Amar featured in Time Magazine
Photograph from March 27, 2005 article about popularity of bellydance
June 30, 2015
Middle Eastern Dance Artist Returns Home, Brings to the Philadelphia Area Culturally Rich Entertainment
Amar, one of New York City’s finest Middle Eastern dancers for over 20 years, brings her dance expertise and artistry to her hometown of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Following an illustrious New York City based career performing and teaching this classic oriental dance, directing/choreographing her performance troupe Amarain Dance Company, Amar will celebrate a Philadelphia area rebirth, presenting her new group of dancers, Amardance Philadelphia, on Friday, July 24, 2015 at the Mediterranean Grill on West Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr.
Amar’s dance can best be characterized as Egyptian style combined with personal expressiveness and new incorporations. Praised for her musicality, clean articulations, and instinctive feeling for the art as well as interest in modern renditions, Amar has extensive experience as a soloist and folkloric dancer, both in cabaret settings with live Arabic bands and on the theatre stage, across national and international venues. Her artistry and performance experience ranges from the traditional to contemporary and fusion musical genres, and from improvised to choreographed interpretations. Her professional career encompasses years of work as performer, instructor, producer, writer/editor of well-reputed Middle Eastern dance journals. In 2003, she created New York City’s Amarain Dance Company who has performed her choreography in theater and cabaret venues throughout the tri-state area. Amar’s Philadelphia renaissance is marked by the formation of a new group of dancers from the Philadelphia area. “These women have shown inspiration and dedication to learning this wonderful art form and a willingness to express their own individualistic artistry within this complicated, traditional dance technique,” says Amar of her new dancers.
Amar has had the unique experience and privilege of being an active performer during a “bridge” time in the dance’s modern history, from the heyday of Middle Eastern night clubs with live bands and ethnic audiences in New York City (not so long ago!) to current times where many new dancers seek to explore this wonderful dance in new venues. As a former member of the Yousry Sharif Dance Ensemble, which presented Egyptian choreography, Amar performed throughout the United States, including annual engagements at Brooklyn Museum; the Detroit Institute of the Arts; and the Annenberg Center of the University of Pennsylvania. As a solo artist, Amar performed regularly with Arabic orchestras in the New York Metro area’s Middle Eastern night clubs, including the famed Egyptian night club, Ibis, as a featured dancer and as part of its nightly Egyptian show. Additionally, she notably danced as a solo artist with Alabina at the Beacon Theater and with the Brooklyn Funk Essentials at the Irvington Theater. In 2000, Amar was contracted by Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA) to dance and produce the entertainment for the opening of a nationally touring Orientalist exhibition. This was a particular honor for an American-born dancer since, at the time, a dancer had to know the ethnic flavors, be intimately familiar with the traditional and popular music of the Middle Eastern world, as well as be able to execute intricate dance moves with one’s singular expression. A dancer had to be “of” the culture and also “be” their own self to be taken seriously as a Middle Eastern dancer and a representative of that culture.
Amar, as Nina Costanza, daughter of professional artists John and Mary Costanza of Bryn Mawr and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is also a writer and reviewer of Middle Eastern dance and music. From 1990-98, she was Editor-in-Chief of Arabesque Magazine (NY), an international journal published by the renowned Ibrahim Farrah. She was also on staff, and later co-owner, of Habibi Magazine (CA), another acclaimed, and one of the very few, international magazines of Oriental dance.
As a teacher, Amar has been on staff at New York Sports Clubs, Empire Dance Studio, and Ballet Hispanico in New York City, and more recently on the Western Main Line at Contempradance Studio in Wayne and the Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn . One of her local students, Charlene L., who also experienced this dance as a former New York City resident says of Amar, “To watch her perform is magical, but to dance with her is freeing and joyous.”
Amar has often been contracted as a guest instructor/dancer for workshops, bringing her dance artistry to special school programs in New York City and on an international level, including seminars in Japan and Israel. “While performing to live Arabic music has always been the apex of a Middle Eastern dancer’s life, to be able to teach new dancers and to choreograph for them so they can coalesce their spirit, the dance vocabulary, and the choreographer’s vision, has been a meaningful pinnacle for me,” states Amar. “I am very proud to have been able to develop these dancers from my classes; in every instance, these students have proven to be wonderful and inspired performers.”
Amardance Philadelphia (Amardance.com) will be performing Friday, July 24, 2015 at the Mediterranean Grill in Bryn Mawr ( On the Main Line for over a decade, the Mediterranean Grill offers Persian-Mediterranean cuisine with vegetarian-friendly options. This casually elegant venue at 870 West Lancaster Avenue is a BYOB and is offering a $30 prix-fixe menu for the evening. After the solo performances, the dance floor will be open to guests. Reservations are highly recommended, and can be made by calling 610-525-2627. Any party of 1 or 2 people can request a seat at “Amar’s Table,” and enjoy the evening seated with other guests. “Our food is prepared with exotic spices from across the Mediterranean,” says Mediterranean Grill owner Tony Djani. “This will be a joyful evening, and we are very much looking forward to it.”