World Belly Dance Day Bellingen Australia 2013

Jade Belly Dance was again proud to be involved in World Belly Dance Day activities for the 5th year in a row! world belly dance dayFor those of you that are not in the Belly Dance scene or are yet to hear about it, World Bellydance Day is an event started in 2008 by the lovely Lydia Tzigane (Dubai) to promote “the idea that belly dance is an ART form, a cultural event, a sport, and a social and family entertainment.”, “Our task is to show how nice it can be, that it is a lovely dance not necessarily done only in nightclubs or restaurants. It is an art form that brings lots of people together, of different ages, nationalities, countries, backgrounds, religions.” It is always the second Saturday in May and all money raised from events is to go to charity.



When I stumbled across the World Belly Dance Day website back in 2008, I just knew it was something I had to be a part of. I went to the other dance teachers I worked with and the first World Belly Dance Day Bellingen was born! Since then the organising has been taken over by Shekhinah but my dancers are always happy to join in.

We have been blessed with outstanding weather for the last 4 years and it has been a predominately outdoor event working in with the local produce market. Last year it was so hot (despite being late autumn) that I actually got a sunburnt belly!

vicki tracey vicki

Photo by Vicki Carroll

This year it couldn’t have been more different. It was cold and rainy and we huddled under the grandstands trying to stay dry. The parade got replaced with a mini jam inside the nearby Hall. The performances all went off without a hitch though and a good time was had by all despite the last minute relocation.

Children Khaleegy dance

The gorgeous Khaleegy dresses. Thank you Lydia and World Belly Dance Day. Photo courtesy of Raqs Reflections

Some of the girls from my Bellingen kid’s class got to perform their Khaleegy dance wearing the costumes that they won from last year’s World Belly Dance Day. The photo of the finale of their dance to Abl Ma Anam won them best group photo and a set of child sized Khaleegy robes.

Thank you again Lydia! They are all so proud of themselves.

Some of my senior girls from Dorrigo danced a Tajik piece and the lovely Lyn performed her comedy solo – a piece that starts off as a very old school classical Egyptian piece and somehow ends up as Gangnam Style!

Belly dance Tajikistani

Tajik inspired dance number!

Much to my delight, last year’s bellynesian piece generated so much enthusiasm that we did it again – but this time with more students and fancier costumes. The costumes were thanks in part by the work of the wonderful Joanne Ware that made 12 modified grass skirts while suffering pleurisy. Jo we love you! We were asked by many audience members to do a longer piece so rest assured we have a much bigger bellynesian piece in the making (this time to live music!!).

Polynesian / belly dance fusion

Original photograph courtesy of Solveig Larson

As always when you perform at these events you inevitably miss the opportunity to watch many dances (while changing costumes etc). I loved all the dancing and enjoy watching anyone that gets up and has a go. Of the dancing I saw there were some great pieces performed by members of different schools, 3 were particularly memorable for me – including Houda’s Arabesque Belles who performed for the first time ever!!!!! Yep, they are a non performance based class but they decided to dance this year and were sensational to a live version of Lamma Bada.  All in white with well timed sufi twirling, simply hypnotic.

Saidii cane dance belly dance

Susan in full flight!! Awesome stick dance. Photograph courtesy of Raqs Reflections

Susan’s stick solo – OMG! I tried so hard to get a good shot of her but she was moving so much the camera couldn’t focus on her. Thankfully I have gotten permission to use photos by Raqs Reflection to illustrate this comment. Talk about being in the zone. I have known this women for 10 years or so and always thought she was a lovely dancer but this was the best I have ever seen her dance – actually I would say that she was the stand out dancer of the day. So much energy and joy.

My third pick of the day was the bollywood fusion number by Ruth Maitland’s Awalim class. I have also known these ladies for well over a decade and danced with them many times. Their piece was not strictly belly dance but so colourful and so much fun it was my favourite piece I have ever seen them dance. Truely  inspired choreography.

bollywood belly dance

Ruth’s Awalim class performing a bollywood number. Photograph courtesy of Solveig Larson

A big thank you to all the people that made World Belly Dance Day Bellingen possible – the schools, teachers, organisers, videographers, photographers, parents, partners, children and audience. Also, G’Day and thank you to all the beautiful people that joined in with events around the world. I can’t wait to read about your performances, so don’t forget to send Lydia your reviews. Without all of you there would be no World Bellydance Day.

Finally I have to thank my glorious dancers for all they give to me. You are such a wonderful caring group. I am honoured to know you all. You will always be my ultimate favourites. I have loved watching each one of you grow and develop in this wonderful dance form.

Love to you all,

Jade Belly Dance

Me! Photo by Vicki Carroll


Please email me at if you have any photos or video of World Belly Dance 2013 in Bellingen. I would love to see them. Did you participate in World Belly dance Day? Please comment below.

Tribute to a great dancer: YOU!

I want to honour the everyday dancer. There are so many tributes out there to stars or to heavy dancers strutting their stuff or to disabled people overcoming adversity and they are all very well deserved.  BUT I want to say – ‘You are awesome’ .

Whatever your dance experience, shape or size. You are choosing to do something healthy for yours body and soul and you deserve congratulations. You are beautiful and you are loved.

tribal students share a laugh after a belly dance performance

Sharing a laugh after a performance – Urunga 2011
Supporting each other is what it is all about.

Yesterday I found out a friend died. She wasn’t a close friend, just someone that touched my life and that of so many others.  She was a friendly creative person that spread light and happiness through so many local events as Faerie Emily. She had painted my daughters face in whimsical designs many times. Emily killed herself.

Belly dancing mother and child

With my daughter after world belly dance day 2011 – face painting by Faerie Emily

It got me thinking about how it could happen to such a beautiful, talented and giving person in a small town where we are supposed to care for each other. I started to think of my friends and was amazed when I realised there were many women I knew – gorgeous woman, caring women that had told me they were finding it tough, that they are just keeping their head above water, that are suffering from anxiety and depression.

So often we celebrate the champions, but I think it is also time we celebrate ourselves and each other – champions or not.

It is easy to fall into judging other dancers at events, thinking you know a person or their story.

face painted belly dancing kids

Friendship is part of what its all about – 2 of my gorgeous dancers at World Belly Dance Day 2012

“Well it would be easy for me too, if I looked like her” or “She has a supportive partner, that makes all the difference”, “She obviously hasn’t had children”, “I hear they have heaps of money that’s how they can afford those fancy costumes”, “ What were they thinking wearing that”, “if I had started younger, I could dance better than that”, “ the amount of training she’s had , you think she would be better” , “oh, they dance with that group” blah, blah, blah. I have over heard many such comments at performances in the last decade. Have you stopped to wonder – Is it true? Do you know for sure?

Do you know what issues that dancer has faced to get where they are today?

I remember one of my dancers seeming a bit off one day only to find out shortly after that they had been in and out of hospital all week with their child seriously ill. I performed at one event showing signs that I was miscarrying. I chose to dance because I knew that avoiding dancing would not save my baby’s life if it had already died. The bleeding stopped, all was fine and my daughter was born loving dance but they weren’t my most joyful dance performances ever. Only a few close friends knew of my dilemma during that concert.

Jemah -World Belly Dance Day 2011 – face painting by Faerie Emily

As I have gotten older the less and less I judge people. How do I really know what is going on in their life?

I am not saying you have to love every dance piece you see or every dancer, just that we could support each other and our journeys a little more. Next time you see a dancer giving it their best shot, maybe clap a bit louder, say something nice after the show, zagareet. Our dance community is diverse but most of us are not the best dancer, youngest, most flexible or whatever but we are all worthy of kindness.

I would love it if our belly dance community (actually the whole global community too for that matter) got to the point that no one wanted to kill themselves. That they knew that people loved and cared for them because people told them so often and helped when they were struggling.

Thank you for reading

RIP Faerie Emily. Lets bring joy to each other so no other bright sparks go out.

World Belly Dance Day Bellingen 2012

A tribute to my students

I stumbled across the World Belly Dance Day website by accident back in 2008. At the time I was a student and teacher with the Awalim school of Middle Eastern Dance. I suggested to the other teachers we hold an event as well. Ruth and Shekhinah thought it a great idea and Bellingen’s first World Belly Dance day was born. That year we won “World’s most caring organisers”!! We hadn’t known such an award existed.

World Belly dance Day Bellingen 2012

I felt a bit like the pied piper! All the gorgeous girls following me.

In 2009 we were thrilled to have around 26 dancers parading, as this was 1% of the population!  (we live in a small town – Bellingen has a total population of 2600 people). This year my dance school, Jade Belly Dance, had 30 performers all on its own from the Bellinger Shire and several other schools had good numbers in attendance too (too many people in the photos for me to count them accurately! Maybe 70 dancers all up as a guess?).

parade improvisation at world belly dance day

Taking centre stage together – well done!!

What a beautiful day it was, you would hardly know we were only a few weeks off winter. Even I was hot and that rarely happens. Good photos were hard in the parade because of the copious amounts of sunshine in our faces but I would rather sun than shivering – it means you can show your belly without turning blue! After weeks of costume panics and dance practice it was such a relief to finally be there with so many of my gorgeous students.

pretty in pink

Dorrigo kids wrapped up ready to start their dance

The kids were armed with veils I had picked up in Egypt (really cotton head scarves but they are a good size for children) and off we went following the beat of the drum. Every time I turned I saw a sea of smiling faces following behind. There were two extra special moments for me in that parade, one was watching my friend Pauline (whom I had danced with for a decade) and her daughter Catie (a past student of mine), do a little solo together. When I have danced  with Pauline, I have always thought we looked a little silly together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the energy but next to her I felt like a giant. Seeing mother and daughter dance together was just perfection. The other was when one of my current students, Lyn, struck out and did a spontaneous solo improvisation to the maksoum beat. WOW! Is there any greater feeling for a teacher when you see your students shine. Later 3 of them had a go together and I had a grin from ear to ear (so proud Lyn, Bess and Bec).

Finale of Abl Ma Anam!

Finale of Abl Ma Anam!

Next up was some dancing to live  drumming, then my girls took the stage. My Dorrigo kids classes opted to dance without my assistance or that from my more experienced Bello girls and they did a fine job. Only one disaster was poor little Izzy that had run off to the toilet and we couldn’t find her. She was so devastated to have missed the performance but she got to parade so it wasn’t a complete loss for her.

My Bellingen girls did the first ever complete run through of their dance Abl Ma Anam. They choreographed a good deal of the dance themselves with moves that reminded them of the lyrics (Houda translated for us- thank you!!). But as a child inspired piece it naturally broke with convention and thus  included cartwheels while holding veils!

The Dorrigo Ladies then followed with our mothers dance which was very appropriate for the day before mother’s day! It was partly choreographed by last years Bellingen class but with the addition of some tricky pinwheel formation work. I can’t believe they were all so brave to publicly perform after only 1 term of tuition! I refused for 3 whole years when I started out!!!

Other schools danced a variety of styles including Baladi, Khaleegy and fan veils. I didn’t catch as many acts as I would have liked due to costume changes, organising, photos and trying to keep an eye on my own little dancing daughter as she flitted around the market but what I did see was lovely and there was great music as well.

teal skirts - pinwheel

Mother’s Dance

At the end of festivities my Bellingen ladies performed our Bellynesian act (Polynesian mixed with Belly dance). I took my first Polynesian dance class in Hawaii when I was 15, I loved it and wanted to do more but it wasn’t available here. Eventually I took up belly dance and it has remained my passion for the last 13years but all along I have wanted to do a fusion of the 2. On World Belly Dance Day 2012 I finally got to fulfil that goal backed by my beautiful students.

5 gorgeous women - belly dance / polynesian dance fusion

Our Bellynesian number

The unseasonably hot late autumn weather added the necessary tropical feel and our fast and furious dance to Tahitian drumming was a triumph. My schools last offering was a sword duo by two of my more experienced dancers, they were told they were definitely doing it only 10 minutes before performing. It was then I also told them that I would not be dancing with them as I usually do. I wanted them to be the stars. They had a panicked look in their eye at first but rose admirably to the occasion.

So it is with much happiness that I congratulate the efforts of all of my past and present students that have bought me to this place in my life. Without your support I would not be a teacher and would not be writing this blog. You have come to me for lessons but have taught me so much in return.

Thank You,  Thank You,  Thank You,  Thank You!

Love Jade

mother and daughter

PS: If you have any photos or video of the day please send to

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