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One of Egypt's Best Kept Secrets
YouTube clip of her dancing in the 1980s

It was a long time coming but we have pulled Shoo Shoo Amin out of retirement to teach at Leila's belly dance camp in May, 2010. Shoo Shoo is not your ordinary Cairo belly dancer. She is from the old school. She performed heart-felt interpretations that were never choreographed. She was up-close and personal with her audiences and a kind, loving human being. Her shimmies are to die for. Her hands, posture and leg positions were beautiful and there isn't a diva bone in her body.

I met Shoo Shoo when I was working in London. She performed at the Empress Club with Khamis Henkesh. I had never seen a dancer do such amazing shimmies. She had ultimate control. Her vibrations were large enough to see in the back row of a 1000 seat theater. She did complicated contractions as she went down to the floor and back up again, all the while smiling away as if what she was doing was the easiest thing on earth. Well it wasn't. It took me 5 years to figure out how she did them, and another 2 to perfect the technique.

When I moved to Cairo, I ended up working at the same place she was, the Auberge on the Sharia al-Haram. She was upstairs in the big theater and I was downstairs in the night club. For several months, before she left for Europe again, I watched her show every night. I studied her every move. She was such a joy to watch - because she took such obvious pleasure in what she did. She wasn't in it for the money, but the love of the dance. She was a dancer's dancer. Don't get me wrong. Audiences loved her - but not those that went for raunch. There wasn't a sleazy second in her show. She was more like Sohair Zuki, the kind of performer you could take your wife and kids to see. And she glowed. She was so happy to be up there, and her audiences were so happy to be sharing the moment with her.

Shoo Shoo is a native of Cairo. Dancing has been her passion since she was a little girl. At 19 she convinced her parents to let her follow her dream. She spent a year in Japan dancing with Hassan Abou al-Saoud (Shik Shak Shouk) before working for several years in Cairo. Then she returned back over seas. That was where the big contracts were and the good musicians - in Paris and London. She also worked for short periods in Germany and Switzerland. Shoo Shoo retired in 1994.

One of the performances she was most known for was her zar interpretation. She was the only one I knew of that performed a zar in her show. She brought real zar practitioners to work with her every night. Some of the faces on the footage that survives I recognize. They recorded their music for me in 2005. Her performances were genuine. She knew the steps and head movements and performed them with abandon. We are fortunate that she has agreed to teach the zar as one of her topics in May. I will be presenting my workshop lecture and film about the zar as well. We will also have a zar sagat player there to teach the patterns and rhythms used.