Thanks to the power of the mighty Google Translate, Yannah of Brown Girl Bellydance got a chance to interview Odara Nur Mahin of the Brazilian Belly Dance Group, Resistência BellyBlack.  We are sure that you will enjoy getting to know Odara and learning about The Cia Resistência Bellyblack.  We found her insights and experience as a Brazilian Belly Dancer thoughtful and profound. Her passion for dance and her Afro-Brazilian culture is evident.

We’ve been crushing on Odara and the group Resistência BellyBlack for a while now and we are so happy to share this interview with you!


Yannah: Thank you for agreeing to allow me to interview you.  Please feel free to answer in a way that reflects your personality.
We want to make sure that our audience really understands who you are and can feel your personality through your words.  

Question: What is your stage name and does the name have a story? 

Odara Nur Mahin:  My stage name is Odara Nur Mahin.
I chose this name because the Odara is a word of Yoruba origin, linked to the African religions, with meaning connected with beauty, positivity. It is a concept of beauty that embraces the good and the beautiful in the same idea. In this sense, related to material, 3physical and spiritual well-being. In Candomblé, Odara is the Esu of infinity, of the eternal, creator of all things.

The word Nur related to Arabic with which means “Light”

And the name Mahin in honor of Luisa Mahin, leader of the Malê Revolt that occurred in Bahia, Brazil that fought against slavery.

Question: Please tell us about yourself and how you became a dancer.

Odara Nur Mahin:  Since I was a child, I have always loved the dance! Participated in all activities in public school, such as the presentation of mother’s day, June party [June Party or Festa Junina, Festa Junina is a large social gathering of dancing, drinking, and eating]. As a teenager, I took jazz lessons for a short period. But I left to devote myself to scientific training.  I have a degree in biological sciences from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). And I have a Specialization in Parasitic Biology. I am currently a Public-School Science teacher. After finishing college, I started at belly dance classes. And I loved it in the first class.

Question: What do you remember about the first time you saw a belly dancer?

Odara Nur Mahin:  The first dancer I saw years ago was very different from the dancer that I am today, especially in the aesthetic sense and in the relationship that I have with dance. But it sure was important! Without her I would not be the dancer I am today!

Question: What is the first word you think of when you hear the word belly dance?

Odara Nur Mahin:  I think of ancestry! Bellydance has the power to tell our origin!

Question: Who are some of the belly dancers that you admire?

Odara Nur Mahin:  It’s a difficult question to answer! I admire many dancers all over the world! Amar Gamal, Ebony Quals, Rachid Alexander … I admire every dancer from the BellyBlack Resistance company. And many others who do an incredible job here in Brazil. It would be difficult to name. I run the risk of leaving someone important out.

Question: How long have you been belly dancing?

Odara Nur Mahin:  I started in 2009, when I finished college. But I had difficulty continuing my studies on a regular basis for belly dance. I had to stop to finish my degree. I returned to dance and working with my sister, Nubia Candace as the duo “Raqs Ibeji” and the group Resistência  Bellyblack in the year 2018.

Question: How did you start belly dancing?

Odara Nur Mahin:  I started belly dance in 2009, after concluding the course of biological sciences at the university. At first the dance came as a way to keep the body moving and try to align the mind.

Question: Who was your most important dance teacher and what did you learn from her?

Odara Nur Mahin: My most important teacher is Cíntia Carvalho. She was my first belly dance teacher. And my whole base in the dance came through her encouragement. I was allowed to create which proposed challenges for me as a dancer.

Question: Do you have training in any other form of dance?

Odara Nur Mahin: I had a bit of jazz bases in childhood and early adolescence. And today I study symbology of Orixas (or Orishas)and Afro dances with teacher Eliete Miranda. I recently started venturing into urban dances. Also, I’m currently studying postgraduate studies in dance and corporal conscience

Question: Why do you continue to belly dance?

Odara Nur Mahin:  I still belly dance because I have the honor of having incredible women of my group by my side! We have suffered too much from the lack of support, visibility, racism, lack of opportunities, and poor remuneration. It is a safe and collective environment. We dream together, we think together in every detail costumes and choreography! We encourage each other every day! It is a work that has been improving and without them maybe I would have already abandoned the dance.

Question: What does belly dance mean to you?

Odara Nur Mahin: Belly dance today has the meaning of finding myself, with my sisters and brothers from all over the world, to take back what has been taken from us. It is the means of connection with ancestry, with the knowledge present in Africa and with our spiritual selves.

Question: Are there any misconceptions about belly dancers in Brazil?

Odara Nur Mahin:  A Great Misconception is that the people within the dance seem to “forget” that Egypt is in Africa!  We also continue to struggle against the stereotype that belly dancers are less studious, with less technique, just below other dances. Another problem is that dancing often becomes just a sexual fetish.

Question: What is it like for black and brown (Afro-Brazilian) belly dancers in Brazil?

Odara Nur Mahin:  There is much difficulty for black and brown belly dancers in Brazil. It’s as if we do not exist!   Eurocentric dance pattern is dominant. There is no room for us at big events. It is difficult to get a contract, there are reports of people who do not want to hire black dancers or dancers with Afro hair.

Question: Are there opportunities for black and brown (Afro-Brazilian) belly dancers to earn a living as a dancer in your country? Please explain?

Odara Nur Mahin:  The opportunities are very scarce. Although Brazil is a black majority country, this is not reflected in the belly dance community here. Many dancers try to adapt.  There are difficulties in teaching classes, there are almost no black dancers at major events. There is an expectation/imposition on the body shape and hair, even if veiled. Many contractors exhibit racist behavior which ends up driving away dancers.

Question: We love, love, LOVE all the pictures that you post of yourself and your group Resistencia BellyBlack!  Tell us how the group formed.

Odara Nur Mahin: The Cia Resistência Bellyblack was founded in 2017 by the dancers Mariana Paixão, Nubia Candace (my sister) and myself. In 2018, the Cia grew with the arrival of the dancers Samara Makal, Hanna Bastet and Milena Saree.  We have our producer Avellar Paz who takes care of our agenda and various aspects related to administrative and contact area.

The company formed after episodes of blackface that were taking place in belly-dance events.  When we tried to debate the racism of these episodes we were silenced. We resolved to respond with art. Yet we were the targets of racist attacks. They used photos of the founders to be ridiculed and exposed on partner networks.

The CIA’s purpose is to publicize the art of belly dance from the perspective of the black woman. We are inspired by Abdias Nascimento, creator of the Black Theater, and Mercedes Baptista, the first Black female dancer of the Municipal Theater, who introduced the blend of classical ballet with Afro Brazilian dance techniques and elements.  We also feel called to reverberate in the belly dance elements merging the oriental dances, with the aesthetics, expressiveness and symbologies of Afro-Brazilian dance, as a form of self-esteem and redemption of our ancestry. We understand artistic making as a form of expression and body technique. However, we broaden our view of dancemaking by instigating it as a language that has the power and the role of self-reflection and concomitantly, to lead the public to reflect, whether about our own condition as black women, or the rescue of critical thinking which drives the art. In this regard, as the singer and civil rights advocate, Nina Simone said: – How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times?”

Question: The group’s look is so cohesive and beautiful.  Where do you get your ideas for your performance clothes and makeup?

Odara Nur Mahin:  We were very happy with these words! Thank you so much for the compliments!! The aesthetics of the group is inspired by African ethnic groups. Always seeking Africa – Khemet relationship and reminiscing and celebrating our royalty through Afrofuturism.

Question: Why did you decide to call your group Resistencia BellyBlack and what does that name mean or represent to you?

Odara Nur Mahin:  The name of the company is closely linked to Adinkra symbology.  Among the cultural manifestations of the Axante nation, in the Gyaman people of the Ivory Coast. Adinkra are symbols representing proverbs and aphorisms. Among these symbols, AYA is a word linked to resistance. is represented by a fern.  The fern is a delicate but tough plant that is able to avenge in adverse environments.

Question: How do you add your cultural Brazilian roots to your performances? And why is this important?

Odara Nur Mahin:  We added diaspora-related symbologies, with use of Orixas (or Orishas) symbology, candomblé, and elements afro Brazilian dance. These elements are important to put Africa at the center of our artistic expression and to return to our matriarchal African dynastic origin.

Question: If there was one message that you could give to the black and brown (African-American) Belly Dancers in the United States, what would it be?

Odara Nur Mahin:  Despite all the pain, our ancestors always danced. May the dance continue uniting and cherishing us!  We need to get what’s ours! And we can always do more in the community! I love to admire the beauty of the sisters of the United States through social networks.  Kisses from Brazil! I hope to meet you soon!

Yannah: Thank you so much for allowing BGB the opportunity to interview you!


You can find Odara Nur Mahin and Resistencia BellyBlack on social media:
The cia Resistência BellyBlack 

Instagram: @resistenciabellyblack