Interview with Nahara, Belly Dance Instructor at JISD
What and who inspired you to begin studying Middle-Eastern dance?
Belly Dance music inspired me to learn this fun and beautiful dance. My mom took classes when I was a kid and I fell in love with the music back then. I would play her albums over and over again. I knew I would learn it myself someday but didn't get a chance until I was an undergraduate at college. I came across an ad for classes in the local newspaper in Ithaca, NY and was determined to take them. The rest is history.
Do you have a dance background? If you had time what other dances would you pursue and why?
I’ve been a dancer since I was 7. I started out as a child Disco dance instructor and performer and later moved into competitive Ballroom dance, then took Jazz and Ballet in order to improve my Ballroom dance style and grace. I love all forms of dance and have never seen a dance style I didn’t like and want to learn. If I had the time I would pursue every dance there is. For me dance is the best stress relief there is and the perfect way to exercise because it works your body as well as your mind and connects you with your soul. No workout at the gym can do that for you and to be truly healthy you really need all 3 of those things to be nourished.
Why is Belly Dance so popular and what do your students love about it?
Belly dance is popular because the music is so intoxicating and the rhythms really connect with our soul. Furthermore, there are no limits on body type or age for who can learn it. Students come to this dance for different reasons. Some just for a fun type of exercise, some for the chance to perform in sequined glory, some to improve their self confidence and others just to have some girl time. Regardless of what brings a student to it, I think the reason they stay is because of the way you connect to the music, to your body, and to your sensuality. In today’s stressful world that connection to ourselves is priceless.
What famous Middle-Eastern dancers have you met on your journey?
I have met several of the famous dancers from Cairo: Dina, Nagwa Fouad, Raqia Hassan, Tito (a male dancer), Rhanda Kamel.
What is so satisfying about teaching Belly Dance?
The most satisfying thing about teaching is being able to deliver a dance that anyone can do. I love watching dancers grow from barely being able to do the most basic movements to being able to layer multiple movements as well as dance with a prop at the same time. This dance brings me so much joy I love to share that joy and see others embrace it as well.