Recommended Readings for Dancers & Creatives

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Recommended Readings for Dancers & Creatives

Hello everyone!

I’ve been thinking of this post for a while & have some time to actually do said post with the baby (and hubby!) in bed early!

I wanted to share some of my fave books that I would personally consider essential – these are all dog eared, highlighted & well loved!  Now this is by no means completed –  I am constantly on the look out for more readings!

If you have anything else to add to this list, please tell me here! I’d love to see what others recommend!

Please note that these links are Amazon links where I receive a small commission.  Thank you for your support!


*Music of Egypt: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (Scott L Marcus).  This book is my go-to for everything whether I am teaching a workshop on rhythms, wanting more details on instruments or looking up a dance style. It comes with a CD as well (should you still be lucky enough to have a player ha ha!)

Music in Egypt: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture Includes CD (Global Music Series) by Scott L. Marcus (2006-11-17)

*“The Voice of Egypt”: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century (Virginia Danielson). This book is a great resource about Umm Kalsoum from her humble beginnings to her death.  It helped me understand her importance in a much deeper way through learning about her rising star throughout the political changes in Egypt.

"The Voice of Egypt": Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century (Volume 1997)

*Before They Were Belly Dancers: European Accounts of Female Entertainers in Egypt, 1760-1870 .(Kathleen Fraser).  This book relies on weaving together eyewitness accounts to glean an actually look at the history of raqs baladi/sharqi dancers & female entertainers during the later 1700s – 1800s.

*Palace Walk Trilogy (Naguib Mafouz). I read this book years ago & it left a huge impression of me.  When I first visited old Cairo I was taken back to this book & it filled me with a sense of wonder & glee! This book gives a powerful insight to the struggle to Egyptian independence from British colonialism amongst the family of Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad.  It is such a deep, thought provoking read – a MUST in my books!

The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street; Introduction by Sabry Hafez

*A Trade Like Any Other: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt (Karin Van Nieuwkerk).  I read this book fall 2021 and it was a page turner – Karin gets into the nittygritty of the female entertainment world in Cairo.

*Khul Khaal. (Nayra Atiya). I bought this book from the famous Diwan in Zamalek & read it in one day.  This book contains the varied stories of 5 different Egyptian women & their lives.

*Bury Me Standing:The Gypsies and Their Journey (Isabel Fonseca). A book about the Roma people – Isabel goes over the history, myth, legend & realities of the Roma over the centuries.
Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey

*Baladi Women of Cairo: Playing With an Egg and a Stone by Evelyn A. Early (1993-01-30).(Evelyn A. Early). A rich look at the baladi women of Cairo navigating life.

Baladi Women of Cairo: Playing With an Egg and a Stone by Evelyn A. Early (1993-01-30)

* The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. (Steven Pressfield). Oh boy this is a must read for us dancers…Taken from Amazon: “The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.”  See told you!

*Stillness is the Key. (Ryan Holiday).  If there was one majorly influential book of 2022 for me, it is this book.  This book draws from author Ryan Holiday’s principles of stoicism & the importance to finding stillness in our crazy lives dominated by 24/7 news, social media & availability. I read this 2x in a row so that the messages sunk in. 10/10 in my mind!

This list will keep growing as I find more helpful & recommended books!  Please bookmark this & keep checking!
xo AR

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