I met Shabnam at the Ethinic Dance Festival 2010 in San Francisco. In this festival of dancing styles from all over the world, other dancers were performing in groups, because the theater’s stage was very large. However, Shabnam performed by herself, but her dancing had the power to attract a large audience. I felt the rhythm of the music visually through her Raqs Sharqi. In the party after the festival, I immediately asked Shabnam for a dancer’s interview, because her dancing and dramatics were amazing. Shabnam is very friendly, and I was moved by the nice and charming personality that she has besides her dancing skills. I hope more dancers are going to get to know Shabnam, American Raqs Sharqi dancer.
1. Why did you start Raqs Sharqi?
I got into this dance by suggestion of my physical therapist. At the time I had badly injured my back, and she recommend I try Belly Dance to strengthen my stomach muscles. I quickly fell in love with the music and reconnection with my culture and confidence.
2. What is the most important thing to do when we dance in public?
As dancers of this art form, the most important thing (I feel) we should do is present it with artistic integrity, quality and class.
3. Could you tell about your Raqs Sharqi style?
I would best describe my style as modern, urban, flashy with a touch of diva. From the get go, I always viewed this art form as dance. It was never just about wearing nice costumes and expressing sexuality. To me this is dance, therefore I train and try to present it as such.
4. Could you tell about the relationship between Raqs Sharqi and your background?
My father is Iranian and very old school (i.e) daughter is not supposed to be a dancer of all things! Growing up, there were frequently Bellydancers at most special occasions, so it was something I was exposed to and somewhat familiar with.
5. Could you give some advices or comments for Raqs Sharqi dancers?
My advice to aspiring dancers is to focus on your skill, training and to be consistent in your studies. Never stagnate and always continue learning, growing. Even after my 20+ years in dance, I still take classes and constantly pursue perfection. It is what I tell my students as well. Once you settle, or feel you’ve achieved it all…that’s when things go downhill, creatively and career wise.
6. Who is your ideal dancer? Why do you like the dancer?
I do not have an ideal dancer or role model. I like different qualities in a variety of artists and performers . Right off the top of my head my inspirations include: Nadia Gamal, Dina, Bob Fosse, Showgirls, Breakers, Snakes and Birds.
7. What is your future plan with Raqs Sharqi?
My aspirations as a dancer/choreographer include, continuing to push the dance into the future with artistic and challenging concepts with focus on theatrical performances in addition to producing events such as upcoming Bellydance Day on August 21, 2010.
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