The Rakkasah Belly Dance Festival is reknown as the world's largest belly dance festival. This year it fell on the weekend of March 13-15. This was the 29th anniversary of this extravaganza of dancers, muscians, vendors and much much more. For years it has been held in Richmond, California at the downtown Civic Center, but while this is undergoing a some refurburbishing, for the last two years it has been held at the Solano County Fairground in Vallejo, California. While this is a little further afield for some of us, the Indian bazaar-meets-cabaret-meets-deep-tribal-roots-meets funk character of the event is more than worth the trip and even the sometimes bitter March winds that rip through this area!
Belly dance is an ancient dance form performed by and traditionally for women that celebrates the woman's body, her curves, important life events, her biological and spiritual rhythms; it is essentially a dance form born of the people. It was only in the 20th century that it became a dance form performed in clubs by women for men and often got associated with burlesque and therefore looked askance on in "proper" circles. While there are many more women dancers than men, men are making some remarkable contributions to the form. One of the things that distinguishes its character from say ballet or modern dance forms is the emotion conveyed and shared directly by the dancer in a dynamic relation with his or her audience. There are many sub-genres of the genre known as belly dance or Danse Oriental, these include folk, cabaret, tribal, gypsy, and then fusion of all sorts. There is always room for creativity and most of all joy!
I finally have video from my performance. This dance is entirely improvised. I give thanks to my improv teachers at Tamalpa Institute and beyond for sharing their love of improv and to my dance teachers in all genres and to the divine inspiration that animates our every breath!