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Belly dancer Jalya was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. She started dancing at the age of eight, and went on to become a dance instructor, choreographer and performer specialising in modern and traditional Middle Eastern dance.
Is there a long tradition of belly dance in Azerbaijan?
Not really. There is a long tradition of Middle Eastern folklore dance. We do like to dance, females and males. Our style is more similar to Persian dance.
Folklore dance is very popular. It is similar to belly dancing but not so revealing in terms of dress. They are more reserved. It’s a very graceful, beautiful, classical form of dance.
What can people expect to learn in your classes?
Different people expect different things. Every woman comes with her story. You can’t really generalise.
Some ladies come to shrink their waist; some come to lose weight; some come because they like dance and music. They all like dancing and music and doing something happy.
There are no two women the same. In the garden every flower is different, every one has its own scent.
What are the benefits of learning to belly dance?
Health, happiness, musicality. Also you get to make lots of friends and get involved in the dancing community.
Dance and music unite people, make them happier, no matter which nationality or age. It doesn’t matter if you’re Turkish, Arabic, English or Italian. It’s really just for women, it unites all of us.
When you’re not dancing, where do you go for a taste of Azerbaijan in London?
I really want to visit Baku restaurant. My friend’s been; my uncle’s been. I really want to go.
I’m going tomorrow to Novikov restaurant and I want to drop in at Baku. I know the food’s fantastic and it’s beautiful inside. I’m really looking forward to it.
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