photo by York Wilson Photography

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


More about the YMCA Classes

  • What will I learn from this class?

    This class will cover the following elements of Tribal Style Bellydance:
    • Correct dance posture-- how to create a beautiful silhouette in your dance and prevent injury
    • Basic muscular isolations and movements universal to all styles of bellydance (e.g. chest and hip slides, undulations, shimmies, circles, vertical and horizontal figure 8s, et cetera)
    • ATS and Tribal Fusion moves and combinations incorporating the basic isolations, which can be translated directly to both solo and group improvisation
    • Cues and transitions for group improvisation
    • Drills and exercises to use for home practice

    In addition, information about the history and aesthetics of the dance form will be available on this website for students and non-students alike to read.
    Unfortunately, I cannot currently include zil instruction in the class, as I do not have zils for the students and the sessions are just too short (only an hour long). However, I would be happy to answer any questions students have about zilling, and students who have their own zills should feel free to bring them to class to use during drills.

  • What do I need to bring/wear to class?

    Please bring water, a pencil and a notebook for writing notes, and, if you like, a scarf or belt to wear around your hips. Please come to class dressed in comfortable clothing-- something you might wear to a yoga or pilates class. You may choose to bare your stomach or leave it covered up, whichever makes you feel more comfortable. Be ready to dance in bare feet-- if you'd rather not, then bring dance slippers or socks, but we will not dance in shoes. If you have zils, you may bring them to use during instruction time. If you have any other props you would like to learn to use (e.g. swords), I would be happy to schedule a private lesson or lessons with you to show you how to use it, or direct you a class specific to props, but we will not be using props during class time.

  • Will this class help me lose weight?

    If practiced every day for a sufficient amount of time, bellydance can be an effective way to tone muscle, and if combined with a nutritious and reasonable diet, may help some students lose weight. This class will be designed to give those students who would like to develop their skills outside of class some great ways to start. Realistically, no kind of dance will significantly contribute to weight loss if only practiced once a week for an hour (the length and frequency of our class).

    More importantly, bellydance is extremely body-positive and will help any participant develop strength, flexibility and grace and re-establish a relationship of respect with their body. People (both men and women) of all body types can participate in this dance form and be valued equally for their skills as a dancer. Bellydance has even been used to rehabilitate victims of sexual abuse and eating disorders by dance therapists, so consider how it could make you feel about your own body!

  • How is Tribal Style different than "normal" bellydance?

    The Tribal aesthetic as we know it today was pioneered by Jamila Salimpour and her troupe Bal Anat in the late 1960s and later brought together and re-imagined in the form of American Tribal Style by Carolina Nericchio and her troupe FatChanceBellyDance. Any audience member can typically immediately recognize the differences between the Tribal aesthetic and that of other bellydance styles. American Tribal Style dancers usually wear no seed beads or sequins in their costuming, preferring coins, tassels, textiles from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and heavy silver jewelry from various Asian and North African cultures as means of adornment. Many ATS dancers also wear full turbans covered in flowers, headdresses, and pendants.
    Costuming aesthetics are not the only way in which Tribal is different than Cabaret, Folkloric or Egyptian styles of bellydance. Tribal moves and combinations are designed to be used in a group of dancers for improvisation. Each dancer learns how to recognize what the leader of the group will do next based on both explicit cues (hand signals, etc), body language, and intuition. While these moves and combinations can be used for solo performances as well as choreography they were developed by groups such as FatChanceBellyDance and Gypsy Caravan with group improv in mind. Many people describe Tribal dancing as "earthy" or "grounded" because it is usually performed on flat feet rather than on the toes or in high heels and features fewer floaty-flirty movements.
    Many dancers do not adhere strictly to the conventions of American Tribal Style, performing an amalgam of that style with other forms of bellydance, as well as other regional styles, such as Indian Classical, Flamenco, and recently Thai and other East Asian dances. This dance form is usually known as Tribal Fusion or World Fusion bellydance. Usually, costuming in these styles is a more pared-down version of the ATS costume-- coin bra and pantaloons or flared pants with a mirror or textile work belt, no turban, less jewelry-- but sometimes is equally ornate in its own sense, as is The Indigo's costuming.

    For more information on the distinctions between different kinds of bellydance, you can read Shira's article at

  • What if I don't want to perform improv/do improv in class?

    Many people are intimidated by the idea of performing group or solo improvisation. Personally, I feel it is an invaluable skill for any dancer, regardless of style. All of the moves in the class are thus designed to be used in improv-- if you want. These moves could just as easily be incorporated into choreography.
    As for group improv in class, while I strongly suggest all students participate in order to broaden their horizons, it will not be required, per se. Students can feel free to follow along in the back of the room without coming forward to lead the others or leave class early.

  • I have already taken bellydance lessons. Will I get anything out of this class?

    It is my personal opinion that every student takes something new and different away from every teacher they study with. As have many teachers, I have developed my own format for this class, so that even students who have taken Tribal Style lessons from other teachers should be able to further refine their style and learn new variations on moves. I believe students of all levels can benefit from this class.


Classes at CHCYMCA are a go!

I just heard from my YMCA coordinator that the required minimum number of students (8) have now signed up for my Tuesday evening class in Chapel Hill. Yay! I have been a teaching assistant for what seems like forever now and I have been dreaming about having my own classes. I think they are going to be tons of fun. Because the Y won't let me have drop-in students, I can actually design a curriculum that carries over from one class to the next. After 8 weeks I plan to have my students dancing like the stars. (we can hope!!)
Oooh! I'm so excited! I need to go to class now though. If only this were my real job... *sigh*

Monday, February 27, 2006


I am dying

to see pictures from TribalCon.
If they don't materialize online soon, I may have a nervous breakdown.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


A little bit of autobiography

When I was a very little girl (four years old) my parents started me in ballet and tap classes. When I was a little older I stopped taking tap and started jazz and acrobatics in addition to ballet. (I started acro too late and was physically too large to ever be a gymnast, but the classes were worth it regardless because I learned proper layback technique very early on in my life.) I always prided myself on my abilities as a dancer as a kid. By second grade I was one of the only people in my classes who could do all three of her splits, a fact that made me feel pretty awesome. I loved to perform even though it made me sick with nerves. I learned so many things from those classes: musicality, rhythm, posture, grace, and kinesthetic awareness. When people ask me today, "How long have you been dancing?" I often forget to include these early years of dance education, despite how invaluable they are to me still.
I continued the classes until the seventh grade, when my family moved from New York to North Carolina. Our hometown here apparently has many traditional ballet schools which place a high emphasis on dance competition, or at least that's what I heard. To be honest, I never even tried to go back to ballet after moving. I was too scared my technique would be taken apart and the teachers would tell me I wasn't thin enough to compete. To complicate matters, I developed fibromyalgia syndrome shortly after moving, which completely sapped my energy and killed any interest I had in physical activity. For a very long time-- in fact, until quite recently-- I didn't see myself as having any physical capability whatsoever. My body quickly became an antagonist, completely seperate from my mind, a burden to be ignored as much as I could. Any exercise lead to pain, and inactivity to increased fatigue.
My interest in dance waned. I tried other types of performance to fill the gap. For a short while, I was involved in school plays, but my middle school drama teacher was replaced after a year with a lecherous creep, so that was enough theater for me. I continued playing viola (which I had been playing since the third grade) for slightly longer, but my high school had no orchestra, and with no public performance opportunities available I quickly lost interest.
Around this time I realized I was a fairly decent visual artist, so I started drawing fairly religiously and taking art classes. Art was for me a very individual and very competitive experience. The most frequently exchanged 'compliment', if you could call it that, between students in my art classes was "You draw (paint, sculpt, etc) so well... I hate you." I won the Art Award from my high school in my senior year, which brought both admiration and hatred. There was very little sense of community or peer support between the students. For the very most part, there was only the competition-- competition to get selected for contests, competition to win contests, competition for scholarships, competition for entrance to art schools. Until my sophomore year of college, I felt compelled to keep competeing simply because I had the capability to "win" most of the time, but the practice of it eventually failed to bring joy or fufillment into my life, especially as, in college, it increasingly threatened to devour any and all of my other pursuits (including participation in bellydance). I quit design school and abandoned an art scholarship feeling that the entire experience had been empty.
Meanwhile, bellydance. My mother started bellydancing lessons when I was 15. To begin with, this was mortifying. I remember clearly a family vacation to Disney World where she insisted on practicing her wrist circles and such nonsense in public-- how embarrassing and terrible for me! Not too long after the lessons started she and two of her friends, one of whom I have known since I was an infant, decided to form a troupe (which later was named Blue Moon) to begin performing in public. I must admit this was somewhat intriguing to me. They started practicing Fat Chance Belly Dance videos in our living room, because they wanted to go tribal. My mom egged me on to join them. My first attempts at doing the movements were embarassingly awkward, which immediately turned me off to the idea. (God! I have this extensive dance background, and these middle-aged women can do this better than I can? Forget it! Who wants to be a bellydancer anyway?) More awful still, my little sister picked up the videos and started dancing amazingly well seemingly overnight. I put a moratorium on the videos.
I probably would not have started bellydancing lessons had my teacher Nandana not moved to the Raleigh area. We met her by chance, having seen a flier she put up in the window of a store in Chapel Hill. Even still, I almost didn't end up taking classes from her. I almost decided to take doumbek lessons from her husband instead, because while I wanted to participate in Blue Moon, I had made up my mind that dancing was probably not for me. I think my sister convinced me to try the lessons once or twice, and, long story short, I was converted. This was the summer before my freshman year of college.
I see myself bellydancing until the day I die. No other pursuit has ever been such a positive influence in my life.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Sword dance video!

A video clip of my improv sword dance from the Cameron Village Library showcase this Friday is now available at You can view it here:
Some of the floorwork is obscured by the audience, but the video turned out pretty well otherwise I think.


Upcoming Performance Schedule

Saturday, September 9th: World of Dance VI Show with Zhaleh Fereshteh, Diva of Shimmies Sara will be performing with Blue Moon Dance Company at this event in Charlotte, NC hosted by Yasmine and the Magic Hips Dancers. Doors open at 6:00 pm, show starts at 6:30pm. This event is located at the Pease Auditorium in CPCC Central Campus. For more information, please visit the Magic Hips website.

Saturday, September 16th: Twilight at the Oasis Benefit Show (7:30 pm) Sara will be performing both as a member of Blue Moon Dance Company and as a soloist at the "Twilight at the Oasis" Middle Eastern Dinner/Dance Show, to benefit Cornucopia House Cancer Support Center. This event is at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Garrett Road) in Durham, NC.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Local Troupe and Performer Links

First of all, for all your North Carolina bellydance info, you can always go to Also, you can join the CarolinaBellydancers Yahoo Group if you have a Yahoo email.

Triangle area
Blue Moon Dance Company Cary
Nandana Cary
Haala Cary
Aziza Fadwa and Flowers of the Desert Durham
Leigh Brown Durham
Belly Revelations Raleigh
K'asha Raleigh
Shara Raleigh
Najila Sahlah Chapel Hill
Orientale Expressions Chapel Hill

North Carolina
Amanda Asheville
Baraka Mundi Asheville
SamiTe' Asheville
Yasmine and The Magic Hips Dancers Charlotte
Shadows of the Fire Fayetteville
Ruby Scarab Winston-Salem


Performance Photos

Here's a list of some online picture galleries where you can find photos of me in performance. If you have any photos you've taken at a performance you'd like to share with me, by all means-- send me an email! (

Zhaleh Fereshteh: Diva of Shimmies Workshop Show in Charlotte, NC (Courtesy of Asim)
Blue Moon Show Tunes Hafla 2006 (Courtesy of Lisa Fowler)
Rachel Brice Workshop Show in Charlotte, NC (January 2006) (Courtesy of Asim)
Haflaween 2005 (Courtesy of Lisa Fowler)
September 2005 Hafla (Courtesy of Lisa Fowler)
NC Renaissance Faire 2005 (Courtesy of Lisa Fowler)
One blurry picture of me from Shimmy South 2005! (Courtesy of Lisa Fowler)
Tribal:Pura Workshop Show in Asheville, NC (March 2005) (Courtesy of Asim)

Photos from various events can be found at my troupemate Nandana's site as well as Blue Moon Dance Company's website.

The photo used in the sidebar was taken by Lisa Fowler.


About Me & FAQ

I have been bellydancing professionally for five years in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) area of North Carolina. I have been a member of Blue Moon Dance Company since 2002. Currently I perform tribal style bellydance both as a member of Blue Moon and as a soloist.
My influences as a dancer include Zafira Dance Company (who my primary teacher, Nandana, studied with for several years), FatChanceBellyDance, Ultra Gypsy, and Rachel Brice.
When not performing bellydance, in my everyday existence, I am a full time student at UNC Chapel Hill. When I'm not in class, I work as an ESL tutor for Japanese speakers. When I'm not busy with that stuff, I knit, draw, drink too much coffee, and play tabletop roleplaying games.

Do you teach lessons?
I teach at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA on Tuesday nights at 5:50 PM. My classes are an all-levels introduction to the foundation moves of American Tribal Style and Tribal Fusion. More information is available here.

Do you teach private lessons?
Yes, I am available on a limited schedule to teach private, semi-private or troupe lessons in Chapel Hill or Carrboro during the week or anywhere in the greater Raleigh area on weekends. Please email me if you are interested for hourly rates. (

Will you perform at my private party or public event?
I am currently available to perform at mixed-audience and all-female private parties/restaurant sets only. Party sets can be all-performance or include instruction time for guests, whichever you prefer. Please contact me for pricing information. ( For public events I recommend inquiring with my troupe, Blue Moon Dance Company-- we provide some of the best stage performances available in the area, complete with live musicians!
Please note that I will NOT perform at bachelor parties or any similar events, so don't bother asking!

Will you perform at my hafla (dance party)?
If it's convenient to my schedule and not several hours away, most likely, yes.

Do you teach workshops?
Yes! I regularly assist in teaching Blue Moon workshops and I have taught two solo workshops in the past. Check here for information about future workshops in the Triangle area. If you are interested in booking a tribal style workshop outside the Triangle area, please contact Blue Moon Dance Company at

Do you perform American Tribal Style, Tribal Fusion, World Fusion Bellydance, or what?
While I am familiar with the ATS (American Tribal Style) format, I do not rigidly adhere to it and neither does Blue Moon. I would consider our performance style "Tribal Fusion", although this brings up the question-- what is it "fusioned" with? We incorporate other dance elements (mostly Indian) in our performances from time to time, as well as some more modern elements, but the basis of our style and the majority of our moves are ATS. Blue Moon regularly does both improv and choreographed performances. When dancing solo, I do improv almost exclusively.

What props do you use?
I am proficient with zils, sword, other balanced objects (ie: pot or basket), Balinese fingernails, and skirt.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Cameron Village Library Performance

February 10, 7:30 - 8:30PM, Cameron Village Library, 410 Oberlin Rd, Raleigh.
I will be performing along with many other professional dancers in the area in the Belly Dance Showcase at the newly renovated Cameron Village Library in Raleigh this coming Friday night along with Sashi (aka my mama). Come help us celebrate the library's reopening! I will be debuting a new sword dance and my mom and I will be debuting a new duet!


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