Meet Belly Dancer Angela Flagg

Belly dancing isn’t easy. Stand in front of a mirror and try swaying your hips without moving any other part of your body. That’s just the start. Then meet Angela Flagg, whose undulations could make a jaded Sultan blush. She started without any confidence or natural ability and recently completed her own teaching certification. Anyone can learn how to do it, she says, regardless of shape or size (or gender). Belly dancing; rich in history and incredibly athletic. And not really sexy at all — if you keep your eyes closed.

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Photo by David Mendelsohn

  • When I started dancing, I never dreamed I’d be performing. I was just taking a class. Ha!
  • I had been intrigued by belly dance since childhood. I’m Lebanese, and I saw a belly dancer at a church hafla, which is basically a party. I was blown away by the power and the beauty.
  • I never thought it was for me though. I thought I was too skinny, clumsy and uncoordinated to be a dancer.
  • After being a stay-at-home mom and taking care of others for years, I decided to do something for me. I took an introductory belly dance workshop. A few months later, I started with a weekly class. It snowballed from there.
  • Dancing turned out to be so much more for me than a class. It is a path to healing for myself, my dance family and the world.
  • It’s about connection. Even if I’m not onstage, I’m dancing with others, and the energy we create is strong. When the audience is there, we can share that strength and healing with them as them as well.
  • American Tribal Style, or ATS, is structured group improvisation and a lead-and-follow format.
  • You can have from two dancers to as many as you can safely fit on a stage. The result of everyone knowing this dance language is what looks like a choreographed piece. Many times I’ve had an audience member comment on the choreography, and I love telling them it was improv!
  • I’ve been with the Barefoot Truth Dance Company for about a year and a half. It is a nonprofit with the intention of social engagement through art. We are all ages, sizes and experience levels.
  • Men do dance. They are welcome. The Barefoot Truth Dance Company has several male members who perform belly dance, street dance, and fire and flow arts.
  • All bodies are welcome. Any size, shape or ability. Moves can be adapted based on your needs.
  • You don’t have to show your belly if you don’t want to. That’s something a lot of people are concerned with.

LittleegyptAn 1896 film featuring belly dancing by a performer named Fatima was so scandalous that the Edison Company producers burned a white-picket censor bar onto the film to veil the more provocative movements. We’ve come a long way, baby, from those innocent times, and now belly dancing is appreciated as good exercise for the lower back and spine. “Women who belly dance are having a lot of fun and feel young at heart,” says Angela Flagg. “As for that impossible hip movement, it can be done. It takes a heck of a lot of practice, and you get some really amazing muscle tone while generally still remaining very curvy.” (Note: Thanks to Diane Bellington for her unflappable persona and invaluable assistance.)

Categories: Q&A