“Dancing is the loftiest,
the most moving,
the most beautiful of the arts,
because it is no mere translation
or abstraction from life;
it is life itself.
Welcome to my website, where it is my hope you will be encouraged to study and learn more about the art of modern MENAHT(Middle Eastern, North African, Helenistic, and Turkish) belly dance, fusion dance and about my unique style and approach to western contemporary fusion dance. I have a rich background in dance and have formal training in classical ballet with the Royal Academy of Dance from London for 12 years. I began studying MENAHT belly dance in 2001...and my dance experience spans over 3 decades…
Coming from a Moroccan ancestry, my style reflects decades of training and practice in fusion (belly) dance, which is an evolution of MENAHT dance, and includes immersion and study in the dances and cultures involved, alongside my own personal style that comes from my upbringing and the subcultures I immerse in. More information on the history of belly dance and its new genres is provided below.
It is my goal to educate the public about the elevated art form that is MENAHT belly dance/fusion dance/transcultural fusion dance(TcFD) and to share my love of this beautiful and rewarding dance. This goal is attained through my signature performances and through helping the dance student intimately understand the basic elements of fusion dance; aiding the student in mastering their technique and their personal goals and building a solid foundation in belly dance, as well as developing their artistic and creative side. I believe that conditioning in yogic and pilates practices, as well as cross training in other dance forms, can enhance the dancer's belly dance practice and technique immensely. In addition, both yoga and belly dance disciplines can greatly enhance one's quality of life. The marriage of yoga, pilates and belly dance is transparent and when one begins to practice these disciplines, the benefits become noticeable in improved dance quality. It is my belief that we want to incorporate equal part stretching and flexibility, alongside strengthening exercise and training. Belly dance, pilates and yoga are interconnected in their strengthening exercises, muscle breakdown and posture technique. Yoga and pilates both incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises and postures involving chest, hips, shoulders, upper and lower back, abdominal muscles, legs, and quads, which directly correlate to our dance practice as well as aid in core strengthening abilities. These exercises build and develop strength in our bodies and lay the foundation of our dance movement and dance posture. Pilates strengthens our core, in turn aiding us in balance and posturing, as well as builds muscle strength to master our belly dance muscle isolations. Yoga calms and centers us, including breathing and meditative exercises, and brings us more into the present moment, enhancing not only our belly dance stage presence, but our lives.
It is also my goal to bring the very essence and depth of my life understandings and experiences, to the stage through my choreographic offerings and artistic works. Storytelling and expression are my strengths and they can be seen in each performance piece that is offered.
I encourage you to discover this
wonderful world of fusion belly dance
and the power it has to profoundly affect your life.
Ariellah teaches weekly belly dance classes, private and semi-private group lessons, workshops, and performs worldwide. Please inquire for bookings.
Ariellah Aflalo is one of the hardest working Belly Dancers in the business, and it shows in her technique, costuming, emotion, and refined taste in music and movement choice. She adds her own deliciously dark touch to the dance and is an absolute pleasure to watch."
-Rachel Brice, Datura
Ariellah studied classical ballet extensively with the Royal Academy of Dance of London for twelve years, beginning at age three. After a break from dance that included graduating from UC Davis and two years in the Peace Corps, living and working in Africa's Ivory Coast, she returned to the United States eager to learn the dance of her Moroccan ancestry.
Trying her hand at belly dance had been a lifelong goal and was a natural extension of Ariellah's dance career and life experience. Her pursuit of belly dance began with the Folkloric style of Janine Ryle, who studied with San Francisco belly dance institution Hahbi'Ru. Ariellah eventually became a part of Janine's dance company, Danse Maghreb in which she performed mostly Algerian Berber folkloric dances. With Ariellah's roots grounded firmly in the culture and tradition of North Africa, belly dance was a natural fit for her. Janine encouraged her desire to learn from as many sources as possible, and suggested that she take classes with Rachel Brice, who is currently one of the most sought after belly dancers in the world and whom currently owns her own world-renown studio, Datura. Ariellah began studying Fusion belly dance with Rachel Brice in early 2002 and became a founding member of Rachel's Indigo Belly Dance Company in 2003. In 2009, Ariellah began training in classical Indian Odissi dance, studying in India at the Shakti School of Dance and continues her studies with Colleena Shakti to this day.
Ariellah has herself, become a world-renown international instructor and performer of dance. She is an icon in the fusion belly dance community and has been featured in several different magazines, books, radio shows, and articles all over the world. In 2004, Ariellah won first place in the Star Fusion category of Sirens In Sanity's belly dance competition, Enchanted Camelot, held in Benecia, CA. Ariellah was also featured in the first of its kind, "Gothic Belly Dance: The Darker Side of Fusion" DVD; released in spring 2006, with the sequel, "Revelations" released in the fall of 2007. Ariellah is also featured on performance DVDs "Bellydance Underworld", "Tribal Revolution" and many others. Ariellah's first instructional DVD, "Contemporary Belly Dance and Yoga Conditioning" continues to be one of the top selling and top rated belly dance DVDs on the market today. Please check out the reviews online at Amazon.
Ariellah's style reflects and infuses her personal interpretation of Middle Eastern belly dance, with a modern, dark flavour, that is uniquely her own. She is widely known for her strong stage presence and unrivaled technique. Her performances are designed to allow her the ability to express herself fully and to bring art and honesty to the stage. Ariellah believes her style emanates from the passion and contentment that belly dance has brought to her life, as well as the infusion of her lifelong involvement in the gothic subculture, allowing her to fully express herself in a unique and beautifully dark way. Her dance manifests what is deep in her heart and expresses her own experience and perceptions of this wondrous, beautiful and tragic thing called life.
As a classically trained professional dancer, Ariellah understands the importance of each event to which she is invited, and she strives, with each performance, and with each workshop to create just the right mood and share all of her years of knowledge and experience.
Ariellah was also a co-producer and principal dancer in Fusion dancer Frederique’s Silent Siren’s Theatre. This was a collaborative projeckt that created one of the very first belly dance plays in existence, re-enacting silent era films. They toured the U.S., Europe and South America with their own interpretation of the 1922 German Expressionist Film, “Nosferatu”. Learn more information online at SilentSirensTheatre.
Ariellah is also the director of her own dance company, Deshret Dance Company. Ariellah founded Deshret in early 2007. Her dance company applies pressure to the boundaries of Middle Eastern dance and attempts to bring a more theatrical and artistic side to this ancient, highly skilled, art form. Deshret keeps its roots grounded in the traditional technique and movements of Middle Eastern and Fusion Dance and then morphs them into something new and different. Deshret has been described as wandering somewhere between the old and the new, infusing classical Middle Eastern dance with a very modern fusion style. For more on Deshret Dance Company, please visit www.Deshretdance.com
Ariellah is also the sole-producer of an annual performance art event, ShadowDance, that spotlights some of the highest quality performers from all over the world. ShadowDance is in the 14th year of production as of 2020 and going strong. It is an event like none other that presents art in all its forms and genres, and asks the artist to go to the depth of their humanity and from that place, share their interpretation and understandings with the world. It is an unforgettable experience! For more information on ShadowDance, please visit any of the following links:
What is Belly Dance?
Belly dance is one of the oldest forms of dance. The style of this ancient dance has evolved over the years, but at its core it remains the same. It is my understanding that all belly dance styles have a basis in Middle Eastern dance that come originally from the villages of North Africa and the Middle East. This dance spread all over the world, taking on a slightly different form in Egypt and other places in the Middle East in later years, now called "Cabaret" or "Oriental" style. It then came to America in the 1890s for the first time appearing at the Chicago World's Fair. From there the dance spread across the United States. Over the last century belly dance has taken on many new forms, all based in the original, classic Middle Eastern movements. Morphing and evolving over the years from Hollywood films to the smoky night clubs of the 1960s, from Renaissance Faires, to national festivals. In California in the 1960's there was a belly dancer by the name of Jamila Salimpour who took these classic movements and gave them a name and a format; taking this dance to another level and changing it into a skilled art form, like any other such as ballet or piano. Jamila Salimpour taught most of the belly dancers active in the bay area today. Those dancers, in turn taught more dancers. One of them being Masha Archer, who then went on to teach Carolena Nericcio, who went on to create an entire new genre of belly dance called American Tribal Style (ATS). She named her belly dance company Fat Chance Belly Dance. This style of belly dance fused many different ethnicities in its dance form and also brought in a new and unique aspect of belly dancing, where one dancer leads the set of other dancers in improvisational style dancing. The dance has many cues and movements all created by Carolena Nericcio. Cues were developed for each step or combination, usually an arm or head movement that could be easily viewed by the other dancers on stage.
I believe that ATS was indeed the gateway to creating Fusion Belly Dance and the many other new and creative styles and fusions of belly dance that followed. ATS used different costuming than traditional oriental or folkloric styles, as well as different hair stylings and allowed dancers to express themselves with tattoos, piercings and an abundance of jewelry and adornments. In fact, an abundance of adornment became the norm. And it also led to a fusing of different styles of music that were not necessarily Middle Eastern. From this Fusion evolved, with dancers like Rachel Brice, Heather Stants, Jill Parker, Mira Betz, Mardi Love and many others, all pushing the envelope, and fusing the elements from different cultures as well as stylizing the dance in their own unique way. They moved away from the improv style of dance and moved toward choreography. Bringing a modern, new, creative element to an old ancient dance. But at its core there remains the basic movements of Middle Eastern belly dance, fused with outside ethnic influences, modern fusion music and personal stylizations.
It is my belief that fusion belly dance, as well as dark fusion belly dance, captures the beauty from all dance but allows for new and creative interpretations. It represents a highly skilled art form that commands respect, and emanates beauty.
What is Dark Fusion Belly Dance?
From my point of view, dark fusion belly dance taps into the more theatrical, dramatic, passionate and emotional side of belly dance. Dark fusion belly dance is one of the many offshoots of fusion belly dance. I coined this name, phrase and genre, trying to capture the essence of what type of art it was that I was expressing. Dark fusion utilizes the basic elemental movements of belly dance and mixes them with the dancer's unique stylizations, music and costuming. In my case, as a dancer, I infused my belly dance movements with my own personal character and personality which contains much of the gothic subculture lifestyle, attitude, stylings and tastes.
Dark fusion belly dance is a mental and physical aesthetic that a dancer has inside their being, which manifests through their dance. Dark fusion delves into the shadow side of humanity and the human experience. There is no darkness without light and no light without darkness. This genre of dance encapsulates and allows for all the depths of human emotion; it goes deeper than the surface and expresses the dancer’s experience of life through movement.
It is noted that in dark fusion belly dance performances, a deep emotion is invoked in the audience and there is a sense of the audience being brought into the performance. There is a connection. The energy that flows from the dancer is strong and piercing and draws the audience in with its expression and interpretation.
In your practice and training and performance, I encourage you to elevate your dance and find that balance between technique, artistry, emotion and movement. I encourage you to bring a higher energy and mindfulness to all of your movements and an awareness of your posture and of your emotions and of your own style of belly dance and how that comes through; bring drama to your dance...bring YOURSELF to your dance...elevate it...and shine ever so brightly...
~ "Ariellah Aflalo is one of the hardest working Belly Dancers in the business, and it shows in her technique, costuming, emotion, and refined taste in music and movement choice. She adds her own deliciously dark touch to the dance, and is an absolute pleasure to watch."
~ Ariellah in Zaghareet, Shimmy, Fuse, Gothic Beauty Magazine and many many more...
~Interview with Ariellah - 2015, Seattle: Shut up and Shimmy!
~Interview with Ariellah - 2014: Yip Podcast
~Interview with Ariellah - 2011: Tribal Mind
~Interview with Ariellah - 2010: The Flavours of Tribal Fusion
~Interview with Ariellah - January 2008: Shimmy Cast