Ranya Renée first began her performing career more than 30 years ago as a theater actress and comedienne, and moved to NYC in 1992 to continue her work as a theater director. She was gradually sidetracked by bellydance until it became her life! One of New York City’s leading Egyptian-style dancer-instructors, Ranya specializes in teaching holistic technique and theatrical performance skills and coaching. She produces live events in New York and tours internationally. Ranya’s signature “Breathwork for Performance” method has enabled thousands of artists worldwide to more effectively connect with their own art, and with their audiences. She strives to create a supportive atmosphere in her workshops for both technical precision and artistic growth. Ranya’s instructional DVDs Bellydance “Egyptian Style: The Baladi” and “Modern Oriental” have earned rave reviews from dancers worldwide. In 2010 she launched her own company, Ginger City Productions, to produce more teaching and performance videos. Ginger City’s first production is “Bellydance Taqasim: Improvisational Skills and Drills.”
Ranya performs and teaches internationally, with past engagements in Japan, Taiwan, Canada, France, Italy, Honduras, Israel, Tunisia, Norway, Sweden, and Greece. In New York City and around North America, she has danced at museums and cultural festivals as well as in large stage shows. She has been featured twice at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival with virtuoso Simon Shaheen’s Near East Music Ensemble. The Tunisian cultural minister for dance commissioned her solo danse orientale performance early in her professional career, accompanied by the Tunisian Troupe Nationale orchestra, for a large gala event in Tunis. Ranya has also performed dance presentations at Central Park Summerstage, the United Nations, the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, various universities, and Arabic clubs and cultural functions, including weddings.
As a dancer-actress, she performed with Alessandra Belloni in the Passion opera as Mary Magdalena at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Television appearances include Good Morning America and programs in Europe, Central America, and the Middle East. Ranya has been interviewed on women’s fitness by Self magazine and Fox News Online. The New York Times’ Weekend section featured Ranya on its cover in August 1998. The New York Press said of her show: “Ranya is a vision…you can’t take your eyes off her.” In reviewing her August 2001 Lincoln Center performance, the Village Voice praised the “classy, poetic fluidity of her gestures and isolations.” Respected dance master Elena Lentini has called her dancing “luxurious.”
Having earned a reputation for innovative group choreography through the work of her first dance theater company, Maqamikaze, Ranya has also performed in partnership with fellow strawberry-blonde dancer Autumn Ward as the “Ginger Twins,” and in company with Egyptian dancers Mohammed Fawzy and Sameh Fayed, as a foursome creating contemporary pieces as well as traditional work in several Arabic folk styles. Ranya also directs ensembles and coaches soloists from her student body and presents them in showcase performances, usually featuring full orchestras of Arab musicians. She also works as a freelance choreographer and performance coach for actors, singers, dancers and public speakers. She has contributed to off-Broadway and independent productions and performing groups in this capacity as well. She has served as curator for the “Dance at Alwan” series at the Alwan for the Arts Arab cultural center in Lower Manhattan. Ranya is co-director with Anasma of the New York Theatrical Bellydance Conference.
Focused on staying open to new inspiration and challenges, Ranya continues her dance training with longtime teacher Yousry Sharif and other masters of the dance both in the United States and in the Middle East, and pursues studies in Arabic music and singing with Simon Shaheen and other masters. Teachers she counts as her biggest influences: Yousry, Shoshana (NYC), Gamila el-Masri (NYC), Shareen el-Safy (CA), Ibrahim Farrah (NYC), Dunya (NYC), Elena Lentini (NYC), Ramzi el-Edlibi (NYC), and from Egypt, Aida Nour, Raqia Hassan, Faten Salama, and the great Mahmoud Reda. She has conducted research trips to Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, and Palestine, meeting with, interviewing, and studying with local dancers and musicians in each place. As a writer, Ranya has produced dance-related articles and reviews for various publications, including Arabesque magazine. Her paper, “Sharing the Air: On the Integration of Breathing Practice,” describing her pioneering dance-specific, performance-oriented breathing philosophy and methodology, was selected for presentation at the Second International Conference on Middle Eastern Dance in California in May 2001. Ranya is conversant in seven languages (English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese) and always enjoys learning more. She holds a B.A. cum laude in Theater and Linguistics from Yale University.
About Ranya’s Teaching
Ranya teaches Middle Eastern dance in New York City and in workshops internationally, with an orientation towards Egyptian-style dance. Her teaching method focuses on healthy posture, breathing and Pilates-influenced muscular technique, melodic and rhythmic interpretation, and creative performance skills. She offers regular classes, and coaches some of New York’s top professionals as well as ambitious beginners just starting out. As a teacher, she encourages students to reach their highest potential in both physicality and artistic expression.
To read some feedback from her students visit the testimonials page.