Belly Dance

Information for Participants on Raqs Sharqi Research

Dandesha raqs sharqi

Dandesha, Egyptian raqs sharqi dancer, great example of living heritage.

I am currently looking for participants for my PhD research on Egyptian raqs sharqi as a form of cultural heritage, which will start from the middle of June 2015. Thus, I would be extremely grateful if any of you who currently practise or who have practised this dance genre, who would be willing to participate, can get in contact with me. The research will involve discussions in a secret Facebook group and/or one to one interviews in person (if you live in Cardiff, UK) or via Skype.

In order to participate, please email me on vloiacono (at) or on valeria (at) I will then send you a consent form by email as an attachment, which you will need to read, tick the applicable boxes and return to me by email as an attachment from you email address. Please see below the participant information sheet about this research, for you to know everything that is involved, if you wish to take part.

There is a lot of information below and it may seem overwhelming, but in reality it is much simpler than it may look. I had to write all this information down in so many details, as it is part of the academic ethical process 🙂

Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form

Reference number: 15/1/01R

Title of Project: Raqs Sharqi as Cultural Heritage


This project is inspired by the 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage, which allows activities, such as performing arts and cultural traditions, to be added to the UNESCO world heritage lists of humanity. The idea behind the decision to study Egyptian raqs sharqi as a form of cultural heritage is to highlight the fact that cultural heritage cannot be considered simply external to us, but it is part of every person’s experience, it gives us a sense of belonging and defines who we are. Intangible heritage is alive and something we experience through our bodies and dance can be an excellent case to show this point.

In addition, cultural heritage does not necessarily have to come from the culture in which we were born, but we can decide to embrace, at any point in our lives and for different reasons, a tradition that comes from a different culture. Hence, raqs sharqi (‘oriental dance’ in Arabic), which originated from Egypt but is now practiced and appreciated all over the world, is a good example of this.

The aim of this study is to examine raqs sharqi but do so by exploring how people who practice raqs sharqi experience it. How raqs sharqi has affected their lives; how, why and where they have learnt it; if they teach, how they do it and why; how important the cultural aspect and the roots of this dance are for them; how important it is for them to innovate or keep to traditions and why; how their tastes, cultural background, personal experience and dance training affect the way they dance raqs sharqi. Ultimately, I wish to explore the importance in people’s lives of activities and traditions that have been so far excluded from what was traditionally considered cultural heritage. This study will also explore the suitability of raqs sharqi to contribute to UNESCO’s cultural heritage list, while questioning if it is realistic to separate cultural heritage into tangible and intangible forms.

What would happen if you volunteer to take part to this study

  • You will be part of a Facebook discussion group and/or be involved in two interviews to be conducted in person or via Skype. You can choose to be involved only in the Facebook group, only in the interviews, or in both.
  • Each interview will last no longer than 90 minutes, with an interval of between one or two months between each of the two interviews.
  • In the case of a face-to-face interviews, the session will be audio recorded, or in the case of Skype® interviews, it will be voice and video recorded by EVAER® software.
  • A third, follow-up up interview may be agreed at a later date, but only if deemed necessary and if it is convenient for you.
  • You will have the opportunity to listen to the recording of the interview. In addition, I will ask you for feedback about the interview, after transcription and interpretation, to make sure you agree with the accuracy of the transcription/interpretation of your words and that you are happy to continue being involved in the study.
  • If you provide a video of you dancing or a video you took of a dance performance, this video will be used as part of the research.

Who can participate to this research?

Requirements needed to take part to this research are:

  • You must be aged 18 or over.
  • You must currently practise or practised in the past Egyptian style raqs sharqi. It is fine if you also practise other dance genres or other styles of belly dance, as long as you also have been at some point or are currently practising the Egyptian style of raqs sharqi. Also, it does not matter where in the world you are from, your age (as long as you are 18 or over), your gender, how long you have practised Egyptian raqs sharqi for, if you have been to Egypt or not. I will need to hear from a variety of different people, to find out about different perspectives.

Are there any risks?

The potential for risks in this study is minimal, but there are small issues that need to be considered.


Although this study does not require asking sensitive questions, it may be possible that the recollection of experiences has the potential to make you feel uncomfortable. Please remember that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers and you can control what is said and how it is said and you can request the recording of the interview to be paused, stopped or indeed terminate the interview altogether and this request will be granted. Because I am not a medical doctor, counsellor, or a therapist, I will not be able to advise you on personal issues, but I will be empathetic and respect your wish to terminate the interview if this is the case.

Facebook group discussion:

The group will be secret, which will mean that it will have the highest level of privacy. However, while the aim of this study is NOT to profit financially from the information about participants, Facebook may still use the material generated on their site for their own financial gain.

What happens to the outcome of the research?

I hope to write research papers for publication on academic journals, and may present reports at academic conferences. I have constructed a research web-page to inform you about the research, which is available on the research section on this site.

 Are there any benefits from taking part?

You are not likely to benefit directly from participating in the study. However, your participation will contribute to our understanding of raqs sharqi as a transcultural practice that is relevant to those who embrace it for personal and cultural reasons. This should help raising awareness of and appreciation for this ancient art form.


Unfortunately, I cannot offer any compensation for your participation in this research.

Costs to you

You will not incur any costs as a result of participating to this study.

What happens next?

The consent form that I will send you by email needs to be completed and returned to me by email as an attachment on vloiacono (at)

Participant’s rights

  • This is a project in which participation is entirely voluntary and you are under no obligation to participate in this study.
  • You will be free to withdraw at any time, without giving any reason and without penalty.
  • You will be made aware of any new information that may want to make you change your mind about being involved in the research.


To protect your confidentiality your name will not appear in any publications and a pseudonym (alternative name) will be used instead, unless you specifically ask to be given credit.

In order to protect confidentiality, the Facebook discussion group will be secret. The privacy settings for secret groups (as per are as follows:

  • in order to join people must be added or invited by a member;
  • only current and former members can see the group’s name;
  • only current members can see who is in the group;
  • only current and former members can see the group’s description;
  • only current and former members can see the group tags;
  • only current members can see what members post in the group;
  • only current and former members can find the group in searches;
  • only current members can see stories about the group on Facebook (like in News Feed and search).

Please remember not to post sensitive or highly personal information in the group forum. As group administrator, I will monitor the group to remove any offensive or overly personal posts (as explained on

If participating in interviews, you will be given the opportunity to choose the location, the day and time of the interviews and whether or not the interviews will be recorded. If the interviews are done by Skype using the EVAER software, you are advised to choose a private location where you feel comfortable to talk.  EVAER offers the facility to store data on their online storage facility. However, to protect confidentiality, I will use instead a password protected computer backed up to encrypted external hard drives. I will create a specific Skype account for this research study. Once the study is over, the Skype account will be closed and all your online details and data will be removed.

Once collected, data will be transcribed into a pass-worded protected computer. Only people involved in the project will have access to this information. The data will be kept indefinitely to facilitate future analysis, unless you do not wish this to be the case, at which point the data will be kept for the five year duration of this study only.

Further information

If you have any questions about the research or how I intend to conduct the study, please contact me.

Mrs Valeria Lo Iacono, PhD in Dance and Cultural Heritage

Email address: vloiacono (at)


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Valeria is a dance researcher completing a PhD in dance and heritage. Valeria also teaches and performs as a belly dance but also enjoys learning ballet, jazz dance and other dance genres.

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