Her Story

Shiraz Şahin is a belly dance performer, instructor, and dance ethnographer. Shiraz began her wondrous journey in belly dance (رقص شرقي / raqs sharqi) thirteen 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. 

Let her spark something magical in your heart through a belly dance class or performance.

Shiraz is a respected belly dance performer and teacher from the East to West Coasts, though she is now once again based in her original hometown in Delaware. Highly sought after in prestigious Middle Eastern and Turkish establishments throughout Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, Shiraz is entrusted as the featured local belly dance artist at hundreds of cultural celebrations, weddings, Middle Eastern performance establishments and haflat (parties). 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’s currently a fifth-year Ph.D. Candidate 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. She is busy writing her dance ethnography on the subject for her dissertation which will be completed in the summer of 2018. She has presented her ethnographic research nationally and internationally at academic conferences and belly dance festivals, and is currently a Teaching Assistant for ‘Dance Cultures and Contexts’ at UC Riverside.

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 the tri-state area on the East Coast. 

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 Newark, Delaware as well as private instruction. Due to her unique practitioner-scholar background, Shiraz’s teaching approaches raqs sharqi as an insightful means of knowledge production and medium through which to better understand and appreciate Middle Eastern cultures. She endeavors to foster sensitive culturally-nuanced thinking in her students as much as holistic studio technique 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. 

In Honor…

Shiraz’s core dance mentors and teachers are forever a part of her journey and accomplishments, and she delights in honoring them through each dance performance, class, and academic endeavor. She sends dearest love and thanks to Sahra Saeeda of California, Latifa of Maryland, Artemis Mourat of Washington D.C., and Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, director of Silk Road Dance Company, Washington, D.C. These women are pioneers in the realm of dance, the best master instructors a dancer could hope for, and leave a glittering trail of beauty wherever they go. Alf shukar – you all make this world so much more wonderful.


Shiraz’s other significant training and accomplishments include being a graduate of Sahra Saeeda’s renowned Journey Through Egypt 1-4 dance ethnology certification courses; having completed 3 & 4 on site throughout dance zones of Egypt in December 2012. She has overseas research experience in Tunisia – where she studied in both 2010 and 2012. Shiraz also has traveled to beautiful Turkey a number of times to study Turkish Oryantal and Romani dance. Additionally, Shiraz has apprenticed with Artemis assisting her with dance history research and archiving projects. Shiraz was also honored to be a company member of the internationally acclaimed Silk Road Dance Company, directed by Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, up until her California move. Currently, she returns to Cairo, Egypt annually for extended research and training for her practice as well as doctoral dance ethnography project.