World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Khepri Dance Company

First appearance in SF EDF: 2016

Andrea Sendek founded Khepri Dance Company in 2015 out of a desire to create new work. Company members are lifelong dancers and have a combined three decades of raks sharqi training. Khepri Dance Company presents innovative work rooted in traditional dance forms from the Middle East.


DANCE ORIGIN: Egypt and Lebanon
GENRE: Belly Dance
TITLE: Alf Leyla wa Leyla; Foundations
DANCERS: Gina Bruno, Andrea Sendek, Lucille Ynosencio
MUSICIANS: The Georges Lammam Ensemble featuring Susu Pampanin—Amina Goodyear (riq, duf), Terri Anne Gutierrez (percussion), Khader Keileh (keyboard), Georges Lammam (violin), Susu Pampanin (tabla), Mohini Rustagi (percussion)

Our 2016 Festival featured a special Belly Dance Cabaret in the Palace of Fine Arts. The performance followed the modern structure created by Lebanese dancer Badia Masabni for the 1920s Cairo stage. Khepri Dance Company opened the cabaret with Alf Leyla wa Leylaand closed it with Foundations, a drum solo with special group choreography.

The form—modern raks sharqi, often called belly dance—evolved from the Middle Eastern and North African folk dance raks beladi, danced by women in their homes. Badia Masabni took belly dance to another level with extravagant stage performances, adding grand entrances, veils, wide traveling steps, upper body isolations, and lines and shapes seen in western ballet. The earthy and intimate raks sharqi transformed to a cosmopolitan, sophisticated form, and it continues to evolve today.

Khepri Dance Company’s first piece featured the song Alf Leyla wa Leyla, One Thousand and One Nights. The singer serenades his beloved, praising the night sky and wishing to stay awake all night with his love, hoping the sun will wait to rise. The costume celebrates Cairo’s vintage aesthetics, and Andrea Sendek’s choreography, inspired by Cairo’s Golden Era, includes almost everything belly dance: western chassé and chaîné turns, rib locks, pelvic locks, vibrations, shimmies, undulations, and figure eights.

Khepri’s second number, Foundations, lent a fresh perspective to the classic drum solo, with an advanced finger-cymbal composition and traveling across the stage. Percussionist Susu Pampanin composed the second half of this piece in a mesmerizing 6/8 Moroccan rhythm.

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