Falling in love:
Born in Baghdad Iraq in 1973 to Assyrian parents with heritage stretching to both Turkey and Iran, I had Middle Eastern music, song and dance caress my ears, eyes and heart right from the start. I was brought up in my infancy by my paternal grandparents and extended family, people who love the arts and had the TV or radio on all day, tuned to Samia Gamal dancing with Fareed El Atrache, or the dulcet sounds of Abdel Halim Hafez filling the house with his bitter sweet melancholy. I started dancing spontaneously at the age of three, encouraged with live drumming, clapping and cheering by various family members. Following is a great video pastiche of the dance legends who filled my little heart with glee back in seventies Baghdad:
Learning the craft:
My dance came to a standstill after rejoining my birth family, as my mother was staunchly religious, and I had to say goodbye to my passion until I arrived in Australia as a young adult and took my life in my own hands. After some years I found my first teacher Terezka Drnzik at her Studio of Danse Orientale, and thankfully she embraced the Classical Egyptian Orientale style that I had grown up with in my childhood. The romance resumed and I trained for years with various renowned teachers.
Starting to teach:
I started teaching Middle Eastern Dance in Sydney after years of training. My school "Fire in the Belly" was acclaimed for teaching this intricate and complex dance to the "everyday woman" in a way that helped western women connect with their feminine beauty, learn the moves in stages, and learn to dance their own improvisational expression. I created my own teaching system called "Belly Dancing from the Heart" Method, which is highly methodical, logical and simple to execute. I honed it over years of teaching thousands of western women and girls to not only dance the dance, but to also appreciate the cultural aspects, learn music interpretation and use the dance as an avenue for self-expression. I was awarded "Teacher of Year" in 2006.
Teaching and training teachers is my focus with Oriental Dance. I have engaged in professional performing for some years in the professional Cabaret scene, but my early love of Classical Egyptian came through in my tendency to move slower than the modern Cabaret pace, my emphasis on grace and essence, my usage of very basic simple movements, and my choice of music and costume. I do not like the Cabaret/professional perfoming scene and do not engage in it any longer. I do however perform at women's only gatherings and cultural celebrations. My performing focus is in refining a personal style based in Classical Egyptian. My professional focus remains on teaching, and the demand for my work is through teachers wanting to train in the craft of teaching. I have choreographed solo and group performances for theatrical and cultural events, with an emphasis on adding story to performance. Very few of my performances are on film. Following is a rare live music performance.
Growing the next generation of teachers:
As the west embraced Oriental Dance as a foreign art form and mode of expression, it has focused on learning it by numbers - a whole generation of dancers around the world are choreography dependant and do not know how to improvise. To help western teachers of Belly Dance learn how to teach it true to its Middle Eastern essence, I decided to put my "Belly Dancing from the Heart" Method into a teacher training program. It is complete and set up for learn-from-home convenience, and has been acclaimed by both industry and teachers in training. Certification teacher training courses are run annually in Sydney Australia, and internationally by invitation. More on this program at "How to Teach Belly Dance" and following is a preview.
Belly Dance and Empowerment:
After years of teaching I merged my other love - empowerment of the Feminine Spirit - with Belly Dance to create facilitated workshops and retreats designed to reconnect women to their Feminine nature using the ancient practice of Belly Dance. For two years I studied intensively with William Whitecloud, author of the best seller “The Magician’s Way”, studying a teacher training course for metaphysics, empowerment and the creative process. This training equipped me with the specific expertise needed to run facilitated workshop environments. This website is also a great resource for women on women's issues.
Middle Eastern Dance Industry Portfolio:
2005 – Co-choreographer with Terezka Drnzikfor Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival Gala night
2006 – Choreography of “Black Onyx” at “Jewels of the Sultan” Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival Gala night
2006 – Winner “Teacher of the Year” Award - Sydney
2007 – Guest Performer at “Dancing with the Stars” - Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival Annual Gala Night
2007 - Creation and world-wide launch of Belly Dancing from the Heart Method Teacher Training Program "How to Teach Belly Dance"
2008 - Guest Teacher "Improvisation Technique Workshop" – Farha Tour Australia hosted by Amera Eid
2009 – Teacher Training Certification Weekend Intensive at Amera’s Palace/Sydney
2009 – Guest Teacher - Teacher Training Workshop "The Craft of Teaching" at Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival
2009 - Teacher Training Certification Intensive Weekend at Leonie Sukan's Newtown Middle Eastern Dance Centre/Sydney
2010 - Teacher Training Certification Intensive Weekend at Leonie Sukan's Newtown Middle Eastern Dance Centre/Sydney
2012 - Australian Belly Dance Teachers Retreat co-hosted with Keti Sharif - Blue Mountains Australia
2013 - Rejuvenate Belly Dancer Intensive Weekend co-hosted with Amera Eid - Sydney
2014 - Teacher Training Certification Intensive Weekend Sydney