Belly dance to sword play?

Published: 08 November, 2013 07:56 IST | Anjana Vaswani |

Veronica (Veve) Simas de Souza, belly dance instructor to the stars, is conducting workshops in Raqs al Saif (Dance of the Sabre) that evolved from sword fighting and became a form of military resistance

Though it’s associated with sensuality and seduction today, paintings that date back to 16th century Baghdad suggest that belly dancing was designed to entertain the women of the royal household. Men weren’t allowed to watch these performances — even musicians were blindfolded during the show.

“Centuries ago, belly dance had ritualistic significance. Mothers would teach it to their daughters as it was a part of tradition,” reveals Aakriti Prasad, instructor and sales and marketing head, Veve Dance, “Among Africa’s Bedouin tribe, it was customary for belly dancers to form a ring around a woman in labour, and dance and chant through the birthing process.”

Veronica Simas de Souza during a session

Shaped by the fusion of cultures as it travelled across the world, the dance form evolved through time, forming variations such as Folkloric, Saidi, Tribal, Tribal Fusion, American Cabaret and Gothic style. Sword fights between men in Egypt and Turkey inspired female dancers to use swords as props, and thus was fashioned, Raqs al Saif, which translates from Urdu as dance of the sabre. Some records indicate that during the Ottoman rule, the Sultan had banned the sword dance as he feared dancers were collecting these swords — which they did from the soldiers — to begin a resistance.

“Previous dancing experience (in any dance form) is a must to sign up for the sword workshop, but we also offer other belly dance workshops for beginners,” shares Prasad. These four-hour workshops, will be conducted over two days (R1,800) by Veronica (Veve) Simas de Souza and her team, who learnt and trained from masters of belly dance in Egypt, China and Turkey.

De Souza, who taught belly dancing to Katrina Kaif for the song Sheila Ki Jawani from the film Tees Maar Khan and lists Gauri Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez and Riya Sen among her students, will conduct the Sword, Drum Solo and Baladi workshops (christened with the Arabic word for rural, Baladi is a country version of belly dancing).

Call 9987744559 (Veve Dance)

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