Posted by: nuweiba | April 15, 2008

Belly dancing with a Swiss twist

By Sarah Marquer
First Published: April 11, 2008

Barbara Tigresse never thought that a three-week trip to Cairo would change her life as much as it did. Almost a year and a half after her first visit to Egypt, the Switzerland native packed up all of her belongings in the German-French speaking part of the country and moved to the city of a 1,000 minarets. 

Barbara, an avid and long-time belly dancer, explains that she fell in love with Cairo when she came to buy more belly dancing costumes for her students in Switzerland. She teaches several belly dancing classes and performs at different shows back home.

Barbara, who first casually learned to belly dance from a friend who had lived in Algeria and then through many workshops, dedicated herself to the art of belly dancing. She has been studying, teaching, and performing for over 17 years.

When asked why it became a passion, Barbara said, “I adore it, it’s a part of my life. When I started I was a little down and it made me feel happy and refreshed, it gave me a ‘force de vivre.’ I’m happier ever since I started dancing. I adore it, I really adore it.”

A self-proclaimed painter and dancer her entire life, Barbara has never had professional training. When it comes to belly dancing, however, Barbara doesn’t think any formal training is necessary. “It’s an improvisational dance and you dance what you feel,” she explains.

Barbara’s passion for dance is not just a hobby, but a fascination and an appreciation for a human activity that has existed throughout history. As she points out, “The first people in the world had art and music and dance; we’ve always needed that, even when life was much harder and more difficult.”

Belly dancing, she says, is in tune with this basic need because it is “natural; it’s so normal to move the way belly dancers move. It’s a very old tradition that has transformed with time but is essentially the same. These movements come naturally to women.”

With that understanding, she believes that belly dancing is more about feeling the music to which you are dancing and improvising. While there are some basic moves to learn at first, belly dancing is about letting what you feel pour out of you through dance. Barbara comments, “I never choreograph. I can’t dance like that: it’s impossible.”

Choreographed belly dancing is only one of many recent trends in this particular dance around the world. Belly dancing has noticeably taken the world (especially Europe and the United States) by storm.

Celebrities in Hollywood rave about “belly dancing workouts” and many European women are attracted to the dance form. In Switzerland, according to Barbara, “To say you’re a belly dancer now is kind of show biz, it’s sexy, so I think that’s why people like it.”

Despite the glitz and glam that now accompanies this provocative dance, Barbara is careful to point out that belly dancing has positive effects for any woman, whether she be American, European or Middle Eastern. “In those clothes, women feel like queens,” she says.

From personal experience Barbara has witnessed the transformations that can take place when one becomes committed to belly dancing. The transformations occur both physically and spiritually, connecting heart and body.

“The dance makes you feel your entire body, down to the tips of your fingers. All of your muscles are used,” says Barbara. It has a healing capacity, she says. “Before I danced, I had a lot of backaches; but ever since I took up belly dancing it went away and I became stronger, even though I grew older.”

Not the least bit surprising, since central to belly dancing is the utilization of your core – the muscles in your abdomen – a.k.a your belly. Belly dancing is also credited with straightening people’s postures and toning muscles.

If you think belly dancing might be for you, then you are in luck. Barbara will offer belly dancing lessons every Sunday starting April 20 from 9 to 10 am for LE 50.

Barbara also hopes to organize a small belly dance troupe that will perform at weddings and other events. She is seeking versatile musicians who can play multiple instruments as well as a vocalist.

For more information, call Barbara Tigresse: 016 4639 572, or email:

Daily News Egypt


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