What is bellydance?
“Bellydance” is the English name for the party dance style indigenous to Egypt, the Levant, and Turkey. Bellydance is also sometimes referred to by its French name, Danse Orientale; its Arabic name, raqs sharqi; or its Turkish name, oryantal dansi. Very rarely, you will see it referred to as tsifteteli, which is a Greek name that probably derives from the name of a specific rhythm.
My particular style is most closely influenced by modern Egyptian dance. However, I also like to shake things up by fusing the dance style with Bollywood or pop/rock music.
To learn more about different styles commonly performed in the US, see “So You Want to Hire a Bellydancer: a ‘brief’ primer on different styles in contemporary American bellydance”
Do you really dance with your belly?
No. Sol Bloom, a 19th century promoter, deliberately mistranslated the name in order to promote dancers at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. He was capitalizing on Victorian-era fascination with the idea of a sensual, exotic Middle East. The Arabic and Turkish names simply mean “Eastern dance.”
In reality, raqs sharqi rarely uses the stomach at all. Dancers typically portray the melody through graceful hand and arm work, the rhythm through hip and footwork, and emotion through the body and face. Dancers should appear as the living embodiment of the music to which they perform.
Can I see an example?
Yes. You can see a Chanukah-themed number below:
What technical requirements are there for a performance?
Almost none! All I need is a small, safe space to dance and a way to play music. I can perform entirely on a stage or demarcated dance area, or I can dance within the audience.
Some props, like veil and Wings of Isis, require more space to be effective. If you would like me to dance with a specific prop, please let me know so that we can discuss the appropriate space requirements.