Shiraz Şahin


 Shiraz Sahin is a belly dance performer, instructor, and dance ethnographer. Shiraz began her wondrous journey in belly dance fifteen years ago; instantly falling in love with the art form. The rich and soulful music of raqs sharqi combined with the soft (yet strong) movement vocabulary allow the dancer to deeply embody and express emotions and share them with her audience in ways that create core connections in ‘ihsas’ (feeling). She loves the sense of ‘togetherness’ and connection the dance embodies between performers, musicians, and audiences- related to how today’s performance art continues to embody and celebrate its social dancing roots. The dance has become her passion as well as purpose. Shiraz loves to share the beauty, power, and ‘ihsas’ (feeling) of belly dance through performances, teaching, and ethnographic research. Shiraz is a respected belly dance performer, teacher, and researcher from the East to West Coasts, though she is now based in San Diego, California. Highly sought after in prestigious Middle Eastern and Turkish establishments from coast-coast, Shiraz is entrusted as the featured local belly dance artist at hundreds of cultural celebrations, weddings, Middle Eastern performance establishments and haflat (parties). She is a Dance Theory Lecturer at SDSU, a Dance Studies Lecturer at California State University, San Marcos, a dance practitioner-scholar, and dance ethnographer. In 2012, she earned her B.A. degree in Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language, from the University of Delaware. Following, Shiraz pursued her passion for Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside, where she earned her Ph.D. in their world-renowned Critical Dance Studies program. Shiraz’s doctoral research focuses on explorations of raqs sharqi centered within Cairo, Egypt amongst local, intra-Middle Eastern, and global political dynamics. In particular, she explores circulations of belly dance and how its meanings and contexts change as it crosses different borders, bodies, and spaces. Her next project is taking her Ph.D. dissertation “Core Connections: A Contemporary Cairo Raqs Sharqi Ethnography” and re-working and expanding upon it into a book. She has presented her ethnographic research nationally and internationally at academic conferences, universities, and belly dance festivals and studios. Currently, when she’s not in Cairo doing fieldwork for her dance ethnography, or busy writing it up at a local coffee shop, Shiraz is performing and teaching raqs sharqi throughout San Diego, California. Shiraz is also a Raqs Sharqi (Belly Dance) and Folkloric Instructor available for group and private lessons locally, as well as belly dance workshops nationally. She is available for belly dance classes in San Diego as well as private instruction. Due to her unique practitioner-scholar background, Shiraz’s teaching approaches raqs sharqi as an insightful form of embodied knowledge through which to better understand and appreciate oneself and Middle Eastern cultures. She endeavors to foster sensitive culturally-nuanced thinking in her students as much as holistic studio technique, musicality, and performance training. Teaching is her joy, she loves seeing dancers grow at all levels, from one’s first hip shimmy to mentoring fellow working professionals. Her teaching is infused with strong foundational technique, supportive encouragement, the necessary cultural and historic nuance, and a sincere love for the art form and her beautiful students; all providing a warm and meaningful environment to learn the rich dances of the Middle East- folkloric and raqs sharqi.

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