About Belly Dancing

Taheya Carioca, Badia Masabni, Samia Gamal

Taheya Carioca, Badia Masabni, Samia Gamal


Today, the term belly dance covers an astonishingly wide array of dance styles. I teach classic and modern Egyptian style dance, along with American Cabaret style dance.  


Classic Egyptian Style Dance

In teaching Classic Egyptian Style Dance, I take inspiration from the glamorous Cairo clubs of Badia Masabni and the Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema. Samia Gamal and Taheya Carioca, the most celebrated of Badia’s dancers, make up the foundation of this tradition, which continues on through history to include such notable and beloved dancers as Souhair Zaki, Aza Sharif, Nagwa Fouad and Fifi Abdou, along with many, many others.

Modern Egyptian Style Dance

Modern Egyptian Style dancers include Dina, whose impact on the dance cannot be overstated, and who is often referred to in the West as 'The Last Egyptian Dancer' because many of today's dancers in Egypt are in fact foreigners, which has changed the dance profoundly and, in the opinion of many, not always for the best - it’s a Hot Topic for sure! Other popular styles of music and dancing include shaabi and mahraganat.

American Cabaret

I also teach American Cabaret, which refers to how the dance was performed here in the US when it was first introduced in the 1960s. This is more of a pan-Arab style of music and dance and many of the movements are Turkish in origin. American Cabaret style is characterized by a very distinct pattern to how the music is arranged (the classic 5-part routine), intricate veil-work, finger cymbal playing throughout the set, sword dancing and a particular style of floor-work, which is very different from Mohammed Ali Street (Egyptian) style floor work. 


As professional dancers in the US today, we often mix these two traditions. There is no right or wrong answer, or one way to do things. But I believe it is very important to know what you are doing and who your audience is in order to have a successful show!

This is just the very tip of the iceberg.  I am always exploring different eras and topics within the dance, and I look forward to sharing more with you on my blog and in class.


This page is written with grateful acknowledgment to one of my teachers, Amina Goodyear.  Amina introduced me to the enchanting world of Egyptian cinema and taught me much of the information in this summary. 

Photos on this page by Belly Dance ClassicsCultNat.org, Life Magazine