El Bint el-Balad:
The term bint el-balad means “the country girl”. The concept resembles what those of us in North America might call “the girl next door” or “salt of the earth”. She’s sweet, likeable, cute, not sophisticated, non-threatening, wholesome, approachable, and perhaps a bit mischievous or cheeky.
El oukht is Arabic for “the sister”. She is young, perhaps in her early teens, and she’s dancing at a family party with only her parents and siblings to watch. Her dance is joyful and mischievous, but still innocent, perhaps tinged with a bit of rebellion.
The dala’a is the sexy, flirtatious dancer. She’s playful, and teases the audience with her sex appeal. Samia Gamal’s private dance for Farid al-Atrash in the movie Afrita Hanem offers another example of this character.
The ma’alima in Egypt is a force to be reckoned with. She may run her own business, or she may rule her household with an iron fist. The ma’alima is also viewed as a master of her art. She’s a more mature character with life experience, but not necessarily old.
This dancer possesses a strong spiritual foundation in her life. For her, movement is a type of meditation, a prayer, a ritual. She uses dance to seek connection with a higher power. Spectators may feel she is sharing something sacred with them, bestowing a blessing, expressing passion, or invoking power.
The character of el sitt is that of a dignified, ladylike woman. Her demeanor expresses a certain amount of life experience. She’s not necessarily old - she may be a young woman with an aura of being wise beyond her years.
The term Malika means “Queen”. This character is a cross between El Sitt and El Ma’alima. She conveys strength, dignity, benevolence, and a sense of power that lurks beneath the surface.
[As seen on All About Belly Dance, By Shira: “Exploring Stage Personalities”.]