Travel and the Belly Dancer
by Nizana El Rassan Middle Eastern Dance, in all its genres, is pretty much an international thing. Dance showcases, tours and classes are held all over and are worthy of planning a trip around. You can travel locally, regionally or across the world if you’d like and shimmy with your sisters and brothers! On a trip a troupe member and I took to Italy, we came across and took a belly dance class with a lovely instructor! While there was a language barrier, it was bridged through dance.
While some dancers like to stay local, don’t like to travel, or don’t have the funds, there are many who are keen on journeying outside their circle and are richly rewarded for it. Some opportunities are limited, such as when international instructors or belly dance tours come to town, and you have to take the opportunity while the iron is hot. Some are opportunities of a lifetime such as a dance tour to Egypt or Morocco. Some are an overnight trip or a mere day trip. Others provide a vacation setting and opportunity to tack on extra days to the dance schedule such as events in Hawaii or Costa Rica. The variety is endless, aside from the situation as of late, and dancers are ready to get back to dancing!
When things are “normal,” a current passport that meets expiration date requirements comes in handy for those out of country trips. Some extremely qualified instructors such as Sahra Saeeda and Amel Tafsout lead educational and exciting tours abroad. I don’t think there’s a state in the country that doesn’t have belly dancers, and events ebb and flo. Facebook and other online venues can keep you current on happenings with easy searches.
There are some long running festivals that are worthy of attending such as Rakkasah in CA, Art of the Belly in MD, Yaa Halla Y’all in TX (this is to be their last one I believe?) and all kinds of international events. There are classes, cruises, workshops, haflas, retreats, showcases and more to choose from. Of course, while you want to support what’s happening in your own town, traveling to other places to experience dance diversifies your experience. You may see different trends or styles, meet new friends, or get to perform in an exciting venue. You might get to study with an instructor you might not otherwise have the opportunity to study with. Some synergistic collaboration could come out of a trip to a different dance community.
You can go all out and live in luxury or you can be savvy and save costs, such as by comparison online shopping, splitting rooms and ride-shares, and taking advantage of timing on airfare sales. Sometimes, events sponsors can get a cheaper hotel block or restaurant discounts you can take advantage of. Check into budget hotels that, while basic, have excellent reviews for cleanliness, location and safety. Become a rewards member and gain a free night after so many stays you can use for your next belly dance trip! There are all kinds of ways to make travel and belly dancing happen. Save your money, see what’s out there, make a plan and go for it!
Nizana has long been involved in Middle Eastern Dance as a performer, instructor, student, troupe director, choreographer, event producer, and competition judge. Nizana's articles and reviews have been published in seven Belly Dance magazines and newsletters including Fanoos! Having studied with a wide variety of instructors, in addition to performing Egyptian flavored American Style Belly Dance, Nizana dabbles in folkloric and fusion styles. She is known for her expressiveness and connection to the audience. Nizana is available for instruction and has workshops scheduled in Florida and Washington State.