NileStar Oriental

NileStar Oriental

NileStar Oriental is a dance school and performance troupe inspired by the dances of Egypt and beyond. Our shows are always a fun, vibrant and uplifting experience for audiences.

Artistic Director Fifi Renoux is an accomplished soloist who is much sought after around Sydney and has been teaching Oriental dance (or bellydance) since 2005.

Taking an Oriental dance class is a great way to get fit, have fun and meet likeminded people. Classes focus on movement technique and musicality in the context of the cultures behind this dance.

About Oriental dance

About Oriental dance

Situated in Sydney’s Lower North Shore, NileStar Oriental specialises in Egyptian dance. In Egyptian Arabic the word for dance is Raqs, so the name for what we do is Raqs Sharqi ‘Dance for the Stage’ or Oriental dance. In our intermediate level class, we also explore other Egyptian dances that could be grouped under Raqs Shaabi ‘Dance of the people’.

By most accounts, Egyptian dance was first seen in the West at Chicago’s world fair in 1893. People had never seen dances where the pelvis and hips were used so ‘the belly dance’ was coined.

Nowadays the term ‘bellydance’ is widely used to refer to dances of (or inspired by) the Middle East whether theatrical or folkloric, or fusion. It is used to refer to dances from Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and the Gulf – a wide range of dance styles from a wide range of cultures. While in common use even among professionals and practitioners, ‘belly dance’ is not, strictly speaking, the most accurate way to refer to dances of the Middle East.

About Fifi

About Fifi

Originally from New Zealand, Fifi (Fiona) fell in love with Middle Eastern dance in 1999 while travelling in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. The experience of such rich cultures with deep histories made an everlasting impact. But it was a small town called Cerincie in Turkey that was to bring the dance decisively into her life.

Hearing the sound of music while walking through the village she was drawn into a tavern where the local men were playing drums while women danced. Asking if she could join them, Fifi was welcomed and given a scarf to tie around her hips. The spontaneity of the drumming, goodwill and festivity that surrounded that evening left a lasting impression.

Moving to Sydney in 2001, Fifi began to study Middle Eastern dance with master teacher, Terezka Drnzik who has remained a mentor. By 2003 Fifi was a regular fixture dancing at Turkish and Lebanese restaurants. In 2005 she began teaching at Terezka’s Studio Danse Orientale.

On the move again, Fifi spent much of 2007 in London, where she studied with Asmahan at Pineapple Studios. In that time she performed at Planet Egypt and travelled to Egypt several times, taking private lessons with Farida Fahmy, Mohamed Kazafi and Liza Laziza.

Since her return to Sydney, Fifi has become involved in numerous performances and choreographic projects including a collaboration with Terezka Drnzik supporting Egypt’s own Dina in 2010, and performing at Amr Diab’s Sydney concert in 2013.

In 2011 Fifi started her own dance school and performance troupe, NileStar Oriental and is becoming recognised as a capable and inspiring teacher.

Though Fifi is a specialist in Egyptian dances, she has also found a passion for bellydance-Bollywood fusion. In 2013 Fifi participated in the filming of a Bollywood style music video for the Bengalese market.

Information about Fifi’s solo performances.

Fifi’s teaching style

Fifi’s teaching style

How would you describe your teaching style?

“Most of my students are adults and I feel that when you’re picking up a dance form as an adult it’s important to learn good technique right from the start. So I would say that the fundamentals of basic posture and creating good habits are very central in what I teach.

Oriental dance (bellydance) is such a subtle and complex art, if you haven’t learnt the basics well it is harder to move on to layer movements and create the variations of movements that allow you to convey different feelings through your dance.

So yes, technique is a focus. But also fun. I studied psychology and my cognitive psychology lecturer used to have a ‘joke break’ in her lectures. She would tell jokes and they weren’t even related to the lecture topic – she said that the humour helped retention. Let’s hope she’s right! It’s a nice way to learn something, so I like to joke around, especially in the beginner’ class because it also helps people fell less self-conscious.”

What about the more advanced classes? What do you do differently there?

“With the intermediate/advanced class I tend to think that these ladies are here to really learn. They’re not just trying something new, but have decided that they’d like to master it. I offer challenges because it’s good to be on the edge of your comfort zone – a lot of learning happens there. You also need to ensure there’s a sense of achievement bringing in familiar moves and working with them, you know, working with energy and quality in movement. It’s all good stuff!!”

So what about the dance itself? What are your influences?

“I have had such wonderful teachers. Terezka Drnzik, here in Sydney, has been a tremendous influence over the past decade. She really brought the dance to life for me. She is a one-of-a-kind teacher who can bring out the dance within, you know, not just teaching moves but teaching the spirit of the dance as well. Then there’s Asmahan in London – a woman of extraordinary talent and experience.

I guess another influence is the country of Egypt itself. I’ve been there four times (and counting!), and whether it’s just walking the streets of Cairo or standing with your feet in the sand by the Nile you just get this sense of shared history and timelessness. The people, the landscape and the modern colonial history of Egypt all contribute to the dance we do.

I also read all of the Middle Eastern dance literature I can get my hands on so having that understanding of where the music and the dances come from is really important to me. It helps you know your dance in a context so that you can respect it, and it connects you with other cultures and their history, and their art.”

FInd out about bellydance classes and performance opportunities.