As guests in the tradition of bellydance aka Raqs Sharqi, it is so important to educate ourselves about the cultural context and history of this beautiful dance. For those of us who choose to pursue it more seriously as an advanced student, performer, and especially as teachers, it is KEY to be constantly updating our knowledge and adapting as we learn.
Here are a number of recommended resources for students to delve a little deeper!
A note on these books - sometimes things presented as "historical facts" are actually conjecture and based on cultural assumptions, opinion, and information from a very small pool of sources. Many assumptions about this dance are weakly supported so I recommend taking "facts" with a grain of salt and getting information from multiple sources before jumping to conclusions.
Looking for Little Egypt
by Donna Carlton
This is a very well-written history of the Columbian Exhibition and the Little Egypt legends that abounded after the 1893 Fair. A fascinating read; highly recommended. Looking for Little Egypt is well-researched, a fascinating history, that is eloquently written.
Before They Were Belly Dancers: European Accounts of Female Entertainers in Egypt, 1760-1870
by Kathleen W. Fraser
Focusing on Egypt during the period 1760 to 1870, this book fills in some of the historical blanks for a dance form often known today in the Middle East as raqs sharki. Eyewitness accounts written by European travelers, the major primary source for modern scholars, provide most of the research material. The author shapes these numerous accounts into a coherent whole, providing a picture of Egyptian female entertainers of the period as professionals in the arts, rather than as a group of unnamed ethnic dancers and singers. Analysis is given of the contexts of this dance that was a legitimate performing art form in Egyptian society appreciated by a wide variety of audiences with a focus on actual performances and a re-creation of choreography.
You Asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice About Raqs Sharqi & Raqs Shaabi
by Morocco (C. Varga Dinicu)
Over 50 years of research and experience…No other book contains such an in depth look at what we popularly call ‘bellydance’. Country by country, region by region, Morocco breaks down customs, dances, rhythms and folklore while answering common questions and addressing major misconceptions about the world of Oriental dance. ‘You Asked Aunt Rocky’ is the definitive text book for the study of Raqs Sharqi and Raqs Shaabi. Informative enough for any scholarly study of the subject, yet written for those who love the dance, this great tome is a treasure and an asset to any collection on the arts of North Africa, Asia Minor and the Middle East.
Grandmother's Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing power of Belly Dancing
by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi
Al-Rawi has written a strikingly graceful and original book that blends personal memoir with the history and theory of the dance known in the West as "belly dancing." It is the story of a young Arab girl as she is initiated into womanhood. It is a history of the dance from the earliest times through the days of the Pharaohs, the Roman Empire, to the Arab world of the last three centuries. It is a personal investigation into the effects of the dance's movements on individual parts of the body and the whole psyche. It is a guide to the actual techniques of the dance for those who are inspired to put down the book and move. Al-Rawi conveys in this book not only the history and technique of grieving and mourning dances, pregnancy and birth dances, but the spirit of these age-old rituals, and their possibilities for healing and empowering women today.
For a longer list of more specific recommendations I recommend Shira's Reading List .
Websites & Online Resources
This section is in progress
This incredibly informative website has been a wealth of resources for bellydancers since 1998, and Shira has won multiple awards for her site and her contributions to the community.
Teachers from the Cultures of Origin
This section is in progress
There are many highly trained and fabulous instructors of bellydance who are not "of the culture", however it is important to balance our education out and make sure we are also learning from teachers from MENAHT (Middle East, North Africa, Hellanic and Turkish) cultures to benefit from their unique perspective. Some of theses artists travel to teach, some are available for bookings in their home country, and some even teach online!
Bellydance. Burlesque. Drag. Heels. Circus. Dancehall and more!
We're wrapping up the summer with a fun and sexy show at the Derby Showbar (aka the Marquee, 19 +) featuring some of Halifax's most exciting performers.Hosted by the one and only Rouge Fatale, featuring:
Dol-B on the decks
Tickets are sold by the table (groups of 2-10) so gather your crew and get ready to snag your favourite spot TODAY - tickets are already selling fast!
We are so excited to announce a new workshop that has been in the works for some time!
Join Laura Selenzi (Bellydance instructor and Registered Massage Therapist), and Serena Haines (Sex and Intimacy Coach) for an evening of sensual movement. We will learn movements and techniques to get in touch with our sensual side, and discuss what it means to authentically embody our sensuality. Expect a fun but meaningful evening in a comfortable and supportive environment.
When: Friday July 16 2021, 7-9 PM
Location: Synergy Physiopilates, 2742 Robie St, Halifax NS
Due to Covid-19 restrictions this workshop is limited to 8 participants.
If we sell out we will create a waiting list for a second workshop, so please let us know if you'd like to be on the list!
Join us Friday May 28th at 8pm AST for a live stream of our 2019 production “Night Garden”.
Donations will help our small business and the artists involved in this show afloat during the pandemic, we so appreciate your continuing support at this time! We are very proud of the work we created together for this show and are excited to share it with you again.
A collaboration of Laura Selenzi, Monique Ryan, Nawal Doucette, Tina Afsana and Sacha Begg; Night Garden explores the lifecycle of the botanical world from seed through growth, full bloom, death, and rebirth.
We aim to inspire the audience to reconnect with nature; exploring the notion of ritual and life’s impermanence. All this specifically from a women’s point of view; the female experience through the journey of life.
We believe that it is time for bellydance to gain recognition and respect for the beautiful, skilled, empowering and evolving art form that it is today. This project has been created by professional dance artists, collaborating as a group for the first time to create an ambitious and creatively challenging body of work.
Hello lovely students!
As you may have heard, dance studios have to close for the next 2-4 weeks. We are hoping the restrictions will be lifted sooner, but we'll have to wait and see. We've decided to postpone classes for 2 weeks and then re-assess whether everyone would prefer moving forward with online classes, or to postpone the term and return to in-person when we're able to. Please let us know your thoughts on this!
We're definitely bummed that we won't be able to be together for a while, but we hope you still dance at home and if you need any help or motivation feel free to reach out via the Facebook Community Group, our instagram "serpentinestudios", or via email if you prefer. Reminder that the first couple classes are online so you can review those at your leisure. :)
And if you're interested in trying something else, don't forget that we now have an online All-Access Pass available for $50/month! You can jump around as much as you like with the pass, try one of everything if you like! ;)
We hope you all stay safe and take care of yourselves. This has been a rough week but we can't wait to dance/workout with you all again.
Laura, Monique, and Clare
After this extremely challenging and emotional year, we have decided to use this opportunity to take a break. We will be taking some time to focus on professional development and some much-needed self-care, so we can offer our students fresh and creative content when we return. We are also taking some time to regroup and brainstorm how our business will move forward in this changing landscape. A lot has changed in 9 years!
Some of our instructors will likely be offering in-person classes again in February if provincial restrictions allow.
We also look forward to providing the city with fabulous entertainment once again, when it is safe to do so!
In the meantime we are very excited to announce the upcoming arrival of this brand-new website which makes signing up for online classes a breeze! We now have a huge library of classes available from our amazing local instructors. Students will be able to sign in and keep track of all their classes and their progress, all within our website! More classes are being added every week!