Fatima Serin was born in Turkey and dancing is very much part of the culture there. She has always had music around her and dancing was always something she enjoyed.
She knows the cultural dilemma of Raqs Sharqi in the Middle Eastern cultures. On the other hand, her love to Raqs Sharqi makes thousands of people happier.
Fatima told her Raqs Sharqi stories here.
1. Why did you start Raqs Sharqi?
My heart always beat for the Mid Eastern Rhythms. I was born in Turkey and dancing was very much part of my childhood. I started out dancing with other kids in folk dance groups. Later on after I had moved to Germany I started dancing because it really just felt like it’s something I must do and want to do. My family did not approve of me performing but I am a dancer at heart. I just had to pursue my career, it gave me so much pleasure and fulfillment.
2. What is the most important thing to do when we dance in public?
To me it is wonderful medium to transport the Mideastern culture into the world. It’s about connecting, about dialogue and zest of life. I think connecting with the audience is very important. Belly dance is supposed to entertain people, make them dance too and make them happy in general, and if I can do that and transport the Mideastern culture into the world, then that’s even better.
3. Could you tell about your Raqs Sharqi style?
Over the years I think I have established my very own style. I was educated by countless Egyptian master teachers, and also had lessons with Turkish master teachers. I really admire the Egyptian style for it’s to the point and Turkish dancers for their energy. I also find it interesting what some international dancers have brought into dance. My style is definitely very influenced by all of them but also very much an expression of myself.
4. Could you tell about the relationship between Raqs Sharqi and your background?
As I have mentioned before, I was born in Turkey and dancing is very much part of the culture there. I have always had music around me and dancing was always something I enjoyed. When I was starting to belly dance in Germany my parents, in particular my father, was worried for me. The Turkish society is still not very respectful of raks sharki as a profession- although everybody surely likes to watch it and belly dancers are hired for weddings, birthday parties etc. I guess my father just didn’t want me to be seen in a negative light. He didn’t talk to me for several years even. Luckily I was able to make up with him before he died. He gave me his blessings in the end – and that made me very happy.
Today, my family comes to my shows and they all understand now that I m not doing anything “bus” but that I actually transport a cultural tradition into the world. They accept it.
5. Could you give some advices or comments for Raqs Sharqi dancers?
It’s difficult to give a general advice. Some dancers need to be encouraged to let go and loosen up, others have to master some courage when it comes to going out on stage, others need to work on technique and others need to learn listening to the rhythms a bit better. But I think a good general advice would be: If this dance gives you pleasure and makes you feel good about yourself, go for it. No master has fallen from the sky as we say in Germany. Without practicing there are no good results.
6. Who is your ideal dancer? Why do you like the dancer?
I like many dancers for particular reasons. Soher Zaki has always been my idol. I never get tired of watching performances by her. I always loved Dinah for her unique passion and emotionality that she transports very well. I always loved Tulay Karaca for presenting a very unique Turkish style (who unfortunately is not as famous as many of her Egyptian counterparts).
7. What is your future plan with Raqs Sharqi?
I really enjoy teaching and performing and it’s a pleasure for me to pass on my knowledge and to entertain a crowd. At the moment I really enjoy traveling the world and introducing Mid Eastern dance in parts of the world, where people don’t know it yet so well and I would like to continue doing that for a little while. It’s been great for me to have had the opportunity to get around in the world.
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