Photo of Shira



PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Quotations About Dance

Compiled By Shira



Table of Contents

Are you planning to do a lecture about belly dance that is crying out for a few quotes to make it more lively? Do you need a pithy comment to fill the bottom of a column in your dance newsletter? Do you feel the urge to put a witty statement about dance in the signature block of your electronic mail messages? Then maybe this page can help!

Here is a collection of quotations about dance in general. The reason it's not limited to quotations about Oriental dance is because there are many wonderful things people have said about dance that can apply just as strongly to our flavor of dance as they do to ballet, modern dance, tap, jazz, and other forms.



Learning to Dance

"Learning to dance is like learning a foreign language - you can't write poetry in that language until you know the vocabulary and grammar. In dance, technique is the vocabulary and grammar."

— Shira



"A dancer without spirit or intention is nothing more than a robot moving in the way it was told."

— Shira



"Dance is music made visible."

— George Balanchine, on Sunday Morning CBS TV (May 23, 1993)



"The spine is the tree of life. Respect it."

— Martha Graham, New York Times (April 7, 1991)



"Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent."

— @DavidRoads, posted on Twitter



"Dancing appears glamorous, easy, delightful. But the path to paradise of the achievement is not easier than any other. There is fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration, there are daily small deaths."

— Martha Graham



"The choreographic process is exhausting. It happens on one's feet after hours of work, and the energy required is roughly the equivalent of writing a novel and winning a tennis match simultaneously."

— Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper (1952)



"The nature of my compulsion was such that I danced in my sleep. The entire household was sometimes awakened by loud thumping sounds coming from my room."

— Gelsey Kirkland, Dancing on My Grave (1986)



"To grow, you must be willing to let your present and future be totally unlike your past. Your history is not your destiny."

— Alan Cohen


"The more you understand the music, the easier you can dance."

— Orlando Gutinez


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.


"Good choreography fuses eye, ear, and mind."

— Arlene Croce, Afterimages (1976)



"It takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer."

— Shanna LaFleur



"If you stumble, make it part of the dance."

— Author Unknown



"Dance is not an exercise. Dance is an art."

— Alicia Alonso



"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself."

— Mikhail Baryshnikov



"Your face has to dance just as much as your body."

— Maria Benítez


"A great belly dance teacher doesn't just teach you how to do her choreography. She teaches you how to create your own dance."

— Shira



"Embrace the struggle… It is your greatest teacher."

— Russell Simmons



  1. Beginning dancer. Knows nothing.
  2. Intermediate dancer. Knows everything. Too good to dance with beginners.
  3. Hotshot dancer. Too good to dance with anyone.
  4. Advanced dancer. Dances everything. Especially with beginners.

— Attributed to Dick Crum, a folk dance teacher



"The one important thing I have learnt over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking oneself seriously. The first is imperative and the second disastrous."

— Margot Fonteyn



"What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence."

— Samuel Johnson



"The only reason for mastering technique is to make sure the body does not stand in the way of the soul's expression."

— La Meri



"You need the courage to seem foolish and to fail."

— Steven A. Rosenberg (1993)



"So, I think I would say, enjoy the process of learning to dance. The process of our profession, and not its final achievement, is the heart and soul of dance."

— Jacques d'Amboise



"When you take dancing lessons, you learn steps and you learn steps and you learn steps. It can go on for a long time. And then one day, you just learn to dance, and it is so different."

— Bill Austin



"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."

— Gilbert Keith Chesterton




PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.



Specifically About Belly Dance

"The audiences' ears hear the music and their eyes see you being that music. Dance is the music made visible. You are the music!"

— Morocco, New York City, New York (1998)



If you want a long-term job (not just a one-time gig) at a restaurant, then you'd better develop thick skin and decide to not let what others say bother you.

— Ashiya, Lincoln, Nebraska (2017)



"Belly dancing is the way for the body to smile."

—Soheir Zaki, in a television interview in the late 1960's (as reported by Dr. George Sawa)



"A belly dancer has the ability to be an artist from the waist up, and an athlete from the waist down."

— Shimmy TV, Vancouver, BC, Canada (posted to Twitter March 2008)



"One thing is for sure — this dance is not an isolated act in itself. It comes from a country and a culture."

— Nourhan Sharif (2012 via twitter)



"Belly dancing with live music is like becoming a musician in the band. The dancer creates and shapes the music, not just follows it!"

— Lorna Gow (2013 via twitter)



"Belly dancing: the internal massage to music!"

— Lorna Gow (2012 via twitter)



"You don't need to make belly dance sexy. It is sexy by accident."

— Ava Fleming


"I am NOT a belly dancer. I have never been one, and never will be. What I do is not what Hollywood vulgarly calls "belly dance", but it's art. I have traveled the world to prove that my dance is not a dance of the belly but a refined, artistic dance full of tradition, of dreaming and beauty. Oriental dance is primarily an expressive dance; in that resides the beauty."

— Nadia Gamal, in an interview with Scoop magazine, page 70.



"Oriental dance is an art of subtle expression. There are delicate shifting moods that coalesce to create feelings such as surprise, anger, shyness, fear, delight, disdain, pride,, and the sensuous. A good Oriental dancer must be able to depict darker shades within man's heart as well - life and death, happiness and sorrow, all with great dignity."

— Nadia Gamal



"You may be the only belly dancer someone encounters this week. Make sure they get the right impression!"

— Dilara Sultan (2011)



PHOTO: Morocco, the author of one of the quotes.


"Locked in this dance is a secret language that tells the story of women's lives: their passions and their spirituality, their sacrifices, their joys, their intuitions, their emotional life drama."

— Delilah



"Turkish dancers strut, Egyptian dancers glide."

— Elizabeth Artemis Mourat, Silver Spring, Maryland (1998)



"Egyptian dancers glisten, Turkish dancers sweat."

— Author Unknown



"Belly dance, like the desert sand, finds its way into everything!"

— Ozma (Japan)



"Belly dance flaunts something in the face of a society that forbids public show of femaleness. Belly dance is a rebellion wrapped up in a flirtation."

— A'isha Azar



"I want belly dance to be understood as something that does not need us to fix it, or change it to suit our personal needs, or treat as if it has no soul or culture or reason for being of its very own."

— A'isha Azar



"In Egypt, the dance is not a machine, there isn't 1-2-3-4. If you lose the feeling and soul then you're not dancing, you are just replicating something."

— Randa Kamel



"There is no old school or new school in dance, the most important thing is feeling. Oriental dance without feeling is not Oriental dance."

— Randa Kamel



"When I danced, I felt I was entering the temple of Art."

— Tahia Carioca, in a conversation with Edward Said



"Oriental dance is, in essence, an art form in which the artist shares her emotional experience with her audience."

— Hadia, in her January 4, 2013 blog



"Do you know what happens when an Arabian woman dances? She does not dance: she protests, she loves, she cries, she makes love, she dreams, she goes away from her reality, to her own world, where love is really meant and she does not want to come back, because that is her reality."

— Armand Nassery, writer and filmmaker



"Get your body out of the way and let your spirit soar!"

— Ibrahim Farrah



"Dance is so important in the world. It needs no language. Our bodies speak a language of their own."

— Ibrahim Farrah



"To understand the culture, study the dance. To understand the dance, study the people."

— Chuck Davis



"Listen to the music."

— Hossam Ramzy



"If you think you can be a bellydancer without having to understand the cultures from which these dances derive, you are mistaken. You are an appropriator and an embarrassment. Dance is not just movement. It is communication and you are attempting to speak without knowing the language.

If you cannot be bothered to know or care about the peoples and our treatment of them here and abroad, leave the dance. Find something else that requires less of you."

— Toya Smith, posted on Facebook, January 2017


Artemis Mourat

PHOTO: Artemis Mourat, the author of one of the quotes.

"Belly dance is like glitter: It not only colors your life, it makes you sparkle. You find it everywhere, and in everything, and it's nearly impossible to get rid of. "

— Anonymous



"You cannot earn money from any artistic career. You have to spend all the time if you want to develop, and keep presenting shows that are always better, always new."

— Nagwa Fouad, in August 1998 issue of Al Ahram



"Funny how after you learn to belly dance, you manage to find that a shimmy is required in every song! Even non-Arabic songs."

— Lorna Gow, posted on Twitter in October, 2013


"It's not about the sexy costumes, or the hot men, or the whatever, it's about the culture and the music, and making homesick people feel loved!"

— Katya Faris, a dancer in Indiana in February, 2014



"A day I don't dance is a day I don't live."

— Anonymous Tunisian dancer, quoted in Serpent of the Nile, page 196 (1989)



"Working with belly dancers is like herding cats. Good thing I like cats."

— Nilaja, Antioch, Illinois (2011)



"I used to think I lived for belly dance. Now I know it's when I am belly dancing that I am truly alive."

— Lorna Gow (2012 via twitter)


"There's something about belly dancing that makes my whole body happy!"

— Shira (2012)



"When your life seems to be spinning out of control, you can either get sick from turning your stress inward, lash out at others, or dance. It's more fun to dance!"

— Shira (2013)



"Dance is emotional expression. It doesn't always have to be happy-smiley. It just has to be authentic."

— Shira



♫♪♬ "Dancers have music in their souls!" ♫♪♬

— Shira (2013)



"Instead of seeing the rug being pulled from under us, we can learn to dance on a flying carpet."

— Shira (2013) (paraphrasing Thomas F. Crum's quote "Instead of seeing the rug being pulled from under us, we can learn to dance on a shifting carpet.")



"We should be alert to what culture we are representing in our dance, and understand our artistic goals appropriately."

— Andrea Deagon, in "The Image of the Eastern Dancer: Flaubert's Salomé"




PHOTO CREDIT: Nilaja, the author of one of the quotes. Photo by David Gore, makeup by Azhia.

"When I dance I don't think about my personal life because I love the dance so much."

— Dina (in a 2011 interview with French television channel 3)



"Dance is like love - when you dance it is the same like when you love!"

— Mona Said (she said it in a workshop attended by Hadia, Hadia later talked about it in her blog)



"Dancing is like magic - it keeps women young."

— Randa Kamel

"This dance isn't just about shaking your waist and your ass."

— Nagwa Fouad in a 2010 interview on the television program 2x2



"To dance is to be out of yourself and in yourself at the same time. Those whom you encompass need only to look... because they are inside of you when you dance."

— Eva Cernik



"Dance is my speaking voice in the realm of human emotion."

—Cassandra Shore



"Stop believing Oriental Dance is all about the steps, the combinations, and the choreographies. It's not."

—Joana Saahirah



"[Belly dance is] a shocking display of femininity."

— Yasmina Ramzy



"I can wear a brown paper sack and someone will make something sexual about it. It always is in the eyes of the beholder what they see... or want to see."

—Bert Balladine, to a television reporter



"The highest compliment a dancer can pay me is not to say how many steps she has learned, but that she feels joyful, beautiful and empowered."

— Bert Balladine



"Dance like a peacock, not a feather duster."

— Bert Balladine


"A woman doesn't have anything to dance about until she's over 35 years old."

— Bert Balladine, in a workshop (1987)


"I am not really a belly dancer, I am a performing artist who is specializing in a certain art form."

— Bert Balladine



"The image of belly dance must stay a little bit naughty to the general public, because when it isn’t anymore, they’ll look for something else."

— Bert Balladine


Bert Balladine

"I am not doing folklore. It is inspired by folklore."

— Mahmoud Reda



"You can not control art."

— Mahmoud Reda



"Don't do a complicated pattern for simple people."

— Mahmoud Reda



"Dancers themselves are responsible for the good or bad reputation of the dance. Art itself is not good or bad, it's how the artist represents it. Art is art."

— Mahmoud Reda



"People recognize themselves in the dance. They love it, as if honored by a dance being made about them."

— Mahmoud Reda


Mahmoud Reda



Dancing with Joy & Passion

Many dance quotes apply to dancing simply for fun or self-expression. There are three general categories of such dancing:

  • Dancing alone, in the privacy of one's home
  • Doing a private performance, for close friends and family members
  • Social dancing with other people at a party, club, or other joyful occasion

However, it is also essential for professional performers to express joy and passion. An experienced dancer must include not only emotion, but also technique, audience rapport, and musical interpretation when performing publicly, and a skilled teacher will help students learn how to do that.

These quotes capture the joy and passion of dancing simply for the love of dancing:

"[Dancing] is the custom of the country, just like inviting guests, dressing up, eating, drinking, and making merry. I can't bring myself to condemn it unless it gets out of hand and so causes immoralities, or excess. And even though sin has taken place in this way, it's not the fault of dancing alone, provided they don't jump on the tables or dance in church. But so long as it's done decently I respect the customs of weddings. And *I* dance, anyway!"

— Martin Luther, a leader of the Protestant reformation, 16th century


"Sometimes we can't choose the music life gives us but we can damn sure choose how we dance."

— Anonymous



The greater the fool the better the dancer.

— Theodore Hook



"On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined."

— Lord George Gordon Byron



"If I can not dance, I shall die!"

— Anna Pavlova



"When we move our bodies, fantastic things happen!"

— Peter Lovatt, dance psychologist



"Dance is the hidden language of the soul and the body."

— Martha Graham, in "Martha Graham Reflects On Her Art and a Life In Dance," The New York Times (1985)



"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way."

— Wayne Dyer



"Never underestimate the healing power of listening to your favourite music on full blast while dancing around the house like an idiot."

— Anonymous



PHOTO CREDIT: Kaylyn Hoskins, Solon, Iowa.


"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance."

— Japanese Proverb



"Technique without passion is exercise."

— Shanazel (December 2012, posted on the Oriental Dancer forum.)



"Wherever a dancer stands is holy ground."

— Martha Graham



"Dancers are the messengers of the gods."

— Martha Graham



"Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery."

— Martha Graham, in "Martha Graham Reflects On Her Art and a Life In Dance," The New York Times (1985)



"Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart."

— Martha Graham, Blood Memory (1991)



"Forget the dancer, the center of the ego. Become the dance. Then the dancer disappears and only the dance remains. Then the dancer is the dance. There is no dancer separate from dance, no dance separate from the dancer."

— Acharya Rajneesh



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision Productions, Glendale, California.


"I danced with a passion to spite the music."

— Gelsey Kirkland, Dancing on My Grave (1986)



"Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?"

— Friedrich Nietzsche



"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

— Friedrich Nietzsche (though I have sometimes seen this attributed to Angela Monet)



"And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once."

— Friedrich Nietzsche



"I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance."

— Friedrich Nietzsche



"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance."

— George Bernard Shaw


"There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good."

— Edward Denby, influential American dance critic



"Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room."

— Kurt Vonnegut


"You've got to sing like you don't need the money, love like you'll never get hurt. You've got to dance like nobody's watching. It's got to come from the heart if you want it to work."

— Richard Leigh and Susanna Clark (1987), lyric from the song "Come from the Heart"



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Lina Jang, New York City, New York.


"If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance."

— Anonymous



"You turned my mourning into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy."

— Psalm 30:11, The Bible



"Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with tambourine and lyre."

— Psalm 149:3, The Bible



"Praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes."

— Psalm 150:4, The Bible (New International Version)



"Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well."

— Jeremiah 31:13, The Bible (New International Version)


"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4, The Bible (King James Version)



"Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing."

Exodus 15:20, The Bible (English Standard Version)



"Dance is used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words."

— Ruth St. Denis



"If I can't dance, I don't want your revolution."

— Emma Goldman



"Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!"

— Constanze



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.


"Man learned to resort to the dance when he felt helpless or fragmentary, when he felt dislocated in his universe."

— Mary Austin, The American Rhythm (1923)


"My art is just an effort to express the truth of my being in gesture and movement. It has taken me long years to find even one absolutely true movement."

— Isadora Duncan, My Life (1927)



"A dancer, if she is great, can give to the people something that they can carry with them forever. They can never forget it, and it had changed them, though they may never know it."

— Isadora Duncan



"Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another."

— Author Unknown



"Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance."

— Oprah



"Fine dancing, I believe, like virtue, must be its own reward. Those who are standing by are usually thinking of something very different."

— Jane Austen, Emma (1816)



"Even the ears must dance."

— Natalia Makarova, in Newsweek (1975)



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.


"While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole."

— Hans Bos



"Dance is movement, and movement is life."

— Author Unknown



"I do not dance because I am happy, I am happy because I dance."

— Author Unknown



"Music begins to atrophy when it parts too far from dance."

— Ezra Pound



"Learning to walk sets you free. Learning to dance gives you the greatest freedom of all: to express with your whole self the person you are."

— Melissa Hayden



"I found that dance was key to keeping depression out of my life."

— Patrick Swayze



"When you dance, things just go away, things don't seem so bad."

— Patrick Swayze



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Lina Jang, New York City, New York.


"There's no better way to take care of health than through something as joyous and beautiful as dance."

— Patrick Swayze



"Dance expresses joy better than anything else."

— Bob Fosse



"La musique et la danse, c'est là tout ce qu'il faut." ("Music and dance are all you need.")

— Molière, in Le Bourgeois Gentillehomme



"I'm dancing to the music of the madness inside me."

— George C. Wolfe



"Dance, my darling dance! If you dance then death can't catch you! Nothing bad can touch you! Dance!"

— Jackie French



"The song and dance didn't stop us dying. It just stopped the fear of death swallowing us up while we were still alive."

— Jackie French



"Learn to dance, so the angels in heaven know what to do with you."

— George Goetsch in Lob des Tanzes (1928)



"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

— Maya Angelou


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.



"Dance is transformation of space, of time, of the people and the mass formed in community."

— George Goetsch in Lob des Tanzes (1928)



"I praise the dance, for it binds body, mind and soul together in man, it binds the isolated people to the community, it binds the community to space and time."

— George Goetsch in Lob des Tanzes (1928)



"Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain."

— Author Unknown



"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."

— Vivian Greene



"One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name."

— Nagwa Fouad, in August 1998 issue of Al Ahram



"Dance is a delicate balance between perfection and beauty."

— Anonymous


"I'm a dancer; it's who I am; it's my identity; it defines me. You may call it obsession, but I call it dedication."

— Nabila Karin Olivia Natter



"It never matters how tired I am when I walk into the belly dance studio, I always leave energized and inspired."

— @CorinnaDance, posted on Twitter



"Dancing: The highest intelligence in the freest body."

— Isadora Duncan



"So you can't dance? Not at all? Not even one step? How can you say that you've taken any trouble to live when you won't even dance?"

— Hermann Hesse



"To those of us with real understanding, dancing is the only pure art form."

— Snoopy (a character in the Peanuts comic strip created by Charles Schultz)



"To live is to dance. To dance is to live."

— Snoopy (a character in the Peanuts comic strip created by Charles Schultz)



"They who love dancing too much seem to have more brains in their feet than in their head."

— Terence (circa 190-159 BCE)



"The feet may learn the steps, but only the spirit can dance."

— Anonymous



"We do not always dance because we are happy, but we dance and cannot help but become happy."

— Anonymous



"Dancing is not getting up any time painlessly like a speck of dust blown around in the wind. Dancing is when you rise above both worlds, tearing your heart to pieces and giving up your soul."

— Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi



"Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free."

— Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi



"He who knows the power of the dance, dwells in God."

— Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi



"A twig from heaven's choreography, are all the dances on earth, And the dances of life are but branches of the dance of the soul."

— Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi



"If you opened the dictionary and searched for the meaning of goddess you would find the reflection of a dancing lady."

— Shah Azad Rizvi



"Dance is the healing treasure of the spirit that only movements of passion can set free."

— Shah Asad Rizvi


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.



Performing Dance for Others

The quotes below reference the importance of passion and emotion in performing. Many belly dance instructors teach only technique in the classroom, and in doing this, they fail to teach essential skills to the students who want to perform.

"In belly dance, the theatrical "fourth wall" does not exist. The audience expects the dancer to make eye contact and interact."

— Shira


"You were born an original. Don't die a copy."

— John Mason



"Today I shall dance as if this is the performance I will be remembered for."

— Shira (2013) (paraphrasing Dr. Seuss; his original quote said, "Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.")



"Today I shall prepare as if tomorrow is the performance I will be remembered for."

— Sedonia Sipes



"Belly dance is the ultimate oxymoron: to perform well, you must offset extreme muscle control with freedom that only comes when you lose control."

— Lorna Gow (2012 via twitter)



"She must express life, death, happiness, sorrow, love and anger, but above all she must have dignity."

— Tahia Carioca, when asked by an interviewer what qualities a good belly dancer should have. Quoted in the September/October 1971 issue of Aramco Magazine.



"[Dancers are] poets of gesture."

— George Balanchine, regarding his dancers, Life (May 1984)



"Dancing is the last word in life. In dancing one draws nearer to oneself."

— Jean Dubuffet



"Dance is bigger than the physical body. Think bigger than that. When you extend your arm, it doesn't stop at the end of your fingers, because you're dancing bigger than that: you're dancing spirit."

— Judith Jamison


Tahia Carioca

PHOTO: Tahia Carioca, in a scene from the movie Shatie el Gharam.


"In the end, it all comes down to the art of breathing."

— Martha Graham, Guardian Weekly (April 14, 1991)



"Dance isn't something that can be explained in words; it has to be danced."

— Paige Arden



"If I could have said it, I shouldn't have had to dance it."

— Anna Pavlova, after being asked the meaning of one of the dances she performed



"I have performed for thousands when they found me exotic, the vogue, daring, but I have danced, at any given time, for about ten people.... They were the ones that left the theater forever different from the way they were when they came in. All of my long, long life, I have danced for those ten."

— Ruth St. Denis, in Elizabeth Anticaglia, Twelve American Women (1975)



"We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams."

— Anonymous



"Great artists are people who find ways to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike."

— Margot Fonteyn



"Dancers are both athletes and artists."

— Margot Fonteyn, A Dancer's World (1979)



"Dancers are the athletes of God."

— Albert Einstein



"Dance from your heart and love the music, and the audience will love you in return."

— Maria



"Long experience has taught me that the crux of my fortunes is whether I can radiate good will toward my audience. There is only one way to do it and that is to feel it. You can fool the eyes and minds of the audience, but you cannot fool their hearts."

— Howard Thurston



PHOTO CREDIT: This photo of one of Shira's performances in Egypt was taken by Andre Elbing, Bärbroich, Germany.


"The dance is over, the applause subsided but the joy and feeling will stay with you forever."

— W. M. Tory



"It is more important who they are as people and only then is it important who they are as dancers."

— Marcia Haydee



"They may not know what I'm doing, but they know I'm doing something!"

— Bob Fosse



"When you watch a dancer, you should see his soul in his movement."

— Gus Braun



"The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure."

— Mikhail Baryshnikov



"The music is beauty for the ears, movement is beauty for the eyes."

— Massimo Giorgianni



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Jeff Halpin.


"We look musical, when we find the musicality in our movement."

— Massimo Giorgianni



"The why of movement, makes the how more significant."

— Massimo Giorgianni



"I have no desire to prove anything by dancing. I have never used it as an outlet or a means of expressing myself. I just dance. I just put my feet in the air and move them around."

— Fred Astaire



"Do it big, do it right, and do it with style."

— Fred Astaire



"It is not the movements that make a dance beautiful, it is the emotions that inspired the movements that make it beautiful."

— Kristy Nilsson



"Musicality is when the dancers' movements appear to create the music - and not the other way around."

— Kristy Nilsson



"When it comes to the requirements for pleasing an audience, all the knowledge and instruction and apparatus in the world is worth less than one ounce of soul."

— Ottawa Keyes



"Don't be afraid to be amazing."

— Andy Offutt Irwin


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.



Dancing Through Life

"In life, as in art, the beautiful moves in curves."

—Edward George Bulwer-Lytton



"Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter, so that I might have something to press against my heart."

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



"O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance?"

—William Butler Yeats



"Dance upon the mountains like a flame."

— William Butler Yeats



"Folk dancing is friendship set to music!"

— T-shirt worn by one of Shira's folk dancing friends



"I will take my leave of you, but I will remember you always because you are the ones who encouraged me and lifted me up high. I will remember you forever, forever, even in the afterlife."

— Samia Gamal



"Sometimes it's blood memory... not the blood your mother and father gave you... but that which stretches back two or three thousand years."

— Martha Graham, Blood Memory (1991)



"When the music changes, so does the dance."

— African Proverb



"I want one word on my tombstone— dancer."

— Agnes de Mille, U.S. News & World Report (October 18, 1993)



"Stop talking, start dancing. Soon you will know what you need to know."

— Author Unknown



"Dancing is the world's favorite metaphor."

— Kristy Nilsson



"Who am I?, the artist asks. And he devotes his whole life to finding out."

— Agnes de Mille, Dance in America, Station WNET Washington (May 8, 1987)



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.



"You can't lie when you dance. It's so direct. You do what is in you. You can't dance out of the side of your mouth."

— Shirley MacLaine, in James Spada, Shirley and Warren (1985)



"Dance is low on the totem pole of the arts, because you're not left with a painting... a book that will stay there, a score you can read."

— Jerome Robbins, International Herald Tribune (December 28, 1992)



"[Dance is] like life, it exists as you're flitting through it and when it's over it's gone."

— Jerome Robbins, International Herald Tribune (December 28, 1992)



"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star."

— Friedrich Nietzsche



"I do not know what the spirit of a philosopher could more wish to be than a good dancer. For the dance is his ideal, also his fine art, finally also the only kind of piety he knows, his 'divine service.'"

— Friedrich Nietzsche



"It's good to have more than one profession, in case your own profession goes out of style. A Wall Street trader who's also a belly dancer will do a lot better than a trader who winds up driving a taxi."

— Nassim Taleb, a famous derivatives trader on Wall Street



"Dance is the poetic baring of the soul through motion."

— Scott Nilsson



"Dance - no translation needed."

— Kristy Nilsson



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.


"Never trust a spiritual leader who cannot dance."

— Mr. Miyagi, The Next Karate Kid, 1994



"A king can be judged by the state of dance during his reign."

— Oriental proverb



"Some people march to the beat of a different drum — and some people polka."

— Los Angeles Times Syndicate



"Dance is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made."

— Ted Shawn, Time (July 25, 1955)



"Dance is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself."

— Havelock Ellis, The Dance Of Life



"Don't walk - DANCE!"

— Author Unknown



"Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance."

— Author Unknown



"Stifling an urge to dance is bad for your health - it rusts your spirit and your hips."

— Terri Guillemets



PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Kaylyn Hoskins, Solon, Iowa.


"The trouble with nude dancing is that not everything stops when the music stops."

— Robert Helpmann, regarding Broadway musical Oh Calcutta!, recalled upon his death (March 15, 1983)



"Dance can give the inarticulate a voice."

— Pamela Brown



"I get up, I walk, I fall down. Meanwhile I keep on dancing."

— Daniel Hillel



"It's better to dance than to march through life."

— Yoko Ono



"All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing."

— Molière, in Le Bourgeois Gentillehomme



"There is nothing so necessary for men as dancing."

— Molière, in Le Bourgeois Gentillehomme



"Sans la danse, un homme ne saurait rien faire." (Without dance, a man can do nothing.)

— Molière, in Le Bourgeois Gentillehomme



"Every savage can dance."

— Jane Austen, in Pride & Prejudice


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.


"Instead of seeing the rug being pulled from under us, we can learn to dance on a shifting carpet."

— Thomas F. Crum



"Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances."

— Maya Angelou



"Dance first, think later. It's the natural order."

— Samuel Beckett



"Death had ruled my life till I met Lady Dance. Her dance had set me free."

— Jackie French



"Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world." (The original French: "Laissez lire, et laissez danser; ces deux amusements ne feront jamais de mal au monde.")

— Voltaire


"If I could explain, I wouldn't need to dance!"

— Isadora Duncan



"Life is the dancer and you are the dance."

— Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose



"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance."

— Confucius



"The curve is more dangerous than the sword."

— Mae West




PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.


"Go where you are celebrated — not tolerated. If they can’t see the real value of you, it’s time for a new start."

— Unknown



"Dance is the only thing that lets you lose yourself and find yourself at the same time."

— Pete Townsend



"I didn't choose dance. Dance chose me."

— Rayzelle Forrest Young



"To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak."

— Hopi Native American saying



"Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune intoned in the distance by an invisible player."

— Albert Einstein



"I believe that dance has the power to heal, mentally and physically."

— Ted Shawn



"Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor."

— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.



"Those move easiest who have learned to dance."

— Alexander Pope



"Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people."

— Alvin Ailey



"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken!"

— Oscar Wilde



"By thinking and acting positively, sound becomes music, movement becomes dance, a smile becomes laughter."

— Rashida Rowe



"When there is dancing, it is not only the living who are present."

— Minianka proverb



"The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word."

— Mata Hari



"A king can be judged by the state of dance during his reign."

— Oriental proverb



"Thanks to dance, I've stopped saying, 'I can't do that,' and started saying, 'I will be able to do that, just give me some time to practice.'"

— New York City Dance Alliance



"Any problem in the world can be solved by dancing."

— James Brown



"To dance is to affirm."

— Bayard Coll



"For though man has sorrow and grief in his soul, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of Terpsichore."

— Hesiod, 7th century BC



"To dance is to give oneself up to the rhythms of all life."

— Dr. Maya V. Patel



"Socrates learned to dance when he was 70 because he felt that an essential part of himself had been neglected."

— Anonymous



"What do you dance?"

— Bantu greeting to a member of another Bantu tribe



"A good education includes learning how to sing and dance."

— Plato, Laws



"The way people move is their autobiography in motion."

— Gerry Spence



"No sane man will dance."

— Cicero



"When you dance, you don't sweat: you glow."

— Didi



"Dance is the mother of all languages."

— R.G. Collingwood, The Principles of Art



"Alas! Our dancing days are no more. We wish, however, all those who have a relish for so agreeable and innocent an amusement all the pleasure the season will afford them."

— George Washington on the Value of Dance



"Those hours spent dancing are not deducted from ones life span."

— Anonymous



"The man who can't dance thinks the band is no good."

— Polish Proverb



"To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking."

— Agnes De Mille



"The people who do not dance are the dead."

— Jerry Rose, Dance Caravan



"You know you're dancing when tears of pain and happiness blend in with your sweat."

— Anonymous



"Dancers offer us our only earthly chance to catch a glimpse of the angelic host."

— Anonymous



"We do not have ideology. We do not have theology. We dance."

— A Shinto Priest



"The Deadheads are doing the dance of life and this I would say is the answer to the atom bomb."

— Joseph Campbell (after attending a 1985 Grateful Dead concert)


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Randolph Lynch, Redwood City, California.



About Middle Eastern Culture

"Om Kalthoum... is great. She really is. Really great."

— Bob Dylan, in an interview with Playboy



"Curves are everywhere in Eastern culture: our writing, our architecture, our instruments, the way we dance, even the tone of our language is curved. The West was built on angles. The East was built on curves."

— Humans of New York



"Temoot el raqassa we westaha beyel3ab." ("When a belly dancer dies, her hips are still moving." It means that habits stay with a person forever, similar to the English expression "A leopard doesn't change his spots." To write it in Arabic, "تموت الرقاصه ووسطها بيلعب"

— Egyptian Proverb



"Raqasah wa batorqous." ("She's a dancer who also dances.") It means that the person saying it is no better than the one they are criticizing. To write it in Arabic, "راقصه و بترقص".

— Egyptian Proverb



"Life is like a ghaziya, she dances just briefly for each."

— Egyptian Proverb



"The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music. Bodies never lie."

— Agnes de Mille, in The New York Times Magazine (1975)



"God respects us when we work, but loves us when we dance."

— Sufi saying



"If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance."

— African Proverb



"The philosopher's soul dwells in his head, the poet's soul is in his heart, the singer's soul lingers about his throat, but the soul of the dancer abides in all her body."

— Kahlil Gibran



"I don't learn new things to do them, I learn new things to open my mind."

— Mahmoud Reda, May 12, 2016


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.



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