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Top 10 Reads for a Belly Dancer

Today I would like to share with you my favorite books that have fueled my inspiration and knowledge in belly dance. I believe education never stops, no matter at what level you are as a dancer (teacher, performer) and by all means it extends far beyond classroom (stage). Middle East is a cradle of civilization and has incredibly rich and fascinating history. Although Raqs Sharqi (literally “Oriental Dance”) developed during the first half of the 20th century, knowing  some cultural aspects of sophisticated East can do evolve and enrich your dance style to an extend you never thought of.

Some of the books on this list are very easy to read, others are heavy due to abundance of historical facts and take more focus, patience and time. I live by the rule “small things you do everyday are more important than a big thing you do once a year ”. Even if it’s just ten pages a day - by the end of the week you nearly finished a book!

Here is the list:


1. A Trade Like Any Other. Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt. Written by Karin Van Nieuwkerk, published in 1995.


2. Before They Were Belly Dancers. European Accounts of Female Entertainers in Egypt, 1760-1870. Written by Kathleen W. Fraser, published in 2015.


 3. Bellydance: A Guide to Middle Eastern Dance, Its Music, Its Culture and Costume. Written by Keti Sharif, published in 2005


4. Cleopatra. Written by Jacob Abbott  (Initially published as “History of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt” in 1851). The current edition is published by Enhanced Media, 2017.


5. Egyptian Belly Dance in Transition. The Raqs Sharqi Revolution, 1890-1930. Written by Heather D. Ward, published in 2018.


6. Grandmother's Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing. Written by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi, translated by  Monique Arav, published in 2000.


7. Midnight at The Crossroads. Has Belly Dance Sold its Soul? Written by Alisa Thabit, published in 2017.


8. The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life & Beyond. Written by Joana Saahirah, published in 2015-2016.


9. The Voice of Egypt. Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in The Twentieth Century. Written by Virginia Danielson, published in 1997.


10. Trance Dancing With The Jinn. Written by Yasmin Henkesh, published in 2016.


Please note, this list has been put in alphabetical order and all the reads are equally enjoyable and important! This list is not final and continuously expands. It’s exciting how much information gets revealed nowadays. Some books/documentaries are harder to access, however we have wealth of information available to us instantly!

I hope this list will serve you and inspire you the way it inspired me, or more!

Feel free to share some of your favorite reads with us, so we could learn all together!


NEW! Alisa Shine at WAMED Festival 2018, Perth WA

NEW! Alisa Shine at WAMED Festival 2018, Perth WA

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