The Men of Belly Dance – Yes, they do exist.

We tend to only think of women when we think of belly dancers.  Primarily and historically it is a dance for women, by women.

The history of the first male belly dancer is difficult to track. They have probably been around as long as the women dancers, but more as a social dance and more acceptable as folkloric and not as public performers.

The Stars of the 90’s and before

The first famous male dancers that I became aware of when I started dancing in 1990 were Bert Balladine, Aziz of Salt Lake City, John Compton and Ibrahim ‘Bobby’ Farrah.

I had the pleasure of taking 2 separate workshops with both Bert Balladine and Aziz.  I was able to sponsor each of them at different times and bring them to my hometown in Salem.

Bert was getting very old when I got to meet him, was no longer performing, but still teaching and sharing his amazing instruction with us.  He was an elegant and classy teacher, performer and gentleman. Bert rarely danced solo, but instead danced duets with women belly dancers as a frame for them. He really laid a lot of ground work for other male dancers, like Aziz, but also taught many women who also became famous in their own right.

I first met Aziz when my friend Mezdulene brought him to Southern Oregon to do a workshop in about 1995 or so.  He impressed me with his easy to follow instructions in class and then his dazzling performance later in the evening. A year or so later I brought him to Salem for a workshop and performance at our guild belly dance festival. I believe Aziz is still living in Utah, not sure if he dances anymore, but sadly the other 3 men have passed away.

The Dancing Men of Today

I believe there are more men belly dancing today than there were 25 years ago.

The men who are currently making a name for themselves are Jim Boz, Illan, Frank Farinaro, and Rachid Alexander, just to name a few.

Apparently, it has become very popular in Turkey for men to perform.

Youtube and the internet have many videos and stories of men who are doing this dance today and the struggle they have getting acceptance from their family, friends, and the general public.

Here is a short video of one such dancer in India—>

Thanks for stopping by!  Your comments and questions are welcome!

Happy Dancing!


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