Valeria Lo Iacono – Taking up belly dancing back in 2003, for me was a revelation. I love it so much, that I am currently doing a Phd exploring Egyptian raqs sharqi as a form of cultural heritage in Cardiff Metropolitan University (in Cardiff, UK).
You can email me on valeria (at) worldbellydance.com
Alternatively, my university email address you can contact me on is: vloiacono (at) cardiffmet.ac.uk
As I have an academic background in preservation of cultural heritage, I have decided to put together my passion for belly dance with my academic training, which has led me to wanting to explore raqs sharqi from the cultural heritage perspective.
The idea behind this, is that cultural heritage is something that is embodied and part of us and it can influence our lives in a deep and meaningful way, whether we embrace a tradition that comes from our culture of origin or from a different culture.
The starting point for the idea was the 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage and my research progresses from this initial idea. Please feel free to contact me for:
You can find out more about my research and how it is progressing, on the Heritage Research section of this site.
I was introduced to this type of dance by a friend Jeanan Haddad, from Iraq. My training includes ballet, jazz, tango, contemporary and other forms of dance, but oriental dance has been my favourite form of dance since I started practising it. I am a qualified exercise to music fitness instructor and I am currently doing a PhD on dance anthropology, focusing on Egyptian raqs sharqi.
I have been attracted to belly dancing first of all because I have always loved Arabic music, but also because it is a form of dance that transmits an idea of fun. Every time you look at a belly dancer performing or even at someone doing this form of dance socially, you have a feeling that they are having great fun and enjoying the time of their life. Also, oriental dance encourages a healthy body image in people. It does not matter what size or age you are, you can be a good belly dancer.
In addition to this, Middle Eastern dance is very natural for the body and does not force the dancer into unnatural positions, hence the risk of injuries is lower comparing to certain other dance forms. I can say for sure that it did a lot of good to my back. When I was 10 I was diagnosed with scoliosis and the doctor told me that I would suffer from back ache in my thirties. I started suffering from light lower back ache at some point, but it disappeared for good after I started belly dancing. Read here for more information on oriental dance’s health benefits.
Since I started learning belly dance, I performed in Seoul, South Korea, in various venues while I was living there and throughout the years I have keep studying and improving my technique with great dancers such as Dandesh, Aida Noor, Yasmina, Sarah Farouk, Randa Kamel and Khaled Mahmoud. My dance style is focused especially on Egyptian raqs sharki, with some use of veil and finger cymbals.
In addition to practising oriental dance, performing and teaching, I have created this website, because I wish to give information on this art form. I try to make the site as informative as possible and also make it useful for the dance community, by writing about information and tips and my own experiences.
Originally I was born in Sicily, Italy but I am now based between Cardiff, South Wales in the UK and Catania (Sicily, Italy). I travel to Egypt and Turkey usually two or three times a year and I am presently involved with belly dance in conjunction with dance therapy. Learning about dance therapy is an area which I am particularly interested in for the future.
I continue to enjoy belly dancing and I can be seen at many workshops and classes in the UK. You are bound to see me at some point if you dance in the UK. If you want to learn belly dance in Cardiff, Wales you can contact Valeria.
Short video of Valeria dancing to Diamond in the Rough by Hossam Ramzy
Click on image below to read large version
While living in Seoul, South Korea for 2 years, I performed twice in Egyptian restaurants. Read the news story which was in South Korea’s main English written newspaper, the ‘Korean Herald’, all about their performances.
I have fond memories about this event, as it was my first performance as a beginner after 6 months of practising belly dance, having first learned in South Korea. My teacher at the time was Jeanan, an Iraqi-American friend who taught English in Seoul and to whom I taught Italian in exchange for belly dance lessons.
Since 2003, when I first started practising belly dance in South Korea, my passion for this art form has kept on growing. If you want to learn belly dance these days in South Korea, you can ask in the Arabic restaurants in Itaewon, the most cosmopolitan area in Seoul.