Nancy may be better-known to Sydneysiders as Nancy Nesnas. She is now the principal teacher at Terezka Drznik’s Danse Orientale Studio in the Sydney CBD, and also runs her own “Hizzy Ya Nawaem” belly dance classes at Burwood’s DanceXcite.
Nancy is one of those (relatively rare) Australian dancers who are actually of Middle Eastern origin (in her case, Palestinian). She’s committed to maintaining a pure, authentic style of Middle Eastern dance, because she sees belly dance as more than just a dance, but rather a way of honouring and reconnecting with her roots.
Personally, I have to say I love the fact that Nancy focusses on authenticity and keeps her use of props to a minimum. Of course, I understand the need to use a gimmick for an entrance in cabaret, because something is needed to grab audience attention – but it saddens me to see some belly dance instructors teaching their intermediate students sword, Isis Wings or fan veils, when they’ve barely scratched the surface of what the dance is all about!
For more details of her classes, visit Terezka’s website (for Sydney CBD classes) or contact Nancy direct on 0439 959 051 if you’d like to book a performance.
Interview with belly dancer Nancy Yousef
How did you get started with belly dancing?
I grew up around an Arabic Family so I was familiar with the music. So I was subconsciously drawn to the music and movements and started Belly Dance to simply work on my self-esteem and confidence. Little did I know it had started a journey of reconnecting to my heritage.
What is your favourite belly dancing style and/or prop?
I love the authentic Egyptian style of Belly Dance, raw, expressive, emotional. Within the Egyptian style, I adore classical and of course Saiidi! I use minimal props to be honest but if I have to say my favourite, would have to be the Saiidi Cane!
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your belly dance style?
My Dad has always been a constant source of inspiration, sharing stories of what he grew up with and experienced having being born and raised in the Middle East. So my style has always been connected to the Heart Land of the culture. In terms of Dancers, I love the graceful Samia Gamal and the powerful Randa Kamal. Each so different in their expression but embodying such a feminine energy.
What advice would you offer an aspiring belly dancer?
My greatest advice and what has been my journey, is to understand the ‘culture’. Learning the Art professionally has reconnected me with my roots. I believe it is impossible to fully embrace this Dance without understanding the Land and People from which it came. I also believe in the purity of the Dance as an Art from the Middle East. Fusion work is interesting but much can be lost by fusing styles together… retaining and honouring the pure form is so important.