Marie Wilkes (a.k.a. Maleeha), Kahraman's founder and artistic director, has an MFA in Dance from the University of Iowa. She has extensive training in Near East Dance in both New York and Egypt and has gained proficiency in many of the folkloric dances of the Near East, bringing them to the stage in her choreographies for Kahraman and to the classrooms in public schools and private studios throughout America.

Maleeha's education in Near Eastern dance includes twelve years with the late Ibrahim Farrah, who she considers her primary mentor. Studies with Mahmoud Reda, both in Cairo and Iowa City as well as various workshops, rounded out her knowledge of Egyptian Folkloric Dance. Ghassan Fadlallah, former lead dancer with Caracalla Dance Theatre of Lebanon, has influenced her understanding of Lebanese Folkloric Dance.

Her performances throughout the U.S. and Canada have been reviewed by national ethnic dance publications that described her style with such phrases as "a mysterious feminine presence" (Jareeda Magazine), "interlacing intense energy with a serenity", (The Crescent Moon) and "a combination of power and femininity", (Arabesque Magazine).

She has choreographed professionally for such local theatrical productions as Riverside Theatre, University of Iowa Opera Theater, Cedar Rapids Symphony, University of Iowa Center for New Music, and Theatre Cedar Rapids.

Maleeha's Danse Orientale choreographies have been performed by Christina Sargent, artistic director of Middle East Arts International (Seattle) and Safira, artistic director of the Classical Near East Dance Studio of Witchita among others to enthusiastic audiences across the US and Canada.

Maleeha is known nationally by her peers, and travels frequently throughout the U.S. to teach and perform. She has coached and taught professional dancers and been sponsored in workshops in Seattle, Toronto, New York City, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbus, St. Louis, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and across the Midwest (Milwaukee, Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, South Bend, Madison, Des Moines, Iowa City, Dubuque).

Video credits include: Moon Over Denver (volume 2), First International Conference of Middle Eastern Dance (volume 3) and the University of Iowa Dance in Contemporary Society Video Series.



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Kahraman is a not-for-profit 501c(3) corporation. Gifts to Kahraman are tax-deductible. For more information contact:

Artistic Director - Marie Wilkes (aka Maleeha)
(319) 321-2876

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