Juliana Brustik (pictured below) is an Egyptian dance teacher and performer based in London.

I became aware of her at a hafla in Revolution Bar (Chambers St, Edinburgh) in November 2008.  She performed a short solo as part of a student group performance and then later danced a full solo piece.  From the moment she took to the floor to the time she left it I was captivated.  Her dancing was amazingly graceful, her stage presence immense and so much charisma!  I’d literally never seen anything like it, certainly not in the flesh.  Her youtube videos (below) capture some of her grace and presence but there’s a lot that’s lost watching her this way.  If you ever get the chance do go and see her perform live.  Her style is Raqs Sharqi (a term defined by her and the Raqs Sharqi Society in the UK as the “classical and folkloric dance styles of Egypt”).

The first video below is Juliana performing “Baladi” style dance, a style described by Juliana as “Urbanized Folk, earthy, sensuous, melancholic, joyous, playful”.

This next video is “Classical Egyptian dance” which is less earthy, more elegant:

This last video is a particular favourite of mine, where Juliana dances Baladi with her dance partner Nensi Bego, who together formed the Neju Dance Company in 2006.

Neju Dance Company

Juliana originally grew up and studied dance in Germany, studies which she continued after moving to USA and Amsterdam.  She settled in the UK in 1980 and went on to study with the famous Suraya Hilal, ending up co-managing the “Hilal School of Raqs Sharqi” with other senior teachers until the mid-1990s.  Juliana is now a key member of the Raqs Sharqi Society.  In addition to her knowledge of Egyptian dance she also studied a degree course in “Contemporary Dance, Performance Skills, Choreography and the Visual Arts.”

She teaches 4 weekend workshops in Edinburgh per year, with this year’s dates being: 13/14 March, 15/16th May,  18/19th Sept & 20/21st Nov.  I like to go to as many of these as I can (though recently my schedule has been getting in the way of them).  In addition to being an elegant performer and knowledgeable teacher she manages to be kind, gentle, funny and passionate.  When I watch her perform, or am around her teaching part of me wants to ditch all my gothic/tribal leanings and just be like her ‘when I grow up’.  Her website is: http://www.julianabrustik-dance.com

Thanks to Susanna of Habiba Dance who put me in mind of Juliana by recently posting one of her videos on facebook.