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  • Lisa Lumina

Level One: Figure 8 Unit, Class 1

Updated: Feb 21


I promised short articles each week to give the dance some context. This week: a little on the history of bellydance, and the difficulties of reconstructing the past of a folk dance. This article is a bit about how hard it is to pin down the exact origins of raqs sharki. Lots of myths have been created to try and explain the history, but it is likely that, in spite of more research into the early 20th century being published in English, we won't ever have firm answers for the first origins.


Regional Highlight This unit, we're focusing on North Africa. 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).

My focus for the last many years has been on Egypt, and I don't want to tell you wrong things. For information about the many dances of Morocco, check out dancers like Soumaya MaRose, and Nawara. Some of the names of different dances done in Morocco are chaabi, chikat, ahidous, and ahouache, of course there are more. Like Egypt, most Moroccans have a taboo against being performers, so much of the dancing is private.



Soumaya is a wonderful and generous dancer who teaches dance and cultural context in the North East US.

One of the many dances done in Morocco includes their tray dance, which inspired many dancers during the night-club era in the US.

A three for one video! Zagareets, shimmies, and a party just for the ladies! A lot of the old bellydance clips we have are from movies, so the dancer is playing a character. Here, Nebaweya Moustafa does a few kinds of shimmies, and the party guests are celebrating a Sabuah for a new baby (plus some extra drama for the movie plot ^_~). You can also see how the old movies had a hard time synching the sound and video

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