Shira has been belly dancing for 20 years and teaching belly dancing for ten. In 2012 she created Sheherazade Belly Dancing Gold Coast, but she still teaches and performs internationally.
Shira spoke to Blank ahead of a residency at Marriott Surfers Paradise. I asked her about the connection between belly dancing and Indian culture and she said that belly dance is one of the oldest – if not the oldest – forms of dance known.
“There are several theories,” Shira said. “One is that belly dance originated in India over 5000 years ago. From there it migrated across the Middle East with the wanderings of the Gypsy tribes.”
Shira said that it’s because of this, that there’s a strong Indian influence in belly dancing with the story lines, colourful costumes, and movements which at times can mirror Bollywood dance styles.
It’s not just the cultural significance that draws people to belly dancing. Shira said people come to her classes, feel good about themselves and have fun along the way.
“The feedback I receive from new students is that they are amazed to be getting complete bodywork out and engaging muscles they never knew existed. It makes them feel energetic, invigorated, feminine, and empowered,” Shira said.
Our conversation moves to Shira’s performances at the Marriott, which are being held in conjunction with a new culturally themed buffet. I asked her what sort of response she usually gets from diners in this environment.
“When the dancers appear, the diners / guests’ attention is completely focused on the show as they are quite enthralled with the music, colourful costumes and performances,” she said.
“Part of the fun of performing in restaurants is that the guests love to join in and get up and dance with us. When they know we are performing at a restaurant, people will often book because they know we will be there.”
But with that light-heartedness comes a serious side. Shira said that belly dancing is an art form that can take years to master.
If you’re interested in finding out for yourself, Sheherazade Belly Dancing runs two studios – at Southport and Robina with several classes a week covering beginners, intermediate and advanced.
Shira and her team will also perform between Friday 12 – Saturday 20 June (weekends only) when the Marriott’s Citrique Restaurant takes its diners on a culinary tour of India.
For more information, or to book, visit the Marriott website or phone 5592 9772.