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Suhaila Salimpour
by Marcel Bieger
After her successful performance und even more successful work shops at the 18th Oriental Festival 2010 at Duisburg, Germany, promoted by Leyla Jouvana and Roland, Suhaila Salimpour, one of the most prominent dancers in the history of modern belly dance, will be back to Germany in April this year. Again she will perform, again she will teach work shops, and again it will be at Leyla Jouvana’s, but this time at her studio. Don’t miss that – but first read, what she has to say …
What was responsible for your decision to become a belly dancer (other than the role model of your mother) - and did you ever regret this decision?

I grew up around belly dance, and my involvement was organic. My mother enrolled me in classical dance classes (ballet, jazz, tap, etc.) as soon as she could, and those influences also shaped my view of belly dance in the larger dance community. I never regretted my participation.

You rewrote "Danse Orientale", a classic in its own right. What made you feel it would need a rewriting, and what did you change.

My mother’s manual, Danse Orientale, was based on her research, documentation and compilation of the dance steps she observed in her career. Combinations and dance themes were written as steps and families of steps.

In developing my format, rather than create unique names for step variations, I rethought the approach to belly dance using terms from standard dance and timing from music theory. Specific instructions are given using a standard language. Students focus more on what muscles are being used for the movements, dance instruction is more specific, and students don’t have to worry about having an unlimited possibility of different terms. Students learn a relatively finite list of terms and concepts that then are compiled to create limitless options for the dancer. I did not rewrite my mother's book; instead, I created by own format.

Why did you create online classes?

My format and certification program have grown considerably, I have students located all over the globe. Given that travel is expensive and DVDs are expensive to produce, I wanted to find an economical way to assist students in their training. In 2009, I launched my online classes
There we offer students a selection of over 200 classes each month including classes in Level 1, Level 2, Dance Movement, Folkloric Fusion and Jamila format. New classes are added monthly.

From your computer, you can take the actual classes filmed at my local studio; students can take as many classes as they want as many times as they want. Four different cameras are used to film the classes, and you can see other students following along. A free trial is also available.

Which styles do you prefer, and which ones you don't like too much, is there even anything you would never dance?

A well trained belly dancer can perform any style. Many of the styles current today are a recent thing . . .  appearing in the last 20 years. Given that I’m a young old-timer, I was around before these trends. In the 70s, the same dancers who danced in my mother’s Bal Anat troupe (tribal and folkloric) at the Renaissance Faire would then dance in the San Francisco night clubs. Several of those same Bal Anat dancers travelled to the Middle East and successfully got well-paying jobs in Egypt, Lebanon and Greece as featured belly dancers. My point is that a well trained dancer can select whatever style she wants; as long as she is knowledgeable and responsible in her training/choices (music, culture, costuming, venue, etc.), my focus for both myself or another dancer is the quality of her training, movement and emotional perspective...

How do you create your choreographies?

I create my choreography in the same way that a composer creates music. Choreography is an important part of my dance format and certification program. Much like a pianist or violinist learns the classics, choreography is a solid tool for learning music interpretation, timing, dynamics, etc

Suhaila Salimpour is guest at

Leyla Jouvana's "EASTER DANCE WEEK"
Duisburg, 2011, April 15th. - April 21st.

She gives Workshops from Fr. 4/15 - Sun., 4/17

and she also dances at the Show
"Grand Oriental Night"
Saturday evening,
April, 16th

further informations about the EASTER DANCE WEEK:


Fr., 4/15 2011

Suhaila Salimpour / Format, Overview & Fundamentals

Unique opportunity to experience Suhaila's unique dance method for the first time or to broaden your knowledge of it. Guaranteed to enhance any dance style or performance - as the Bellydance Superstars already know!
Friday 5:45 - 7:45 pm

Suhaila Salimpour / Basic Isolations, Standing Drills & Layering

You'll be addicted to drills by the end of this workshop which will strengthen and tone your dance muscles and also increase stamina.
Friday 8:00 - 10:00 pm

Sat., 4/16 2011

Suhaila Salimpour / Technique & Layering

Level 1 Format & Layering. Take your technique to a new level with these fun and inspirational drills concentrating on posture and isolation, timing, downbeats and layering.
Saturday 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Sun., 4/17 2011

Suhaila Salimpour / THE Ultimate Sword Dance Choreo

With full break down of moves on and off beat, layering, precise timing,exercises to perfect balance and many variations in Suhaila's unbeatable format.The most fun you'll have with a sword dance - ever.
Sunday 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Homepage Suhaila Salimpour:
Photos © Suhaila Salimpour
Graphics and layout: Konstanze Winkler