Is belly dance art? Yassir Jamal believes so

Coming from Morocco, where belly dance is basically an entertainment, he wants to raise the bar for this ancient dance and contribute to turn it into an art form.

Recently Yassir Jamal was in Durango, Mexico to give a seminar for dancers. (Photo: Courtesy of Yassir Jamal)
English 06/07/2016 11:10 Newsroom Actualizada 12:22

Yassir Jamal is a Moroccan darbuka player who lives in Ukraine, where he is also a professor and is pursuing his PhD in Economics at Kharkov University. His dissertation is about a correlation matrix to predict the fate of ventures depending on the type of leader heading the enterprise.

As a musician, he has recorded several CDs and become a world-renowned percussionist who has composed over 80 exclusive drum solos for belly dancers from Europe, Asia and the Americas, enticed by the unique stories full of nuances that he is able to tell through his instrument, that he has been playing since he was a child.

"Sometimes I had to lie to my parents to be able to keep practicing darbuka, or neighbors would call the police because the noise of my drum disturbed them. I was crazy about it," Jamal recalled about his early days.

Coming from a culture in which belly dance is basically an entertainment, Jamal now wants to raise the bar for this ancient dance and contribute to turn it into an art form. He believes that the scenario in which belly dance can thrive is not cabarets -where it is a mere excuse to watch a beautiful woman's body- but theaters, where it can be appreciated for its artistic features.

In his opinion Ukrainian dancers like Alla Kushnir, Marta Korzun and Alex DeLora are already on the way of doing this. As a musician, he admires their creativity and ability to move in perfect sync with his drum. He also likes the style of Didem from Turkey and Aida from Russia.

When Jamal was 12 he had a crush on belly dancers. Eighteen years later, he has set for himself the goal of turning that love into a coaching book for performers.

"I want to help dancers understand the principles and philosophy of art, learn about the history of belly dance and also advise them about how to shine on the stage," Jamal said about his upcoming book called "My Conviction", that he will write in collaboration with Giselle Rodríguez, a Mexican journalist and dancer who wrote "Danza Oriental en Egipto", a Spanish-language book about the history of oriental dance (the real name of belly dance) based on her own research.

For the time being, Jamal's advice is only available for the dancers who attend his seminars, the reason that brought him to Durango, Mexico in early July 2016. 

 

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