I am Neferteri
I am Neferteri, a Belly
Dancer. I have been dancing professionally for several years
and have enjoyed many aspects of the dance business. However,
there is an issue that overshadows my performances that I would
like to address for the readers of The Gilded Serpent. There
appears to be some curiosity about the racial background of
a dancer. I don't fully understand why anyone in today's world
would care, but they do.
I find it is more likely
than not Americans who are concerned about my ethnic background.
I always run across someone who seems amazed by my appearance.
There is always someone who will ask me, "What nationality
are you?" or "Are you East Indian?" or (my favorite) "I
didn't know that blacks could belly dance!" Yes, I have
been approached with these questions and others I will not
repeat. Stupid me! I thought people sould be more interested
in my dancing ability. I just danced my heart out and the only
thing someone can be concern with is my nationality? I guess
my dancing must be wonderful since no one has complained.
My usual respond is, "Do
you know where Egypt and Morocco are?" or " I am
sure you remember Anwar Sadat, the late Egyptian President?" Then
when I tell them Mr. Sadat was the same complexion as me so
what is your point? You cannot judge someone's talent by his
I had experienced an
incident recently while I was out with my instructor and a
friend. We were at Middle Eastern restaurant where I was schedule
to dance. We had just finished dinner and a woman at the next
table overheard us talking. She knew we were belly dancers.
She asked my instructor,
"Who is dancing
tonight?" My instructor responded her that I was
the dancer that evening. The woman took one look at me
and said, "But she is black!"
My poor instructor was
so shocked that she couldn't speak. I just shook my head and
told my instructor that this is typical of comments made directly
to me and about me. My instructor couldn't believe it! The
interesting thing is that my instructor exclaimed, "I
am the same complexion as you!" (My instructor is of Turkish
descent.) I told her, "I know, but people are just ignorant.
It shows you that you never know to whom you are talking."
I have also lost jobs
when agents attempt to book me and subsequently learn that
I am an Afro-American dancer. I was frustrated about this situation
until a good friend advised me to put my picture on my business
cards. So, "What you see is what you get!" Now my
time is not wasted on people who are looking for that "I
Dream of Jeannie" look.
It seems to me that Americans
have a preconceived idea of what a belly dance is suppose to look
like. I think they expect us to look like Barbara Eden from, "I
dream of Jeannie." As we all know, such is not true. The funny
thing is that I have never had anyone from the Arabic or Turkish
communities express that they care nor do they feel that they need
to inquire about my nationality. I am either asked where I learned
to dance or who taught me to dance. They don't seem care about
my race, and furthermore, I feel appreciated for my dancing. I
have a friend who is a beautiful blonde and also a belly dancer.
She was in Europe, and she went to a few Middle Eastern restaurants
and asked about applying for employment as a dancer there. She
was told that her features weren't dark enough to suit their image
requirements. I told her that I could relate to the experience.
She could not believe it. So, I hope my story about my dance experience
has been informative. I ask people to just appreciate me for my
ability. I Just want to be recognized as a Belly Dancer.a talented,
interesting Belly Dancer!
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Magic is My Style by
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