Jacqueline Braga – Brazilian dancer who started to dance at the early age of 3 with ballet classes. Years later, she switched to Jazz and Street dance. By joining a competition group of her dance school, dance was not only a hobby but it was what she wanted to do in life.

In 2000 her mother, who was and still is a belly dance teacher in Sao Paulo (Brazil), started to teach at the same dance school and that’s when belly dance became Jacqueline’s life.

With huge motivation, loads of discipline, and great ambition Jacqueline became a great dancer:

In 2003, she won the national competition for professional belly dancers in Brazil.

In 2004, she and her mother’s dance group -Belly Dance Nova Era- won the competition for the best national dance group of the year.

Jacqueline then decided to take her dance to a higher level and went to study at the Faculdade Paulista de Artes, University of arts in Sao Paulo and started a successful career as a dance instructor.

For the past six years, she has been dazzling the stages of many of the finest hotels in the world: Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. She has been recognized and is known as one of the best and most talented Brazilian dancer in the Gulf and Middle East.”

Lives in: Dubai
From: São Paulo, Brazil
Family: Husband
Zodiac sign: aries
Favorite food: depends on my mood, but japanese food is always a great option
Pets: dog (Pekingese female called “smilley”)
Beauty/ healthy tips: always smile! The smiling face makes anyone beautiful and attractive!
Favorite belly dance designers: I have Olga Naboulsi as a great designer for the Brazilian dancers who work in Arabic countries, but not only her, I like many others Brazilian, Lebanese and Egyptians!
Favorite belly dance music: Leylet hob by Om Kalthum

How did you started your belly dance career?

I started to practice belly dance in 2000 with a push from my mother, who was the teacher. I got quickly passionate about the oriental dance and this passion opened many doors to my career! Not long after, the singer Tony Mouzayek and his band contact me for many shows around Brazil.

In 2003, I won the Brazilian national competition of belly dance, in the professional category. And next year I was invited to work in Egypt, dancing in a small group of four dancers on a TV show. Finally in 2005, I got the opportunity to came to work in Arabic countries, where I am living until now!

Why did you choose belly dance?

Hahaah… I think that, belly dance was chosen for me from my mother. She was the one who introduced me to this art. Before that I used to dance jazz, street, and Brazilian dances. Funny that today, I feel so deep inside this oriental environment…

Who did you study with?

My first teacher was my mother who taught me the base of my technique as I said before.
Then, I got some other teachers in Brazil, one is Shahar Badri, who used to work at Khan el Khalili, famous place for belly dance in São Paulo.

Another teacher was Camelia, who used to work in Arabic countries. Of course, I took a lot of classes through workshops with different teachers, like Raqia Hassan, Saida, Amir Thaleb, Sahra Saeeda, Mahmoud Reda, etc.

You have been dancing in many countries in the Middle East. Can you tell us how it is to work as a bellydancer in the Arabic world?

To be a belly dancer in Arabic countries is a courageous decision. First, because the Arabic community not always sees the belly dance as a form of art. Second, because we work every night, changing hotels and countries or cities almost every month. So it is a very different life style and quite lonely in some way!
But for us, who love our job, it is a dream to work with what we love and get money from this. The Brazilians belly dancers have already a good reputation around here, what is very interesting. The Arabic people really enjoy our way of belly dancing.

When we come here, we will adapt naturally our style of dance with the Lebanese style, which they like most around here. It depends of each dancer how long it will take for this adaptation! But it is a natural process that happens in an unconscious way.

In every contract we meet the musicians at the first day to talk about the program of music. Usually they have something in mind. Songs they like or the guests from the place prefer to hear and we discuss, what we know, and what we like!

In a good way we can make a good deal with them and learn a lot of new songs!
Its an amazing experience!”

Which is your favorite Arabic country? And why?

I love Dubai because is a modern city full of events. The mix of cultures makes Dubai a special place, unique. Events happen all the time and for belly dancing it is great!

Your mom (Fatima Braga) is also a Bellydance teacher and performer? Are there any other people in your family who are belly dancers? How is it to have a belly dancer mom? Did you started dancing together?

My mama and younger sister are belly dancers of course. Everything started with my mama, who introduced belly dance to me, and then, when I left Brazil to work in Arabic countries, she convince my younger sister Tatiane, to learn as well. Great deal!! Actually, my sister is also dancing in Arabic countries around here! And my mama at the moment is teaching more now. She has a great group of students in Brazil.

Where are you teaching right now?

Here in Dubai at Fitness First Club, an English gym company. The focus of the classesis more sport, a cardio belly dance program which helps to lose weight! My classes are very continuing and fun, full of different sequences of movements where the students can practice, but more than this, exercise! I have students from different parts of the world: Philippines, Pakistan, India, Jordan, Egypt, Dubai, Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, Russia, etc. It’s so great!

Who are your favorite belly dancers?

Difficult question! I have many favorite dancers around different countries! And specially, with different styles, what is more fascinating, in my opinion! For me, the best ones are the ones who dance with passion, energy and bring to the stage the mirror of the soul.

How do you prefer to dance?

I believe that a good improvisation can be well done just if you have the base in a good technique and knowledge of the song. I love to improvise, especially with a live band! The sound of a life band is so inspiring for me. Because I can feel the energy of every musician, the note of every instrument and there is nothing more exciting than this moment. But, in cases as festivals or short performances, I think that it is good to create your own choreography with the best movements that your body can translate. It’s a very personal opinion, and I am very open to both of them. Of course that dance with cd, is sometimes, less energetic than with a band.
But when you are confident in the choice of your song, and in your choreography or improvisation I am sure it will be an amazing show!

Which suggestions/advices do you give to those who are starting to practice belly dance now?

I suggest you to be open for different styles! Study all of them, because, maybe unexpectedly you can find yourself! Dance your own soul!! Learn from others but adapt to yourself! Copying is not the best solution for an art that is so feminine and individual as belly dance! Dance, like no one is watching you!


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