Monica Berini is a San Francisco based performer, instructor, and musician who has been studying dances, songs, instruments, languages and percussion of the Arab world, North Africa and Turkey since her teens, with training in San Francisco, New York and Cairo, Egypt. Monica has an extensive performance history that includes improvisational solo work and award-winning choreographed troupe and company experience. Her soulful, musical, baladi solo dance style is rooted in 1960s through 1990s Cairo raqs sharqi, 20th-century Arab-, Turkish-, and Armenian-American diasporic belly dance, raqs baladi, and Firqa Reda technique, with a strong foundation of folkloric roots and a healthy curiosity about and love of dance and music.
Monica likes, performs, and teaches Egyptian and Old-School pan-Arab style dance. Music, cultural context, ongoing learning and respect for the roots are at the forefront of her artistic pursuits. This style provides Monica and her students with ‘farha’—never ending joy, which is at the heart of the style.
Monica has learned in both dance studios and Cairo kitchens, and she brings over twenty-five years of inquisitive, respectful and passionate study of Egyptian dance to her teaching work. She travels several times a year to festivals and workshops as both a learner and an instructor, travels for extended live-work trips to source countries her dances are rooted in, teaches weekly classes at Lines Dance Center, and is a longtime performing member of Aswat, the Bay Area's premier Arab music ensemble. More information about Monica's current projects can be found at www.monicaraqs.com.