Chi­nese belly dance en­thu­si­asts reignite the pop­u­lar­ity of an an­cient Egyp­tian tra­di­tion

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle -

WHEN Sam­mia Du took her first step on stage in a Cairo five-star ho­tel, the pub­lic looked a bit am­biva­lent.

Her Asian fea­tures were un­like those of any other Egyp­tian belly dancers who per­formed that night. But as she closed her eyes and be­gan to rip­ple to the rhythm of the drums, the young Chi­nese dancer was quick to dis­pel any doubts.

“It’s an in­de­scrib­able plea­sure for me to get on stage and al­low my­self to be car­ried away by the Ara­bic rhythms and melodies. I long for this and I need this,” Du told Chi­nafrica shortly af­ter her per­for­mance in the Egyp­tian cap­i­tal. “I love this mu­sic and this dance and I love Egypt, as if I had lived here in a pre­vi­ous life.”

Du - whose Chi­nese name is Du Xiangx­i­ang - was among the first to in­tro­duce belly danc­ing in her home city of Shen­zhen in south China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince. Over the last few years, this tra­di­tional dance, born on the banks of the Nile, has seen its pop­u­lar­ity ex­plode in China, thanks in great part to ef­forts of ded­i­cated teach­ers like Du.

While belly dancers in Cairo are suf­fer­ing from a slow­down in the tourist in­dus­try since 2011, their un­ex­pected pop­u­lar­ity boom in China has opened up new chan­nels of ex­change be­tween the two coun­tries.

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