Interviewing Aziza on American Cabaret Style
American Cabaret style bellydance (known as AmCab) is one of my absolute favourite styles. It’s the fantasy bellydance of my teenage years and has a rich and fascinating history.
But it has fallen out of favour enormously in recent years.
Born out of the melting pot of 1970s America, where an eclectic mix of emigré musicians from Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Armenia played in Arab nightclubs and restaurants, there was a need for dancers to help entertain the crowd. Young US dancers (who had no access to videos, let alone YouTube in those days!) created a fantasy style of bellydance, full of variety, drama and clever tricks.
One of the greatest AmCab dancers of all times is Aziza – originally from Portland in Oregon, US, she learned from the original greats of the style and was very much part of the development of this fascinating style.
So when Aziza was with me in the UK recently, I asked her to talk to me about AmCab
- What exactly is AmCab?
- What’s the structure and why did it develop that way?
- The terror of the Turkish drop!
- Why has it fallen so far out of favour now?
It’s a fascinating interview about a really important phenomenon in bellydance; a style of dance that fulfils so much for many of us, but one that is in real danger of being lost.
I hope you enjoy the interview and if you want to know more about the style, I’ll be teaching it soon in Undeniables Online – my online bellydance school
4 thoughts on “Interviewing Aziza on American Cabaret Style”
Thank you so much for this interview with Aziza. I started dancing in London in1967 and the big stars were Turkish. Most clubs were Greek or Turkish Cypriot owned and being able to play finger cymbals and do floor work was expected for all dancers. We did floor work and jumped on tables to shimmy. Th Egyptian invasion started after the Lebanese war in1975 when all the Gulf Arabs arrived to spend the summer in London. Now we had to. dance Egyptian style, as that is what was now required. The Greek clubs continued very successfully, and the Turkish less so, except for the Gallipoli nightclub which hired top Turkish stars. In the Arabic clubs there was no more floor work and very little finger cymbal playing.
Necla Ates, (pronounced Neshla Atesh) was the first Turkish dancer to dance in Hollywood films. There is a super video of her on youtube.
Oh that’s so interesting Cathy!! I love hearing these stories of the early days – I was on the fringe but you were so much more a part of it ❤️
When I was going to the London Arab clubs in the very early 1980’s the dancers I saw were Syrian, Lebanese and yes, definitely Egyptian. The only time I remember seeing a Turkish dancer was in a restaurant just off Oxford street. It was lunchtime so it didn’t feel as glamorous’as dancing in a nightclub, and of course she hardly had any space to dance! It’s such a shame.
I’m actually going to write a post about how Turkish style fell out of favour so badly, but is thankfully starting to be appreciated again now – not least with the emergence of new young dancers like Tevec (see comment below) and some of the brilliant young dancers in Instanbul and around the world, so I’ll be really interested to hear your thoughts about that.
The Turkish dancer you were looking for was Nejla Ates.
Thanks Tev! xx