Stage Names

(Note: I have changed all names used in this post to avoid using anyone's real name, or actual stage name)

When I first started belly dancing professionally, I began to meet or at least hear about other dancers in the area. I remember the very first restaurant I went to: I had to show the owner my driver's license to prove to him that the name I gave him was actually my real name. He couldn't believe I had an "arabic" name (in reality, I have no arab origins whatsoever). He told me that the "most famous dancer" there was Jasmina, but her real name was Melissa.

After this encounter, I continued to hear about other dancers: Azizah (but her real name is Heather), or Leila (but her real name is Karen). Honestly, I thought it was the stupidest thing I've ever heard of in my entire life. Why would these women lie about their names? Firstly, once they walk in, it's obvious that they're not Middle Eastern at all. They have natural blond hair and blue eyes or a blatantly Italian or Hispanic last name. Secondly, changing your name to an "arabic" name doesn't really change anything, does it?

I still don't know how I feel about stage names. Is it something like Beyonce vs Sasha Fierce? Does performing under a different name give you some kind of confidence? Do belly dancers with stage names feel that it somehow adds some kind of legitimacy? Or is a stage name given to hide your true identity?

I also started asking myself how I would feel if I didn't have an "arabic" name. I know that when the internet first started becoming popular and AIM came, followed by myspace and now facebook, twitter, etc, I for sure didn't want anyone to know my real last name, and I still feel that way (which is why I changed one letter of my last name...yeah, ok, so that doesn't do much, nor does it affect the pronunciation or the "arabic-ness"). But if my name weren't Sarah....Lisa maybe...and if my last name was very ethnic, like O'Hara or something...would I want a stage name?

For me, I still think the answer is no. I'm brutally honest about most everything in life, so there would be no way I could "lie" about my name or identity. It would make me feel uncomfortable. But, I know some dancers who rarely even use their real names - I wouldn't be surprised if their driver's licenses said their stage names - and some of the names are very pretty.

This website addresses the "stage name" phenomenon very nicely:

If you're a dancer or a belly dancer, what do you think about stage names? For example, some of my favorite stage names are from burlesque dancers. Do you have one? Why or why not?

Happy Dancing <3

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I fell in love with belly dancing when I was 16 years old. I was a Russian dancer with a group from my church and we were performing at an international party when I saw belly dancing for the first time. I couldn't stop watching the dancer and decided from that point on that I would focus all of my dance energy on belly dancing. The rest is history...


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