Bal Anat Male Dancers

Jamila was one of the first teachers to allow male dancers to attend her belly dance classes in the late 1960s.  For Jamila, it was important to find cultural relevance for men to perform belly dance, and she felt supported to allow men in her classes when she found a male dancer amongst the images from the 1893 Chicago World’s Faire. 

In Jamila’s classes, males underwent the same training as female students.  The first male dancers were included as Moroccan female impersonators, which maintained a historical relevance.  Later, male dancers were found in the tray dance, Ouled Nail Algerian dance, and the Turkish Karshilama. 

With Suhaila’s revival of Bal Anat, inclusivity is an important part of the Salimpour School.  Dancers are selected for roles based on their abilities, not their gender identify.

Three of Jamila's students (Tom, Liz, and Swale) dancing at an outdoor event in the 1970s.
Darius performing the Bal Anat Tray Dance at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
John Compton performing with Bal Anat at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
Don Iococa from Bal Anat.
Don Iococa performing with Bal Anat at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
John Compton performing with Bal Anat at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
Darius performing the Bal Anat Tray Dance at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in 1974. Photo from collection of Ghanima Ghiditana.
"Mohammed, Dancer of Syria" was the photographic evidence Jamila used to support allowing men to attend her bellydance classes. She also kept a poster-sized copy of the photo on her studio wall . From: Chicago Times Portfolio of the Midway Types. Chicago: The American Engraving Co. 1893.
Rashid as the Tray Dancer in Suhaila Salimpour's Sheherezade theater production.
John Compton performing with Bal Anat at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
Tom "Rashid" Ryan in a promotional photo shoot as the Bal Anat tray dancer c2000.
Bal Anat Karshilama Dance at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in 1974. Photo from collection of Ghanima Ghiditana.