In Arabic Halima translates as ‘quiet one,’ but there’s nothing quiet about this lady’s expressive dancing and her dynamic troupe, Desert Gypsies. Halima has an exquisite “old school” style, that’s delightful and fun to watch. Her choreography is reminiscent of the 70s and 80s, preserving a sweetly feminine and classic aspect of Middle Eastern Dance. Last year at Spring Fest, her troupe, Desert Gypsies, almost stole the show with their colorful and exciting tambourine dance. Halima always maintains the integrity of belly dancing while surprising and entrancing her audiences with new dance fusion.
“I ‘m definitely not a cabaret-style dancer. I can’t define my dancing. I like all of the styles, and I dance however I am inspired. I don’t want to be labeled, though I feel more traditional than anything,” she said, “I just laugh when people ask me what style I dance. I like to incorporate it all. Whatever I do, it is American. It may have Middle Eastern roots, but Americans have created their own version. We get too wrapped up in what is perfect and traditional. I love the diversity.”
Halima’s dance background includes ballet, jazz, and gymnastics. She has been belly dancing for 20 years. When asked how she discovered belly dance she said, “Initially, I just wanted an outlet for my creativity. I found Layla through community education, and I studied and danced with her for 15 years. What I truly discovered through belly dancing was a sisterhood and an art that expressed the true feminine for me.”
Halima has studied with local teachers, such as Zahira, and nationally acclaimed one too. “My absolute favorite dancer is Suzanna del Vecchio. She is so precise. You can see every little movement, and there is such emotion on her face. She doesn’t try to be a Middle Eastern dancer, she just is a Middle Eastern dancer,” Halima said.
Halima is currently busy teaching a variety of classes and is the director of three troupes—Desert Gypsies, Gypsy Rhythms, and Gypsy Melody. “I’m focusing more of my energy on my troupes rather than solo performances. I love a group effort. I want my students to speak up and show me what they know,” she said.
Halima’s own words on Middle Eastern dance say it all. “It’s amazing to see how many incredible dancers we have in Utah. I also love it when people attend our performances for the first time and discover how much fun belly dancing really is. It totally changes their perspective. It’s our job to educate the public that this isn’t a sexy, suggestive dance for men. This is a beautiful art form that was created by women for women.”
Halima and the Desert Gypsies will be performing at the Freedom Festival in Provo on July 4, the Utah Belly Dance Festival in August and Latin Festival over Labor Day weekend.