Kristina Koutsoudas presents “Dances of the Maghreb: A Taste of Culture”


Contact: Kristina Koutsoudas, (832) 571 6900,

Kristina Koutsoudas presents “Dances of the Maghreb: A Taste of Culture”

MARCH 16, 2020 – 6:30 PM : The Hines Center

MARCH 28, 2020 – 430PM   Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park

APRIL 18, 2020 – 8PM Maghrebian Market: Flea –By-Night: Discovery Green

Houston, TX –Kristina Koutsoudas will be presenting several programs of joyous traditional and contemporary dances of Morocco, Algeria, & Tunisia. Sample the beautiful, rich cultures of North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) through Dances of the Maghreb: A Taste of Culture.  In this solo program, dance artist and storyteller Kristina Koutsoudas alternates endangered dances with stories, poetry, and discussion to bring to life the spirit of the culture from which they spring.  These beautiful, artistic traditions are rarely seen in the US.  Dances include Moroccan shikaat, Algerian Kabyle, and Tunisian folkloric dance.  The audience will also have the opportunity to learn a dance. The dance concert is filled with new works.

Besieged from the media with negative images of the Middle East and North Africa, the general public does not often get a chance to view the beautiful art of this region. In addition, many of the dances performed have not often been made accessible to the general public. Koutsoudas, known for her authentic cultural dance representations, is seeking to embody the original intent of the dance of these people “the transcendence of spirit through the dance.” In danger of disappearing through the movements of the modern world, the dances are slowly becoming relics of a bygone era.

Mach Mach, Shikaat I & Shikaat II are a trio of works interpreting the traditions of the Moroccan shikaat dancer, of the traveling people of Morocco.  While previously performed in private settings, today these dances are performed in commercial settings to entertain audiences.  Lively and fun, the dancer’s physical skill l is often overlooked by her expressiveness and ability to engage an audience. Shikaat comes from the word “sheikha” meaning “wise woman’ i.e., wise not just in counsel but in the ways of fertility. All three dances originate from ancient fertility dance rituals yet each dance also emphasizes different elements of culture. Mach Mach, a tambourine dance, highlights entertainment; Shikaat I incorporates meditative and healing movements of trance possession rituals, and Shikaat II, highlights social customs and hospitality with a tea tray dance. Performed to the music of Chalaf Hassan, this traditional Moroccan piece has a contemporary twist with the dancer balancing a tea tray on her head.  Following the dance, a discussion of tea and its role in culture ensues, including the roles of stories and storytelling. Funny and thought provoking stories are told to illuminate the custom.

Tunisian Danse, a very lively, traditional dance from Tunisia, features the compelling hip technique that defines the style. In this dance, the dancer engages the audience in a way similar to a bride engaging her prospective bridegrooms whom she does not marry, a custom common to the Bedouin. (After all, the bride will have her whole life to dance with her husband and only this night to dance with the others!)

Kabyle Rose is a revision of the original piece performed in Koutsoudas’ program Nour-an-Nisa: The Light of Femininity which premiered at the Rothko Chapel in 2011.  While the original was performed with seven dancers with six sections, and almost fifteen minutes of run time, this Algerian scarf/fertility dance is now adapted for a solo performance with movements highlighting the fertility of the land as well as the people. Traditionally performed by women, the piece highlights the subtle femininity of women, their grace and power, by simultaneously performing incredibly intricate hip technique and the counterpoint of scarf gestures. 

Audience members will then be encouraged to learn and perform a dance after the final piece. 

ABOUT Kristina Koutsoudas

Artistic Director/Performer Kristina Koutsoudas celebrates 20 years of artistic excellence and recognition in Houston, Texas. Her unique programs serve a diverse population to foster creativity, compassion, community, and engagement. For two decades, she has committed herself to improving the quality of life for Houstonians through art. Kristina Koutsoudas’ primary focus is to provide Houstonians with opportunities to view world class cultural, traditional and contemporary dance and to participate in dance at any level.

Engaged in both traditional research and innovating performance and choreography, Kristina Koutsoudas interprets and presents traditional dance, especially women’s dances, of the East and Mediterranean, for contemporary audiences.   Kristina stages compelling and accessible new works that challenge, entertain uplift, and educate audiences. Her performances are powerful, joyful, and intimately human, connecting to both children and adults.  

Kristina is a rare, gifted combination of a choreographer, performer, researcher, and teacher of contemporary and folkloric dances of the Middle East and North Africa.  Recently awarded a Let Creativity Happen grant from the City of Houston and the Houston Arts Alliance for her North African dance performance, Dances of the Maghreb: A Taste of Culture, she was also just awarded her fifth Support for Artists and Creative Individuals grant, her first for literature, from the Houston Arts Alliance and the City of Houston. Kristina will be creating, “Inara and the World Tree: An Anthology of Tales” a collection of short stories based on the ancient Mesopotamian myths of Ishtar/Inanna with public readings to come this winter.

Kristina has a list of firsts to her name. She is: first to teach and perform Middle Eastern dance at a university in Texas (Rice University, for which she received the Frank W. Bearden Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010), first to teach Middle Eastern Dance at a center for psychology (the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Houston), first in the US to develop arts-in-education programs on the Middle East (Young Audiences of Houston), and one of the first to develop a narrative Middle Eastern dance form. In 2011, her first production, Nour-an-Nisa, was not only an overwhelming success, it was also one of (if not, the) first full length dance performance(s) at the internationally renowned Rothko Chapel and the first time (at least in this artist’s memory) in Houston (if not in Texas) that Middle Eastern dance has been seen performed in its proper, sacred context. In 2014, she debuted her company Mnemosyne with a presentation of “Roya” at Choreographer’s X6 and again at Dance Houston’s 12th Annual Festival to rave reviews. Roya is an artistic vision of classical Persian and contemporary dance depicting the peris or angels of Persian mythology dancing with joy and praising their origins.  She will be performing “Dances of Persia: A Taste of Culture” at the Asia Society’s Texas Center in May 2020 at their 2nd Annual Eid Festival.

Kristina has performed and taught both nationally and locally at hundreds of venues including universities, festivals, theaters, and community centers.  She lectures widely in classes, conferences, and workshops and is often a presenter at several universities including the University of Houston and Rice University. She was faculty at the CG Jung Educational Center and Rice University for over fifteen years. Her performance venues include the Bayou City Arts Festival, Carroll Academy for International Studies,  Cy-Fair College, Denison College, Hamman Hall, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Houston World Affairs Council, Houston Community College’s World Dance seminars, Intersections in New York City, Jones Plaza festivals, Lee College, Montgomery College, Miller Outdoor Theater, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, St. Francis Episcopal School, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Texas Children’s Hospital, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral festival, the Asian-American Festival, the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Consulate of India,  the Palestinian festival, the Turkish Festival, University of Houston, the University of Houston in Clear Lake, the University of St. Thomas, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas Health Science, The Sufi Order International, Tomball College, and at both the Arab Community and the Jewish Community Centers in Houston for Choreographer’s X6 and with the East West Ensemble. 

Filmed for commercials for the Houston Grand Opera and for local documentaries for public broadcasting (KUHT), Kristina’s performances include many other national and local venues.

Kristina’s collaborative projects include choreographies featured with Dance Houston’s “Choreographer’s Project, ” the East/West Ensemble featuring Isabelle Ganz, and The Anjali School of East Indian Performing Arts under artistic director  Rathna Kumar with whom she has performed, toured, and taught for five years as a classical East Indian dancer. She helped begin and develop Dance Houston’s “Young & Intense” dance camp for teens and has developed several exciting, engaging, arts-in-education teaching and performing programs for children and youths. Since their inception, these programs have been presented in one hundred schools and libraries throughout and around the city of Houston/state of Texas including The Children’s Museum, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and Young Audiences of Houston.

A former employee of The World Music Institute of NYC, Kristina now works with local and national organizations to provide the Houston community with venues promoting awareness and celebration of cultures through the art of dance. Organizations such as Dance Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts (partnership with the Silk Road Dance Company, to present the Silk Road: Crossroads of Time presentation), the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (organized the 2003 concert with Grammy award winning artist Simon Shaheen), and the Flamenco Poets Society, Café Cantante series are just a few of the many projects she has helped produce, promote, and/or manage.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from both UHCL for her M.A. in cross-cultural studies & the Honors College and from the College of Fine Arts and Humanities for her B.A. in history from the University of Houston. She has won foreign language competitions (Olympiada/Russian), several academic scholarships (for history and academic excellence), several grants for continuing education in Middle Eastern dance from the Texas Commission on the Arts and choreography from the Houston Arts Alliance. Her primary dance education has been under the direction of Middle Eastern/North African master teacher Ibrahim Farrah. A registered health care specialist in Texas since 1988, a state certified dispute resolution specialist (2003) and family mediator (2008), she continues training in hatha yoga, loves cooking, baking, and giving parties, and playing with her cats Ruh and Nour.


An historic dance performer/choreographer/scholar who hopes to redefine the boundaries of traditional dance, artistic director, Kristina Koutsoudas, was voted by Houston Press as one of the “100 Creatives of Houston” for choreography.  Awarded two grants from the Houston Arts Alliance, one for performance (2019) and one for literature (2020), Kristina has won countless awards for ground-breaking choreography, performance, and teaching of traditional and contemporary Middle Eastern/North African dance. Awards are from organizations, universities, and schools, including many from the Houston Arts Alliance and others from Rice University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Houston Clear Lake, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Dance Houston, the Jewish Community Center, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the consulate of India, the Arab American Community Center, The Jewish Community Center of Houston. Currently, she teaches classes privately, writes on dance history, teaches an online class in goddess based cultures of the East, and is extensively engaged in research for future narrative & cultural dance programs.  A member of the Congress of International Dance (CID, member of UNESCO), Kristina was a presenter and performer at workshops sponsored by the Sufi Order International on sacred and secular dances of the Middle East and is currently presenting at the Arts & Society conferences in Europe.

Houston Press Article:

For more information about Dances of the Maghreb and event details, please visit:

The Houston Cultural Calendar

The Dance Card


Who: Kristina Koutsoudas

What: “Dances of the Maghreb: A Taste of Culture”  a program featuring several beautiful, Berber dance forms with music, stories, discussion and audience participation.

When: MARCH 16, 2020 – 6:30 PM : The Hines Center

MARCH 28, 2020 – 430PM– Bayou City Art Festival

APRIL 18, 2020 – 8PM Moroccan Market: Flea By Night @ Discovery Green

Why: To be an innovative storytelling dance artist who transforms how Houston audiences experience dance by, moving, uniting, and inspiring them.. 

Contact: Kristina Koutsoudas (Founder & Artistic Director)

Dances of the Maghreb: A Taste of Culture is a program of traditional & contemporary dances from Morocco, Algeria, & Tunisia.

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