Efendi's Mediterranean Restaurant had monthly belly dance shows, in which I was a regular when the belly dance program was promoted by Dance Oasis. I have also danced at India Restaurant in Providence, when the belly dance program was promoted by The Goddesses of Kadi Belly Dance Troupe. Most people do not realize that most belly dance shows are charity events, and the dancers donate their time and performances for the charity. There are local charity events in which I perform almost every month. I am an active member of the Ocean State NBDA and The Shimmy Sisters: Dancers Without Borders. I currently teach Belly Dance out of my home in Lincoln, RI, or will travel to a student's home in some cases.. I am experienced and available for both corporate and private parties, private or class instruction, and workshops. I am currently the Providence Team Leader for the Annual International Shimmy Mob, a fundraiser for local shelters benefiting abused women and children. For more information, click on the "Shimmy Mob" tab.
Why I learned to belly dance...
Belly dancing was actually part of an experiment. My daughter and I decided we would try a few different types of dance classes for quality time together, recreation and exercise. We started with salsa and later, belly dance. I found that I can learn the steps easily in salsa but had trouble "following" a partner, especially if he was subtle (though I could lead REALLY well). Salsa is also very scripted. I found that belly dance allowed me to be creative (without stepping on anyone's toes, or "stealing the lead"), as well as a great way to stay in shape.
What I have Learned...
Well, obviously, I have learned to belly dance, for starters. I can also incorporate veilwork, canes, candles, sword and I can play the finger symbols (also known as zills, zils, segats, or zegats). I have also researched the history of belly dance and it's props. Most people would be surprised to find that only cane and zills have any lengthy history in belly dance. Other props were added later, once the art of belly dance hit the entertainment scene. When performing for private parties and in restaurants, the only props I use regularly are veil and zills, unless otherwise specified. The purpose for this is, most importantly, safety, since these situations tend to be in closer quarters, but also for more authenticity. I use the other props at shows, in the spirit in which they were intended.
I have also learned a lot about fascinating foreign cultures and their traditions, the many misconceptions between the East and the West, especially with respect to the understanding of what belly dance is, and its "intentions", as well as the often subtle differences between the sensual and the sexual, about how women perceive their bodies and how it relates to their self esteem in such a culture as ours here in the United States.
Where & With Whom I learned to belly dance...
I began my study of belly dance in 2005 with Reena and Mahdia at the Village Wellness Center. I continued with Zaharah of Belly Dance Oasis, Sarah of Belly Dance by Sarah, Bella Donna of World Dance with Bella Donna Crisafulli, and Neylan of Providence.
I have taken seminars / workshops with Nourhan Sharif (Introduction to Lebanese and Egyptian Belly Dance), Blanca, of World Dance New York, & Carmine T. Guida (Middle Eastern Drumming and Rhythms, Zills, Live Drum Solo Improvisation), Aradia of Providence (Tribal Fusion), Tempest (Gothic Belly Dance), Kassar (East Coast Tribal), Sabrina (Drum Solo), Neylan of Providence (Sword), Dorothea (Zills), The Goddess Coyle (Ceremony and Balancing Props), Aepril Schaile (Theatrical Belly Dance), Lorraine Lafatta (Goddess Veil), Alessandra Belloni (Italian Taratella), Karim Nagi (The Maqam, Communication Between Drummers & Belly Dancers), Anechka (Double Veil), Zabel (Tantalizing Textures), Tempessari Tribal (Seven Deadly Sins of Choreography), Sally the Alter Boy (Poi), Chifferobe Atelier (Introduction to English Country Dancing), Jessie Jewels (Hooping), Ameena (Fan Veils), Alwan Danse Ensemble (Lebanese Dabke Line Dances).
Even though I have been an instructor in my own right for quite some time now, I continue to take classes, seminars and workshops with other belly dance instructors / performers for the continued learning experience, the sharing of ideas, and the close and special sisterhood that is the tradition among belly dancers.
What's in a name?
Many dancers choose a name to use while performing, much like actors and sometimes musicians. It is a tradition; but it also allows privacy for the dancer, as well as add to the mystique that is characteristic of the art of Middle Eastern dance.
I have had a tougher time choosing a dance name than actually learning moves and dances. I wanted something which did not just sound nice, but one that also reflected some part of me, whether it be a translation of my own name or sign, or some kind of descriptive phrase describing my personality or background.
I finally decided on the name "Anam Cara" which is actually Irish Gaelic, meaning "Soul Friend", since that is what many dancers in this supportive and close-knit community have become.