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Riskallah Riyad
CT Dance Oasis
Center for Middle Eastern Dance

“Riskallah (Riyad) is a very gifted and talented …artist.
She’s worked very hard, not only as a dancer, but as a spokeswoman for the dance. She’s a very special person, a beautiful talent…”
The late – Ibrahim Farrah, NYC



Middle Eastern dancer and choreographer Riskallah Riyad has performed and taught nationally for over fifty years. From the time she was a young girl Riskallah Riyad aka Dolores wanted to be a dancer and a teacher, which goals she has fulfilled for almost sixty years. But fifty years ago, she shifted her focus from Middle School English and modern dance to her Middle Eastern heritage, teaching and performing Middle Eastern dance arts.

Known for her graceful yet crisp style, impeccable technique, and energetic teaching, she has inspired a dedicated professional and student following.  Middle Eastern Dance New England called her a “stellar performer and teacher.” Riskallah has been featured in Spotlight, Arabesque and Zaghareet! magazines, gracing the cover of Spotlight  in 1981 and Zaghareet! (photo above) in 2013. Additionally, she distinguishes herself as an innovator, having originated and perfected the double veil technique in the 1970s. Today this method is routinely imitated by other dancers and incorporated into belly dance canon. She also sets herself apart from other artists with her versatility and knowledge. Her solo and ensemble choreographies in folk and classical Oriental styles demonstrate a deep understanding of their cultural origins. “Her work always retains an authentic flavor while being distinctly her own. Further, her contemporary fusion works succeed in expressing modern day reverence, mystery, and appreciation for drama.” 

See performance videos



Riskallah Riyad in 1970's at a Washington D.C. Restaurant Performance
Washington D.C. 1970's

Riskallah’s creative skills attest to a rigorous and diverse background in dance. Formal classes began in childhood and continued into adulthood with jazz, ballet, and modern, but her Arabic descent and love of Middle Eastern rhythms eventually led her to focus on Oriental dance. She trained in New York City first with the late Serena Wilson and for over ten years with the late Ibrahim Farrah. Other notable mentors were Elena Lentini, the late Valarie Camille, and Marta Zorina. In order to become more thoroughly versed in the many complex Middle Eastern rhythms, she studied percussion with the late Hanna Mirhige, percussionist with Ibrahim Farrah's Near East Dance Group.

Performance Highlights

Performance highlights include stage shows throughout Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Cabaret work included Faizel's and Darvish in New York City, all major cabarets in Boston, MA, Washington D.C., Richmond, VA, and CT. She has produced countless theatrical and cabaret events with students., the most recent (April, 2022)  Celebrate! A Lifetime of Middle Eastern Dance at Ives Concert Hall in Danbury, CT (see Celebrate Show for a video clip).

Performance in 2020



Riskallah holds BS and MS degrees in Education, has taught public school and been a consultant to teachers. She currently maintains a robust schedule teaching Middle Eastern dance classes at Vitti's Dance Studio in Danbury, Connecticut. In addition to working with students of all levels, she conducts master classes and special workshops nationally. She is the innovator of the acclaimed Teacher Training Course, "Footprints a Journey Toward Teaching Excellence." 

Riskallah Riyad Students

A testimony to her reputation for excellence, she is the only instructor invited by the popular Beach Blanket Beledi, Nags Head, NC 13 times.