Tamalyn Dallal's 40 year Middle Eastern dance career has been eventful, to say the least. She has been a guest choreographer for the 1995 Superbowl Halftime Show in Miami, Fl., and has performed for stars such as Sean Connery, Michael Jackson and James Brown (to name a few), the president of El Salvador and the King of Jordan.
Directing the Mid Eastern Dance Exchange, a non profit organization, dance school and performing company in Miami Beach, she taught and mentored dancers such as Amar Gamal and Bozenka, Virginia and others. She organized the Orientalia dance festival and produced numerous theatrical productions.
Crowned "Miss America of the Bellydance" in 1995, she has performed and/or taught in 41 countries. She was one of the original "Bellydance Superstars", has written three books, produced two music CD's of Africa's oldest band, the "Ikhwan Safaa Musical Club of Zanzibar", and currently films ethnological dance documentaries; Zanzibar Dance, Trance and Devotion, was completed in 2011. "Ethiopia Dances for Joy", was released in 2013. "Pockets of Treasure", Dance and more in America's deep south is Ms. Dallal's current project, scheduled for completion in late 2016.
Tamalyn Dallal currently travels around the world to perform and teach dance workshops. Each fall she teaches a month long workshop in Shanghai, China, sponsored by the Isis Club. In addition, in the summer, she teaches a week long workshop at her former studio outside of Seattle, the "Zamani World Dance".
One of Tamalyn's early Middle Eastern dance teachers was the famous New Orleans artist "Habeba" who was a household name during the 1970's. She took Tamalyn, a teenager with talent, but little money under her wing. Habeba enlisted Tamalyn to lead warm up exersises in exchange for free classes. Soon, they were driving all over the Bayou together to teach from town to town as Habeba trained Tamalyn in her teaching method.
Ms. Dallal later studied in Seattle with Mish Mish and Zaphara, then relocated to Miami where she studied under the late Evelyn Hamsey (Aziza).
Having begun her dance training in 1976, Ms. Dallal was ready to go pro six years later. To this day, the top dancers Tamalyn has trained, Amar Gamal, Bozenka, Virginia, Hanan, and many others have successfully spread their wings, opening dance schools, forming part of the Bellydance Superstars, touring, or doing theater-dance projects after six years under Tamalyn's tutelage.
During her career she has danced for numerous celebrities, such as James Brown, Madonna, Michael Jackson, King Abdullah of Jordan, a variety of Saudi Arabian princes, the president of El Salvador, Sean Connery, and more.
In addition to dancing, Ms. Dallal spent her early years doing social work with refugees from Cuba's "Mariel Boatlift", Bookkeeping for the fashion industry, and teaching English to immigrants. In 1983, she "gave up her day job". After meeting a well traveled opera singer, she decided that she could travel the world with her dancing too.
Tamalyn's first traveling gig was to Bogota, Colombia in 1983, then again in 1984. She decided to stay in South America, traveling and dancing in every country on the continent, save Ecuador and the Guyanas.
During a six month stay in Brazil, she had three students and made an instructional video in Portuguese. One of these students, Samira, went on to open a school, create the world's largest bellydance event , the annual "Mercado Persa", where about 6000 people attend each year. Samira trained Claudia Cenci, who produced the dance segments of "El Clone", a television show that aired all over Latin America and created a "bellydance boom" throughout Latin America.
Tamalyn spent a year dancing in Buenos Aires, from 1985-1986. She worked along side Feiruz, who later became known as the president's favorite bellydancer, Amir Thaleb, who later went on to world wide fame, and Mario Kirlis, whose music is popular among dancers around the globe. Tamalyn introduced the sword dance, finger cymbals, Turkish 9/8, and the "Zar". to Argentina. These influences remain until today. Now, 25 years later, Argentina has hundreds of Middle Eastern dance schools and Tamalyn is flown to Argentina regularly to teach and perform.
After spending two years studying in New York with the legendary Yousri Sharif and Serena Wilson, Tamalyn Dallal moved back to Miami Beach. In 1990, she opened the Mid Eastern Dance Exchange, a multi ethnic dance studio and performing company that changed the landscape for Middle Eastern dance in South Florida for years to come. Mid Eastern Dance Exchange was a 501(C)3 non profit arts organization. The studio was home to at least forteen styles of dance and movement, from Afro Cuban to Ballet, Tai Chi, Yoga, classical Indian dances, and more.
Despite an upward struggle, efforts to create an image of legitimacy for Middle Eastern dance, and gather a main stream audience of all ages succeeded. Tamalyn was able to produce five feature length theater shows based on Middle Eastern dance, thanks to government grants. These grants also supported the yearly Orientalia Dance Festival, which Tamalyn directed in Miami Beach for 14 years. Through her work with the Mid Eastern Dance Exchange, she brought "Gypsy Caravan", a troupe of 28 Gypsies from Spain, Romania, India, and Macedonia to Miami. This show was listed as one of the year's highlights by the Miami Herald.
In 2003, Tamalyn appeared in a DVD entitled "Bellydance Supersars." The popularity of this DVD spread around the globe. At the same time, she wrote a book, in conjunction with her late brother, Richard Harris entitled "Bellydance for Fitness" which was translated into Spanish, Czech, and Russian. Tamalyn was one of the first Americans to be invited to teach at the "Ahlan Wasahlan" festival in Egypt. By 2005, she was being invited to teach and perform around the world.
Now, Ms. Dallal has performed and taught in 43 countries. She has written three books; "They Told Me I Couldn't", about her travels as a dancer in Colombia, "Bellydancing for Fitness", and "40 Days and 1001 Nights", about spending 40 days in each of five Muslim countries, and telling the peaceful stories that the news doesn't cover. The latter project inspired her to start filming. She made a film by the same name to go with the book, and produced two music CD's with Africa's oldest orchestra, the Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club of Zanzibar.
Tamalyn Dallal has won numerous awards; "Miss America and Miss World of Oriental Dance" (2005), an award that has been won by two of her protoges (Amar Gamal, 1996 and Bozenka, 2000). She won "Lifetime Achievement Awards" in both the Yahalla Ya'all festival in Dallas, Tx. and the Miami Bellydance Convention, both in 2010.
Now, Ms. Dallal spends every Autumn in Asia, primarily teaching in the People's Republic of China, thanks to the Isis Club and the Shanghai Medical University. Her month long workshop helps form dancers and studio owners who come from around the country to study with her. Each year, the workshop culminates with a full scale theater show, that has the endorsement of the Chinese government.
Ms. Dallal spends part of each year filming traditional dances. The first film took her to Zanzibar, Tanzania four times from 2010 to 2011. She filmed and produced "Zanzibar Dance, Trance and Devotion", an anthology of 26 traditional dances of the islands.
The Raqs Africa part involved teaching classes to the Tausi Women's Orchestra, Zanzibar's first and only women's Taarab orchestra. Tamalyn assisted by bringing several instruments to the group. She taught daily classes to the women. Her work became aligned with a new but rapidly growing and highly effective drug program, and she and her students performed at several "1001 Nights fundraisers" that helped open new sober houses. In July, 2011, Tamalyn Dallal and Denise Marino brought 19 people to Zanzibar for a music, dance and culture retreat. Many of these women were professional dancers., who she enlisted to perform in "Orientalia Zanzibar" an extension of the beloved "Orientalia" festival in Miami. Orientalia Zanzibar featured Middle Eastern dancers from nine countries and sixty Zanzibari musicians, all performing in support of the drug programs and sober houses of Zanzibar. This not only brought recognition to the drug programs. It showcased Middle Eastern dance, for the first time in an open and public place that was greeted with acceptance and respect from all strata of a conservative Muslim society.
Her film,"Ethiopia Dances for Joy," was released in 2013, is about traditional Ethiopian dance and culture.
Both "Zanzibar Dance, Trance and Devotion" and "Ethiopia Dances for Joy" are in the archives of the Jerome Robbins Dance Library at New York's Lincoln Center.
Currently, Ms. Dallal is filming "Pockets of Treasure", a documentary about dance, music and culture of America's deep south.