When Kanina began dancing in the 1970’s Boston was already a hub for Middle Eastern music and dance in the United States. Club Zahra, one of the nation’s first ‘belly dance’ dinner clubs had opened its doors in the 1950s, attracting a steady stream of musicians, aspiring dancers and excellent teachers to the area. Her early studies began with Adonna and Morwenna Assaf in Boston, and were soon complimented by workshops and seminars with internationally recognized teachers: the late Ibrahim Farrah and Sereena Wilson, Elena Lentini, Riskallah Riyad, Morocco, Yosri Sharif, Mahmoud Reda, and more recently Randa Kamel. Travels to Greece, Morocco, Istanbul and Egypt have enhanced her knowledge and appreciation of the art. She has dedicated much of her life to sharing her love of dance with her students.
Kanina has taught classes in folkloric and belly dance to thousands of women since the 1970's. Her classes emphasize respect and understanding of the dance, music and culture of the Middle East. Her annual productions of Arabian Nights, A Thousand and One Nights, and Night at the Casbah promote the beauty and artistry of Middle Eastern dance and music and provide the perfect performance atmosphere for both student and professional dancers.
Kanina serves as director and choreographer of the Beledi Dance Company (first formed in 1976), which performs both the cabaret and folkloric dances of the Middle East. From 1985 to 1988 she was a Board member of the Boston-based Near East Dance Theatre, where she also performed and contributed choreography. The NEDT presented performances at Boston College, New England Life Theater, Boston, and Zeiterion Theater, New Bedford, and earned the praise of such luminaries as Mrs. Anwar Sadat who attended a performance while visiting from Egypt.
As a soloist, Kanina has performed at Middle Eastern night clubs and cultural events throughout New England. She was the featured performer at Arabian Nights, Holiday Inn, Aruba and a guest artist at A Tribute to Mahmoud Reda, Boston, honoring the famed Egyptian choreographer as he toured the United States. More recently she performed at the Turkish Delight Festival in Istanbul Turkey (2010) and at the Randa Kamel of Course workshops, Cairo, Egypt (2012).
During her long career Kanina has supported local arts, education, medical research and social service agencies with performances that benefitted: the Leukemia Society of Rhode Island; Trinity Repertory Company; Child’s Play Nursery School; St Mary’s Academy, Bay View; and the Veteran’s Hospital of Rhode Island, to name just a few. In November, 2014, Kanina produced A Billion and One Nights, an afternoon of Middle Eastern dance and music, in memory of her late husband, Bill Hague. The event raised $10,000 to support research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
As a youth, Inara’s world was immersed in the arts. She studied and performed Irish Step Dance for six years, participating in numerous competitions. As an adult, she studied karate and was working toward her level II Black Belt when she discovered belly dance.
Inara began taking belly dance classes on whim in 2012 and was instantly swept up by the glitter and sound of coin belts. Her love of movement and laughter are what makes classes with her so enjoyable. Students learn new ways to move as they have fun and create new connections to music and the space around them. As a teacher at KaninaDance, she strives to show women that they can learn a new skill while building confidence and enjoying themselves every step of the way no matter age or ability.
In addition to teaching at KaninaDance, Inara is assistant director of Beledi Dance Company, which performs an array of colorful, artistic dances, representing the many facets of Middle Eastern culture. The BDC regularly performs for appreciative audiences throughout southern New England. Recently Inara has appeared as a featured soloist at Efendi’s Mediterranean Restaurant and The Continental Restaurant, two of Rhode Island’s premier Middle Eastern dance venues.
When not dancing, Inara spends her time teaching music (piano) to children and adults of all ages, designing costumes, and creating colorful hand-dyed silk veils for many performers in our area.