Alia Thabit, a dancer and choreographer of Lebanese and Palestinian descent, incorporates traditional and contemporary influences, colorful costumes, and dynamic music to present a wide range of Middle Eastern dance styles. Alia’s performances demystify the culture and art of the Middle East, and delight audiences of all ages.
Mysterious, powerful, earthy, and mischievous, Alia evokes the splendor of the East, expressing the heart and soul of the music, a thrilling blend of passion and expertise. Alia dazzles young and old with her feeling and expression of the music, precise hip work, beautiful costuming, and audience rapport.
Solo, duet, and full company performances available. Instruction and coaching in technique, improvisation, music, and choreography.
Alia has appeared on radio and television, and teaches and performs regionally. She has performed in Cairo, Egypt; New York City; Baltimore, MD; Montreal & Sherbrooke, QC; Bangor & Portland, ME; and all over Vermont & New Hampshire, including a summer-long stint at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, VT, and First Nights in St. Johnsbury and Montpelier.
In 2003, Alia and her dance partner, Stewart Hoyt, created the show Oriental Splendor: A Bellydance Revue, which they took on a five-town tour of Vermont. In 2005, they performed the current incarnation of this show in Baltimore, MD, and for the Summer in the City performance series in Cambridge, MA,
The Vermont Arts Council awarded Alia Juried Artist status in December, 2003. This six-year term is conferred upon "outstanding professional artists with solid experience in a variety of traditional and/or non-traditional settings." In the summer of 2004, Alia undertook a dance study tour in the Middle East (alone!), attending the Ahlan Wa Sahlan dance festival in Cairo, Egypt, and visiting Beirut, Lebanon, and the West Bank in Palestine.
In the fall of 2004, Alia started a professional dance company and won the Flynn Center’s NASA Space Grant, to develop a process of group collaboration and improvisation through which the company would create a new concert-length dance suite grounded in the dance, music, and costuming of the Middle East. This resulted in a standing-room-only show presented in FlynnSpace in January, 2005. The company went on to perform at Lyndon State College, the Littleton Opera House (as part of a residency sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire) and at the 2005 VT Quechee Balloon Festival.
Alia also sponsored two instructors from Cairo, Egypt (Leila in March, and Atef Farag, principal dancer, trainer, and choreographer for the esteemed Reda Company in May), as well as the world-famous dancer Elena Lentini in a weekend seminar and show featuring a live Middle Eastern band from Boston (and when Ms. Lentini contracted pneumonia in October, she selected Alia to replace her for a major workshop in Cape Cod MA).
Alia appeared off-Broadway in New York City as Queen Tiy with the Neo-neo Theater Company in a Fringe Festival production of the play Ankhst, and collaborated on the All-Vermont Hafla. Alia performed at a fund-raiser for the First Impulse Theater Company in Santa Barbara, CA in November, and at First Night Montpelier in December.
Winter 2006, Alia embarked on her Sofa Surfing Tour of Fame, a loosely evolving conquest of the West Coast. From a base in Santa Barbara, CA, Alia performed at Hafla San Diego, the Belly Dancer of the Universe competition, and Rakkasah. She took classes with Egyptian dance star Aida Noor in LA, attended a seminar on Experimental Middle Eastern Dance in Hollywood, and performed a movement creation in an original play, “They Say She is Veiled” by Maya Shaw Gale.
Upon returning to VT in the spring of 2006, Alia taught and performed in the NBDA Vermont Hafla in May. In August, she produced a workshop and show, featuring guest artist William York Hyde, of CA, and premiering Alia’s new choreography process, “Spontaneous Construction.” In September, she traveled to Bangor ME, to teach and perform. For Kahaz Productions. In November, Alia will participate in Teen State Dance Day, sponsored by Lyndon Institute.
Alia is currently writing a dance theatre piece based on the Greek myth of Medea, which she plans to produce in the summer of 2007.
Alia came to this dance at sixteen with no other dance training, and was fortunate enough to study with internationally acclaimed dancer Ibrahim Farrah. She has now studied for over 25 years with some of the most respected dancers and teachers in the world and she continues to learn, traveling thousands of miles each year for workshops and seminars.
Exploration and performance of other dance forms, such as Tibetan, Jazz, Haitian, and Cuban enrich Alia’s dance experience. She has recently added the study of classical Arab music and percussion to her repertoire, focusing on the nay (Arab cane flute), and the frame drum.
Alia has taught dance since 1981. As an instructor, Alia empowers students, bringing out their individuality and personal expression. Working with choreography and improvisation, she develops students’ understanding of dance structure and musical interpretation. She is a generous, thorough teacher, friendly, informative, clear, and considerate. Students respond to her warmth, humor, and energy as well as her focus on technical excellence and evocative joy.
Alia is well-versed in dance history, and skilled in regional and folkloric dance styles, veil, finger cymbals, sword, debke, and cane, costume design and construction, and venue appropriate style, costuming, and music.
Alia teaches weekly classes and monthly workshops. She provides performance opportunities for her students and produces regular events featuring highly regarded guest teachers in St. Johnsbury, VT.