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

Passion in the Dance


By Saqra




The following was written in 2014:

People tend to dance in the style they see being performed by others. A few years ago, there was a rather homogenous technically / appearance focused example of "belly dancing" that toured, claiming to be what the dance was about. That touring group did influence many people who were just entering the field at the time, and the newer dancers perpetuated that group's aesthetic. (This is definitely not an attack on the group! They represented a very successful model!)

I truly don't believe this is a "new trend" at all. I definitely remember it existing back before the most recent decade.

There have always been dancers that excelled in different areas, and achieved success excelling in different areas.

There are three factors that go into a pleasing performance:

  1. Appearance
  2. Technical skill
  3. Audience rapport

A dancer does not need to have all three to excel.

Audience rapport includes emotional expression.

In order to be successful, a dancer really only needs to have either:

  • a strong ability in one of the above factors
  • a medium level of ability in two, or
  • a modest amount of all three.

During the boom of pretty/technical, what kind of dance aesthetic was created and valued? Exceedingly pretty and exceedingly technical dancers. Those people became teachers, and created more dancers like themselves. The result has created an imbalance in what you see in an average show. It is similar to the past, when a preponderance of dancers decided they didn't need to play finger cymbals and taught several generations of dancers without addressing them.

However, there are still many teachers out there that stress expressiveness, or exhibit it themselves and inspire people to reach for it.

We just have to watch for that and wait out the trends while the values even out again.

I'm finding it cool that people are finally becoming aware of this. It means the emphasis will start to go back the other way, and we will see less sameness again. I've actually already noticed it. A generation of new dancers are suddenly starting to find the emotional content of music instead of being just pretty and technical. But they are still in the minority.

When they join the next generation of teachers, they will affect the balance again.

It helps to have a really long history in the field to see this as a cycle and not an end game.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Sarah Selwood, Leeds, United Kingdom.




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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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