La Danse du Sabre

At the end of summer 2020 created a photo series I call "Orientalist Fantasy" and I will bring forward a little bit about the process that went in to creating this visual and t my personal creative process for fleshing out visual concepts and characters and entire moods..... Here is perhaps my favourite image of a sword dancer that I have found...and perhaps one of the most famous.....

I love Sword dance in bellydance, it has been a part of my dance repertoire for over a decade. It includes acts of skill combined with a bit of cheekiness and as well a LOT danger...my fave.... My archetype of a sword dancer must include a strong sexy fierceness, equal parts hot, equal parts terrifying.... and I personally have 3 different sword aesthetics/ moods :


Performing w/ Zaum at Metal Fest 2019 in Aalbor, Denmark

1)Doom Sword Dancer I created this character because..... metal ;)

Once of my acts in Zaum is the Sword Dancer, sometimes double sword... The Turkish scimitar works great for this aesthetic... looks dangerous, and it is pretty heavy.... I drive dark goddess vibes and use my "Evil Queen" concepts in my approach to this sword dance.....

Then there is also 2) Am Cab Style and 3)Pirate/ Renfaire Aesthetic. All with unique and signature different style costuming, movement quality and vibe AND different style swords.... I talk a bit about sword aesthetic in my 4 hours of Sword Workshop- which includes Theory, deep and safe conditioning and sword practices, tricks and combinations....Take the PreRecorded Workshop Here with one month access to my entire online video archive also. xoxoxo


For all my costume concepts and live characters. There always starts with the first "grain'" of the idea, usually an item, a colour or in this case a costume. In 2019 I purchased a very special coin costume from a very special person in the West Coast belly dance tapestry Pepper Alexandria.



Pepper is a PIONEER in the bellydance festival scene running her own festival in California for over 20 years, which also had a comic book element to it , and a true visionary and really an innovator in fusion. She is of the Original Americans to 'bring back Gawazi style.... learning direct from Khairiyya Mazin in Egypt in 1979. I have been not only lucky to meet Pepper in person but I have also performed Several times at her long running Bellydance festival Carnival of Stars as a soloist and with Bal Anat. So, you know when I got the chance I asked as many questions as I could about the costume and she was super generous and cool with her time...


Sandi, Myself & Pepper- California 2019

"I studied with a Turkish Dancer and then Jamila and Masha Archer. And I was a professional seamstress before I was a belly dancer. So, I innovated many different kinds of costumes staring in 1968. I bought the coins in 1970 or'71. Then I had to hire someone to drill the holes. Even back then the coins were quite expensive. It was designed after a description from Jamila about Turkish costumes, Fishscaled and heavy.....I added the hanging things much later....." Pepper was also member of Jamila Salimpour Bal Anat for a little bit, and has always regarded me as bellydance "family".




"I studied with a Turkish Dancer and then Jamila and Masha Archer. And I was a professional seamstress before I was a belly dancer. So, I innovated many different kinds of costumes staring in 1968." - Pepper Alexandria

The costume is really quite spectacular and heavy. It sounds fantastic for hip work and it truly a piece of Bay Area Belly dance history...and a classic look for those who love that orientalist Arabian nights look of Amcab...... The coins are from countries around the world and its all mounted on a deep Burgundy velvet base.


I had been saving it to perform over seas and then covid happened, and where it was rather expensive I wanted to be able to wear it for a special show..... then 2020 hit ...... and so I decided to wear it and perform in another way....a photo shoot!


Often when I create a new set or costume I look for images, take trips to the fabric store , talk to peers and friends about ideas... but especially harvest the internet for images videos songs and anything that I can vibe on..... I have many folders of inspiration for different era bellydancers, costuming styles , occult art and evil queens, but I have never found an image that put me in the mood(s) aesthetically for sword, there was an inspirational image out there waiting to be created....and so that what I set out to do stylistically in the photo shoot. The Costume is stunning and I had fully intended to created a stunning Jamila inspired AmCab (American Cabaret) costume but it really pulled out this pirate vibe.......


Nawal Doucette- Photo by Mary Susana Lawton Wirthers
Fortune Teller Belly Dancer

The turban was created years ago for a Fortune-Teller-Sword-Balancer Vibe...... The fabric I was lucky to find.... in this photo it is only tucked, drapped and wrapped around me. THIS aesthetic would definitely fall in to the " Pirate or RenFaire" aesthetic.... I really wanted to look like I was from an old Sin Bad movie.....I wanted my lipstick to look like the deep dark velvet of a theatre curtain...... and to create an image that looks as though it has always existed.... This style sword, the Mooris Scimitar is perfect for this look, Performance wise it is an extremely heavy and a big awkward of a sword to use because the dramatic curve..... here standing still.... the dram works perfectly......

If you love this Image set you can also get it as a post card series HERE



And here is One of the few "Burlesque Edish" from this shoot- I can totally picture an old timey circus having a sword dancer who looks just like this..... what year is it?

If you would like to see the entire shoot, it's available to my monthly Patrons of $10/Month, I also have spicy blogs with R rated themes... Every bit of support from my writing and visual arts goes back in to me creating more content, I have been able to get a better quality camera, and lights over the past year, so THANKYOU for the ongoing support.....

And if you read until here please enjoy a sword performance by me that falls in to the category of Renfaire/Pirate- and not really belly dance at all..... My first and Only Drag Performance was done as a "Captain Jack Sparrow " Drag King sword act.... its a little filthy, but it was a sword act that I had wanted to do for years and I finally was able in August 2020 when restrictions were a little lighter in my area of the world. .... sorry not sorry ....


xoxoxox Nawal



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