshops, give talks and demonstrations. Please contact me by phone or email for further information.
I was pleased that after a short time taking lessons with me, some of my students decided that they also would like to perform - and so came into existence the dance group "Cairo Cats". Their first performance, dancing one of my own choreographies to Bhekku Annak by Nawal Zoughbi, was at the "Jewels of the Nile" show produced by Sharleen Pratt and Julie Clarke and held in Luton Library Theatre in February 2006. Of course I also love performing myself, and am pleased to have been featured as the guest dancer at Maria D'Silva's event in Leicester October 2005 and Lynne Chapman's Charity Christmas Haflah in Rugby in December 2005 and star guest December 2006.
In addition to my classes I started to design and make bellydance themed greeting cards in October 2003 and my first stall was at Heather Burby's Christmas haflah that same year. I decided on the name Kismet because at that time no-one was using it in the UK and it happened to be one of my favourite Musicals! From solely concentrating on Kismet Cards, I then expanded into selling bellydance jewellery, other accessories and also a range of costumes for sale on the website. I am constantly expanding the range of products I offer and try to offer something which is unique to Kismet.
As well as teaching and selling bellydance products, I organise a regular dance event called "Kasbah" to celebrate Iranian New Year (Noh Ruz) with star guests from home and abroad, and an opportunity for local dancers to perform, or simply dance to live musicians and have a good time.
As part of my quest to raise the profile of this beautiful dance form, I have the privilege of being the only bellydancer to have appeared on BBC TV's "Mastermind" quiz show. This was in 2006 with my specialist subject being the "History and Culture of Arabic dance". I was also filmed again by the BBC teaching a group of my more advanced students one of my own choreographies - this was as part of the BBC's "People's Quiz" for screening during 2007.