What the West thinks of as belly dancing is actually known as ‘baladi’ dance (meaning folk dance) in North Africa and the Middle East. 

Baladi dance originated in Egypt, and has numerous variations being exhibited throughout the Arab world, and other parts of the globe as well, such as at Rakkasa. A international belly dance festival and fantasy bazaar held annually in Concord, California. With thousands of attendees, vendors and performers, the event has grown so big that there is a waiting list just to be considered a future participant. This event draws together thousands of dancers and non-dancers alike from across the globe, different age ranges, genders and all walks of life.

Egyptian cinema of the 1940s and 50s was full of baladi dancers who were viewed as the Maryland Monroe and Sophia Loren’s of their era. When religious conservatism rose to prominence and (the Golden age of)) Egyptian cinema faded into the shadows, baladi dance became associated (one dimensionally) with male arousal, and thus became marginalized.

Alexandre Paulikevitch showcase and interview.

Conversely, it is a man, by the name of Alexandre Paulikevitch, who is helping to lead the effort/charge of dispelling the notion that this dance style is limited for the arousal of men. Alexandre is also leading the way in changing common perceptions that this dance style is solely for women, showing that men can and do perform it as well.

As one of the few male baladi dancers in the region, Alexandre first learned to dance by watching old black and white Egyptian films featuring the once revered dancing movie starlets. He has since become a star in his own right, performing as a soloist and spreading a message of liberation and gender neutrality through his dance. He challenges audience to think differently about the origins of baladi – a post Colonial dance that is in fact distant from belly-dancing, also known as danse Orientale.

Alexandre continues to revolutionize the dance often described as scintillating, mysterious and exotic, and spread the beauty of the culture in his hypnotic performances, and via the regular classes he teaches in his home of Beirut, Lebanon.

Alexandre Paulikevitch transforms into various characters and costumes on stage.