Ginger City Acting for Dancers/Bring Your Best: FINANCIAL AID - SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION

This application is for financial aid towards a portion of the cost of my series June-September, 2021 (one-quarter to three-quarters of the program fees, depending on financial need, available funds, and number of accepted applicants). More information is at, and you should read through the whole page (it's long!) and watch the videos on that page, before applying.

*Please submit as soon as possible if you are interested in the programs, as I'll start making decisions on the aid packages for accepted dancers after May 25; it will still be possible to apply after, but there may be more limited funds after that date. *

The Bring Your Best coaching series enables dancers to work deeply on a choreographed or improvised dance piece for performance, with tailored personal coaching from me, including education in Arabic music, culture, and dance traditions, within a community of warm support from fellow series dancers. This is a matching scholarship fund, in that I will be matching all donations to this fund 100 percent towards fees for the series, for selected dancers.

This year I will be interlacing a new Acting for Dancers series with Bring Your Best, and Acting for Dancers can also be completed on its own, for those who do not have the time to commit to Bring Your Best, which is a more in-depth coaching series. For both series, the requirement for financial aid recipients will be the same: to be an active participant, contributing regularly to discussion, staying active in the series through the entire run of the programs, and supporting fellow members through positive feedback and engagement. This is what I expect of all members: to make an effort as a participant, to be part of the community around the program, and to share your work.


I have long been interested in socioeconomic justice, and in expanding access to dance education. For every event I have produced in New York, from small workshops to large conferences, I have included scholarship opportunities, mostly in exchange for volunteer help, as a way of balancing socioeconomic disparities in access to the dance. I haven't gotten rich through dance. But I still care about increasing opportunities through group fundraising. In the past year I started thinking deeper about how I could offer scholarships in my online courses, and to how I could contribute to equity in access to the dance, and to elevate dancers from marginalized communities who have historically been shut out of many opportunities.

Hence, the purpose of the scholarships is to offer a direct and significant discount to my coaching series for dancers from groups that have been historically marginalized in our dance community, who are on a performing and teaching path, and for whom the financial support could make the difference between participating or not participating.

In the past I have offered aid in exchange for work, and still do offer this in appropriate cases (including for dancers from non-marginalized communities who have either financial need + dedication to helping out and/or a compelling work skill to offer in exchange). These scholarships, however are NOT that; rather, they are in the form of grants, with the understanding of active participation in the series by participants (coachees) who are developing their art, cultural knowledge, and performance skills.

Training contributes to a dancer's education and teaching profile, provides connections and networking opportunities, and builds community. It is essential that a diverse range of people have access to this training, to more deeply engage with the issues of cultural transmission and appropriation that are built into the form, informed by cultural knowledge and a critical eye, while enjoying the pure joy and physical empowerment that this dance inspires.

It is no secret that groups of dancers have been historically excluded from commercial opportunities in the field, simply because of the color of their skin, body type, sexuality or gender expression. As a nightclub and wedding dancer in New York, I witnessed racism, sizeism, and homophobia in many owners' and musicians' hiring decisions. Those venues are not only sources of income, they are also sources of education: about Arabic music, for example, and culture. I was not considered especially "Middle Eastern looking" in my nightclub days, and I was not the one with the "best body," but I was very definitely considered white, and I very definitely benefited from that. I saw who was excluded, and though I spoke up against it, I also benefited from it. In the Arabic music education I began to receive in those clubs, and in the connections I made with musicians that led to my New York coaching series and to my DVDs, I benefited. I was, in part, paid to learn -- an opportunity that has not been given equitably, because it is based on "commercial" criteria influenced by Western and white supremacist notions. My goal in offering scholarships towards my series is to honor the commitment of interested dancers by matching it with my own commitment. It is about passing on the legacy of my 31 years of practice and research in this field, and about contributing to a fairer playing field in the dance community.

The scholarships are intended to reward those with talent and drive who are strongly interested in Arabic music and traditional culture, interested in teaching it with cultural sensitivity, and committed to a group process, which is what my coaching series offer. This scholarship fund may also be used to support motivated dancers from other countries where their local currency offers severely limited buying power in US dollars.


Priority will be given to:

1) non-white dancers (BIPOC in the US and also ethnically marginalized dancers from other countries who are committed to an anti-racist community experience); there is a worldwide culture of white supremacy in the "standards" responsible for disparities in hiring, for performance and teaching opportunities. Indirectly, those unfair "standards" regarding skin color and body type end up controlling access to information. They exert a malignant influence not only in the USA but around the world, including in Egypt, the home country of the styles I primarily teach. And I believe it is important to counteract it.

2) dancers who do not conform in their sexuality or gender expression to "traditional" standards, including members of the LGBTQI+ community. They have faced discrimination, and often worse, worldwide, in their pursuit of knowledge in a traditional form that may have shut them out. I welcome a diverse community, and seek to support that goal however possible.

3) dancers living with disabilities; you are invited to apply, and are also encouraged to consult with me about how I can best accommodate your needs in this series.

Scholarship recipients will be selected through interview, application, and recommendations, with a priority for those who are already teaching or mentoring other dancers, or who are strongly motivated to pursue teaching in this dance field. Interested applicants can join the BYB waitlist at the top of the home page at or reach out with questions to

Scholarship recipients will not be named publicly, but total number of scholarships given will be reported to program members and to donors. (donation form here:

Future scholarships may have different eligibility guidelines, depending on the program/course-specific goals.


This scholarship is for dancers who want to be socially active in the program = to participate actively in video submissions and discussions. Even if you are in an "out-of-the-way" timezone or have an unpredictable schedule, you'll still be able to join in online. If selected, recipients will receive the same coaching and course recordings, for lifetime access, as full-paying members, and will not be identified to other group members, to protect privacy.  


If English is not your first language, please reach out to us about anything that is difficult to understand.

If you have a disability or other limitation where it would be easier to submit your answers in a video or audio recording instead of typing, you can do that. Just reach out to us by email to share the link to your audio or video.

Thank you for your interest!   -Ranya Renee    (

Questions? Please contact me at 

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Your name (include legal name and dance name if you have one - indicate how you prefer to be called) *
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Your location (city/state/country) and TIMEZONE *
PLEASE CONFIRM that you have read all the program info and watched the videos on the info page at  before applying: *
WHICH SERIES ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING? (please note that BYB is a larger time commitment than AFD by itself) *
GOALS: What are your teaching and/or performing goals related to Egyptian dance study and practice? (If you are primarily a fusion performer, you are still eligible to apply, as long as you have an interest in building your knowledge in traditional Arabic music/Egyptian dance, since at least some of the programming will include this cultural approach and traditional music) *
WHY INTERESTED? What about Acting for Dancers or Bring Your Best or the coaching experience with Ranya most interests you? Why do you want to participate? And why now? *
TEACHING: Are you currently a teacher, or planning to teach? If yes, what are you teaching or what do you plan to teach? And: what is your mission, your sense of purpose in teaching? *
GROUP REPRESENTATION: Are you a member of a group that is underrepresented or discriminated against in the area of commercial bellydance, folk dance or other dance performance, or as a student of these forms? Are you from an otherwise marginalized group? Please specify and describe your experience with regards to your identity in society and in the dance community. *
FINANCIAL NEED: These scholarships are intended for low-income individuals or those with current financial challenges who also fit into the above demographics. Please describe any extenuating circumstances that affect your ability to participate in paid online dance programs, financial or otherwise (student loan debt, illness or injury of self or family member, job loss/unemployment/underemployment, medical expenses, etc.) *
COMMUNITY: Are you committed to being part of an active, supportive community of AFD/BYB course members, including posting videos for workshop exercises and contributing to discussion in the online forum?   *
RECOMMENDATION/REFERENCE: Please list names and contact information of one to three references (dancers, musicians, teachers, studio owners, or others familiar with your work), who know you and can attest to your work in the dance community (whom I may contact regarding your application) *
INTERVIEW MEETING: Are you available to meet for an interview with me (Ranya) within the next week? Interviews will be 30-45 minutes long. (Please sign up as early as possible, as I'll begin offering aid packages to accepted dancers after May 25, and there may be more limited funds remaining after that date.) *
OTHER COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS you want to add to this application ("none" otherwise) *
Do you know another dancer who might benefit from a scholarship for this program, and who fits one or more of the criteria above? If yes, please share this form link with them so they can apply if they are interested:
Please hit SUBMIT to submit your form!  (consider saving your answers before submitting, to be sure you have a backup)
Thank you very much for your interest and your time in answering these questions. We'll reach out soon, or you can reach us at with any questions, with SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION in the subject header. I look forward to reading your application. You should receive confirmation from me within 48 hours of applying, to complete an interview for the program(s).  -Ranya

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