On a Roll 

Belly dancing in Bartlett.

Memphis Raq belly dancers perform their opening act for an audience in Bartlett.

Erica Walters

Memphis Raq belly dancers perform their opening act for an audience in Bartlett.

Colorful lights flash and Middle Eastern beats pound as almost 20 bare-bellied women seductively move their hips from side to side.

The belly dancers of the Memphis Raqs twirl around the stage of the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center during a recent performance, incorporating canes, finger cymbals, and veils.

But the best prop of the night — and the reason the Memphis Raqs began — is a 15-year-old, 8-foot boa constrictor named Sandy.

Liz DiMaggio, Sandy's owner and the founder of Dance Oasis, became interested in belly dancing when she was a student at the University of Memphis.

"I started an anthropology class in 2003, and one of our assignments was to research an element of a foreign culture," DiMaggio says. "Someone jokingly said that I should belly-dance with my snake."

DiMaggio enrolled in a belly-dancing class and liked it so much that in May 2008, she opened her own studio in Bartlett.

"Belly dance is unlike any other style of dance," she says. "The movements and philosophies of belly dance appeal to everyone, no matter your lifestyle. Every woman can belly-dance."

Onstage, the Memphis Raqs show off the skills they've learned from DiMaggio and pose for pictures. In pairs, they smile at one another and seem unconcerned about the extra jiggle that happens with some of the shimmies.

"Belly dance is definitely a great workout," DiMaggio says. "You're using muscles that we don't use in our everyday life. You'll feel the burn in your glutes, abs, thighs, and even upper body as we add arm movements."

DiMaggio offers several classes each week. Newcomers are welcome each Thursday at 6 p.m. and classes cost $15.

The Memphis Raqs' next performance is October 24th at a secret location, revealed only after a person has bought a ticket. "We're hosting a side-show-style event called 'Pandora's Box' with Desert Rose Dance," DiMaggio says. "We'll have fire, snakes, swords, pirates, burlesque, and all manner of things fun and freaky."

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Green Decade

      Clean Memphis and Project Green Fork celebrate 10 years.
    • Blank Canvas

      Input sought on the future of Rust Hall and Brooks Museum.


Hungry Memphis

Gordon Ramsay's in Memphis to Save a Restaurant!

News Blog

TVA CEO Set to Retire in April

News Blog

Leaders Work to Revamp Public Art Guidelines

Tiger Blue

Three Thoughts on Tiger Football

Tiger Blue

#22 LSU 85, Tigers 76

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

This Week At The Cinema: Indie Memphis Winners and BTS

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Lose First Home Game to Utah Jazz 96 - 88

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Kohinoorgasm

From My Seat

Goose Bumps Galore


More by Erica Walters

  • House Warming

    Federal tax credit for homebuyers extended to April.
    • Jan 7, 2010
  • Earth Angel

    Local company creates an elaborate ride.
    • Dec 24, 2009
  • Corn on the Car

    Local woman distributes "kernels of truth" about genetically modified crops.
    • Dec 10, 2009
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation