Over the years Bellyqueen has produced so many shows we've lost count. We've performed as a troupe hundreds of times in NYC, toured the United States, performed in Canada, throughout Europe, Japan, Thailand and Australia. We have produced haflas, a weekly show featuring live music that ran for ten years, enormous stage productions and the theater show Journey Along the Silk Road.
Our goal, from the beginning was to challenge the understanding of how and where bellydance can be presented to an audience. We want everyday audiences to see the grace, artistry and emotional depth that we see and appreciate about the form. Since we began, bellydance has undergone a radical transformation, new styles have evolved and there is increasingly more space for a dancer to find her voice within the community. This is awesome. And we want to continue supporting dancers of all ages, sizes and cultures to spread their wings and take a chance on being seen as an artist.
Role: Creative Director
Bellyqueen is an internationally renowned world dance company, founded in 1998 under the artistic direction of myself and Amar Gamal. Drawn together by their passion for Middle Eastern dance, the artists of Bellyqueen come from a wide range of nationalities and dance backgrounds. By fusing their individual influences, the company creates exciting multicultural performances that utilize traditional elements as a base for modern theatrical performance art that inspire audiences of all backgrounds, genders and ages.
Bellyqueen has won critical acclaim for their unique vision, impressive body of work and commitment to high-quality productions. Over the past 12 years, the company has completed extensive tours in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, made numerous television appearances and been well received by the press. In 2007 and 2009 it released full-length performance DVDs, The Bellydance Experience and Bellydance NYC, as well as several successful instructional DVDs.
The Bellyqueen repertoire encompasses a wide range of Middle Eastern dances, from the traditional “Raks Sharqi” bellydance format to folkloric styles, blended with other dance forms including ballet, modern, jazz, gypsy, flamenco, chinese, afro-haitian and hip hop. Journeys Along the Silk Road, Bellyqueen’s current touring show, explores the ancient link between East and West. The Silk Road was a trade route that for thousands of years allowed the flow of ideas, goods, culture and dramatically influenced progress in the Eurasian civilizations.
Educating the public about the benefits of bellydance and its healing powers, particularly for body image, self-esteem and self-expression, is an important element of the Bellyqueen mission. In order to serve this goal, the Bellyqueen School of Dance has been established, and ongoing classes in NYC as well as numerous workshops all over the world are offered and open to the general public. By creating a safe learning environment Bellyqueen teachers help people rediscover their bodies, gain greater control over mind and limb and also demystify this often misunderstood dance form.
Through its commitment to both tradition and innovation, to artistic integrity and professionalism, as well as cultural sensitivity, Bellyqueen Dance Theater delivers fresh, contemporary hybrid dance productions that educate and entertain.
Learn to bellydance
Located in the heart of the East Village in New York City, the Bellyqueen School of Dance offers daily classes in beginner, intermediate and advanced levels covering the spectrum of bellydance styles from traditional to fusion.
In October 1998, I had the opportunity to create a couple of special shows for a fashionable French/Morroccan restaurant named “L’Orange Bleue” located downtown in New York city. With the following criteria in mind I sought to combine forces with other women who:
- Share a deep passion and love for bellydance.
- Can REALLY dance, not just look the part.
- Are beautiful, not only visually but also in spirit and as people.
- Are down to earth, despite their amazing talent.
- Realize that hard work and commitment to excellence are required to develop as artists.
At the time, I was working as a graphic designer for MTV, and after hours, we would take over the conference rooms with our rehearsals. Numerous security guards were shocked when they accidentally stumbled on the troupe practicing!
Everyone was amazed by the troupe’s natural chemistry on stage. The restaurant was thrilled with their work, and when the extended gig had finished, we continued performing together. After many many hours of fierce debate, we agreed on a name, “Bellyqueen”.
Over the years, Bellyqueen has changed in size, morphing from as small as 2 to as large as 13. We have had the pleasure to count many wonderful dancers as alumni “Queen” members including Susan Frankovich, Anasma, Fayzah and Sera Solstice. We are also thankful to our former “Princesses” or “Queens-in-training”, Cara West, Ayano Imai, Ashley Bull, Cristina Rubio, Malaya, Lena Marti, Neva, Laurel, Bina Bora, Cherrelle, Raquel and Dariya Chugunova.
Amar Gamal remains connected to Bellyqueen as a long distance member.