Still from the short film Calamus by Kenneth J. Harvey, currently in production
(Copyright Kenneth J. Harvey, 2019)
Ainsley Hawthorn is a professional dancer who specializes in Middle Eastern and international folk dance, with a focus on the dances of Egypt. She has recently begun experimenting with contemporary dance and enjoys ballroom and Latin styles recreationally.
She has studied the dances of the Middle East with expert instructors from around the world, including Morocco, Ranya Renée, Mahmoud Reda, Artemis Mourat, and Reyhan Tuzsuz. She has taught dance through Yale University Sports and Recreation (New Haven, CT) and Wild Lily Dance Studio (St. John's, NL) and spent six years as a choreographer and performer with the Yale Belly Dance Society.
- Raqs sharqi ("Eastern" or "Oriental" dance) - A solo improvisational style performed in many Middle Eastern countries. Raqs sharqi expresses the sound and feeling of the music through intricate movements of the hips, abdomen, chest, and shoulders and sometimes incorporates spectacular props like veil, Isis wings, and sword.
- Saidi - A proud and playful folkloric style from Upper (southern) Egypt that often features a cane (assaya) as a prop. Some of the movements of Saidi dance mimic aspects of daily life in rural Egypt, such as rowing a boat on the Nile, threshing grain in the fields, and the prancing of Saidi horses.
- Hagallah - An earthy folkloric dance from Libya and the Mersa Matruh region of Western Egypt that traditionally celebrated a young girl's coming-of-age.
- Debke - A folk line dance from the Levant region consisting of steps, kicks, hops, and stomps.
- International folk dance - Line and circle dances from a variety of cultures and countries, including Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Taiwan, and Turkey.
Ainsley performs a contemporary dance improvisation inspired by yurei (Japanese ghosts) at Caravanserai: After Dark, St. John's, on Saturday, October 6, 2018.
Music: Underground by Nature
Ainsley is an elegant and commanding performer known for blending precise technique with musicality.
Ainsley is not currently teaching weekly dance classes but is available to give workshops in Middle Eastern and international folk dance to students of all ages.
1-hour taster lessons for beginners are a fun and educational activity for schools, community groups, parties, and festivals.
More advanced dancers can schedule a 1- to 3-hour workshop on a special topic, like Egyptian dance technique, musicality, propwork, or folkloric dance.
- Belly Dance, Persona Non Grata of Cultural Dance. Conversations across the Field of Dance Studies 39 (2019): 8-11.
- Camels, Temples, and Jewels: Representing Middle Eastern Movement in Canadian English. Journal of Intercultural Studies 40 (2019): 772-88.
- Middle Eastern Dance and What We Call It. Dance Research 37 (2019): 1-17.
- Origen del término "belly dance". Danza Oriental en Egipto (July 15, 2019).
- Why do we call Middle Eastern dance "belly dance"? Edinburgh University Press Blog (May 23, 2019).
Ainsley performs Oriental dance at Columbia University, New York.
Music: Hobak Salehny by Warda