Direct from Toronto for a unique and unforgettable day of music and dance!
Advance Purchase (available through September 13)

1. Click the link below to purchase here with PayPal (pay with a credit card, with a debit card, or with your PayPal balance).  You don't have to have a PayPal account to use this method of payment.  Choose your number of tickets at checkout.  Your PayPal receipt is your ticket(s), so please be sure to print and save it!
To Purchase Tickets
September 14, 2019
Multi-Purpose Room
Shrewsbury City Center
5200 Shrewsbury Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63119
Belly Dance with Nisaa is proud to present
George Dimitri Sawa and Suzanne Meyers Sawa
About George Dimitri Sawa
George Sawa was born in Alexandria, Egypt.  He has over 50 years experience in Arabic music performance, history and theory and has performed and lectured extensively worldwide: Canada, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Europe (Spain, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Greece) and the Middle East (Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates).  He studied piano with Mme Irene Drakides, herself a student of the famed educator Alfred Cortot.  He studied qanun, theory, and voice at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music.  After immigrating to Canada, he studied ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, and obtained his doctorate in historical Arabic musicology.  He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on medieval, modern, and religious music of the Middle East at the University of Toronto and at York University.  He is the author of Music Performance Practice in the Early Abbasid Era, 132-320 AH/750-932 ADRhythmic Theories and Practices in Arabic Writings to 339AH/950 CE (Ottawa: The Institute of Mediaeval Music, 2004 and 2009); An Arabic Musical and Socio-Cultural Glossary of Kitab al-Aghani (The Book of Songs) of al-Isbahani (d. 971) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2015); and Erotica, Love, and Humor in Arabia. Spicy Stories from the Book of Songs of al-Isfahani (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2016).

He has published over 50 articles on Arabic music in refereed journals and encyclopedias, and is frequently invited to give lectures and concerts worldwide.  In 2005, he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture for his research in Arabic music history.  George has been the musical director for several productions of the Toronto-based Arabesque Dance Company, and taught hundreds of dancers at the Arabesque Academy and Hannan's Bellydance Studio in Toronto, as well as studios in Canada, USA, Brazil and Mexico.  His CD, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, Vol. 1, was nominated for a JUNO Award in World Music in 2009.  A subsequent volume, The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun, Vol. 2, was released in 2009.  His Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers has won international acclaim and is an invaluable, one-of-a-kind companion to belly dancers all over the world (it is also available in Chinese, French, Greek, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, German and Portuguese).  A companion set of two DVDs produced with Lulu Hartenbach in Brazil includes over 50 tracks of dancing instruction from his CDs and book.  Presently he is working on a book on musical and sociocultural annotated translations from al-Isfahani’s Book of Songs to be published by Brill.

Learn more about George at his web site,
The workshop takes place in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Shrewsbury City Center, 5200 Shrewsbury Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119.

Workshop participants are encouraged to wear dance shoes, as the floor of the Multi-Purpose Room is linoleum and can be a bit sticky for turns and spins.

Arabic Music Appreciation for Dancers
Saturday September 14, 10 AM to 3 PM (with a one-hour break for lunch from 12 to 1 PM)
Learn about Arabic music from two incredible musicians with decades of knowledge and experience!  Through a combination of lecture and dance practice, George and Suzanne will teach participants to identify and respond to a variety of important Arabic dance rhythms, improvised taqsims, and pre-composed pieces.  In addition, George and Suzanne will illustrate the sounds and patterns of the sagat (finger cymbals), and how to play them first with percussion, and then with percussion and melody (please bring your sagat).  Participants will explore the complexity and sophistication of Arabic music as George and Suzanne lead them from the simplest forms of the basic rhythms to complex, ornamented rhythmic forms and beautiful, intricate melodies.  Participants will learn the most important musical forms and how their understanding will help the dancer with his or her choreography.  Don't miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about and practice to Arabic music with live accompaniment provided by two of the foremost experts in the field!  Note!  All workshop participants who attend the evening performance will be invited to join George and Suzanne to perform to the refrain of Raqset el-Romman (The Pomegranate Dance).  Please bring a hip scarf and join in!
Find all details below!
Workshop Registration Information
Early bird pricing is available through August 9 (mail-in registration must be postmarked on or before August 9).


  • ​$125 (early), $155 (after August 9)

In order to create an optimal learning environment, class size is limited.  To secure your space in the workshop(s) of your choice, early registration is strongly encouraged.

Please note that workshop registration fees are non-refundable after August 9.

How to Register

1. Register here with PayPal (pay with a credit card, with a debit card, or with your PayPal balance) using the link below.  You don't have to have a PayPal account to use this method of payment.
Evening Performance
Enjoy an enchanting evening of Arabic music and dance, featuring the exceptional musical talents of George Dimitri Sawa and Suzanne Meyers Sawa, and performances by dancers from around the Midwest!

​The first half of the program will showcase an array of dance performances to prerecorded music.  In the second half of the program, George and Suzanne will take the stage, performing classical Arabic music both with and without dance accompaniment.

The performance takes place in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Shrewsbury City Center, 5200 Shrewsbury Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119.

Doors open at 7 PM.
Show starts at 7:30 PM.


$15 in advance (available through September 13)
$20 at the door (cash only)
Admission is free for children under 5!

Please note that performance tickets are non-refundable after August 9.

Invited performers, remember that you do not need to purchase tickets for the performance.

This is a curated performance.  Please, no unsolicited requests for performance slots.  Thank you for understanding!
About the Venue
The Shrewsbury City Center is located within minutes of a variety of St. Louis attractions, including Tower Grove Park, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Science Center, Forest Park, the St. Louis Art Museum, and more.

A variety of hotels are located nearby.  Two excellent options:

The Drury Inn and Suites Near Forest Park

The Hampton Inn and Suites St. Louis at Forest Park

A variety of restaurants to suit any taste and budget are also located within minutes of the Shrewsbury City Center.  Besides the usual fast food options, you'll find an incredible array of international cuisine in south St. Louis, from Afghani to Vietnamese!  If there is something in particular that you're looking for, just ask!
Contact Nisaa by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 314-599-0506.
About Suzanne Meyers Sawa
Suzanne Meyers Sawa was born in Cleveland, Ohio.  She holds a degree in piano performance from Wittenberg University in Ohio, and Masters degrees in both musicology and library science from the University of Toronto.  She was Acting Chief Librarian at the Faculty of Music Library last year until she retired at the end of 2016.  She has studied classical Arabic at the University of Toronto, and Arabic percussion in Egypt.  A member of the Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble since the early 1980s, Suzanne has also performed in the Canadian and Dutch productions of R. Murray Schafer’s The Litany of RA.  She has given numerous papers on Arabic music at international conferences, and has published on Arabic women musicians in the early Islamic period, for both The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and The Encyclopedia of Islam (third edition).  She is presently at work on a book of annotated translations (from medieval Arabic sources) of stories about women musicians.

2. Print and complete an order form, and mail it with your check or money order to Belly Dance with Nisaa, PO Box 26992, St. Louis, MO 63118.  Your receipt will be mailed to you.  Please mail your order no later than Friday, September 6, 2019 to ensure that it is received before the day of the event!

2. Print and complete an order form, and mail it with your check or money order to Belly Dance with Nisaa, PO Box 26992, St. Louis, MO 63118.  Your receipt will be mailed to you.   Please mail your order no later than Friday, September 6, 2019 to ensure that it is received before the day of the event!
Your receipt is your ticket(s)! Just bring it with you to check in at the door. Check in at the door under the name of the purchaser.

Purchase at the Door

Tickets will be available for cash-only purchase at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.
First, the bad…

This week, it became apparent to me that I would not receive a visa for George Sawa in time for the September 14 event. This is a long and convoluted story of bureaucratic red tape. Let me just say that a visa petition that was supposed to take somewhere between 2 weeks and 2.5 months is now at over 3 months and counting, with no signs of resolution (not to mention that immigration’s online case status checker gave me a false “approved” status in June, which is why I began promoting the event in the first place). Suffice to say that I was devastated by this. I admire and respect both George and Suzanne so much, and it was a dream of mine to dance with them in person.

I was on the brink of cancellation of the entire event, when something wonderful happened…

The good news…

Yasmin Henkesh and Reda Henkesh are coming to St. Louis to save the day!

Yasmin is an Egyptian-style dancer, sagat expert, and the producer of the incomparable Sands of Time music series. Reda is a percussionist from the famous Henkesh musical dynasty of Muhammad Ali Street in Cairo, Egypt.

Yasmin and I are in process of hashing out the details of the weekend. There will be a 4-hour workshop on Saturday September 14, though the workshop will now be more percussion-focused than what George and Suzanne were planning. There will be an evening show, but instead of a first half with pre-recorded music and a second half with live music, the entire show will be performed to pre-recorded music – TOGETHER WITH THE LIVE PERCUSSION ACCOMPANIMENT OF REDA HENKESH! I will be sending a separate message to all of my performers to discuss the changes to the evening show.

I will be updating the web site and social media shortly with the workshop and show details. In the meantime, if you are currently registered for this event and are not satisfied with this change and would like to request a refund, please contact me by email at [email protected]  I completely understand this, as this is not the workshop weekend for which you initially registered. If, however, you are fine with this change, then I will see you on September 14. If you are NOT currently registered and are interested in registering, please note that I will be extending the early-bird workshop rate until September 2.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you for your patience! This is the first time that I have ever had to contemplate canceling my annual workshop event, something that I have been producing since 2010. I am just so relieved and so grateful to Yasmin and Reda for stepping in…and I’m also so grateful to George and Suzanne for bearing with me through that awful and tortuous visa mess.

Best wishes,
Important Announcement - August 18, 2019
I am writing you all with bad news and good news regarding the September 14, 2019 music and dance event featuring George Dimitri Sawa and Suzanne Meyers Sawa in St. Louis, Missouri.