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Marie Al Fajr (F/EGT)

tanz raum founding member – choreographer –  dancer – dance teacher – wu tao teacher – BMC teacher – artistic director Cie Al Fajr

“A creative genius, who transcends tradition without separating from it”

Marie has been dancing since her early youth and has learned various dance techniques and forms of physical training. She studied Egyptian dance with Suraya Hilal from 1989 to 2004 and subsequently worked closely with her. Marie al Fajr is a highly qualified dancer and teacher. She has danced with the Hilal Dance Company, holds a diploma from the Hilal School in London, and is certified as a licensed teacher at the highest level by the Hilal Art Foundation.Today, she has her own company and contributes to creating a modern form of Egyptian dance that is still rooted in traditional aesthetics.

Since the age of 15, she has travelled extensively in Middle Eastern countries. She gained her in-depth understanding of Arabian art and culture through her academic studies (diploma in the Arabic language and aesthetics of Arabic art).

For several years now, she has established her second home in Cairo, where she gets her inspiration, always searching for authentic forms of the country’s traditions. These impressions feed her research and help her to cultivate a contemporary expression in her choreography and teaching. With her talent, knowledge and expertise, she is a demanded teacher throughout Europe and Egypt. Marie Al Fajr has created and danced in numerous stage productions.

Her ground-breaking pieces are: Schemm en Nassim (2004), Roda(2009), Traveling Trees (2015). Schemm is a sublime contemporary dance performance based on the traditional Egyptian dance language, inspired by ancient Egyptian aesthetics. The programme has been invited to Egypt and was performed in the Forum for Independent Theatre Groups in Bibliotheca Alexandria, attracting enormous public interest and press coverage.  It  is available on DVD. Roda premiered at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris in 2009 and has been officially invited to Egypt several times. For a good reason: once again, with her creative genius, she transcends tradition without separating from it. In both programmes, Marie Al Fajr works with the well-known Egyptian-Armenian composer Georges Kazazian, who shares a similar creative path. Her latest piece, Traveling Trees has premiered at the HAU Hebbel am Ufer, the so to say temple of contemporary art in Berlin.

Claudia Heinle (GER/CH)

tanz raum founder – choreographer – dancer – dance teacher – GYROKINESIS® trainer – artistic director Cie tanz raum

“A passionate teacher and performer – an artist with a vision”

While studying politics at the universities of Constance, Copenhagen and Jerusalem, Claudia developed a special interest in Middle Eastern culture and discovered her passion for Egyptian dance. In 1992 she met the choreographer Suraya Hilal with whom she trained for 12 years to become a fully qualified dancer and teacher. As manager of Hilal, she produced two major stage programmes, touring all over Europe with the company and performing at prestigious festivals and theatres including Queen Elisabeth Hall in London, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Cankarjec Dom in Ljubljana, Theaterspektakel in Zurich, Café de la Dance in Paris, Tanzhaus in Düsseldorf, Tanzhaus in Stockholm, Gothenburg Festival, among others. During this time, she produced CDs and dance videos under Hilal Art. 

In 1996, she founded tanz raum, a company that is today an international platform for Egyptian dance and music and an independent music label. She founded her own dance company, Cie tanz raum in 2006 with Ibrahim el Minyawi, Caroline Chevat and Karin Schemmann, and is a dancer for Cie Al Fajr (Paris). She performed with the latter at the International Festival of Independent Theatre Groups in Bibliotheca Alexandria, Egypt and in the Institute du Monde Arabe in Paris. 

She continuously draws inspiration from her work with other artists and through training to further develop her dance, teaching and creative processes. Claudia Heinle studied with Dr. Wu Runjin in 2004 and 2005 to gain a deeper understanding of Eastern philosophy. She has undertaken regular and extensive research trips to different parts of Egypt. In 2008 she completed her teacher’s certificate in the GYROKINESIS® method. In 2009 she was awarded a certificate from the Arab Republic of Egypt at an intensive course on tahtib with Yahia Abdel Alim. In 2015 during a research trip to Egypt, together with Caroline Chevat and Marie Al Fajr, she danced with the Sufi Tariqa Naqsbandi and a long lasting dream came true for her. 

Claudia’s dance productions, which include Aluaan, Abyad, Akhou, Doing Things. The major works of her dance company are available on DVD. Currently Claudia is involved in her research project “Dance & Ritual in Ancient Egypt”.

GYROKINESIS® is a registered trademark of GYROTONIC® Sales Corp and is used with their permission.


Caroline Chevat (F/CH)

co-director tanz raum – dancer – teacher – percussionist – certified yoga teacher in Egyptian Yoga – tahtib teacher

“Caroline is one of the rare female artists, who are at the same time educated as dancer and musician and who masters the Egyptian male combat form on a high level”.

Caroline has loved dance and music since her early youth. After completing her studies in landscape engineering and geography at the universities of Lyon, Annecy, Mannheim and Constance, she dedicated herself to music, dance and photography. Since 1996, she has trained with Claudia Heinle at the tanz raum and has gained further experience through international workshops and dance weeks with Marie al Fajr and Suraya Hilal.

Caroline Chevat has been a dancer with the tanz raum Cie since 2006. She performed in the programme Abyad and can be seen on the DVD of the same name. She choreographed pieces in Cie tanz raum´s production Akhou and was heavily involved in the entire creative process. Akhou has also been published on the DVD.

In 2009, she was awarded a certificate from the Arab Republic of Egypt (El Minya Governorate) for her excellent performance at an intensive course on tahtib with artistic director and dancer Yahia Abdel Alim. Beyond that, Caroline Chevat is one of the few female tabla players in the world. She has been an accomplished student of Ibrahim el Minyawi since 1995, learning the art form in the traditional way from master to student and finding her own strengths and expression. Since 2008 she has been training with Master Yogi Khane, creator of Pharaonic Yoga. In 2009, she started a teacher training course at the European Yoga School and accomplished her course in 2013.

The beauty and sophistication of Egyptian music and the absence of quality recordings inspired her to produce the first CD with Ibrahim el Minyawi in 2000.  Since then, she has travelled regularly and extensively throughout Egypt to do field research for tanz raum music projects, bringing together skilled musicians to record and produce their traditional repertoire as well as innovative, high-quality music. She produces, edits and distributes CDs worldwide under the tanz raum label.

Caroline Chevat together with Claudia Heinle is director of tanz raum and makes an invaluable contribution to preserving a rich musical heritage that is in danger of dying out.  She teaches Egyptian dance and Egyptian tabla in Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain and Sweden.

Ainhoa Izagirre (SP)

dancer – teacher – dancer with Cie Al Fajr – certified Yoga teacher

” A truly mesmerizing performer”

Born in the Basque country in the north of Spain, Ainhoa grew up with and studied the  folk dance traditions of her country from her early childhood. Later she studied jazz, contemporary dance, new dance, release, contact and improvisation with various contemporary dance teachers, partly at the School of New Dance Development in Amsterdam. Ainhoa met Suraya Hilal 1999 and started to train several times a year with her and Marie Al Fajr. In 2002 she became a professional trainee and attended several courses in Europe.

Today Ainhoa trains regularly with Marie Al Fajr and is one of the principal dancers in her company. She can be seen on the DVD Schemm en Nassim and in the program Roda. As a member of Cie Al Fajr she performed several times in Egypt, at the International Festival of Independent Theatre Groups in the famous Bibliotheca Alexandria  in 2009 and in 2012 in the renewed Townhouse Gallery for contemporary art in Cairo.

In addition, Ainhoa has practiced yoga for 18 years, and was awarded her teacher certificate at the Sadhana School, a member of the European Union of Yoga Schools. 

She has her own school in Irun, Spain where she teaches dance and yoga. In 2008 and 2009 she premiered two programmes El Khayali and Visita Hacia Maat, experimental studies of different dance and movement techniques. Ainhoa Izagirre is not only known for her talent as a dancer and her passionate and lively expression, but also for her skills and her wealth of knowledge in different forms of bodywork.


Jane Manze (UK)

dancer – teacher – dancer with Cie AL Fajr – certified yoga teacher

A classical dance background as a child, martial arts training, and an exploration of the music of Spain and North Africa led Jane Manze to the music and dance of Egypt. She first started studying Egyptian dance with Suraya Hilal in 1990. She qualified as a teacher with the Raqs Sharqi Society and was later invited to train as a licensed teacher with the Hilal Art Foundation. 

Time spent in Egypt and Morocco with an ethnomusicologist meanwhile deepened her love and knowledge of Middle Eastern, especially Egyptian, traditional music. Jane teaches Egyptian dance and Scaravelli-inspired Hatha Yoga in weekly classes, workshops and at international retreats. Her fascination with movement and the body’s energy is inspired by bodywork and her yoga practice, which ‘awakens the spine’. She performed in Schemm en Nassim at the Institut du Monde Arabe with Cie Al Fajr and continues to study with Marie Al Fajr.


Juliet Le Page (Australia)

dancer – teacher – certified GYROKINESIS® trainer

Juliet has trained in many dance forms including classical ballet, modern dance, jazz, flamenco, and Middle Eastern dance. In 1995 she was introduced to the work of Suraya Hilal and has since travelled the world in pursuit of excellence in the art of teaching and performing Egyptian dance. Her dedication was rewarded in 2000 when she was invited to apply for teacher training by the Hilal Art Foundation. Juliet was awarded her full licence in 2004.

She has lectured at universities and to arts groups and has also been interviewed on national radio and for documentaries. She has performed at Arabic festivals, on television and in theatres on the invitation of arts bodies. She studied psychology, anatomy and physiology and is also a qualified fitness instructor. Her research on functional alignment and physical form is an important component of her teaching. Juliet is regularly invited to sit as a panel examiner for professional dance academies. 
Her passion for her chosen genre is evident in her teaching and performance.

GYROKINESIS® is a registered trademark of GYROTONIC® Sales Corp and is used with their permission.

Annika Koskinen (SW)

dancer – teacher – artistic director Cie Al Sayf

Since early childhood Annika has practiced various forms of dance. From the mid 90’s, Egyptian dance, music and artistic traditions have been the focal point of her work, both as a dancer, teacher and co-choreographer with Dance Company as-Sayf in Stockholm. She is strongly influenced by contemporary Creative Dance, which opens to new experimental and playful ways of creating within and without traditional boundaries. 

Annika was educated at The University College of Dance in Stockholm and works as a full-time Dance Teacher, in Creative Dance and Egyptian Dance. At her higher level studies she was given the opportunity to study Kleintechnique and she regularly practices yoga. 

Through her extensive work as a Dance Teacher in community-schools since 1995, combined with continuous teaching of Egyptian Dance to all levels, she meets dancers of all ages, ranging from children of 5 years of age to senior dancers of 75. A main source of inspiration and importance to her is where the past meet the modern, where music meet dance; in that melting-pot there is a constant source of creativity. As an original member from the founding of the Dance Company as-Sayf, Annika has been a part of several productions and tours, both within Sweden and internationally, throughout the years since 1996.


Carina Westling (SW/UK)

dancer – teacher

Carina has danced since 1980, and has carried out research into other cultures through music and dance since 1985. Starting from contemporary dance, she studied African, Latin-American, Spanish, and Balinese dance before focusing on Egyptian dance.

She moved to the UK from Sweden in 1991, and soon after began studying with Anne Ashcroft and, from 1992, Suraya Hilal. She completed a teacher training programme with the Raqs Sharqi Society in 2000, and enjoyed ongoing mentorship and training with Suraya Hilal until 2004 as a professional licensee of the Hilal Art Foundation.

In 2003, she completed a BA in Fine Art Sculpture. She has enriched her understanding of the body through her studies of Alexander Technique. She is active in the arts as a member of events production teams, a dancer, performer, choreographer and teacher. She can be seen in the DVD Schemm en Nassim. As member of Cie Al Fajr, she performed at the International Festival of Independent Theatre Groups in Egypt in 2009. As a teacher, she strives to impart clarity and strength of line to her students, as well as conveying enthusiasm and passion. She is captivated and moved by the contemporary expression of Egyptian dance, based on the inherent structure of traditional forms, as it brings together all the core elements of beauty she has found in her wider research.

Sara Succi (IT)

dancer – teacher – co-founder of Khatawat

Sara developed her artistic talents early in her childhood thanks to her family’s active involvement in art, music and oriental philosophy. Her desire to become a professional dancer was strengthened through her bi-annual training course in Middle Eastern and Egyptian dance with Marie Martinez in Bologna. During that time she also became acquainted with tanz raum and the works of Marie Al Fajr and Claudia Heinle. After completing the bi-annual course in 2007, Sara continued to train with tanz raum. Since 2008 she has attended the international residential workshop for Egyptian Dance and Music, Zurich Summer Dance. 

Sara organizes regular dance workshops with live music in her own cultural center in Forli, Italy. Khatawat, which she founded together with Paolo Veronika in 2007, offers courses in dance, martial arts, music, theatre and holistic therapy forms.

Karin Schemmann (GER)

dancer with Cie tanz raum

Since childhood, Karin has learnt various forms of dance from ballet to modern dance. In 1994, she discovered her passion for Egyptian dance. She has worked closely with Claudia Heinle from the start, and has honed her skills in international workshops and dance weeks and has helped choreograph many tanz raum stage productions. Karin is one of the principal dancers of Cie tanz raum. She can be seen on the Abyad DVD released in 2008 as well on Akhou released in 2011.


Paolo Veronika (IT)

musician – percussion teacher – organizer – co-founder of Khatawat

In 2004, Paolo began to study Arabic percussion instruments with a focus on the Tabla. After meeting his teacher Ibrahim El Minyawi, he became even more fascinated by the world of rhythms and the techniques of traditional and contemporary Egyptian percussion. Thanks to his total commitment, he soon reached a higher level of playing and evolved his training. With his passion for rhythm and his desire to explore the world of Egyptian music and dance, he was able to master the challenges. Above all his intense relationship with Ibrahim el Minyawi he nourished his ongoing fascination with Middle-Eastern music. In 2007, Paolo established the cultural centre Khatawat, where he teaches percussion, accompanies dance sessions and regularly invites world famous percussionists to perform and to teach. With his humor and dedication, he has made an impact on the dance community. Since 2008 he has been invited to play at various dance workshops in Italy and other countries as a percussionist. He also plays with Ibrahim and other Egyptian master musicians at the international residential summer dance courses organized by tanz raum every year for the past 10 years. Whenever Claudia Heinle and Marie al Fajr have been invited to teach in Khatawat, he has accompanied them on percussion.

Yahia  El Minyawi (EGT)

choreographer – dancer – teacher – ass. Director of  Ismaelia Festival

Yahia El Minyawi directs and trains the El Minya Group for Public Art, which is a group of 40 male and female Shaabi dancers, singers and musicians. He was awarded the prize for the best artistic director from the Ministry of Youth and Sports from 2000 to 2006 as well as the prize for the best music and dance performance in the Arab Republic of Egypt in 2001. He held the post of assistant director at the Ismaelia International Festival in 2002 and choreographs for Egypt’s TV Channel Seven in Northern Upper Egypt, among others. Yahia respects and loves the Shaabi dance and music traditions of his country and has an in-depth knowledge of them. He is a passionate teacher, choreographer and dancer. Yahia El Minyawi was born in 1966 into a lower middle class family in El Minya (Upper Egypt). His family lived in a baladi district close to the railway tracks, which connect the whole of Egypt along the Nile. Near the family house was the market place, where the fellahin women arrived from the countryside and the villages around El Minya in their colourful dresses to sell their vegetables and milk produce. His family originated from this farming community, and it is here that he drew and still draws the knowledge and inspiration for his artistic work. Yahia grew up here and still lives in the family house with his wife and children. Through the influence of his uncle, Ibrahim El Minyawi (musicians), Yahia was able to turn his passion for music and dance into his profession.


Nadia Makhlouf (MAROCO/CH)

choreographer – dancer – teacher

Nadia was born into a family of musicians in Rabat, Morocco, where dance still is considered a sacred family ritual. She grew up surrounded by music and dance, and the rituals and traditions have influenced her ever since.

Growing up in France and later in Switzerland, she became more and more aware of the value of the gift given to her by her family. She learned to appreciate the movements and rituals that have been passed on from generation to generation even more as she became integrated into western society. Over time, she discovered and trained in different dance techniques, both modern and traditional. Finding a path from tradition to the modern age in search of a universal essence in movement and dance was a passion that soon became her profession.

When she met the choreographers, dancers and musicians of tanz raum with their focus on the Egyptian dance language, she felt inspired and found many similarities to the path she herself had followed. As Egypt is a source of inspiration for dance and music throughout the Arab world, she found that she was already familiar with the concepts she discovered with tanz raum.

Nadia is a strong dancer with an elegant presence. Her cultural background with Moroccan, Egyptian and Arab influences guides her in her work teaching dance to adults and children. In her teaching and as a performer she trains her students to develop an eye and a sensibility for an Eastern aesthetic and way of thinking.

Currently, Nadia is teaching at les Ateliers d´Ethnomusicologie in Geneva, where she organizes and holds workshops and collaborates with numerous musicians and dancers, including members of tanz raum.

Maria Martinez (SP/IT)

dancer – teacher – founder of movimento – certified yoga teacher

Maria Martinez is a dancer, teacher and choreographer. She graduated in philosophy and aesthetics at the University of the Basque Country, one of the major departments of philosophy at that time. In 1991 she graduated from an international biannual programme for trained dancers at SNDO, School for New Dance Development, in Amsterdam. While studying dance in the Netherlands, she met Egyptian dancer Mohamed Turba, her first teacher for Egyptian dance and a member of the Reda Troup. With Turba she travelled to Egypt and gained a deeper understanding of its society and art forms.

After completing her dance studies in Amsterdam, she founded her own school in San Sebastian/Spain, where she held dance classes and workshops in improvisation-composition techniques from 1991 to 1997. During that time she coordinated the dance department at Sarobe – Center for Scenic Arts – in Urnieta, Spain, and founded the dance company Martanda. As her interest in and passion for Eastern dance forms grew, she continued her training with different choreographers from Egypt and Europe, among them Raqia Hassan, Shokry Mohammed, Suraya Hilal, and others. 

In 1997 she moved to Bologna in Italy and started to teach there. In Bologna she offered a two-year education in Egyptian dance for students who want to work more intensely with the form and would like to gain a deeper understanding of anatomy, music, dance technique and culture. Maria Martinez has been practicing Yoga since 1985 and holds a Yoga teacher certificate since 1995 at the Sadhana School, member of the European Union of Yoga School. She dances regularly with Cie Daramad, which was created to explore the relationship between Andalusian and Arab-Egyptian dance and music. Currently she is practicing Qi Gong and is studying BMC, In 2009 Maria has opened her own studio in Bologna.