We Love Arts: Bellydance Superstars


"Petite Jamilla" courtesy of Bellydance Superstars

A couple of years ago I took a bellydance class at Joy of Motion, totally on a whim. My instructor was an incredible American Cabaret style performer named Michelle Forner. I’ll never forget the first class when she did a quick routine for us and I thought, “Oh. My. God. There is NO way I will be able to do this.” The technique she displayed, with complete control in isolation of various core muscles, was intimidating and yet enthralling.

I recently decided to take the plunge again and take another bellydance class, this time in American Tribal at Saffron Dance. We’ll see how that goes! The differences between the many styles of bellydance, including the growing fusion between them and other branches of dance (such as urban, goth, bollywood, etc.) are highlighted in this year’s tour of Bellydance Superstars, which I had the luck of seeing Tuesday night at GWU’s Lisner Auditorium. The Superstars will be back in our area this June for Raqs America, and I highly recommend if you have any interest in this dance genre to definitely check it out.

Despite an overblown and cheesy opening voiceover, the 2009 tour titled “The Art of Bellydance” is a good introduction to the amazingly talented resurgence of this dance form in America. Featuring some incredible performers, exquisite costumes (more so for the tribal than the cabaret, which just isn’t to my personal taste), and the brilliant Issam Houshan on drum solo – it was two hours of beauty, pure and simple.

Performance highlights for me were Sonia’s drum solo with Issam, American Cabaret style at its best – the flirtatious interchange between the two was infectious, and they both displayed unbelievable timing and riveting technique.

Zoe Jakes‘ drum solo with Issam highlighted that Modern Tribal style isn’t just about looking Goth, you have to back it up with her amazing isolation and control, which she does combined with wry humour that had the audience at her feet begging for more.

Petite Jamilla‘s gorgeous veil dance called “Wheel Within a Wheel” was mesmerizing as she spun around and around managing multiple veils and head spins, somehow making it all seems effortless.

Finally, I loved the “South Pacific Bellynesian” routine – bellydance polynesian fusion which was brilliant fun, the Tahitian bump music making it impossible to stay still in your seat.

After two hours of watching these supremely talented performers, I was getting that sinking feeling again. “Oh. My. God. There is NO way I will be able to do this.” But, I’m still going to take that class. I’ll let you know how it goes… in the meantime, if you see a crazy blonde girl practicing shimmies on the S4, say hi.

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

Twitter Flickr 

3 thoughts on “We Love Arts: Bellydance Superstars

  1. I’ve taken classes both with Belladonna and at Saffron Dance Studio and I recommend them highly. For people interested in getting a quick taste of Tribal Fusion belly dance, I recommend attending Tribal Cafe the last sunday of each month, be entertained, eat drink & be merry at Adams Morgan’s own Asylum.
    2741 18th Street, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20009
    $10 admission.