Who She Is
Since 1980, Alexandra King has been one of the foremost Middle Eastern Dance artists in the United States. She is the granddaughter of silent screen star Molly King. She began her dance training and performing at the age of ten, inspired by a family of actors and musicians. She was born in New York City and raised in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, where the blending of African, Latin, and East Indian cultures cultivated her love of ethnic dance and music.
"When you danced my mouth dropped and I wasn't able to breathe.....your performance was incredible!"
G.B., Bakersfield, CA.
"There are no words to describe your dancing - Wow!" - L.S., Forest Hills, NY.
"Your dancing sets my soul free" – B.T., Los Angeles, CA.
Alexandra’s professional dance career began in 1980 and continues today as a sought-after performer and instructor. Until the 1990’s, the primary venues for (ethnic) dancers were supper clubs and restaurants and so her performing career began in clubs. Today, she works primarily in theaters.
In Santa Barbara, she was the featured dancer at the Plaka, Greek restaurant, for twelve years. She was also the featured dancer for a year at Moon Angel, a Turkish restaurant, as well as The Casbah Moroccan restaurant for two years. In 1992 she performed for a month at Hajii Baba’s in Hawaii and in 1993 she danced at the Lebanese restaurant, Adonis in Mexico City, to name a few.
In 1982 she began teaching dance at the Santa Barbara studio, The Dance Warehouse, opened by former Broadway dancer, Julie McCleod (an original West Side Story dancer). In 1983 she opened her own studio and in 1990 she began teaching on campus at the University of California in Santa Barbara, (UCSB).
In 1990 she joined Dr. Scott Marcus in forming the first and largest university-based Middle Eastern Ensemble at UCSB, in which she is currently the dance director and principal choreographer.
In 2001, she was appointed a lecturer in the first accredited ethnic dance class at UCSB in the Department of Dramatic Arts and Dance. She has recently been given an appointment to teach Middle Eastern dance at Santa Barbara City College.
She travels extensively throughout the United States and abroad teaching and performing, both independently and as the director of UCSB's Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble.
Alexandra's early dance training includes fifteen years of ballet, jazz, tap and African dance in St. Thomas, VI, (her childhood home) and NYC, (Carnegie Hall). In 1975, after to moving to Santa Barbara, CA, she was introduced to ethnic dance in a Balinese workshop which sparked a lifelong passion for dances of the world. Since then she has studied many styles of world dance including Middle Eastern dance, Central Asian dance, (Uzbek), Persian classical dance, North African dances, Greek and Bulgarian folk dance, flamenco, Polynesian dance as well as Bharata Natyam (classical East Indian dance).
Her early belly dance training (1975 - 1985) began with Diana Ferrari, formerly an original member of the San Francisco based company, Kos Kadas. She later studied belly dance and folkloric dances of the Middle East with Jenaeni Rathor, (Ansuya’s mother) and was a member of Rathor’s company, Yaleil, (1980 - 1983).
Her Middle Eastern dance training includes ongoing classes and workshops with a variety of prominent artists including Laurel Victoria Grey (Persian), Carolyn Krueger (Persian/Uzbek), Robin Friend (Persian), Shahrzad Khorsandi (Persian), Hassan Harfouche (Lebanese dabke), Ahmet Luleci (Turkish folk), George Alexiades (Greek line dances), Raqia Hassan (Egyptian), Mahmoud Reda (Egyptian), Sahra Saidi (Egyptian), Tom Bozigian (Armenian), Hallah Mustafah (Saudi) and Kay Campbell (Saudi/Kuwaiti).
Alexandra has traveled extensively throughout North Africa and the Middle East to observe and study the dances of this region. In 2001 she traveled around the world and stopped for a month at a time in Spain, Morocco, Egypt and Turkey studying the dances of these countries. Go to the story about this trip! (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the story. Click on the icon if you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader to download a free version).
In addition to Middle Eastern genres, she studied the classical East Indian dance, Bharata Natyam with Sandya Keller, (1980 – 1983), and between 1986 – 1990 she studied Polynesian dance with Angelita Eller and became a member of Eller’s Polynesian Dance Ensemble.
In 1984 she began studying flamenco and continues to visit Spain and incorporate this style into her own style of belly dance. In addition to Eastern dance she has studied Western styles of recreational dance including hip-hop, ballroom, swing and salsa.
In1984 she founded Santa Barbara’s prestigious professional Middle Eastern dance company, SEHER, which, since 1995, has been the official dance ensemble of the UCSB Middle East Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Scott Marcus.
In 1985 she produced the popular performance video "A Very Special Evening at the Plaka”, featuring herself and both of her teachers, Diana Ferrari and Jenaeni Rathor.
Between 1989 and 1990 Alexandra wrote and choreographed the first full-length Middle Eastern folk ballet, "SERAGLIO." Throughout 1990 she produced and toured with the show in California and Utah.
Left: Seher, 1984; Center: the first UCSB Middle East Ensemble, 1989; Right: Seher, 1998.
Between 1986 and 2006 she produced one of the earliest and most popular DVD Series’ of instruction on belly dance, "The Ancient Art of Belly Dance™", a complete course in belly dance. The series has sold voluminous copies throughout the world.
Awards and Recognitions
In 1986 she was the featured cover story in Habibi Magazine (Vol. 9, No. 6), the premiere periodical of Middle Eastern Dance and Culture (www.habibimagazine.com).
Alexandra won Belly Dancer of the Year, 1988 at the Walnut Creek Pageant.
In 1995 Alexandra was awarded the Nafisa Gem Award as Best Instructor.
In 1998 she was nominated Best Instructor by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED).
1999 she won IAMED's award for Best Cabaret Dancer.
In 2003 she was awarded Best Instructor by IAMED.
Left: Alexandra receiving the award for Belly Dancer of the Year, 1988; Right: Alexandra receiving the award for IAMED, Best Instructor, 1999.
"When Alexandra (King) dances it is beautiful." – The SB Independent
"Alexandra King “Wows” the audience!" – The Arab American News
"She is outstanding!" – Nafisa
"A Bawdy courtesan, star-making teacher, ground-breaking director and a provocative and engaging performer. Her love of the dance is an obvious extension of her soul" - Belly Dancer Magazine.
"She is a world-class dancer" - Salt Lake City Chronicles
"Alexandra has incredible range – she is a 'Dancers Dancer' "– Habibi Magazine.
Alexandra King's Resume (*)
(*) You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to see the resume. Click on this icon to download a free version if you don't have it).
Alexandra's services include classes, workshops, performances and DVD’s in all styles of belly dance as well as various styles of Folk Dance, Folkloric and classical Persian dance. Alexandra’s downtown studio is located at 116 W. Islay St. #5, Santa Barbara, CA. 93101.
To bring artistry and professionalism to Middle Eastern dance and so increase awarenes of it as legitimate art. To create communal involvment and enjoyment for women thorugh dance so they can become happier, healthier and more satisfied with themselves.
Alexandra will perform and teach at private parties, corporate events, festivals, restaurants and college based presentations by special request. Her repertoire includes belly dance, folk and line dances as well as classical Persian dance.
Instruction - Group Classes
Alexandra’s classes offer opportunities to study for many reasons – fitness and exercise, camaraderie with other dancers, performing and the desire to learn the culture and music. All levels and sexes are invited to join classes and student recitals and enjoy the satisfaction of getting fit and having fun while developing the skills and discipline that dance and theater offer.
Group classes in belly dance from beginning to advanced levels are also available in Santa Barbara. Beginning group classes are available on campus at UCSB in the Physical Activities and Recreation Department and well as at the Santa Barbara Recreation Center, 100 E. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara, CA.
Alexandra offers private and semi-private lessons in her downtown studio by appointment. Alexandra’s downtown studio is located at 116 W. Islay St. #5, Santa Barbara, CA. 93101.
Alexandra offers the DVD series, “The Ancient Art of Belly Dance™”, a complete course in belly dance as a learning aid. She also offers as periodic workshops and Dance Camps in Middle Eastern Dance locally, nationally and internationally.Opportunities to perform are available for dancers in training to perform publicly in restaurants, festivals and with the UCSB Mid-East Ensemble. The school is a launching pad for future professional dancers who may or my not join Alexandra’s company, Seher, and who wish to go on to become professional dancers.
Alexandra offers a best-selling multiple-part DVD series, The Ancient Art of Belly Dance™ which is a complete course in the basics of belly dancing with instruction and performances.
Events & Performances
Alexandra performs as a soloist and also performs with her company, Seher, the UCSB Middle East Ensemble at private, public and corporate events.
They also perform on campus in formal concerts in fall, winter and spring as well as in various community events throughout the year.
Several times a year all students perform in a school recital at the local club, SOhO. This is a show and party featuring Alexandra’s students presenting the dances they have learned throughout the year, as well as local teachers who have taught classes for Alexandra.
The Brothers of the Baladi
Alexandra and Seher members perform with the popular Portland based band, Brothers of the Baladi once a year at Soho. This is always a popular event with lots of open dancing and partying!
Moon Over Morocco, A Belly Dance Camp and Festival
After 12 years Moon Over Morocco is being put down due to the economy. Thank you everyone who supported the festival!
P.O. Box 868
Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Phone: (805) 687- 8823
Fax: (805) 898-1440
alexandra at alexandraking.com