Gilded Serpent presents...

Memorial to Bert Balladine

Photos from GS Files and Your Comments

December 22, 1927 to March 14, 2009
Bert was very special to many of us. Gilded Serpent would like to provide a space for us to remember him and collect our memories. Below you will find a few photos from our files. We will add more photos as we get them prepped. Some of you have seen these photos again and again over the years and other may be new to you. If you would like to send a photo to add to this collection, it would be much appreciated. At the bottom of the page is a comment section for you to add your thoughts that will become a permanent part of our community’s tribute to Bert, always available, stored here and listed in our archives. As we have word of any other memorials or services we will list those here also. Bert’s bio page on Gilded Serpent lists his articles on this site as well as lists of his books and films he was a part of, as well as other articles in other magazines.
Thank you!

Cousin, Glenn Schneider, has suggested that friends and fans can honor Bert by making a contribution to….

  • The Petaluma Hospice, 416 Payran St., Petaluma, CA 94952 or
  • The Milo Foundation, a non-profit domestic animal santcuary, (

There will be no funeral as per Bert’s request.

Bert as a kid
Posing with a lion from the Circus in Germany?

Bert in India
“On the road between Calcutta to Arkara”

Spain with Glenn
Tourist photo in Spain,
cousin Glenn behind in hat and tie


Gig in Denver, Haram Fantasy show with dance partner Patti

from old film
Glenn, Bert, and his wife. Still taken from a video coming soon! Courtesy of Carl and Ma*Shuqa
marquee detail


1968 Bert as fire eater "Ali". click for larger image
Fire Eater
a publicity photo for the "Psychedelic Act of Love,&quot a North Beach gig of Bert’s. Bert and Patti painted themselves with black light paint, wore g-strings and danced under a black light doing romantic poses. Colorized from the B/W original

Photo of a photo that hung in the Pasha dressing room. Who is this with Bert? Zahra Anise?

Performing Adagio
with dalilah
Posing with Dalilah in Las Vegas
with Najia
Posing with Najia
with Tamra
Posing with Tamara
Posing with Dalilah in front of the Sphinx in Cairo
Bert poses in a costume made by Shalimar
Bert and MaryEllen pose with Lupe the donkey
1984 Bert poses with his mule at a local feedstore
with Shalimar Serene
Bert and Shalimar Serene perform
Shalimar Serene & Bert
Shalimar Serene & Bert by Bob Winn
with Nakish
Bert Performs with Nakish

With Sabah
Bert performs with Sabah

with Ma*Shuqa
Bert performs with Ma*Shuqa
Bert teaching
Bert with Maryellen
Bert performs with Amaya
Bert poses with Donna Carlton in his backyard in Petaluma
Bert and Amani
Bert and Amani
Bert and BobbyeDee

Tambra, Bert Balladine, and Bobbye Dee
Arlington Texas, March 2 and 3, 1985
Picture taken by Larry Roberts
One of Bert’s favorites when he taught class “now we go.” He allowed me to videotape his classes and evening performance. I have these in my archives and cherish the time with him in 1985. This was the first and last time that I performed with Bert as his partner. What an experience. He has a great lead.
Farouche sends the below 4 photos
teaching at Farouche's studio
Posing with Farouche in 1999

dancing with Farouche
Photo attached was taken at our last duet performance in November 1999. The Fire Duet was our specialty which Bert learned growing up with performing parents in Europe. I had the honor of performing many times over the years with the “Legendary Bert”. When he was in the Bay Area I sponsored him many times for work shops that dancers will remember his unique and perfected style for the rest of their lives.

Bert also had a first love and that was his farm with his many animals all of which had their own special names. I recall one performance where his prized lamb was about ready to give birth and throughout our show, called home many times to see if she was ready to deliver. Loving, caring, sensitive yet strong and positive was Bert. When he taught workshops it was correct or not at all.

Bert, it has been my honor to have performed with you. You will be surely missed by me as well as the thousands you have taught in your famous lifetime.

Love, Farouche

dancing with Farouche

Ma*Shuqa and Bert pose at his last Rakkasah workshop in 2007
2007 with MaShuqa

Page 2 of Photos
Please come back here to comment.

  1. najia marlyz

    Mar 16, 2009 - 01:03:35

    Dear Bert,
    Thanks for sewing on my red shoes; my dance card will always have one space reserved.
    I love you,

  2. Shahla ~ Crimson Camel

    Mar 16, 2009 - 01:03:16

    You will be missed by many who loved you. God bless

  3. Sahar

    Mar 16, 2009 - 02:03:07

    I feel so honored to have known & studied with bert, a true legend & master of the stage and also the most kind, loving , supportive & “down to earth” dance teacher and friend anyone could ask for. I already miss you and will forever aspire to live what I’ve learned from you as a dancer, teacher  & compassionate being.
    With indescribable “feeling”,

  4. Morocco

    Mar 16, 2009 - 03:03:07

    Dear Lynette,

    Thank you for printing this – I knew & loved Bert. One night in San Diego, we sat up all night talking & he made me laugh so hard, my chest hurt all the next day & night.

    He will be sorely misses.


  5. Leyla Amir

    Mar 16, 2009 - 03:03:12

    He was an inspiration to many and an entertainer to all.
    His charisma and witty humor will be missed.
    A true pioneer in the Middle Eastern Dance field of the USA

    Leyla Amir

  6. Eva Cernik

    Mar 16, 2009 - 03:03:39

    Our Dear Bert,
    You were the classiest dancer in shit-kickers I ever saw!
    Your bio should be required reading for every new dancer!!
    Much love,  Eva

  7. Janie Midgley

    Mar 16, 2009 - 05:03:05

    We will miss you Bert, but now you really dance on clouds.
    With Love,

  8. Theresea

    Mar 16, 2009 - 07:03:07

    Bert, you inspired me greatly.  I shall never  forget you.

    Love To You Always,

  9. Mayyadah

    Mar 17, 2009 - 02:03:38

    unforgettable Bert,
    my heart is feeling deep mourning, I thank you for the wonderful time at Rakkasah some years ago. You will ever have a lovely place in my heart
    yours Mayyadah/ Germany

  10. Afritah

    Mar 17, 2009 - 02:03:45

    Bert played a huge role in opening the  German hearts and minds  for Middle Eastern Dance. I can’t imagine even one dancer from the early German bellydance scene who didn’t learn from Bert! The way he inspired me is showed in every combination I teach and perform today. Just as inspiring and entertaining were the stories he told about the early days. I’m very sad

  11. Christiane

    Mar 17, 2009 - 04:03:37

    Dear Bert,

    we will miss but never forget you. God bless you.

  12. Schehera

    Mar 17, 2009 - 07:03:16

    Dearest Bert,

    So many wonderful memories as a dancer and friend.
    You changed my dance forever! RIP
    Love always,

  13. D'Anne Hargis

    Mar 17, 2009 - 09:03:42

    Bert was one of the dearest teachers I’ve ever had!  It breaks my heart to know he’s gone.
     Bert never failed to give me confidence and laughter; make me feel beautiful and talented; and leave me wanting to do nothing but dance.
    The world is not as bright a place as it was before his passing!
    D’Anne of Austin, Texas

  14. Zel

    Mar 17, 2009 - 09:03:58


    You forever made many of us dancers when you told me “One has to have lived life to dance.  Else what do you have to dance about?”

    You inspired and left a legacy.

    Zel of Ft. Worth

  15. mianaja

    Mar 17, 2009 - 09:03:31

    Burt, you touched my life and changed my dance the one time I got to study with you at Amaya’s Shake and Bake.  I know that Amaya will carry on your life’s work and make sure your spirit lives on.  You will be missed dearly.
    MiaNaja of Columbia, MD

  16. Marianna Mejia

    Mar 17, 2009 - 08:03:37

    Dear Bert,
    You were such an influence on my dancing. You were always so supportive! I still think about “You don’t have anything to dance about until you are over 30!” And Freddie will miss you too, having had his own relationship with you.
    Thank you for being “you”. Marianna and Freddie Mejia

  17. Tracey

    Mar 17, 2009 - 09:03:36

    I never had a chance to know you, but yours was one of the legendary names I constantly heard.  Just let it be known, that as  a newer generation dancer, there are those who admire and respect the trailblazers who shaped this dance to what it is today.  I will do what I can to make sure your contributions will not be in vain or forgotten.

  18. Dawna

    Mar 18, 2009 - 06:03:15

    Thank you for all of the lessons, not only in the dance but in life also.  We all will miss you and you’re wonderful if not wicked sense of humor.  One more thanks for helping to make me the dancer that I became.  It was fun!

  19. Dhyanis

    Mar 18, 2009 - 11:03:42

    Ladies…dance like a queen. Be proud of what you have – and if you don’t have it, imagine that you do!” One of my favorite quotes from Bert that I pass on to all my students.
    And then the time I danced a male part at Rakkasah and he told Ma*Shuqa: “That guy must have had ballet because he’s really good!” (Yes, Ma*Shuqa divulged my identity, to Bert’s utter surprise)  Dhyanis  CA

  20. Ma*Shuqa and Carl Sermon

    Mar 18, 2009 - 01:03:45

    Bert Roman Balladine – friend, coach, entertainer, teacher, and
    cowboy and caretaker of animals.
    Bert was a truly rare eclectic person of many talents and passionate performer of the stage. He shared his world-wide performance experience in the circus, vaudeville,
    Ballet, and flamenco in his belly dance teaching.  He will be known by many as the “father of cabaret belly dance” who gave us all that secret to inner beauty and
    projection on stage.  Many will recall his stories about his own transformation from “an animal farmer in muddy boots – to a star stage performer” who eats fire and electrifies the stage with his energy and passion for belly dance.  An often heard coaching remark from Bert, “Ladies, be proud and carry yourself as a star on stage.  If this old farmer with a vaudeville background can do it – you can do it too.”  Many thanks from Ma*Shuqa and Carl Sermon to Bert for those first summer Bert workshops in Ma*Shuqa’s studio in Los Gatos, CA – it was our honor to write his first workshop descriptions and launch his workshop career in the 70’s so his talent and personality could be shared with dancers around the world.  Bert, thank you for sharing your passion for performance
    with us all.  Ma*Shuqa and Carl Sermon

  21. thezongo

    Mar 18, 2009 - 04:03:26

    I remember going to Bert’s farm when i was a little kid and listening to his stories. He was a fun old man with a sense of humor and i will miss him.

  22. Tamalyn Dallal

    Mar 18, 2009 - 04:03:55

    I am sorry to learn that Bert has passed away. The first workshop I ever took was from Bert Balladine in Tampa, Florida, May 1980.He helped pave the way for many dancers on the scene today.
    May he rest in peace.

    Tamalyn Dallal

  23. Serqet / Chris Hilbert

    Mar 19, 2009 - 07:03:24

    Bert was always so gracious and kind to me when contacting him for his next article for The Chronicles….after several years, we finally met at Rakkasah, it was a great honor and pleasure to meet him and I learned so much from him and his articles.  

    He was a joy to work with and will always be a national treasure to me.


  24. Rasa Vitalia

    Mar 20, 2009 - 07:03:18

    We will all miss him.. May he live on in the lives of us all… may we honor him in your graceful movements and healing thoughts…

  25. admin

    Mar 21, 2009 - 04:03:56

    Burt Balladine  was a beautiful soul.  Kind, talented, a wonderful man. When he first saw me dance, he said “Dahling, I’m going to make you a shtar”.    And so he did…He jump started my career, when I was a young girl–got me my first tour in Canada with barely 2 months of classes under my coin belt.  I continued to dance professionally for over 20 years.

    He is featured in Gordon Inkeles’ movie, “Classic Stars of Bellydance”, with yours truly as a beginning dancer.  That’s me on the cover.   He is the true star of the film.  I love him so.  He always said he just wanted to go relax on his farm & his goats after class…he came in to San Rafael to teach every Saturday–we ended class with a Kash La Mar (9/8 tempo song) every week.  I can still see him dancing to it.  It was from the album, “Armenia, Armenia”.  One day after class I had an epiphany.   I was hitch hiking home to Fairfax, and a thunderstorm broke out…it poured down on me…suddenly, I understood the finger cymbal pattern, and played it in the rain–walking the rest of the way to Fairfax. I am now a jazz vocalist, and still play cymbals on my CD’s and in my concerts.


    Kay Kostopoulos
    [posted for Kay by Editor]

  26. Travis Jarrell

    Mar 21, 2009 - 05:03:17

    Bert, you told us we would have more to dance about after we reached 50-
    you made us all feel beautiful, even your most beginning technique class had riches to offer experienced dancers, you delighted us with your passion and grace, your humor and chivalry.  You said you had to work at making the dance more challenging, but really you eased us into our best selves.  You
    remain in our hearts,  a prince of the dance.  

  27. Margit (Marua) Kempf

    Mar 23, 2009 - 11:03:53

    In memory of Bert on behalf of former dancers of Fan Beledi (Brigitte, Christel, Dagmar, Ina,Ingrid,  Manis, Margit, Margret, Petra, Nassim,  Ursula, Ulla),  Duesseldorf and their numerous offspring.
    Dear Bert,
    Although it is over 25 years ago that you came annually to Helmstedt and taught us in your inspirational and most enjoyable way, we will always remember your teachings.
    And today when I read your favourite sentences, it occurred to me that you were the one introducing me to the expression of “the whale(veil) dance”. Years later when I moved to Australia and talked about my favourite requisite  in Oriental Dance everyone quizzed me about this apparently new style and it was  not in anyone’s imagination how to include  up to a 10 ton whale onto a stage performance. The misunderstanding was eventually solved.
    ”Ladies get your whales-veils”, that was the beginning of a transformation which trained many of us to become masters of this art :-))), in particular Manis, who is dancing with 7 veils-whales???? every now and again.
    Bert, we’ll always have you in our minds as you journey through the universe, swimming with the dolphins and dancing with the whales.
    Margit (Marua) Kempf, Brisbane Australia

  28. Amaya

    Mar 24, 2009 - 10:03:58

    An and to an era…Bert is now dancing with the stars…aka Shalimar Serene, my mom, and many other dancing spirits.  He probably is holding classes, telling his jokes, giggling and petting he past pets.  Unencumbered by a physical body, he is zipping about.    I sure do miss him —about 100 times a day.

  29. Una

    Mar 25, 2009 - 04:03:41

    All of us dancers in the San Jose area were so fortunate to attend Bert’s workshops and shows.  I got to see him often and many opportunities to sit and talk about “the dance”.  Topics of our conversation included thought of how the dance evolved through the years and where it was headed in the future.  Out of all our conversations, the consistent message was that dancing should not be so strict, but instead spiritually energizing to relieve stress and keep the mind and body happy.  After all, dancing should make you feel good, right?
    Bert and I attempted to dance as a duet.  Not to the lack of trying, we were unsuccessful and mutually agreed that we were just not compatible.  Bert said our dance collaboration was like fire and water, me being the fire and he being the water.  He said “he was not about to put out the fire nor did he want to reach the boiling point”.  Bert had a way with words and we had so much fun with that comment for years to come.
    One of my fondest memory was when we were in Texas, teaching at a workshop and performing at a show.  We looked at each other and noticed we both had our prescription glasses on.  He raved about the new tinted lenses and how the lenses help hide the “feet of the crows”.  We laughed long and hard about that one.
    I would have to say, Bert was a bit vain, but no different than the rest of us. His famous saying “you can only look as good as you want.  If you can’t get it on the outside, than borrow it from the inside”.  I am happy to have known so many of his private feelings and I will cherish all the memories. 
    Thank you Bert!  You are truly good looking on the outside and inside.  I will see you again in a better place, where we don’t have those “feet of the crows” anymore.
    Dancingly yours,

  30. Margaret Overton

    Mar 26, 2009 - 08:03:22

    Dearest Bert,
    There will never be another you.  Thank you for all the long talks about life and the world and what needs to happen to fix it.  We all love you so much.

  31. mardshana

    Mar 27, 2009 - 10:03:24

    Thank you!

  32. Jalilah

    Mar 27, 2009 - 02:03:38

    Bert was so influential in the Middle Eastern Dance scene both in the U.S. and Germany. So many of his students became well known dancers and teachers. Bert had the ability to bring out the best in every dancer without imposing his own style on them. God Bless you Bert! We will miss you!

  33. Elaine

    Mar 29, 2009 - 04:03:32

    I was so impressed with one of Bert’s students, Nawal, at the Greek Taverna that I took some classes from him at the Sausalito Arts Center.  He was a cool guy and a true showman.  ~ Elaine

  34. Salaheddin

    Apr 2, 2009 - 04:04:54

    Bert my dear friend thanks for the sweet memories. I will miss you very much and I never forget your kindness, care, understanding and  true love to Middle Eastern music and dance.

  35. André Elbing

    Apr 12, 2009 - 01:04:50

    Dear Bert,
    I remember the time when we participate together to Feyrouz’s wedding in New Mexico with all the friends around and our talking about the speciality of what we are doing…. you told me, that we can only do it, because we love it…..
    right right…..
    we all meet again….. some earlier….some later…..
    you already  prepared  our way to the heaven stage for all of us….
    …… hopefully later…..
    have to do a lot before… 😉

  36. Jaziri

    Apr 18, 2009 - 06:04:09

    I just heard the news and need to say RIP and thank you Bert, for all you have done, for all the inspiration and dance over the yrs.

  37. admin

    Apr 18, 2009 - 06:04:25

    I am so sad to read today of the death of the amazing Bert Balladine. I had the great fortune to study with him at workshops in Adelaide, Australia in 1988 when he tried to inspire passion in us with his “oohs, aahs & I’m sooo sexy” . I am sorry he never got to teach in Tassie – we talked about it & then lost contact. I will be dragging out that old video footage.
    Another huge loss to the world of belly dance.
    Shimmy on Bert, much love, Adriana (Tasmania, Australia)”
    [posted for Adriana by editor]

  38. Jasmine Gamal

    Apr 19, 2009 - 12:04:44

    Bert was one of those extraordinary men that could make any woman he was dancing with feel like a queen.  He wanted and did share himself through dance with the entire world. Those of us left behind will continue to share his legacy with the next generation of belly dancers. 
    Peace to all,
    Jasmine from Las Vegas  

  39. Delilah

    Apr 20, 2009 - 07:04:07

    I went to Egypt with Dalila and Bert when I was a budding belly dancer of 19. What a time we had  dancing in a tent in the desert with Suhara Zaki. Then posing with Tahia Carioca for the news papers announcing the increasing interest  American’s were beginning to have for belly dance. I shall always think of Bert with the fondest of memories.

  40. Kalifa

    Apr 27, 2009 - 01:04:36

    Iwas so saddened by Bert’s passing as are thousands of other dancers. He made me the dancer that I was. He will be tremendously missed by all who loved and admired him, and whose hearts were touched by him.
    I recently visited Glenn in Petaluma, intending to see both of them, but, alas, I was too late.

  41. Carol Flynn

    Jul 9, 2009 - 03:07:02

    What a loss to the world, Bert was an amazing talent and a wonderful teacher!  In the mid 1980’s a group of dancers followed Bert as he taught seminars around the country and I was very fortunate to be one of “Bert’s Babes” for a time.  There are good things I do as a performer and teacher because I learned them from Bert.

    Heaven must be a better place now.

  42. Nawal

    Sep 21, 2012 - 08:09:26

    I loved Bert. I took classes from him in the filmore district in SF., way back in the late 60s early 70s.  classes were 2.50 per class. We would move around in a large circle and he would be in the middle encouraging us, making us laugh and inspiring all of us. He had a magical personality. He suggested a try out at the Bagdad on Broadway. I did and i got a job as a dancers. Everyone loved Bert. He was a very happy person to be around. I think about him a lot and  what a change he made in so many lives. What a fun guy and a great dancer and person. We miss you Bert.  

  43. tribal tattoos

    May 5, 2014 - 04:05:40

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

    You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on
    just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

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