Thursday, June 30, 2005

The REAL American Superstars

Guest Blogger : Helen of England

The term Bellydance Superstars is being bandied around at the moment principally as a marketing tool for Miles Copeland's latest scheme. Whilst I have no quarrel with those very talented dancers, I can't help but feel that the term is being somewhat undermined.
There are real and genuine American Superstars out there, people whose contribution to dance stretches over decades and whose right to a star on Bellydance Boulevard is surely absolute and unquestioned. So I've rattled together a list of who I think has an unquestioned right of entry to the list. You can call these the "Legends of American Bellydance". They are, in no particular order:

If anybody deserves the term Superstar or American legend, Dahlena is she.
Jamila Salimpour.
The acknowledged "Mother of Tribal", Jamila first began performing irregularly in 1953, but only really became a full time professional when she became a featured dancer at the Fez club in LA in 1958.
Leona Wood.
Technically Leona was never a bellydancer. Nevertheless her influence was such that it is impossible to consider the development of the appreciation of Middle Eastern folk styles without mentioning her.
What to say about Aunt Rocky ? she was already a professional flamenco dancer when she took a gig in a middle Eastern restaurant simply so that she could eat.
Bert Balladine
Bert was already an accomplished professional musician and dancer when he learned the dance in Middle East during the 50's.
Serena came into the New York dance scene with a background in Indian classical during 1963. She was always proud of being a very succesful American Cabaret dancer.
Bobby Farrah.
Probably the most controversial figure in American MED history. Born of Lebanese parents in Ohio, he was already a gifted dancer when he attended university in Washington.
Aisha Ali.
One of the most successful West coast performers, she was inspired by her mentor Leona Wood to seek out the real ghawazee dancers of Egypt.
Anahid Sofian.
The original bellydancing style throughout the 60s in America was Turkish with a few other bits and bobs thrown in.

MORE on each dancer can be found by CLICKING HERE