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