I was able to witness first hand how truly global the world of
bellydance has become. Dances of the Middle East and North
Africa are no longer a mystery and unknown “exotic” style of dance.
dances are now as documented, preserved, mutated, fused, and
experienced across the globe as ballet, jazz, flamenco, and
other dance forms have been.
October 2005, I have had the opportunity to travel to Iceland
to experience the growth and development of a young community
of bellydance enthusiasts.
northern-most island located between Europe and America, surprisingly
does not live up to its extremely frozen sounding name. The
capital and biggest city, Reykjavik, has a population of about
150,000; this is half of the total population of the entire country. Near
the center of the city, locally known as Reykjavik 101, is a two-floor
dance house called Kramhusid. Kramhusid was
the first dance house in Reykjavik to offer “alternative” dance
styles to the classic jazz and ballet styles. Kramhusid
was opened in 1983 by Hafdis, a movement teacher
who had originally trained drama and theater students. Kramhusid
has come a long way from its beginnings and currently offers classes
in yoga, African dance, salsa, funky jazz, hip hop, aerobics,
creative movement (taken from many dance forms), Caribbean, flamenco,
tango, Balkan, and bellydance (translated in Icelandic to magadans).
turn of the millennium, Kramhusid changed from just offering
the occasional workshops and bellydance classes to regularly hosting
guest teachers from around the world. When asked to recall
all of the master teachers that were hired to come teach bellydance
at Kramhusid, Hafdis recalls bringing teachers from Sweden,
Brazil, the United States, Belgium, many from Denmark, and an
Egyptian teacher to teach for one- to six-week intervals. If there
is any time between these visits, advanced students with at least
four years’ experience teach the beginning classes while they
use class time themselves to review and rehearse their performance
students have the opportunity to perform in recitals, festivals,
cultural nights, gypsy tea parties, haflas, and even a few wedding
receptions. The advanced students usually perform at least
5-10 times per year. Because of the constant flow of professional
teachers, dedicated students have learned a variety of styles
including folkloric, raqs sharqi, fusion pieces, and pop choreographies.
Advanced students perform with Anna
In 2004, advanced
students Soheir and Noura were
the first to take their dance skills outside of Iceland
to take part in Stockholm’s annual bellydance festival. This
inspired Maher Kishk, a visiting master teacher,
to create an Icelandic branch for his dancing troupe, Shams
el Amar. Maher Kishk now travels to Iceland at least
twice a year to teach and rehearse his choreographies. Advanced
students who are able to travel meet in Stockholm annually to
join the Danish members of Shams el Amar to perform as
one troupe. This year there will be eight Icelandic dancers
traveling to the Stockholm festival.
In a world
where different cultures, foreign cities, and new destinations
are only an Internet or plane ride away, I would like to conclude
by saying that when you find yourself passing by or traveling
to Iceland, be sure to stop by and check out the ever-growing
bellydance scene at the Kramhusid dance house!
can be found by visiting www.kramhusid.is
Although neither site has yet been translated to any other language
outside of Icelandic, they do provide contact information, pictures,
and more information on bellydance in Iceland.
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