Monica Berini - DanceVersity Instructor
Monica Berini is teaching zills (hand cymbals) at DanceVerisity World Dance Camp, August 2011.
Monica Berini is a San Francisco based performer and instructor who has been studying Near Eastern dance since her teens, with training in San Francisco, New York and Cairo. Monica has an extensive performance history that includes improvisational solo work and award-winning choreographed troupe experience. Her dance style is based on both vintage American cabaret belly dance, Egyptian raqs sharqi and raqs baladi, with a foundation of solid folkloric roots from various regions in the Near East.
Dance Education and Background
Monica is interested in and inspired by the folk dances that are at the root of raqs sharqi (Arabic for 'Eastern dance', and the style of solo belly dance that has become popular and recognized around the world since the 1920s). For over fifteen years, she has followed a disciplined study that includes both classic and modern American and Egyptian belly dance, as well as an expanded interest in and study of folkloric Arabic and North African dances. She has trained regularly in San Francisco, New York, and Cairo, and travels to festivals and workshops as both a learner and an instructor.
Monica danced professionally under the stage name Zakiyya throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, and was a house dancer at many San Francisco Bay Area restaurants and clubs. No longer working 'the club circuit' regularly, Monica currently presents her crowd-pleasing dances at Bay Area weddings, parties, cultural festivals, and celebrations.
Company and Troupe Work
Monica was a principal dancer in the award winning Ya Habibi from 1993 to 1996. She subsequently formed her own troupe in August of 1997. Raks Sahibat danced together until 2004, and were crowned Belly Dance Troupe of the Year in 2000. Currently Monica performs with the collectively run, geographically challenged trio Raqs Habibi. Monica also choreographs and directs a student performance group made up of her advanced Lines Dance Center students.
In 2002, after teacher training and support from two of her primary instructors and mentors, several successful Bay Area workshops, and numerous requests from private students, Monica began teaching group classes. Teaching has become a central part of Monica's dance work, and she holds several weekly multi-level classes in San Francisco.
A proponent of the value of a cross-disciplinary education, Monica has also pursued studies in several dance and fitness related areas to augment her dance expression and for the health and safety of her students.
While receiving her bachelor's degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and Religious Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, Monica studied Arabic in the Near Eastern Studies department with Nabil Abdelfattah. She continued her Arabic language study with intensive Arabic and Egyptian Arabic language classes in Cairo, Egypt and with weekly classes at San Francisco's Pacific Arabic Resources up until 2006. She currently takes private Egyptian Arabic classes with a San Francisco based language tutor. In preparation for teaching dance, Monica studied human anatomy and physiology at City College of San Francisco in order to understand safe movement practices, as well as to prevent injury. Monica holds a masters degree in TESOL from San Francisco State University, with a certificate in adult education.
Monica has travelled to Cairo, Egypt three times to study dance, and has done extensive personal academic research into the regions her dances are inspired by.
Monica is also a flamenco dance student, and has studied Middle Eastern drumming (on the darbouka/doumbek and the tar) with Mary Ellen Donald and Susu Pampanin. She currently takes riqq classes with Faisal Zedan.
Monica continues to study the traditional dances of the Near East and North Africa, as well as modern movement influenced by the region, with local, national and international master instructors. She takes weekly dance classes in a variety of styles, and maintains a daily dance practice. Monica is developing a workshop series to present her dance work to the larger dance community in 2011 an 2012. She has also become a workshop sponsor in San Francisco, presenting Shareen El Safy in two successful workshops in 2009 and 2010, and co-presenting Sahra Saeeda in 2008.
Monica performs regularly at select private celebrations and parties as well as at most of the major Middle Eastern Dance festivals on the west coast.
Web Site: www.monicaraqs.com