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About Mirah Ammal

Jump to: Full Biography  Specialties  Past Performances

Known for her elegant yet passionate style and musical interpretation, Mirah Ammal is a professional Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer, and instructor. She specializes in raqs as-sharqi (belly dance) and folkloric dances of the Middle East and surrounding regions.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mirah performs and teaches workshops locally and nationally. She performs for weddings, parties, events, festivals and is a regular performer in area restaurants. She hs provided cultural presentations and educational seminars for several colleges, businesses and community institutions. Mirah is also artistic director of Al-Bahira Middle Eastern Dance Theater and executive director of Aalim School of Dance, LLC.

Mirah has studied with many top names in dance from the U.S., Egypt and other countries including top influences, Cassandra Shore, Dina, and Dr. Mo Gedawi, and other artists such as Randa Kamel, Farida Fahmy, Faten Salama, Momo Kadous, Sahra Saeeda, Amel Tafsout, Nourhan Sharif, Aisha Ali, Hadia, Tamalyn Dallal, Beba, Hamada, and Lucy. Mirah holds a degree in history and continues her edcuation studying Arabic language and the cultural histories of the Arab world and central Asia. She has traveled to Egypt to further her dance education and her understanding of the language and culture, and plans to return soon







"From gut-wrenching sorrow to spot-on comedic timing, Mirah makes every dance an emotional experience for the watcher. Delicate and glamorous, she is sultry and strong, her dancing poignant and playful. It is impossible to resist her bits of belly theatre. A more exotic experience you've never had."

~ Lee Spears






"This is what I was always meant to do; I just didn't always know it."

     ~ Mirah Ammal in a 2004

        interview with Cue to Cue
















"When you think there is no more anyone can teach you, that is when you should stop dancing. There is always more to learn. Dancing IS learning."

     ~ Mirah Ammal, speaking to

         a group of dance students



Mirah Ammal's Biography

Personal Background

Mirah Ammal’s dance career has been shaped by a lifetime love of dance, music, theater, and cultural studies. As a shy youth, she came alive on stage—whether in theater, dance, or music—with a deep passion and emotion that drew audiences in. Mirah found that she didn't only hear music, she saw and felt the music moving, as though it were alive.

As a girl, Mirah would attend ethnic festivals and the Milwaukee Holiday Folk Fest. She was especially riveted by the performances of the Eastern European, Greek, and Middle Eastern cultural performers, and she loved taking part in their social dances.

Mirah pursued dance classes in modern, ballet, jazz, Latin, ballroom, and Argentine tango. She sampled various ethnic dance forms, too. At the University of Minnesota, Ammal took courses in modern dance, ballroom, and theater while completing degrees in History and Journalism.



Studying Middle Eastern Dance & Culture

In fall of 1998, after years of casual exposure to Middle Eastern women's dance (belly dance), Ms. Ammal’s interest and concentration turned to the dance that would become her calling. While recovering from an injury, she saw an inspiring performance by a local Egyptian-style dancer, and decided to pursue formal training in belly dance. The form and the music felt right, and soon Mirah was attending multiple weekly classes.

Mirah trained with the legendary Cassandra, occasionally learning from other locally-based experts, including the internationally acclaimed Margo Abdo O'Dell. She also began to travel for study with other artists, and attended many workshops with master dancers from the U.S. and abroad.

In addition to Cassandra, Mirah studied with Dina (Egypt), Dr. Mo Gedawi (Egypt, Germany), Randa Kamel (Egypt), Tamalyn Dallal (U.S.), and Beba (Egypt). She has also been particularly influenced by workshops and private lessons she has taken with master dancers Farida Fahmy (Egypt), Aisha Ali (U.S.) Hadia (Canada), Lucy (Egypt), Faten Salama(Egypt), Hamada, (Egypt), Amel Tafsout (Algeria, U.K.), Nourhan Sharif (U.S.), Ariella (U.S.), Momo Kadous (Germany), and Sahra Saeeda (U.S.), among others.

Mirah remains a passionate and devoted student of the dance, continuing to pursue learning opportunities and personal coaching in Middle Eastern dance, plus training in other dance forms for additional inspiration. Her history education and research training—coupled with her deep interest in the histories, languages, dance and music arts of various cultures—has a profound effect on her study of the dance as a living and evolving art form.

Mirah has also traveled to Cairo, Egypt to further her dance education and her understanding of the culture. She has been extremely fortunate to stay in a private home in Cairo, spend time with real Egyptian families, and take private lessons with some top Egyptian master dancers and up-and-coming stars. She holds a degree in history, and is continuing her education by studying Arabic language and cultural histories of the Arab world and central Asia.



Teaching and Performing

Mirah began teaching weekly classes in fall of 2001 through community education programs, and in 2003 began developing and administering programs and classes for herself and other teachers. In 2007, Mirah Ammal established the Aalim School of Dance, LLC.—a dance school with two Twin Cities metro area locations dedicated to teaching: belly dance, Middle Eastern folkloric dance, fusion dance, Arabic drumming, and related topics.

In her teaching, Mirah emphasizes a physically and mentally healthy approach to belly dance. With a focus on body awareness, proper alignment, and healthy technique, she also encourages positive body image and self-acceptance, helping students explore their femininity and inner grace through the dance. Her humor and down-to-earth nature make her popular with students of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

Mirah's busy performance schedule includes regular appearances at Shiraz Fire Roasted Cuisine (Persian restaurant) and Ansari's Mediterranean Grill, plus periodic appearances at other restaurants throughout the Twin Cities and in Milwaukee. She performs as a soloist for many weddings, private parties, corporate events, festivals, and theatrical shows. Mirah has also been a guest presenter at several local colleges on topics related to wellness or Middle Eastern dance and music.

Mirah Ammal is currently the artistic director and chief choreographer with Al-Bahira Middle Eastern Dance Theater—a professional Twin Cities-based performance troupe that specializes in traditional, contemporary, and modern-fusion dance performances. Through work with Al-Bahira, Mirah Ammal and the other dancers are able to realize larger works and creative visions only possible with a larger group or in a theatrical setting.

Previously, Mirah was co-director and choreographer with the former Ammala Middle Eastern Dance & Music, where she produced and performed in events and theatrical shows and with whom she wrote and directed a full-evening dance play, “Grandmother’s Trail: How Nina and Najma Got Their Groove Back.”



Some of Mirah's Performance Specialties Include:

     Egyptian style Raqs as-Sharqi (belly dance)

     Oriental dance (belly dance) for Lebanese, Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern events

     Saidi and Raqs al-Assaya (cane dance)

     Zeffa and Shamadan (wedding procession and candelabra dance)

     Eskandarani (melaya leff)

     Tunisian pot dance

     Dynamic drum solos

     Veil, fan, and fan-veil dance

     Performance with live bands

     Performance followed by group mini-lesson



Some Notable Past Performances Include:

     Arab World Fest 2008, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI

     Orientalia 2005  - Miami, Florida

     Ahlan Cairo Nights 2005. 2007-2009 presented by Little Egypt - Dallas, Texas

     AHEPA Greek Heritage Festival - Waterloo, Iowa

     Mason City Greek Festival 2007-2009 - Mason City, Iowa  

     Eid Al-Fitr Festival sponsored by Arab Student Association - St. Cloud, Minnesota

     Nourouz Afghani New Year Celebration - Bloomington, Minnesota

     Performance for Lucy Little Egypt workshop show for Lucy of Cairo - Dallas, Texas

     Performance for Dina Little Egypt show for Dina of Cairo - Minneapolis, Minnesota

     Bridges Dance & Music Performance Series - UW River Falls, Wisconsin

     Edge Performance Series at Hopkins Center for the Arts - Hopkins, Minnesota

     "Eternal Egypt" presented by Minneapolis Institute of Arts - Minneapolis, Minnesota

     World Cultures Festival at the College of St. Benedict - St. Joseph, Minnesota

     Upper Midwest Festival of Oriental Dance - Minneapolis, Minnesota    

     "Kinetic Kitchen" curated by Sarah LaRose Holland - Minneapolis, Minnesota

     Cassandra's Cabaret - Minneapolis, Minnesota

     Enchanted Evenings with Cassandra Shore and Mozayik - Minneapolis, Minnesota

     Layali Sharque Arabic Music and Dance Show - St. Paul, Minnesota

     "Grandmother's Trail: How Nina and Najma Got Their Groove Back" as Najma

     Minnesota Fringe Festival - Minneapolis, Minnesota

     MoRae's Cafe appearance as a guest artist - Tampa, Florida

     An Evening of Dance with Sahra Saeeda - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

     An Evening of Dance with Hadia - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

     An Evening of Dance with Yasmina Ramzy - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

     The Women's Expo 2005-2009 Minneapolis, Minnesota and St. Paul, Minnesota

     Safar Annual Show presented by Samantha Fairuz - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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