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 http://www.shira.net. 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: www.Shira.net
Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Shira
- 8-22-06 Expo: Magic of the White City The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 [layout update 3-23-13]
Alas, there is a dark side to what could have been a superb documentary – the way it handles nearly every subject related to women, including the Middle Eastern dance performers.
- 1-29-05 Photos from Sumaya’s Chicago South Side Hafla
Being new to the Midwest, I thought it would be fun to attend one of Sumaya’s haflas and meet other members of the greater Midwestern dance community.
- 4-7-05 Daughters of Shahrazad: Face to Face Cultural Encounters Through the Expressive Arts of Middle Eastern Women
On March 5, 2005, a unique conference in Iowa honored International Women’s Month.
- 5-5-05 Initiating Dance Dialogue: Current Trends, The Panel Discussion at Carnivals of Stars Festival,
Panel members included: Heather as moderator, Monica Berini, Shira, Barbara Bolan, Amina Goodyear, Debbie Lammam.
- 7-28-05 Rainbows of the Desert Sponsor Aziza Sa’id to Des Moines, Iowa
It was clear from the overall setup that the Rainbows are very experienced at sponsoring large workshops.
AWS COVERAGE 2003
- 6-16-03 Breaking News from the Ahlan wa Sahlan 2003 in Cairo
The flavor of the instruction and dancing are very different from that offered by the U.S. festivals, and it offers an exciting opportunity for immersion in the Egyptian dance arts.
- 6-29-03 Photos from the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival, The Opening Night Gala
held at the Mena House Oberoi Hotel on June 10-17, Cairo, Egypt. More promised!
AWS COVERAGE 2004
- 6-28-04 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!
- First Two Days
- Day 3: First Look at Egyptian History
- Day 4: More Egyptian Monuments and First Dance Show
- Day 5: Shop-portunities and Whirling Dervishes posted 7-9-04
- Day 6: The Festival Begins posted 7-17-04
- Day 7: Classes and Free Time posted 7-17-04
- Day 8: Side Trips, Part 1: Gayer Anderson Museum posted 7-25-04
- Day 8: Side Trips, Part 2: The Parisiana posted 7-26-04
- Day 9: The Evening Show posted 11-12-04
- Day 10: Classes and the Sphinx Speaks posted 11-22-04
- Day 11: Camels, Class, & Competitions posted 12-15-04
AWS COVERAGE 2005
- 6-30-05 Ahlan wa Sahlan 2005 Begins
Shira is back at Raqia's Cairo festival again this year. Many improvements noted!
- 6-16-04 Egypt Travel Health Checklist
Here is a packing checklist that may help you anticipate your own needs.
- 6-10-05 Health Secrets of a Road Warrior, Part 1: Introduction to Healthy Travel
However, some of us don’t have much experience with travel, particularly international travel, and we might not know about the health risks that travel can pose.
- 6-20-05 Health Secrets of a Road Warrior, Part 2: Beating Jet Lag
I’ve developed some techniques that usually work for me in minimizing the discomfort and health risks jet lag can cause.
- 8-12-05 Health Secrets of a Road Warrior, Part 3: Avoiding Colds
When most people think about getting sick on a big trip, they think of “the mummy’s revenge”, or traveler’s diarrhea. There is another very real, very common health risk that many of us don’t anticipate: the common cold.
- 2-12-04 When Comparing & Contrasting
Often, people base their negative judgments of other styles on student-quality performances.
- 6-16-03 Mailbox Missives: When Pop Culture Meets Belly Dancing; Here we go again!
Today, we’re seeing another revival. Belly dancing is popping up on music videos featuring Shakira and other artists.
- 3-9-03 Mailbox Missives: No Excuse for Low Video Standards!
A dancer who does this conveys the impression that belly dancers either don’t know what constitutes professional quality or we don’t care.
- 9-13-02 Mailbox Missives: Are You Helping or Hurting Our Vendors?
Fortunately, very few bad vendors exist.
- 2-5-02 Are Strippers Our Enemies?
Many belly dancers are openly hostile toward strippers
- 7-10-01 Dance Or Career: Which To Choose?
You can still stay involved in dance no matter where you choose to live.
- 4-10-01 Mailbox Missives -Kid Dance
Is belly dancing a good activity for young girls?
- 12-30-00 Mailbox Missives -Serving Men Indeed! Harumph!
He even has made comparisions to stripping and other similar types related to stripping.
- 1-4-00 Mailbox Missives- The Student Rustler
Teacher #2 started soliciting her students, right after my teacher's class was over!
- 9-23-99 Mailbox Missives...my little round tumtum...
Almost every woman has a uterus, and needs a place to put it.
- 6-17-99 That "Snake Charmer" Song
a wonderful article on that kitchy didy your friends sing to you, when they hear you're a belly dancer. Includes 2 sound files, lyrics, an animated graphic and antique cover of the original sheet music