Rebecca, Ellen, and I had the privilege of getting to know one of the best Middle Eastern dancers around. Her name is Ruby Jazayre. For 38 years, she has been learning, teaching, and performing belly dancing all over the world. We were able to sit down, talk with her, get to know her better, and have her answer some questions about belly dancing.
Ruby explained how and why she started belly dancing, the gender aspect of the dance, and her love for the Middle Eastern dance! Below is part of our interview that we thought we would share with everyone!
Rebecca: Do you think that belly dancing is something that is exclusive to just females?
Rebecca: Is it a feminine dance?
Ruby: Well it got me in touch with my feminine side, but if you get on the internet and look around at videos, the men dancing and the women dancing in the culture, this dance is a cultural thing. If you go to an Egyptian wedding, you’re going to see belly dancing. If you go to a Polish wedding, you’re going to see Polka. If you go to a Jewish wedding, you might see some line dancing that is traditional. If you went to an Irish wedding, you might see some step dance. […] You might see some step dance at a wedding. They might have that as entertainment. I lost track of what the question [was]. Give me the question again?
Rebecca: Is it exclusive to gender?
Ruby: Oh for men?
Ruby: When a man and a woman dance together, the woman is usually, in Middle Eastern dance, more the focal point than the man. But that’s not always true. I’m going to be in a show this weekend with a husband and wife team in Lansing. Like I said, it’s a cultural thing. When you get together in the Middle East, men will be in one room and the women might be in the other room. They might all be dancing, doing their own dance. They will dance together, and they will dance apart. In performance you’ll see men dance on their own. I taught up in Bay City, Michigan two weeks ago, and there was a young man there that was like spit fire, dancing around on the stage. He did a dance with a candle and a cape.
Rebecca: Oh wow!
Ruby: He was very entertaining and he danced by himself. There is a way to dance like a man, and there is a way to dance like a woman. The men, when they dance, it’s like when you walk into a bar and see men and women dancing. You know men have a way they dance, and women have a way they dance. They just goof around, you’ll see that in the Middle East too. In performance, there are traditional dances, and the men stick more to the traditional than the Oriental, which the women dance more.
*This interview was published with consent by Ruby Jazayre (See interview consent form)