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Photo by EventLab OÜ.
TürküBel troupe members names-clockwise from drum:
1-Mari-liis, 2-Tiina, 3- Ines, 4-Jargmine, 5-Janne, 6- Liisa

Gilded Serpent presents...
Belly Dancing in
Estonia

by Ines Karu


My name is Ines. I´m a Middle Eastern Dance Artist, Choreographer and Instructor from Estonia. I came to USA to improve my dancing skills with Amina Goodyear, Stasha, Nourhan Sharif, Carolena & FatChanceBellyDance, and other top belly dancers. I was kindly provided a chance by Amina to tell you how popular belly dancing can be in a small Baltic country like Estonia. The unforgettable magic of Middle Eastern dance is very noticeable in the Baltics.

To open up, I would like to give you a short overview of Estonia. It is bordered to the north by Finland across the Gulf of Finland, to the west by Sweden, to the south by Latvia, and to the east by the Russian Federation. Estonia regained its independence on 20 August 1991. We joined the European Union on the 1st of May 2004 and NATO on 27th of May. The population is 1.3 million and the surface area is 17,461 square miles. We have our own language - Estonian which is very similar to Finnish. Although a small nation, we are strong and have enough courage, faith and willingness to move on toward our dreams and goals. Estonia is a civilized country with educated, hardworking and very aspiring people.

Middle Eastern dance has gained a lot of popularity in the whole wide world . It´s a very graceful and feminine dancing style which is gathering more and more fans every single day. In Estonia, the first belly dance lessons were given in 1996 by Pille Roosi, who also opened the first Middle Eastern dance studio "Amrita" a year later. I started to give regular lessons in 2004 and also created a Middle Eastern dance troupe "TürküBel" at about the same time. Belly dancing received more attention after I was first interviewed in 2005 by a local magazine Kroonika, after which press started to pay more attention to my activities and with that, also to belly dance. My love and devotion to Middle Eastern Dance is growing bigger with every single day of my life. Other wonderful Middle Eastern Dance troupes in Estonia are: Sisters Shahrazaís, Zahira, Sansaara, and Müstika. Sisters Shahrazaís achieved a second place in the troupeís category of the Nile Group festival that was held in Cairo at April 2008. One of the professional Estonian belly dancers, Amira, is currently living and dancing in Las Vegas.

As in the rest of the world, the Egyptian style of belly dance is the most popular one in Estonia. Most of the instructors and dancers are specialized in that style. The American Tribal Style Belly Dance is also becoming more known each day. The general impression of belly dance in Estonia is glamorous, feminine, luxurious, modern and elegant. Itís a time where Estonian dancers can truly say that they can be proud to be a Middle Eastern dance artist in Estonia.

Today we have many beautiful, talented and professional Middle Eastern Dance instructors and dancers who see that to be a top performer they have to develop all the time. Because of that dancers and instructors regularly visit international dance festivals, closest of which are usually held in Finland, Sweden and also further away in Egypt. Other festivals that are held in Turkey, Germany, USA and other places are visited more seldom. Several International Middle Eastern Dance Festivals and belly dancerís Hafla parties are also organized in Estonia 1-2 times per year. In addition to local instructors we have invited them from Latvia, Finland and Egypt to give workshops in Estonia. Most notable instructors include Mohamed El Hosseny of Egypt, Peppina Lindfors of Finland, and Juliana Petersone of Latvia. Regular belly dance lessons are given in almost every dancing studio in the capital city of Tallinn and in many dance studios all over the Estonia.

As a fact, all kinds of dancing is very popular in Estonia, but mostly among females. Estonian men usually don´t like to dance or donít feel open enough to do it, but hopefully they will learn to enjoy it more in coming years. So when Estonian women see local men dancing, they get quite excited about it.

As a professional dancer I have the point of view that it´s very important for a dancer to know how to give a perfect show and stay dignified at the same time. In my mind it is essential if a dancer wants to have a good reputation and the support of the community. Any Estonian dancer who is currently supported by the local community has worked hard on becoming a professional and an acclaimed dancer. Itís a common understanding in Estonia that you have to work very hard to get recognition and credit.

Hopefully one day a lot more belly dancers from abroad will visit our dance festivals to take workshops and demonstrate their dancing skills on Estonian stages. Middle Eastern Dance is a wonderful art that is cherished and loved all over Estonia and among other things it is certainly enough of a reason to visit us.

References:
Ines´s website www.inesdance.com/en/

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