Level One: Circle Unit, Class 4
Updated: Feb 22
While bellydance is generally dominated by cis-women, there is a long history of men and gender-queer folks bellydancing as well, both socially and professionally. Although there is a trend, specifically in the competition world, for dancers to chase validation from male teachers and judges that I am opposed to, men and non-binary folks are a welcome part of the community, and there are some amazing performers doing both folklore and raqs sharki.
Regional Highlights This unit, we're focusing on Egypt. These regional highlights are meant to give a general orientation, and really only scratch the surfface of the diversity of arts in the MENAHT/SWANA area (Middle East, North Africa, Helene, & Turkey/SouthWest Asia & North Africa)
Cairo is of course the capital of Egypt, and includes people who have moved to the city from all over. The main home-grown dance here is called beledi (also spelled balady, or any number of variations, ask me why in class) and it is essentially an earthy, relaxed version of raqs sharki.
Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast, is famous for dancers with a sweet style, like Souheir Zaki. There has long been a significant Greek population there, as well as lovely beaches contributing the reputation of Alexandrian sweethearts as "spoiled". Remember, this is a massive simplification because everything is always complicated, and we're just getting the lay of the land in this level ^_~
This is Fifi Abdou. She’s got a reputation for her sass as well as for her big earthy shimmies. She's also considered the queen of beledi style.
I had the wonderful luck to study with Nany when she was between retirements and was sponsored to come to NYC a few times. She is from Alexandria. Although she lives in France and has re-retired, she was a star of the late 80s and early 90s.
Ozgen Turkish dancer famous for his Oryantale (this clip) and his Romani folklore (the non-racial slur way to refer to "g*psies") performances. He sometimes comes to the US to teach, too.