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New York Performing Artist Company presents:


Banat el Emir or The Dancing Princesses is a fanciful story theater presentation of words, music and dance. Told in the tradition of the Tales of the Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Banat el Emir is inspired by the perennial favorite The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  

Seen through the eyes of an omnipresent Storyteller and four on-stage Arabic musicians, the tale springs to life through the characters of the two princesses and the courageous gypsy girl who rescues them from their enchantment, these three roles being played by three Middle Eastern dancers.  

Featuring a cast and orchestra of international performers, an original score of Arabic music, evocative choreography of classical Middle Eastern dance, and lush storybook costumes Banat el Emir is pure magic for the entire family.

For more photos from Banat el Emir, click here.

Celeste Varricchio

(Author / Storyteller)
Celeste Varricchio has performed and directed in New York City, at regional and stock theaters throughout the US, in roles of all types of theater ranging from classical drama to musical comedy. She has worked as production assistant for several Broadway productions. She tours her one-person shows and storytelling workshops to school and universities, festivals and major arts institutes both in the US and abroad. An accomplished Middle Eastern dancer, she performs under the name of Morgiana in clubs, restaurants and at special events. A recipient of the Greer Garson Theater Arts Award, Ms. Varricchio holds an MFA from Trinity University, San Antonio, TX and a BA from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA.


(Choreographer / Marah)
Samara began dancing professionally in her teens, and has become one of the most celebrated and sought after Arabic dancers of today. A protégé of the late master Ibrahim Farrah, she performed with his internationally acclaimed Near East Dance Group at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, New York’s Town Hall, and the Spoleto Festival. In addition, she has performed with some of the most famous singing stars of the Middle East. Samara was a 1998 inductee into the American Academy of Middle Eastern Dance Hall of Fame. She is engaged regularly as a soloist in Middle Eastern nightclubs and special events in New York City and throughout the US, and is a popular seminar leader, conducting dance workshops across the US and abroad. As special guest artist, she has performed in Mexico, the Caribbean, Paris, London, China, West Africa, Jordan, Greece, Turkey, Russia, and throughout the Middle East. 

Ghazal Rohani


Ghazal Rohani was born in Iran and grew up in Germany where she studied with Mojgan Azanni of Persia’s Farhang-o-Honar troupe. Moving to Hong Kong, she performed numerous shows for major companies and hotels, established her own entertainment company  specializing in corporate theater and art productions, formed the dance ensemble, Dark Eyes and Oriental Moods, and taught. Now based in New York she has been a featured soloist with the esteemed Yousry Sharif Egyptian Dance Ensemble, and has been a protege of the late Ibrahim Farrah, an icon in this dance form. She was a featured performer in his last New York concert. Her solo performances include traditional specialty numbers as well as fusion and signature pieces. An international performer and teacher, her audiences and students have included many high caliber celebrities. 


Jenna began her dance training at the age of four, and continued her study of ballet, and modern dance through college. Beginning her studies in Middle Eastern dance in 1991in Berkeley, CA, Jenna traveled to Turkey, to continue her dance training and spent a year learning the Turkish language and culture. Relocating to New York, she continued her study of Oriental Dance with Anahid Sofian, and with Serena. She has been teaching at Serena Studios since 1998. She worked with fusion singer and dancer, Jehan Kamal on her Ballet Exotiqa: A Mystical World Beat Experience. Recently, Jenna appeared on HBO’s Sex and the City. She performs in Manhattan as a solo artist and with her performance trio, Bellyqueen, with whom she was invited to perform in Houston for last spring's TURANT Turkish Festival.

Maurice Chedid

(Composer / Musical Director / Oud / Vocals)

Maurice Chedid studied at the Lebanese Conservatory of Middle Eastern Music. As a member of the Lebanese Folkloric Group, he toured internationally for four years and has since played the oud and sung in a variety of nightclubs in Lebanon and throughout the world. Mr. Chedid has recorded over twenty song and dance pieces and appears regularly at Cedars of Lebanon in Manhattan, and major Arabic nightclubs in the New York City area.

Michael Hess

(Co-Musical Director / Kanoon, Violin, Nay)
Michael Hess has played violin and viola professionally for more than 25 years. He attended the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He studied viola in Paris and went on to play with the Virginia State Symphony. Middle Eastern music performances include the Mogador Group, the Lincoln Center Institute production of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Smyreneiki Kompania and several Jewish ensembles including Alhambra, an internationally known Judeo-Spanish group. He works with numerous Oriental dancers and dance troupes and at top nightclubs in New York.

Richard Khuzami

(Percussion: Darbouka, Def, Bendir, Dabbl)

Richard Khuzami has been involved with music since the age of ten, with particular emphasis on the music of the Mediterranean. Mr. Khuzami has worked with numerous theater and dance companies in New York, on tour throughout the world and is a member of the Omar Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble. International appearances have included the Architectonica in Athens, the Intercontinental Hotel Egyptian Festival in Colombia and Venezuela and a tour of Spain with the Elias Quartet (sponsored by His Majesty Juan Carlos of Spain). He is President and producer of Dahdoo Productions presenting world music artists on tours throughout the US. 

Mohammed Abdullah

Mohammed Abdullah studied at the Syrian Conservatory in Aleppo, Syria, and has played his violin for the most famous singers in Syria, conducting their musical bands in Syria, Europe and throughout the world. As an active member of the Syrian Syndicate of Artists, Mr. Abdullah has toured internationally with such well known singers as Sabah Fakhri and Hani Shaker. Since arriving in the US, Mr. Abdullah has been working with many singers entertaining the Arab community in the US.

Cailin Heffernan

Cailin Heffernan most recent work includes: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (choreographer) and Billy Bishop Goes to War (choreographer / assistant director) at Capital Repertory Theater; staged reading The Fall of Sejanus at Manhattan Theatre Club, produced by SDCF and Mind the Gap Theater (director/adaptor); La Commedia at Theatre 3 (director/ choreographer/ adaptor); and Love in a Thirsty Land by Alan Glass at Jewish Repertory Theatre (assistant director). At Expanded Arts, she directed Honorable Mention and Zip. At Naked Angels she choreographed Dr. Valentine’s Delirium Waltz, starring John Turturro, Sarah Jessica Parker, Marisa Tomei, and Tovah Feldshuh. She received a 2000 SDCF Observership fellowship, and two consecutive Capezio Young Choreographers of America awards. Member of SSDC.

Joel Rand Pape

(Lighting Designer)
Joel Rand Pape recently relocated to New York after being awarded Lincoln Center Institute's Lighting Fellowship.  Recent designs include Net of Souls III: Borrowed Light, at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, as well as designs for the Metropolitan Opera Guild's Education Department, and The Juilliard School's Inter-Arts Department.  Mr. Pape was also the Assistant Lighting Designer for the Off-Broadway productions of The Vagina Monologues, and Tulpa.  Recent opera design credits include Massenet's Cendrillon and Rossini's Barber of Seville.

New York Performing Artist Company
 Bloomfield, New Jersey

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