Performer Info

ShimmySTL:The Surprising History of Bellydance in St. Louis

Saturday, May 25, 7:30pm • The Studio at Kranzberg Art Center

• There was a bellydancer at the 1904 World’s Fair who balanced a chair in her teeth while shimmying!

• A St. Louis dancer opened a school for “Salome Dancers” in 1908 that turned out 150 performers a month

• In the 50s & 60s, Gaslight Square featured bellydance performers as well as big stars like Barbra Streisand and Miles Davis

• In the 1970s, bellydance was so popular you could see a show in a department store or attend an amateur night at a local club

The show is sponsored by St. Louis Fringe Fest, and we are creating the show at their request, in part to publicize this year’s Fringe Festival. We will be sharing the evening with three seven-minute previews of some of the other highlighted Fringe performances.


Performers will receive a share of the proceeds as a token payment, however I don’t expect it to be much after expenses. This show is a community labor of love, and we very much appreciate you joining in!

The Studio is a cabaret-style theater. There’s a small stage and a large seating area with tables and chairs.

We’ll be performing some dances on the stage and some among the audience.

The theater holds 90 people.

This is a “modular” show, with an individual soloist or troupe responsible for each scene., but all the scenes need to come together to make a cohesive show.

If you’re in the “Style Explosion” scene

For the “Style Explosion” scene I will choose the music (I’m leaning toward something by Beats Antique or Turbo Tabla). Each dancer/group will have a few measures where they enter and are the focus of the scene, and then will continue dancing around the tables. We’ll choose a time to get together and walk through the performance so you’ll have a clear picture of what you’ll be doing.

For all other scenes

I’ll share with you the background information we’ll be using to set the stage for your number, so you know what you’re bringing to life onstage.

Within that context, I trust you to develop your own scene in your personal style, as far as music choice, costume selection, choreo or improv, etc. However, I’ll ask you to communicate with me about your choices so I can be sure everything fits well together. I appreciate you getting your music selection to me as early as possible so I know how the timing works.

As far as content, we want to balance being true to the history with presenting a dance performance that is entertaining to our 2024 audience (and true to you as a performer). We’d love to see a 100% authentic historic re-enactment, if that excites you. But you’re also welcome to do a more creative interpretation of the theme. I think the audience will appreciate both, and a balance of the two throughout the show will be fun!

Scene 1: 1904 World’s Fair

Intro: World’s Fair photos/scenes & Princess Raja bellydance video

Performance: Live interpretation of Princess Raja’s bellydance

Performer: Lisa Michelle

Scene 2: 1920s-1940s Hoochie Coochie, Salome, & Orientalism

Globally: King Tut, Orientalism, Salome

Locally: The Fabulous Fox, Grand Theater, STL woman who opened a school for Salome dancers

Performance: Modern reenactment of Salome dance of the 7 veils

Performer: Ami Amore

Scene 3: 1950s-1960s Gaslight District

Globally: Bellydance in Hollywood (James Bond, Star Trek, I Dream of Jeannie, Sinbad, etc)
Locally: Gaslight Square, Crystal Palace, Frank & Jan Moskus

Performance: Interpretation of a Gaslight District 1950s/1960s performance

Performer: Soloist TBD

Scene 4: 1970s Surge


Globally: Classes, albums, TV shows (videos)
Locally: Bellydancers everywhere – YMCA, department stores, etc (news clippings & ads)

Performance: 1970s restaurant show

Performer: Dance Hipnotique

Scene 5: Simone Prouty – First Lady of Belly Dance

Intro: Talking about Simone and her importance in our community history

Performance: Reenactment of Simone’s dancing

Performer: Salwa

Scene 6: Simone’s 7th Veil

Intro: St. Louis bellydance ‘family tree,” photos of the troupe, videos, local connections

Performance: Bringing the Telethon footage to life.

Performer: Aalim Dance Co

Scene 7: Renaissance Faire

Intro: (need more research)

Performance: Ren Faire style performance

Performer: Troupe TBD

Scene 8: 1990s/early 2000s Resurgence

Intro: Thriving scene, list of restaurants, troupes & classes

Performance: Restaurant-style performance

Performer: Troupe OR soloistTBD

Scene 9: 2000s-2010s Style Explosion

Intro: BDSS, Rachel Brice, Fat Chance, fusion

Performance: Variety Showcase, each dancer enters and has a “moment” then continues dancing among audience.

We’ll let time be a deciding factor here.

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