Jamil is a male belly dancer, teacher and choreographer based in Sydney. Visit Jamil’s website for bookings and information. His classes at Amera’s Palace are generating a lot of buzz too – by all accounts they are a great workout both technically and aerobically!
Interview with Sydney belly dancer Jamil
How did you get started with belly dancing?
I have been dancing from youth. Mum used to put a lot of Arabic movies on with beautiful music that always got me moving. I used to look at the movement and imitate it. As children we are less focused on social protocol and thus it never really occurred to me if the dancer was a woman or man.
I used the dance to keep me slim in my teen years, dancing for nearly 3 hours a day out of pure enjoyment. One day some friends ‘dared’ me to take a term of classes at Amera’s… I took the dare, and with good fortune my path was paved into the dance teacher, choreographer and performer that I am today.
What is your favourite belly dancing style and/or prop?
I always love a good Drum solo. I think it’s my forte style as I love to shimmy for hours and enjoy being so precisely connected to music timing and beats.
With props… I am really getting into Fan veils… they are a mix between a normal veil and isis wings but are much easier to use, and very effective at catching rhythm within a dance piece.
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your belly dance style?
Dandesh! An Egyptian dancer that is known for her intricate and isolated shimmies. Her movements are so precise and articulate that with the most slightest movement she can catch the essence of a song and have the audience shrieking with bliss!
Didem is my drum solo God! The way she moves to a drum solo is yet to be met by anyone alive to date in my opinion.
What advice would you offer an aspiring belly dancer?
Patience is as important in belly dance as a hip scarf is. The quicker a person tries to rush memorising a movement or be ‘professional’ the quicker they will fail. Our dance has so many hidden layers that need years to absorb, with patience and a willingness to do the best you can, you will succeed so much!
What was the inspiration for the formation of your belly dance troupe “Attar”?
Sydney was yet to see a truly professional troupe. Apart from Jane Jardine’s troupe work, Sydney was yet to see a marketable troupe that was comprised of absolute professionalism and dedication to the art. I invited my closest dance peers to merge to create the troupe Sydney needed and enjoy ourselves at the same time. We quickly moved from being close dance associates to a what we call ‘the ATTAR family’ because we don’t work in a leader/follower style but more as an encouraging nucleus trying to generate the best visual outcome. Its been a choice not one of us has regretted!
Because each dancer interprets belly dance in their own unique way, bellydance troupes can sometimes look like a bunch of individuals each doing their own thing. Attar seems to achieve cohesiveness without losing individual personality – is that a conscious thing or has it just developed?
Initially our troupe started with all 5 of us clinging to our own way of movement and letting what came naturally take charge of our body. Quickly we all began to sync with each other through analytical learning and teaching each other our style differences. This has allowed us all to grow so much within an already self growing experience.