“Teacher of teachers” (Adel Awad, Vancouver),
“A powerful dancer of grace, charm and soul” (Kari Berger, Seattle)
Born in Edmonton Alta. the first born grandchild of early Lebanese immigrants, Rahma spent her formative years immersed in an Arabic speaking milieu, enjoying the food, music, dance and pampering of the Bekka Valley culture.
“As a child dancing the ‘debke’ with the adults, I was fascinated by my maternal grandmother, Zakia, who would step out of the line to dance using fluid hand movements and cute little hip and shoulder movements. I would ask ‘What kind of dance is that?’ I was always told it was the women’s solo!”
Rahma has a Bachelor of Physical Education (U. of A, ‘67) with a background in modern dance, Afro-jazz, folk dance and gymnastics. Since following her heart into ‘Raks Araby’ (bellydance) she has appreciated the diverse styles of many talented performers and teachers, but was most inspired in the late ‘70’s and early '80’s by Badawia, a passionate Jordanian-born dancer from Portland, Oregon.
A performer and teacher of ‘bellydance’ since 1975, Rahma has an impressive record of live performance, film and T.V. appearances; as well as feature articles and reviews, both nationally and internationally. The notable marks of her many stage productions over the years are cohesive themes and an undercurrent of ethnic authenticity. In addition to decades of workshops and shows in the western U.S. and Canada, she has been a guest performer at the Hilton in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1983), and gave an impromptu performance at the Ramses Hilton in Cairo (1989) for which she received a standing ovation! Other international workshops/performances include Brazil (2001), and Canada Council Travel Grants for Australia and Hong Kong (2006) and Tunisia (2008). In 2007 she was one of a handful of Canadians invited to teach at the first International Bellydance Conference of Canada, sponsored by Arabesque Academy in Toronto.
As a teacher, Rahma’s renowned ability to break down dance into easily learnable form stems from both her training as a teacher and her genuine desire for her students to learn. As a performer, the elegantly sensual and joyful expression of spirit that is embodied in Rahma’s personal style is dependent on her intense connection with the music. She has been a true inspiration to many, from professionals to those who dance for personal joy and fitness. A teacher of teachers, her greatest desire is to pass the torch so that the passion and cultural essence of the dance is not lost. She is currently teaching and occasionally performs at special events and private functions.
*[A Dance Centre member since late ‘80’s, she has performed in Dancing on the Edge, (1992), Let’s Dance (2000), Dance Allsorts (2000, 2007), Noon Dance Series, (2003, 2005).]
The following review was written in reference to Rahma’s role in the Canada Council sponsored ‘Dervish Ballet’, written, directed and performed by local Egyptian born actor Mina E. Mina.
“____a gifted Middle Eastern dancer……Haddad’s dancing is enticing, even erotic at times with its subtle shimmies and canting hips. Here is a performer who, even swathed in yards of fabric and veiled, can raise a viewer’s pulse. Few leotarded modern dancers could claim as much.” Michael Scott, Dance Critic, Vancouver Sun, Mon. Sept. 14, 1992, re: DANCING ON THE EDGE
The edge between art and entertainment is not so fine in the Eastern world as it is in the modern west. With this in mind I have been able to use historical and cultural elements of the Middle East in a contemporary context to create a personal style of dance. This style can flexibly cover the range from art to public entertainment while retaining the sensuality and joyful grace of the tradition and the athletic demands of the dance.