Exploring New Stages

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Boxes are safe. They are all about straight lines with equal angles. They have four corners that all measure 90˚. They are predictable, limiting, and yes, safe. As Raks Africa, we have adopted the slogan, “Big Bellied Girls Doing Big Things!” While that is certainly true and a source of great pride, as a dance company we strive to embody much more beyond that box, the novelty and spectacle of full-figured Black bellydancers shaking it.

Raks Africa
photo credit: Michael Baxter


This year, Tammy and I have made some goals beyond the safety of the box. One of our goals is to seek out new stages to dance our hearts out on and new audiences to captivate with our sparkle and joy. Last month, we had the challenge of auditioning for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. This was a new stage for us, outside of the comfort zones of the bellydance community or the size acceptance community. In that setting, we had no peers except each other. Taking that risk and dancing beyond the safety of the box is what this year is all about.

And we’re about to do it again! This Sunday, February 24th at 7pm we are taking the stage in the 9th Annual Black Choreographers Festival Next Wave Choreographers Showcase at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco. This three-weekend festival of performances is typically loaded with dance work from the modern, contemporary, and ballet worlds. We believe this may be the first time that bellydance has been included in the Black Choreographers Festival. We are thrilled to represent ourselves and our dance genre to present a beloved choreography that will have its San Francisco premiere. Ticket information for the Black Choreographers Festival is HERE.

So while some may prefer the safety of boxes with clearly defined boundaries and predictable angles, we have opted to reshape them into platforms for our art. Bellydance and big bellied girls deserve nothing less.

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