Veil poi innovator Maëlle shares belly dance secrets from the Lebanese night clubs of Brussels, palaces of Dubai, and Suhaila Salimpour’s dance studios. Hear her story.
Alicia Free: Like many of us, Maëlle was looking for just a new dancing hobby when she started belly dancing. She took her first classes more than 20 years ago…and she fell in love. Maëlle was the featured dancer of a 5-star palace in Dubai, performing with a live band. She is currently based in Brussels, Belgium. She is the third European belly dancer who has also performed in the Middle East that we are featuring on this podcast, and she is also part of the worldwide Salimpour community. She is level 4 certified in both the Jamila and Suhaila formats, which is both prestigious and rare. Even as a high level performer, Maëlle is still devoted to learning more.
Before you calm down for the night, dance together.
Mawoud is the first song by Abdel Halim Hafez that I fell in love with. Music is what made me fall in love with Belly Dance. I used to listen to Arabic music all the time.
I recommend the free Arabic Music website Melody4Arab to check what’s new but also to listen to more tunes by an artist you have identified and that you like. Exploring is important. There are often many different versions of songs, and you can pick one that speaks to you.
Listen to a catalog of the classics over and over again. There are cues in the music that are important for belly dancers.
This is part of the Suhaila grid technique. You can imagine people in all different parts of the audience. It could be your parents behind you, or your past self in front of you. The audience feels it. Since belly dance is a live art, so you can’t feel what the audience felt when you are watching a video.
When you are watching a belly dancer, clap any time you feel connected to the song or what the performers are doing or when you want to enhance with is happening. Not just at the end!
Farah Bakkali is “the Tina Turner and the Marilyn Monroe of belly dance, an explosive mixture of wild energy and distinct glamour.”
Farah was self-taught and a wild artist. She danced throughout the Middle East. Very proud and beautiful woman. She is Moroccan, so she is from the culture. Farah has had a very difficult life, so she is a survivor. Farah’s method of teaching was a bit like “I’ll throw you in the water to teach you how to swim”.
Belly dance in English sounds like just one singular thing, but of course it is not. “Danse orientale” is in French and it is plural. Belly dance includes and is influenced by many styles, like Raqs Sharqi, Raqs Beledi, Saidi, Debke, and Khaleeji. Maybe it should be called belly dances!
Check out the voi poi veil for belly dancers class available with a monthly subscription to Salimpour Classes Online.
Maëlle mentioned Akai Silk Veils
Garbanzo beans are amazing in couscous, hummus, and falafel.
Replacing the egg white with canned chick pea water to make fluffy chocolate mousse
Know the classic songs! The audience in Dubai was mostly Arab men, not like the families in the Lebanese and Persian restaurants in Brussels.
Sabriye was also dancing in the Middle East at the time. Sabriye is a live music addict 🙂
Bella Costumes has a shop in Ghent, about an hour away from Brussels. Once you experience the best, it is harder to go for cheap stuff. Bella doesn’t actually have many costumes on their website on purpose. They don’t want people to just copy them. You need to go to their shops. The costumes don’t really have price tags on them. They are often between $500-$1000+.
You can see dancers in Bella costumes on Instagram because of the hashtag #bellabellydancecostume. They are unique, they usually don’t make the same costume twice. Even comfortable. Nothing is glued. The beads are all sewn on. You can put them in the washing machine in a pillow case on delicate and they don’t fall apart. So you can sell them after you are finished with them.
And costumes contain memories. Where people were sitting. Colors from different parts of your life. That can make it hard to sell your costumes!
And classic style costumes are often the best. Many styles go in and out.
Maelle was diagnosed with breast cancer March 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic. She is a healthy weight, eats healthy food, and has no history of breast cancer in her family.
Know Your Lemons is a cancer education foundation with the mission to “Help you find breast cancer as early as possible.” Know Your Lemons is an app that you can put on your phone to help you check your breasts regularly.
But she is an adrenaline junkie, and never really stopped. Stress is a common denominator in women who are young and healthy and get breast cancer.
Stop before your body tells you to stop. If you are stressed, figure out how to stop and reduce your stress levels.
People who have had cancer often say it creates a before and an after, and the after is often much better.
Meditation can work wonders. Insight Timer is an app that helps people meditate. Listening to teachers like Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron can also be very helpful.
Looking forward to Bal Anat in Prague in March 2021!