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Gilded Serpent presents...
The London Belly Beat!

by Alexandria

There seems to be a buzz going on in London! Belly dancing is quite popular. When I arrived in London, England, to conduct my interviews for the Gilded Serpent, I never realized how big London is. I had to do most of the interviews by phone. Everyone I spoke with was friendly and extremely nice; they seem to favor Egyptian style more because Egypt is more accessible than in the United States. Most have studied or visited Egypt. The dancers of London love belly dancing. They have nothing against tribal or fusion styles and seem to enjoy all belly dance. I had a great time chatting with all the dancers and met up with some of them. To sum it up they like to dance!

Josephine Wise
Jo has the largest school and festivals in the United Kingdom. Fantasia Festival is held in April (this year- April 8-10,'05) and October. The festival offers 15 different teachers and 38 workshops plus a belly dance souk and shopping.

Jo teaches classical Egyptian style including Saidi, balady, and stick. She keeps her dancing Egyptian but does some contemporary fusion with her dance company on occasion. She also uses Alexander principles in her dance teaching. She has two dance companies, Sharqi and Masriat.

She believes that before you do fusion you should have the training in whatever style of dance you decide to fuse Bellydance with. She thinks the UK is a little bit isolated, but she teaches all over Europe.

She has been to Egypt. Her favorite dancers are Fifi Abdu, Samia Gamal, and Namia Akef. She said London is staying Egyptian style and the country side of England is going tribal style.

Anne White
Ann teaches 8 classes a week in London and has 100 students. She teaches classical Egyptian style. She is a teacher, dancers and promoter. Her organization, Planet Egypt, is a consortium of performers and teachers. They host free dance showcases every month in London.

Ann likes some fusion and finds dance a means of personal expression. She thinks belly dance is a melting pot and there is very little dance that is pure any more. She believes it is ever evolving and is open to these changes and influences. She dances at clubs, parties and weddings. London's biggest Arab club was Cave's De Rio but it closed in 2004. It had a live band and only Arabian dancers. A more diluted version exists now. She thinks the United Kingdom is isolated from the rest of Europe. She believes that some students are less committed than the students in Europe.

Her favorite dancer is Fifi Abdu. She thinks the future of Bellydance in the UK will be influenced by the Belly Dance Super Stars. The BDSS will make an impact because they will bring about the fusion in Belly dance. It will attract students even though what we do is actually very different. Her students loved the BDSS because of the staging and lights and the glamour.

Angelia Wooi
Angelia's studio is in an adult school in Maidstone and at Jag Dance Academy. She teaches folklore, Ghawazi, Saidi, and Egyptian cabaret. She teaches 6 classes a week and has about 16 students from the ages of 15 to 75. She works at a restaurant in Canterbury called Azouma and dances to recorded music making 60 pounds a show. Angelia enjoys fusion and tribal styles and the Belly Dance Super Stars. She thinks the United Kingdom is isolated from the rest of Europe. Her favorite dancers are Azza Sheriff and Ronda. She likes teaching people on an individual level and thinks it is good for women to be fit and to express themselves.

Aylin Hansen
Aylin teaches in North London at the David Lloud Fitness Studios. She is a performer, teacher, and choreographer. She teaches Turkish style and was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. Aylin has 55 students a week. She performs on TV and as well as being a fulltime TV producer. She likes fusion and also classical. She thinks it is great to be creative and to explore Belly dance.

Aylin believes the UK is isolated form Europe and thinks the UK dancers like it that way. Her favorite dancers are Nesrin Topkapi, who is from Turkey and from Egypt, Aza Sheriff. She saw Nesrin Topkapi on TV in Turkey when she was 11 years old and fell in love with her; she was inspired by her. She thinks it is taking a long time because women are shy here in the UK but feels it is changing slowly. Her take on BDSS is they look lovely but believe Belly dance is for all sizes.

Beatrice Curtis
Beatrice teaches in Surrey and Berkshire. She is a student, performer, teacher and event sponsor. She has about 80 students and teaches Egyptian style, cane, and Raqs Sharqi. Her troupe is called Desert Flame.

The clubs and restaurants in the area that have belly dancing are Maroush on Edgeware Road in London, and also Abo Hadmmad on Queen Way London. They have dancing on Friday and Saturday. The dinner and show costs around 40 or 50 pounds (which is $100 in American money). They have a live band and are Lebanese owners.

Beatrice has been to Egypt 2 times and saw Lucy in 2000. The local conventions are in April and October and called Fantasia. This festival is put on by Jo Wise the biggest promoter in the UK.

Carolyn focuses on Egyptian style. She teaches in Glastonbury, Somerset. She has 18 students.

Carolyn also believes if you are going to try and do fusion you must be trained in what ever kind of dance you are trying to fuse into Belly dance. She is a teacher and performer. She thinks the UK dancers are a bit arrogant and think they are a bit better because, after all, they are the Kingdom and Europe is over there.

Her favorite dancer is Suraya Hilal, Sohar Zaki and Fifi Abdu for her shimmies. She sees Belly dance going tribal and attends the Majma Festival in March. They have really good dancers like Amel Tafsout who is from Algeria. She thinks the women in the UK are really interested in Belly dance from Egypt and think the BDSS are fantastic.

Hazel King
Has been teaching 14 years in Hampstead and has 8 students. She teaches Egyptian dances at events and for ladies birthday parties. She does not do parties for men alone. She thinks the dance enhances the lives of women. Her favorite dancer is Anmia Akef. She thinks belly dancers are isolated not only from Europe but from northern England as well. She thinks Egyptian dance is difficult.

Jacqueline Chapman
Located in central London Chislehurst, Jacqueline has 95 students. She teaches Egyptian and Arabic. She has been teaching for 25 years and has no objection to fusion, but would not teach it.

Jacqueline dances at parties, restaurants, and big hotels. She thinks the UK is isolated from the rest of Europe because it is an island. She thinks Egyptian dancers look down on English dancers. English dancers work hard. She likes Samia Gamal, but doesn’t really have a favorite because she likes them all.

Jacqueline believes it takes a life time to master belly dance, and that it is important to learn the roots of the dance. It is important to see all belly dance, the good, the bad and the ugly so you can understand it. She also believes that the dance helps women that suffer from low self esteem. The more people who study the dance the higher the levels will become.

She thinks you should give out respect and respect your audience and they will love you back. She believes the BDSS are good for England and thinks they are great and professional American belly dancers.

From her home studio in Kent, Jemeela teaches Turkish and Egyptian. She learned from Serena, Hossam Ramzy wife. She mixes the two styles together for performance and thinks you need good hands, feet, and isolations to be a good dancer.

Regarding fusion, she doesn't care too much for jazz, modern, or hip hop in the Belly dance. She dances in restaurants and parties. She feels the UK is isolated from Europe. Her favorite dancers are Lucy, Samia Gamel, and Namia Akef. In BDSS she loves Rachel Brice and Ansuya.

Khalisha teaches at a health club called Cannons. She has 20 students and is a promoter as well. She teaches Egyptian cabaret dances in Lewisham at the meza bar and at the Bollywood. They make 50
GBP for 10 minutes (that is $100 USD).

There is an importer called Koochie Bazaar that charges 35 GBP for a hip scarf ($70 USD.) They are the only importer in the area.

She thinks the UK is isolated from Europe. Her favorite dancer is Dina. She likes all the English dancers. She thinks they have a lot of soul. She also likes the old style Egyptian dancers.

She took ballet, tap, and modern as a kid. She was a fitness teacher, and has been belly dancing for 5 years. She sees Belly dance going tribal in northern England.

Meret is from Cairo. She has been dancing 12 years. Her studio is in London called “The Place”. She has 10 students and teaches Egyptian style. Her favorite dancers are Suhair Zaki and Rhonda.

She loves fusion and likes Bollywood and hip hop; she thinks jazz is too harsh. She thinks the UK is isolated from Europe. She sees Belly dance going tribal and likes it. BDSS: loves them!

Vashti has been teaching 37 years. She teaches all over the world. She dances at an October dance celebration in Devon. She teaches Egyptian, Turkish, Persian, Khaleeja, Tunisian, Shickhatt, and Azerbaijani. She does not like fusion. She dances at private parties, lectures, performs, and teaches. Her favorite dancer in Turkey is Nesrin Topkapi.

Her favorite Egyptian dancers are Fifi Abdu, Dansha. Her favorite dancers in the UK are Nabild. She sees Belly dance going tribal and fusion for the sisterhood that welcomes any size women. She admired the presentation of the BDSS.

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