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Popping & Locking in Modern Bellydance

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Anyone who knows anything about bellydance is aware of the deep impact the Salimpour family has had on bellydance in the United States, and around the world. Suhaila took the work her mother did, and combined with her training in Western dance forms, developed a signature format which gave us new ways to communicate about and present the art of Middle Eastern Dance.

Case-in-point: In modern interpretations of bellydance, one finds a ubiquitous use of “popping and locking”. From cabaret, to tribal, to every fused style on the fringes, you will find that the concept of sharp isolations is a big part of the skillset for both students and performers. But it wasn’t always thus. One need only look to classic bellydance videos to see that this aspect of the dance was not as prevalent as it is today. Nor are those skills executed with quite the same style as we see it performed in modern styles of dance. Softer isolations were more the norm prior to the late 80’s and 90’s, so what changed? 

Listen to Suhaila speak of her personal experiences which influenced these aspects of her format. While she is not the only one who may have incorporated there concepts into her work early on, the proliferation of her format across the spectrum of styles certainly spread this stylization rapidly, becoming a part of the fabric of modern Middle Eastern Dance–in the West and beyond–that we see today.

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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