Leyla began her journey into music and dance as a young child. Her musical repertoire of study has included piano, accordion, flute, guitar, voice, and later tabla and zills. In the early 1970’s the lure of the Middle Eastern music pulled her into the “dance”. Studying the dance and the Middle Eastern culture intently in the USA from some of the most noted dance Instructors of the time, such as Dahlena and Ibrahim Farrah to name a few. She eventually began performing on a regular basis professionally in local Arabic nightclubs in the Mid-West. In the span of her career she has owned several Middle Eastern nightclubs in Chicago, along with her husband. She owned and operated her dance studio, “Egyptian Moods”, and directed several dance troupes thru the years.
In the mid 70’s she started traveling to Egypt to study the masters of Oriental Dance, and had the incredible opportunity to study all the big names at the time first hand…. Sohair Zeki, Nagwa Fouad, Fi Fi Abdo, Lucy and Isa Sheriff just to name a few. In 1981, she fulfilled her dream of performing in Egypt. She had the honor of becoming one of the first American dancers to be licensed to dance with a 5 star rating, (Mu Stan na Fate). This gave her the ability to perform in Egypt’s major 5 star hotels, weddings, high end nightclubs of Cairo, Alexandria and throughout Egypt, with her own 15 musician Egyptian Orchestra. Leyla continued to perform in Egypt on a professional level at hotels, clubs, weddings and private functions until 1990.
Leyla’s Egyptian style of Raks Sharqi fuses traces of theatrical/modern/western dance form for visual stage presence and aesthetics, along with the classical and modern Egyptian styling thus keeping her style elegant yet earthy. Her experiences of performing with her own musicians and on live stages in Egypt infused a vast knowledge of the Egyptian Dance that she shares today with students in her classes, workshops and performances. Her teaching places a strong emphasis on emotion, technique of movement and progression of music with in the style, and correct costuming and music choice for the style.
Her love of the Egyptian music and dance is evident in her lyrical, energetic and entertaining, yet elegant performance, from Classical Oriental, Modern Raks Sharqi to Beledi, Sha’abi and Saidi. While living and performing in Egypt, Leyla’s audiences have included Middle Eastern Royalty, movie stars, and some of the top officials of the Egyptian Government. Her “Saidi” dance was filmed and broadcast on Egyptian T.V. and she has appeared in numerous magazine publications including having her portrait painted for the front cover of Sabah el Khier, a still popular major magazine distributed throughout the entire Middle East and USA. Besides her performances, Leyla has done Egyptian TV commercials and a stage play in Cairo involving her dancing with a part written just for her.
Leyla’s world travels have taken her to Turkey, Morocco, Greece, UK, Jordan, Arab Emirates, Holland, Costa Rica, Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, Hungary, Malaysia, Italy, Spain, France, Lebanon, and Syria with always more on the horizon. She continues to perform and teach on request, private/workshop/festival classes both in the USA and internationally, passing on her many years of working knowledge in the dance world, spending part of her time in Egypt and part in the USA, when she is not traveling.
Leyla also has her Dream Tours to Egypt. She, along, with her husband, have one of the oldest licensed, original Egyptian owner, tour companies in Egypt, with an office in Cairo. One of the first companies to provide dancers with specialized tours, for dance classes, sightseeing, education in history and culture, and to have their Dreams come true in the “Motherland of Oriental Dance”.