New article on! Imagining Movement: Orientalist Paintings and Photographs of Middle Eastern Dancers

Last fall I was invited by Shira of the venerable Middle Eastern dance website to write an article for her website. After several months of research, writing and revisions, the article went live last night!! Through the lens of art history and colonial history, I explore whether or not Orientalist painters like Jean-Léon Gérôme realistically depicted Middle Eastern dancers, and how photography played a crucial role in the creation of their works.

Jean-Leon Gerome, Dance of the Almeh via Dayton Art Institute








Jean-Léon Gérôme, Dance of the Almeh, 1863

Here’s an image discussed in the piece…to read the article, visit the main article page on Shira’s site.

While you’re there, check out the rest of the great content she has posted, from translations to dance history.

Tis the season…for Arabic holiday music!

Najla Belly Dance Christmas Third Ward

Najla's Christmas belly dance at Third Ward, NYC

If you’re a belly dancer like me, you want to decorate the tree while listening to the old standards like Jingle Bells…with a (hip) twist! Here are some of my favorite Arabic interpretations of classic holiday songs, plus my very own belly dance Christmas performance from last year. For even more holiday goodness, check out’s Christmas Songs in Arabic page for lyrics in English and Arabic.

a3yaad sa3iida, everyone!

The beautiful voice of Fairuz singing “Leylet Eid” to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”

A high-powered interpretation of the same song by Sassine Abi Khalil.

Wafic’s “Kel Eid,” a mind-blowing Arabic and English version of….”Feliz Navidad”!!!!

My own holiday take on some Christmas standards, complete with poinsettia costume and candy cane assaya. 😉 Thank you to Daily Bellydance Quickies for featuring this video in their 12 Days of Christmas countdown!