Biography| Teacher | Performer| | Journalist | Producer | Community | Reviews |

Anne White Community Profile

A customary and welcomed ritual is the incense ceremony.
Visitors are greeted and enveloped in the fragrance and are esteemed by doing so.
This image captures my sister preparing our venue beforehand with Frankincense. It is an iconic image taken by Phillip Chohan


Clicking on these subtitles will take you to the relevant sections below

Arabic Community

British Community

London Community

International Community

Musicians and Singers my early days

Musicians and Singers now


Arabic Community

There are many Arabic organizations I can reccommend
I embrace and promote Arab Culture as part of all aspects of my work as much as I possible.
See my Inspiration pages on culture

I translate the songs we use in class. Examples of which are here

Learn the language and more at the Arab British Centre
Join or visit CAABU. There is so much to offer!

I socialise widely in the Arab world especially the Iraqi community and have forged close links with the Lebanese community and many others.

I have written for Arab Press

And my events have been filmed by Arab TV

I am recognized within the Arab Community for what I do and have been approached by a number of companies to collaborate with them. This is how I was invited to host Hakim at his first London concert

My sister's fluent Arabic opens many doors for me. She is a wonderful companion and guide to me having lived for a lengthy time in the Arab world

Back to top




British Community

There are so many Teachers and Dance enthusiasts I would find it hard to not believe that every local town has a Teacher and an occasional hafla (party)!

To find out more ask your teacher and dance friends. Hopefully they will know the following:
The national UK magazines NADA and Mosaic


The National Festivals


Yearly extravaganza London



Events in the North of England and costumes!! With Kay Taylor

Jewel of Yorkshire

Glastonbury, Somerset


There are lots of resources on line too!
I have taught at nearly all the main festivals. I have also attended to learn as well. They all offer something to everyone I promise!

Regular community events that are smaller can be found nearly everywhere.

I reccommend if you are in the Midlands our Sister Planet Egypt company Sahara Nights

Back to top



London Community

In London there are many events one can attend
Organised by Dance Teachers, Performers, DJS
Check out London bellydance website

London dancers have been really connected for many years and I believe that it is only the new dancers who are as yet unknown. With so many regular events and many performers it is a dynamic and evolving scene indeed

We had a great atmosphere at Planet Egypt

This can be verified by our long history
Our unsolicited reviews (thanks !)
and glorious feedback
And most of the video clips on our monthly shows playlist.
See here for testimony

Back to top




International Community

E magazines like The Gilded Serpent and Forums such as BHUZ have hepled to better connect Global Dancers . There are Festivals all over the world. More and more international performers are visiting the UK. Many are sponsored by the bigger Festivals (see British Community)

Back to top



Musicians and Singers my early days
First steps in the Live Music scene

There were few opportunities to socialise in the early days. And then I got to know Medhat Shahin (later of the Nile Band in Manchester) who drummed for Suraya… began many nights of fun music and comedy, singing and dancing at Emad Rasheedy's house in West London . With us also then was Saeed Faramawy very much a larger than life character and one whom I loved to banter with. This was around 1990. Innocent, and carefree occasions, I have so many happy memories of these times. In time my twin and I met nearly all Medhat's Egyptian friends and we were always well received.

In Suraya's classes and workshops I met :
Mostafa Sax
Hossam Ramzy I have his first ever tape!!!
Ghareeb Ramadan (percussion)
Sheriff Zaki (percussion)
Mohamed Hijazi (oud, singer, composer)
Essam Matrawi (percussion)

And of course Ibrahim Minyawi and Sheikh Taha


Below Mostafa Sax who I saw regularly as a friend. We lost him at a very young age. RIP my friend


My twin sister Theresa accompanied me many times. She speaks fluent Arabic (Fussha). Also Chinese, and all the main European languages. She has travelled exensively around the world and is my "biggest asset" . Many confuse us still. Here she is below

Gradually I accepted performance gigs. Suraya recommended me and also I was approached by her musicians and then I never looked back. When I started working with Arab parties and weddings I was sometimes the only British or non Arab person there. I always was made to feel very welcome and was well taken care of: In particular by Sheikh Taha (RIP) and Ibrahim Minyawi (RIP) who ensured that there would be no “unwelcome attention”. I came to learn that nearly all the musicians had nicknames but forgot most of them sadly


Lovely friend Taha is below Performing at Planet Egypt

At the time there were no websites no mobile phones. I never ever had business cards either. I got approached by word of mouth and the majority of my performances were family oriented occasions.


I kept very late hours indeed but I was happy. I knew Vashti by then and she deeply impressed me as a performer. She has always been supportive and generous with ther time and knowledge. I never shared the same circuit with her though.



I never saw British professionals but the Arabic girls/dancers were always really friendly. I longed to find someone like me and eventually I did the fabulous Zahra (Abo Hamad) . Here she is below . I never competed with other dancers - I never saw any British ones until Zahra. So my connection with other dancers was something I always sought and had positive experiences from when I did. This helped me believe that it was possible to succeed with Planet Egypt and bring people together.


Performing at these occasions was so very different from the class or school managed occasions. I was on a steep learning curve.
How to accept tips
Where to put them.
What to say/what not to say
What to do/what not to do
Very much it was "on the job" training

Then one of my Algerian students took me to Moroccan entrepreneur Said Lousi's (RIP) parties. I was as a guest but left with a long term contract and was with him for many years.

He would have 2 bands

  • A Morrocan/rai mix band where I met Aziz Chaabdis (RIP) and and Khaled Darbucka
  • And an Egyptian band - Gamal Awad, Yehiya Talat, Hagag Qenawi and Tarik Saeed
  • Singers Abdul Salam Al Kheir, Hicham, Hannan and Cheb Nacim

Beloved nai player Aziz at his suprise birthday party in 2013. RIP dear friend . We had so many parties at his house. He was a generous and kindly host with a very gentle nature. See him here at 1.58 in this amazing clip of 123 Soleil in concert .

Said's parties were at Banqueting suites at Hilton Hotels and others in the Bayswater area. We also travelled far further afield all of us (musicians, instruments and I) squeezing into a car and just about getting there in one piece....

I did many weddings and parties with Sherrif he was a great drummer and I loved working with him. Here he is below

Night off at Planet Egypt-Sheriff




By then I was going to Cave de Roi and got to know Emad Shaker well. I would sit on the bands' table close to the stage and listen to the most exquisite music for hours, sometimes there were hardly ever any other customers. I would engage in lengthy illuminating conversations with Abdul Salam al Kheir who was always most charming with me. Here he is below . He was the most wonderful singer to work with and his voice makes me melt.


On stage I would see from left to right

  • Munir Abdel Al (violin)
  • Bachir Abdel Al (flute)
  • Sheikh Taha (accordion) sometimes Mostafa al Araby and Sugar
  • Emile Basili (violin)
  • Emad Shaker (keyboard and Band Leader)
    and on Emad's left and on the right hand side looking at the stage
  • Ali Ahmed Ali
  • Al Abdel Salam, Farak el Araby (I think) , Farouk el Safi
  • Diesel (RIP)
  • and very occasionally Josef Alexander

Singers would include Abdel Salam el Kheir and Samir Idik and others whose names I cannot recall..... it was enthralling to witness these occasions. In the Summer season we would have massive and i do mean massive khaleegy bands and singers that went on at 3am or so and I would stay until the bitter end - maybe 8am or later. In those days entry was £150. That just got you in mind!!!


These musicians had a biography that was like the "who is who" . Working with Oum Kolthoum, and Mohammed Abdel Wahab. They had worked with all the Great dancers too. It was a dance lover's dream to be there.... I was astonished on my first visit to see the musicians giving their all and customers not always noticing, some even had their backs to them. So I applauded and encouraged them with refrains such as "Tani" -again!


Emad on duty performing at Planet Egypt

How lucky and privileged I was to be part of these occasions. How I wished I had taken photos. But in those days I did not have "a plan" I just enjoyed the moment. My first night at Cave de Roi was with Tracey Gibbs who was a whole bundle of fun and we have been friends ever since !

There are reasons why musicians sit in a certain order on stage.
They would banter in arabic sometimes not always pleasantly and there would be a small degree of "upstaging" which the kindly waiters there would translate and explain to me. All this would happen when they were rehearsing. As customers would arrive the dynamic would change and Emad was a masterful band leader.

The Cave de Roi was THE place to go to in London particularly in the Glory Days. This is what it looks like now

It re-opens every summer for Arabs particularly Gulf Arabs escaping the heat and of course the programme is devoted to them. Then it is called Isis.



Celebrating the birthday of Ibrahim Minyawi and my twin and of course myself at the Royal Lancaster Hotel (in Lancaster Gate) also landed me with a performance contract there too to my great joy. (And Sahra Yusry's consternation she was doyenne and curator of the former Arizona live music club in Baker Street …)
New musicians Ibrahim Azam (singer) and the glorious Maher Kheiry (RIP) and I just loved Hassan Reeves -see below. A masterful req player



I was also going to Abo Hamad in Bayswater. . On the outside it looked like your average kebab shop but at the back it was a live music venue. Often I would go on my own. I knew so many people there I could sit with. I just loved listening to Samir Idik sing. What a character he was. He was always absolutely brilliant to work with. Some singers dislike working with dancers but he loved it. He would get a lady up to dance to one of his mawals and they would be giving it their all, then he would wander off stage and light people's cigarettes (this was a particular song but if one is not arabic -how would they know? ) . And the crowd just loved him. After many years of dancing with one of the regulars there, who was a most exuberant dancer, I found out he had only one leg. I did not believe it! But he showed me and I was astonished. Abo Hamad was a place that I cherished. I refused to work there. I had WAY too much fun off duty I did not want to spoil it by performing there !

I was truly grateful to have had the opportunities and experiences that I did
I formed life long friendships as a result of these early days in my career

How blessed I was that Suraya was my teacher

I have many lovely memories and quite a few strange stories about these days that I may one day elaborate on.


The glory days ended almost with a whisper. The climate here was not conducive and London is so much more expensive. As Gulf arabs switched their vacation destinations to the Mediterranean clubs opened there and competed. Cave de Roi had a club in Marbella. Southern Spain though so retained the trade and customers in a different way but it did not stay open for long and they only tried once..

Sadly the live music scene has very much disappeared. There are a few clubs still offering mostly Iraqi and Khaleegy music . And soon the Arizona will open....


Useful links I came across

Tanzraum biographies of famous musicians (some of whom are listed above) and cds are here

Cds available of these amazing musicians are here
This link is to Jennifer Carmen's website. She worked in the London clubs and was Suraya's Manager and Artistic Director and Costumier

Also cds here too on Suray Hilal's website

Dancer Asmahan's memories and videos of the Glory Days of London is here


Dancers who worked in the London Clubs in those times include

Jo Wise
Jennifer Carmen

Back to top





Musicians and Singers now

The Arizona opens soon
Whilst there are clubs and restaurants in London now that feature live music it can include a cover charge . Some only open on Friday/Saturday. Some close by 1/2 am.See here as examples
Noura Lounge changing soon to
Slemani, 130 Edgware Road, Paddington, London, W2 2DZ (Iraqi music)


You may wish to consider seeing this link Nights out for bellydance fans
I will be overhauling this latter part of my current website as the information may be somewhat out of date



Promoters arrange them
World Music Promotion



Some Moroccan/Algerian nights are organized by artists such as Abdelkader Saadoun and
Cheb Nacim

Cheb Nacim Tel:07411460644


Also there are dedicated nights here and there
Rich Mix
Iraqi Communist Party has live music events occasionally
SOAS organise them too
Lebanese Live Music festival have an annual event (free)
CAABU organise them



Bands that are launching cds also arrange them
Natasha Atlas
Guy Schalom
Hossam Ramzy
Transglobal underground
Louai Alhenawi occasionally does too



Cultural Co--operation host world events that sometimes include Arabic music


What is changing in the UK are live music nights sponsored by the dance community. Notaby Guy Schalom and the Baladi Blues band
who are sponsored by a number of dancers and occasionally organizations like NADA. Guy maintains his website well so that may perhaps be a first port of call

Its possible that some of the UK Bellydance festivals also sponsor them or other musicians occasionally. Keep abreast of these developments and all UK dance news via NADA and Mosaic magazines


Back to top


Planet Egypt is not responsible for the content of external
websites or services listed above.