Belly Dance and Friendship | Interview with Debbie Smith artwork
Baby Boomer Belly Dancer

Belly Dance and Friendship | Interview with Debbie Smith

  • S1E11
  • 1:07:28
  • April 12th 2021

Close friends and a common love for belly dance.

Debbie Smith and Karen Barbee discuss culture, dance, and the transformative effects of falling in love with both the art and science of belly dance.

We are so pleased Debbie came in from Arkansas to San Antonio for this "performahearsal weekend" with her fellow Project Band members and our musicians.

During this episode of the Baby Boomer Belly Dancer, we talk about:

00:00 This could take a while... how long Debbie has been studying belly dance

02:30 When Debbie and Karen met at Mirage

04:02 Hearing the music and following the breadcrumbs to experience the culture

09:48 Meeting her first musician in Austin and developing cultural habits

13:34 Realizing that the main thing she loved about dancing was the music

16:27 The energy of the whole band, how people react to it, and feeling it

19:47 When Judy invited Debbie to come to Karen's classes in San Antonio

20:49 How Debbie decided to get her degree in Middle Eastern Studies

24:35 Meeting Georges Lammam for the first time

27:02 When Karen and Debbie took classes together at UT Austin

29:05 Moving to San Francisco and meeting Amina who produced live music events

30:56 Performing in local showcases and going to workshops

33:12 Sincerity and dancing -- freely following and going deep into what you love

35:30 Learning how to speak Arabic and Persian at UC Berkeley extension classes

37:34 Starting to go to Egypt because of VHS tapes

43:32 Becoming an Arts Administrator for a non-profit dance studio

46:03 Joining a Palestinian Debke troupe... from MIT

47:50 Producing her first annual Arab Cultural Festival to elevate Arab artists

49:53 Working at the Dance Mission Theater and the Arab Cultural Center

52:04 Panel of musicians at the Arab American National Museum in Detroit

54:04 Decision to move to Egypt and advocating artists and musicians

55:22 Being taken seriously and not having dance and professional life intersect

57:07 Finding the perfect job in Egypt and how her Arabic got even better

1:04:48 Debbie is not a former dancer... since Project Band is infinitely fungible for any level

Debbie's thesis was about the aesthetic values of Arabic music, including improvisation and the sacred repetition of shapes, and how oriental dance movements were perfectly suited to express the subtleties of the music. You can see why Karen and Debbie get along so well!

Baby Boomer Belly Dancer

From the mind of Karen Barbee Adkisson, with production assistance from Gyon Jackson and Kathy Swanson, we give you the new video podcast: BABY BOOMER BELLY DANCER.

From a lifetime of performing to recorded music to pioneering Project Band, a live music performing experience, Karen discusses the impact belly dance has had on her life over the past 45 plus years.

The stories and experiences that Karen will share are raw, vulnerable, honest and unfiltered ... are you ready?

Join us as Karen's inquisitive mind and unique perspective on a wide array of topics inspire, educate, and even entertain your sensibilities... because everything comes back to belly dance.

Episodes released every Saturday.


Meet the Hosts

Karen Barbee Adkisson avatar
Karen Barbee Adkisson

With over 40 years in her chosen craft of belly dancing, Karavan Studio owner and professional belly dancer, Karen Barbee Adkisson, has been teaching students the art of belly dance techniques for more than 30 years and is dedicated to keeping live music performances as part of this artful cultural dance.

Karen's expertise at the national and international level is technique and professional progression. With an analytical background, her methodical approach to belly dancing integrates movement analysis; breakdown of that movement; and then relating it in a logical fashion to her students.

Karavan Studio in San Antonio, Texas has been home to belly dance training for all ages and fitness levels since 1988. From beginners to the competitive performer, women of all ages learn the art of belly dancing in a structured, culturally respectful environment.

To accommodate busy lifestyles, you can learn how to belly dance using Karen's proven, structured approach whenever and wherever you want online as well as in live private and group settings.

Check out more about Karen Barbee and Karavan Studio:

Baby Boomer Belly Dancer vodcast

Damn The Torpedoes blog

Karavan Studio with online and live belly dance options

Your free trial of Karavan Online

Get Karen's Top 20 Philosophies eBook

Find out about Karen's Karavan Online Masterclass