International Women's Day: In conversation with Sara Manca

Italian artist, Sara Manca, performing a belly dance sequence Photograph:( WION )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 07, 2017, 07.48 PM (IST) Zeba Khan

Sara Manca is a 28-year-old designer from Naples in Italy, who loves to draw. She started drawing cartoons at an early age and believes that this creative line of work has chosen her. For her, “drawing is life” and after having studied at Naples Academy of Art, she knew for sure “her future lies in imagining cartoons and drawing them”. She designs under the username of Blatterbury on DeviantArt.

Sara Manca, Italian artist (WION)


How do you identify yourself, I ask?

“I like to introduce myself with a Pirandello quote: I'm one, nobody and a hundred thousand.”

A budding designer, Manca became famous for what she calls “Disney Princesses as Belly Dancers”. Even though several artists have given their own rendition to Disney’s most loved characters--Manca’s belly dancers have something unique about them--a different instrument, outfit and a unique style of belly dancing, for each princess.

How did she come up with this idea--of drawing princesses as belly dancers?

“Disney Girls have been redesigned in so many ways in the past--and I always wished to try a design of my own. I am a belly dancer; I studied this discipline for the past 7 years, so I decided to merge art, belly dance and costume design. I learned how to sew thanks to cosplay and I'm the one who projects and makes all dresses for my belly dance friends and me.”

Much before drawing belly dancer princesses, she drew a lot of other characters. “As a kid, I had a collection of Barbies and I liked them, but I was more attached to her horses. I had a pretty big collection of Barbie's horses and I loved every kind of toy that represented an animal. Cat, dog, rabbit, horse--I was pretty obsessed by animals. But my favorite toy was my imagination. I loved role play--maybe that's why I started with cosplay”, adds Manca.  

Everybody is inspired from someone or something, what was it for her?  

Manca says, “I get inspired from anything--books, movies, past works of artists. Alphonse Mucha, Glen Kean, Adam Hughes, Barbara Canepa, are my absolute favourites but I also follow a number of young and talented web artists such as Fedini, Valeria Favoccia, Orpheeline, Phobs, Tracy Butler, Mirka Andolfo. Every time I see their art, it inspires me.”

On gender equality in her line of work in Italy, Manca says, “In my field of work, many things have changed through the years. When I was a child, I remember only male artists designed comic books. But now, more number of women are getting featured in comic book’ credits. I am happy that sex doesn't matter anymore--the important thing is your aesthetic sense, imagination, sensibility and versatility.”

Towards the end of the interview, she says, “I want to share with the world my passion and my little knowledge. In belly dancers series when I choose a design, a style and a dress of each princess--I also add a description to explain where the dance styles came from. It's very important for me to let people know about this ancient and underestimated discipline.”

How Disney Princesses would look as Belly Dancers:


Belle has a shamadan to dance with. Using it is considered advanced, and is used in the zeffeh, or wedding procession. (WION)


Rapunzel according to Manca is fit for Khaliji: traditional folkloric dance from the Persian Gulf. The form uses hair as the main element used to dance. Women let their long hair “dance” moving it from side to side, back and forth, in circle etc. (WION)


For Pocahontas, Manca gives a tribal look to do the aboriginal dance. (WION)


Ariel has double veils, Raqs Sharqi style. The veils are an extension of the Little Mermaid's body, creating a beautiful ripple effect around her waist. (WION)


Esmerelda, the gypsy from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, is not one of the official princesses. Manca gives her a gypsy style dance, which she calls the "classic". (WION)


Baladi style goes perfectly with Jasmine, as according to Manca, it is the dance of beauty, strength, and art. (WION)


Elsa has "Isis wings" an instrument used in belly dance. Isis is the ancient Egyptian goddess, mother of Horus. It has nothing in common with the Islamic jihadist militant group. (WION)



A brave princess, Merida has a sword to dance. It was used by the Ghawazee dancers of Egypt (group of female travelling dancers of the Dom people) who would entertain the Napoleonic troops. (WION)



Aurora has fan veils, one of designer's favorite instruments. They express elegance but also pathos and the effect of the silk veils wrapping Aurora's figure is a perfect image. (WION)


Manca is passionate about drawing, dancing and sewing. In the future, she wants to assemble her drawings in an art book and sell--and also do web comics.