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Aziza flourished as an Oriental dancer in the mid 1960’s in California.  She danced at clubs in San Francisco, Hollywood and beyond— she’s credited as being the first belly dancer seen in “no man’s land” states like Omaha and Nebraska, as well as the first belly dancer seen in Canadian provinces like Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. She went on tour to all of those places and more with her own band and singer… sounds like a dream!


Aziza worked with and studied under Fatma Akef, whose sister was the legendary Egyptian dancer Naima Akef (we did a feature on her about 2 months back). She was one of the OG members of Jamila Salimpour’s troupe Bal Anat.






After stumbling across some photos of her, I felt so inspired to do a feature on her ASAP. Her costumes, her EVERYTHING— she appears to be the epitome of the classy yet sexy vintage belly dancer that we crave to emulate in our dance today. We love how she took the dance to places where it hadn’t gone before around the US and Canada— a true pioneer in every sense of the word! She’s contributed tons of amazing, crazy and funny stories to the Gilded Serpent, had a blast reading through all of those. Here is a link to a list of really cool articles she’s written!


We want to say thank you to Aziza for contributing all of her memories to the community— it’s exciting as a blossoming dancer to learn about the past from such a special, unique perspective.


Hey Everyone – just discovered this awesome Podcast  of all vintage belly dance music! Above is the link to download it on itunes – don’t worry it’s free 🙂 and here is the link to their website:

~Radio Bastet~

me and rana

I was lucky enough to take a workshop at Anahid sofian’s studio this weekend with the incrediblePersian dancer Rana Gorgani.

On Saturday we focused on classical Persian/ Iranian dance. Her passion/love for the dance, its history and place in culture is evident in each of her movements. Every motion has symbolism which makes the dance so beautiful and special. We looked at our hands as if they were birds, we turned them into flowers and raised them to the sky. There was a lot of focus on wrists, hands and arms and posture. She told us to think of our bodies as trees – strong and unmoving, and our arms as branches. Overall day one was awesome.

Today Rana taught us some folkloric dances. These dances are danced for ceremonies etc. they always have a purpose. Rana explained that she went to different tribes and learned these dances through observation. Some of the symbols in these dances are weaving, cleaning, washing etc. We used scarves – one in each hand which can represent many different things depending on the dance. Once again, an awesome class.

Although I don’t remember everything Rana said, these are the two things that really stuck with me:

The dancer is the connection between earth and God

Dancing is like learning words. You learn the words so you can put them in a sentence. You can say the sentence however you want – with caution, with strength, with love etc.

Actually shout out to Anahid who said something really similar in class yesterday 🙂




~ S