Russian belly dancers seem to be all over the bellydance scene as of late- i’m not hating on it, they are an amazing talent group. and of course, the costume eye candy can’t hurt!

But in terms of discussing the style, they seem to be very polarizing. Some think that they have turned the dance into less of an art form and more of a sport. The Russian dancers seem to easily combine all of their gymnastic and other dance training into bellydance making it their own. But it seems as though their making it their own isn’t sitting well with some dancers. somehow they have twisted oriental dance and it’s not the pure form.

But is self expression wrong? Is it the fact that their costumes and marketing make them a hot commodity and more easily marketed? Is it the pow pow style of their shows? This is a question that I posed to social media and I got some great responses. I am going to summarize the main points of the discussions below.

– Egyptian and Turkish starts have started to adopt the Russian style. Didem was brought up as an example. When I look at her style, as it has evolved, she always seemed to have acrobatics and pop/locking in her routines. I do not know if her style influenced them or vice versa. To me, her skill set stands on its own and is not Russian.

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-Several dancers remarked that it is very energetic and fast and that they disliked it for that reason. That it seemed to be very external and that the internalization of emotion is lost in their performances. This coupled with its competition style feel can leave the audience feeling fatigued.

– There was a lot of appreciation of their abilities and technique but no desire to learn that particular style or integrate it into their own dancing personally.

– An interesting point was made while correlating ice dancing to belly dancing. That the Russian ice dancers were technically precise, had over the top dramatics and an aura of wanting to be the best. Ice dancing does not have a lot of the cultural and emotional implications and additions that belly dance has. It’s the subtlety that is missing and that is what makes a great bellydancer. This group of points resonated with me and a few other people as well. It made sense when compared to sports that the approach is similar.

As a final note, please know that this post is NOT about bashing this particular style of bellydance. It was simply to discuss it. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts but know that any vulgar or disparaging comments will not be approved.