A'isha Azar has studied the cultures and dances of the Middle East and North Africa since 1974. She has taught belly dance and folkloric styles since 1976. A'isha was introduced to belly dance in the 1970s at Renaissance Faires in California, where she observed the Americanized styles interpreted by Jamila Salimpour, and the cabaret and Beledi dances of Dianne Webber. She began her own studies with Jodette Silhi in 1974. A'isha had no prior experience with dance and found that this was the most fascinating endeavor of her life. She says that several dancers with whom she has studied, including Jodette, have influenced her deeply; among them Shareen el Safy, Mouna Said, Aziz, Nadia Hamdi, and Badawia. She also gives heartfelt credit to her friends who are natives of various Middle Eastern countries, and have given her a most profound education in the cultures, customs and dances of their countries. A'isha was a member of Shajar Arush Dancers from 1975-76. She was a founding member of Oum Rabia Dance Troupe and was with them from 1977- 1984 and performed belly dance and folkloric dances, specializing in Zarr ritual. She performed as a solo artist for 20 years, dancing in clubs, restaurants and other venues, and was the house dancer at Azar's Restaurant for 12 years from 1991-2003. She decided in 2004, on the strength and dedication of the founding members of this dance company, to once again become involved in working with a group of women in an endeavor to present the authentic dances of the Middle East to the general public and to audiences specifically focused on dance. A'isha is an established writer on culture of the Middle East and dance philosophy. Her work has been published in various magazines and websites. She is a professional theatrical costumer and spent 7 years as costume designer in the Theatre Department at Eastern Washington University. A'isha has worked as costumer on various dance, theatre and musical productions. She is one of the founding members of MEDIA (Middle Eastern Dance Instructor's Association).

A'isha states, “Egyptian belly dance is an authentic ethnic dance in movement and spirit. The dance and dancer are the physical manifestation of and visual compliment to the music they accompany. The dance has precise movements based on root concepts.” She has developed a methodology for teaching based on 10 fundamental movements and progressing cohesively and comprehensively through variations, phrasing and layering of movement. She teaches Egyptian belly dance (Raqs el Sharghi), and various folkloric dances from the Middle East and North Africa.

A'isha teaches weekly classes, private classes, workshops and does coaching intensives geared to the more accomplished dancer. She is known for making the workshop setting an enjoyable and worthwhile experience, and she is a very student oriented instructor. For information please visit A'isha's website or email her, and request a class schedule or publicity packet.

A'isha Azar is Artistic Director of Baharat!!