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

Our Value to the Public as Belly Dancers


By Saqra





I'm going to say something I think is important to our belly dance scene in North America and other locations outside the cultures of origin. I realize that I'm just stating my own opinion, and I'm not trying to argue with anyone or refute their thoughts. You may feel differently.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Ian Cartlidge, Leeds, United Kingdom.



Our Skewed Idea of Value

I believe we have a skewed idea of what value we have as American belly dancers (or belly dancers in any other area outside the cultures of origin). We seem to think we are somehow important to the general public. I don't think that is actually realistic.

We have the privilege of engaging in a beautiful specialty dance form that is not from the home country of most of the American participants. We don't own it, and we didn't create it.

It isn't mainstream here, so not everyone is interested in it. It's just like any other special interest such as painting, tap dance, zydeco or showing dogs.

Everyone who has become interested in every one of those narrow fields feels they have hit the lottery with finding the best thing in the world. Every person feels in their heart that if people only really saw it done well they would understand and love it too.

And some people might. However, the vast majority won't get excited about your thing because they have their own things. Yours just isn't it for them.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. Click on the photo to see the text more clearly.

How It Affects Pay

One the big reasons we have trouble getting good pay is because people who aren't directly interested can't see what value we have. Restaurant owners may ask, "How will hiring a dancer get more people into the seats of my restaurant than improving the decor?" They don't think, "I should hire a better dancer! A better quality of dancer will bring people in!" We are a commodity to people who aren't interested in our field.

Where to Put Your Effort

It's important to make some extra effort when you reach out to people whose thing this is not. Go to them, and don't expect them to come to you. Understand that they might not see the value.

Most importantly, treasure and value your community that shares your special interest — your community that actually shares your love of this dance. Support them. Try to understand all points of view. Existing students and amateurs keep the interest alive more than efforts you make to recruit new interested people from scattershot performances in front of random groups of the general public.

The people who have the right combination of interests will find our classes and continue to keep the field alive.

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

Closing Thought

We are a special interest group in the USA. Protect, nurture, and value the students and amateurs because they keep our special interest group alive and afloat.




About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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