Shira with Alice

The Gilded Serpent presents...


Ever since little Julie Elliot strapped on her first pair of tap shoes at age 4, she has loved to dance. A year later, she wore a sequined tutu in a tap dance recital and a future belly dancer was born! Her first Oriental dance class, which transformed her into "Shira", began in 1981, in Iowa City, Iowa.  She had loved ethnic dance for several years before that, having studied both Scottish Highland dance and international folk dance. When a belly dancing class was advertised through the local adult education program, she had to try it, and has found joy in Middle Eastern dance ever since. Dance has been Shira's inspiration, her outlet for creative energy, her avenue to making friends in a new community after relocating, and her escape from her "day job" of working as a professional computer nerd.

Shira has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and French, as well as a Master's degree in Business Administration. She has worked as a computer nerd for over 16 years in the online services, networking, and Internet industries. In August of 1997, she used her Internet expertise to launch her own web site, The Art Of Middle Eastern Dance, at Now featuring over 150 articles, poems, song translations, and photo essays, it has rapidly become one of the favorite dance-related Internet destinations for many belly dancers around the world.

Shira has been members of various troupes since 1986. She was assistant director of Troupe Wasila and The Veiled Threats before they disbanded in 2001. As a soloist, Shira feels most at home with the Americanized flavor of Oriental dance because of her love for American-style veil work, sword balancing, and other New World innovations.

As a student of Middle Eastern dance, Shira hungered to learn about its music, history, and cultural context, and was disappointed by how few teachers incorporated such information into their classes. Most teachers just focused on step combinations and choreography in a vacuum, without acknowledging the rich texture of other factors underlying the dance. Now that she herself teaches in Mountain View, California, Shira's class incorporates the elements she found missing in the ones she took as a student. As a writer for the Gilded Serpent and other magazines, Shira also shares that knowledge with you.

Web site:

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Shira



  • Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival 2004-Intro
    Middle Eastern dance artists and students from throughout the world attend this event to immerse themselves in instruction by leading Egyptian instructors, shop for costumes and other supplies offered by Egyptian vendors, and enjoy the gala shows featuring top Egyptian dancers. Check back for regular updates!


Healthy Travel