March Slut of the Month: Badaweyah

Our March Slut of the Month is Badaweyah, a bewitching practitioner and teacher of Egyptian dance. We spoke with her about influential women in the art form, belly dance stereotypes, and the similarities between empowerment through dance and through BDSM.

When did you begin studying Egyptian dance, and how has your relationship with the art form developed since then?

I started studying Egyptian Dance about 14 years ago. In the beginning, my interest was solely based on a few nomadic tribes in the Sahara and a huge interest in the music. After I began taking dance classes I started to admire the dance. But, my first trip to Egypt is when everything really changed for me. I was able to dig deeper into the musical roots, loosely learn about classical compositions and the classical composers of that Golden Era that I had become extremely fond of. The more I learned of Classical Arabic music, the more I fell in love with the dance. It has remained the same for me today. About six years ago, I started teaching beginner classes, then moved on to advanced classes and workshops. Since I have a deep admiration for the music, my teaching style is based not only on the classical roots of the dance but the music as well.

There’s this idea of belly dance in the West that it’s for male enjoyment first and foremost, but that’s ignoring the female-centric, empowering side of the movement. What are some of the common misconceptions about belly dance you have to contend with?

What most people may not know about this dance is that it’s a social dance, so in most North African and Middle Eastern countries you’ll find that at social gatherings everyone is dancing, women, men, the youth and the wise. Over here in the West, there could be major factors that the community may face as a whole, but what could be considered minor on a personal level. I’ve spent my life doing what’s opposite even if it’s part of something popular amongst many. So, I may hear that you have to be a particular size, or wear a particular costume or look a particular way to participate in certain venues or shows. But, at the beginning of the day, I do what I love and that love has brought me closer to a craft based on hard work, countless research and the utmost respect for an ancestry that contributed to paving this path for me. I surround myself with a camaraderie of people who are accepting of my vision and don’t give to much weight to one’s mired in their own misconceptions. I say, do what you want, do what you feel and if you love your body, then learn how to move it.

You mention some of the historically important female dancers on your website. Who are some of the women that came before you that influence and inspire you?

To preserve the roots of this dance and any art form is highly important to me. I can list a plethora of names in this field who has inspired me. But, I’ve also been inspired by women outside of this craft, ones who have inspired me as an artist, as a person of integrity and victor. There’s a list of historical figures, artists and musicians I can babble on about that have offered a wealth of substance as human beings and as artists. Umm Kulthum is the voice you will hear in most Classical Egyptian music, her sentiment and expression of this allegorical language is heartwarming and heartbreaking to listen to. There have been many times that her voice has just inspired me to move. Taheya Carioca is my absolute favorite dancer from the Golden Era, how she moves and her interpretation of the music is not only wonderful to see but should be studied by anyone in this field. I could take up a whole page with a list of other ladies. The inspiration is as simple as great talent, perseverance, strength and an inevitable ability to transcend pain, banality, oppression, segregation and so forth…into art.

How does you work as a dancer and your experience in the BDSM scene inform your views about sexuality and the body?

More so, it has confirmed my views about sexuality and the body. I was never really hidden in a shell of my own body nor my sexuality. If anything it has allowed me to take more liberties. But, I could associate more of it with being adult. In your youth you may be taught that thoughts, intentions and actions are wrong because of lack of understanding on your part and fear of what the outcome will be on the guardian’s part. I would say that maybe it has allowed me to be more uninhibited about what I want and what I’m feeling. And, whatever control I may have been holding onto, to release it. Dance can certainly offer people more confidence. I do believe it is one of the ultimate forms of self expression. When you discover what your body can do with movement, the achievements and rewards can be endless. BDSM, the same. One of the problems one will possibly face with being kinky is the stigma. To find others that has an understanding of not only the pleasures of pain, but who understands these pleasures and the need for stimulus can offer a deeper understanding of the self. People can think of something as bizarre if they lack knowledge of it, are afraid of it, or afraid of themselves. But, you have to let go. The understanding, knowledge and practice of these two very different things can offer very similar results…emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually.

There’s the old saying that dancing is just sex, only vertical. Truth or fiction?

If I could own the answer to this question, I would sell it as Truth. I’m not saying when I dance or any other person dancing is just having sex or aiming to seduce a viewer into it. But, I personally can see sex in a glass of milk. There’s a lot of nature’s creations that are an absolute turn on. I can’t even look at the beet vegetable without getting a little randy. It’s so beautiful, its rich textures, that glorious color…I’m not too fond of the taste but I still consider it a gift from Mother Earth. That’s exactly how I see sex as well, standing, lying down, dancing or eating…all are gifts from nature.

headshotbadaweyah

I am: Badaweyah

By Day: An advocate, a dreamer, and a dancer

By Night: An advocate, a dreamer, a conqueror and a dancer

My Vices: mangos, straight jackets, Calla Lilies and a vintage pair of scissors

My Virtues: Integrity

The Present: the median, NYC

The Future: Paris

Favorite Flavor: onions

Favorite Feeling: sexy

Favorite Fabric: nylons…there’s just something so right about them

Substance is: always first (not talking about substances…)

Style is: individual

Slut is: someone who can embrace their sexuality with an open mind and imagination…and, always with integrity

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