How do you define “Belly Dance”?
Is a dance that holds a strong cultural background that has been passed down for
generations. This danced has been preserved to tell “stories” about out ancestors.
The dance has a strong focus on an internalization and reflection of the music and the
emotion therein. The music is as important as a vocabulary of movements from which
to draw, and therefore the most revered of dancers will generally be those who are
either the most charismatic or the most emotionally projective (even if their movement
vocabulary is limited). The dancer becomes the vehicle of communication to make
sound and emotion visible to the audience
How & when did you first encounter belly dancing?
First encountered this dance as a child (I was 6 years old) in an “after school/day
care” program. There were many choices to choose from; basketball, kickball (VERY
popular overseas) or dance… of course chose dance.
How long have you been dancing (professionally/teaching)?
I have been training hard (yes, we are athletes too) for 12 years and professionally
teaching and performing for 8 years.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Saudi Arabia and I currently reside in Denver, CO
Where is the most interesting place that belly dance has taken you?
This dance has taken me as far as Egypt. Back to where it ALL began, Egypt is like
my home… opps correction, Egypt IS my home!
Who were some of your mentors/teachers/inspirations along the way?
My biggest inspirations in this dance of course are the pioneers of this dance; the
legendary Mahmoud Reda and Farida Famy. I LOVE Randa Kamel, and she is a great
representation of a strong Egyptian/Raqs sharqi dancer should be. Last but not
least, My grandmother is my biggest inspiration. She has supported me in more
ways than one. I have been told to just quit to get married and have children…. My
Grandmother always have told me to continue to do what I love and don’t listen to
the negativity of this world. She believed in me when no one else did. I love her so
much and I do this because of her.
What valuable advice would you like to pass on to novice dancers?
Practice, practice and PRACTICE some more, we ARE athletes too, just like a football
player drills his drills everyday … we MUST do the same! Make sure that you are
getting into this dance for all of the right reasons. When performing this dance, do
NOT forget that you are representing a strong nation/culture of people. Of course
know the music and instrumentation, if you don’t know Arabic please have it
translated for you. Also know the appropriate costuming that goes with your music.
It also helps to educated you on the history and religion of the Middle- East and
beyond. The MORE knowledgeable you are the stronger the foundation you have in
What is the most unusual experience you have had belly dancing?
I have only experienced this in America (and NO other part of the world), but
many people seem to “approach” belly dance artists as if they were approaching
a stripper? I think many Americans that are uneducated about movement/
dance that contains undulating movement will resort their thinking to whatever
seems “familiar” to them, and that’s to exotic dancers or sex? I do my best to educate
everywhere I perform, but as they say, you cannot educate the ignorant and it’s so
What is the topic of the article you are contributing to Zanbaka’z Belly dance for
the Versatile Dancer Vol.4?
The proper representation and approach to Arabic dance and music.
Do you have any other special talents/skills/occupations besides (or that
compliment) your belly dancing?
I am a scientist and a performer. I hold a degree in Veterinary medicine and I have a
deep compassion for animals. This has always have been a life dream of mine right
along with performing Middle-Eastern dance. Science and movement for me is a
perfect balance in my life.
What is your favorite or signature style of belly dance that you teach or perform?
Do you have a specialty that people recognize you for?
I am known for my upbeat energetic Egyptian style (raq sharqi) and folklore. I am
mainly and widely known for my expertise in performing Khaleej style dance and
Do you have any special projects you are working on personally that you would like
to share about?
Currently my best dance friends we have formed a trio by the name of “A’dawiya” it
means “wild roses”. The trio consists of: I (Khadijah), Taka and Sonia of Denver.
Here is a clip of us performing at a Denver community event:
Why do you love belly dancing?
This dance helps me to tell “my story” without saying a word. The stage is where my true
personality comes out. When sound of the music fills my ear, the feeling that comes over
me is completely unexplainable. This feeling is a spiritual feeling almost next to God. The
benefits of belly dance are both mental and physical. Dancing is a good cardio-vascular
work out and helps increase flexibility. It is suitable for all ages and body types and can be
as physical as the dancer chooses to make it. Mental health benefits, for many bellydancers,
include an improved sense of wellbeing, elevated body image and self-esteem as well as a
generally positive outlook that comes with regular, enjoyable exercise.
What is your favorite music to dance to? Why? Any favorite bands/groups/artists?
I LOVE Khaleej music especially from Iraq and Kuwait (VERY African influenced).
I love sha’abi. My music collection is very extensive I have over 7,000 songs on my
Ipod anything from classic rock, classical to hip hop.
Favorite costume elements?
ANYTHING bright! I love bright colors; they go best with my dark skin tone. I get
my costumes designed in Egypt; I buy Egyptian only, for Khaleej style I purchase
straight from the Gulf. I love big heavy jewelry. I love anything silver or turquoise.
I tend to mix silver and gold together, the more the better. I do my own stage make
up. I love creating the “Arabic make up style” w/ heavy Kohl around the eyes and
for the brows. I love deep purple, orange, silver, cranberry, fuchsia, shimmery
browns and gold. My favorite props to use are assaya (cane) or my 48” Indonesian
swords (2). Shoes I tend to dance barefoot, if I am dancing on a surface that looks
dangerous, I will wear ballet slippers.
I love blue, burnt orange, black, gold and maroon.
Favorite Quotes (regarding dance or life):
Never give up what you want in a lifetime ... for just one moment (life)
It Takes an Athlete to Dance, but an Artist to be a Dancer (Dance)