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

Belly Dance Commentary: Flash vs Soul


By Saqra




Flash vs Soul

A dance friend said something to the effect, "We have sold our souls for jumps, locks, pops, and hair tossing." That made me start thinking about competitions and festivals I have attended.

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

Watching 12 Hours of Quality Dancing in One Weekend

I spent one entire weekend at a belly dancing event named "Ya Halla Y'all" in the Dallas, Texas area. I always enjoy this event when my schedule allows me to go. At this particular event, there are four full-length evening shows on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Each evening consists of shows 3 hours or more in length, which include competition segments. It features a lot of dancing! Because the performers are primarily competitors and workshop instructors, the quality of dancing is very high. Even the student showcase on the final night is filled with quality dancing, including teachers and guest soloists.


I noticed some very obvious patterns after watching so much dancing. There were two clearly identifiable kinds of performer — and really, only two:

  1. High-energy dancers who flashed and jumped and popped. Most of them did a back kick and numerous hair whips, maybe with a cute hook or two. They also included some of what I call party tricks, such as doing the splits or including clever character bits, or
  2. Dancers who were calm and lyrical, who seemed completely confident on stage, usually using smaller movements. Their dancing included the same tricks as the others. (In competitions and in shows featuring many highly skilled dancers, it's almost mandatory to include such tricks in order to stand out and make people remember you.)

So that was a major thing I noticed — the performance styles of "flash vs soul". Both were equally enjoyable to watch, so long as they were done well. There were also a few very good dancers who made me want to run on stage and scream "Settle down!!!" because they seemed too frantic. Aside from those few, both styles of performers were equally entertaining, which makes me think they are equal but different.

The other thing that really stood out to me was how important confidence and audience relationship really is:

  • Flashy dancing didn't work if the dancer wasn't conventionally pretty.
  • However, any skilled dancer who could genuinely smile at the audience or inject some confident humor into her dance was clearly held in really high esteem by the audience.

This was completely compatible with my theory that there are three factors at play in a performer's dance:

  1. Appearance
  2. Technical skill
  3. Audience contact

You don't need to possess all three factors at 100% to be an engaging performer.

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

Closing Thoughts


It was a great event, filled with dance.

Everyone will find they personally relate to some belly dance styles more than others. These styles have always existed and are not actually something new, just emphasized more or less at any time probably based on which dancer is currently trendy.

And you don't have to dance the same style as the current trendy dancer to be an exceptionally entertaining performer.

I often wonder where I am going when I start writing one of these dance commentaries. I'm rather certain I just got there. And my mileage didn't vary!




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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