Jamila Salimpour

Jamila Salimpour is the originator of tribal belly dance in America, and has been influential in belly dance for over 50 years. She is also the first one to solidify a format of terminology in belly dance still used today. Her format is taught and applied to dancers’ movements worldwide.

The creation of the legendary dance troupe Bal-Anat evolved in 1968, when the opportunity to perform in an outdoor theme festival, The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, challenged Jamila Salimpour, to create a variety show which one might see at an Arabian Festival or Souk.

From being a member of Ringling Brothers Circus in 1942, Jamila implemented that format in creating Bal Anat. As a belly dancer, Jamila Salimpour worked with many dancers including Algerian water glass dancers, Tunisian pot dancers, Male Tray dancers, magicians, and presented many varieties of entertainment. The Sword dance, Mask dance, and Snake dance were seen for the first time in Bal Anat. The resulting show became a show featuring tribal dances from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The show inspired a whole generation of American Belly Dancers, giving way to the rise in popularity of the Tribal Belly Dance genre.