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My Philosophy

"For me, belly dance isn't just a performance, it's a way of life. Some people have a problem with the term 'belly dance'. I don't, because the 'belly' means the centre of the woman system, the origin of feminine being and feeling. The emotional and spiritual uplift we feel from dancing starts from this centre and spreads through our body to our arms, our legs, our head; it opens up unexpected channels and releases unexpected energies.

"So it's not just a series of physical moves. Yes, we have to learn them, but then it's all about applying them and taking them forward. So when I'm teaching classes, I tell my students it's not about technique alone, it's about feeling the flows of energy through our bodies. That's why I often begin my classes with meditation, to find the energy points or chakra to dispel stress and connect with our inner spirit.

"Different women bring different energies, different feelings and different interpretations to the basic elements of belly dance. We need to become comfortable with our bodies and find our own style. There's nothing like belly dance to help us as women gain confidence in ourselves.

"My approach to belly dance is all-embracing. I teach belly dance for its physical, spiritual and therapeutic benefits. You can't separate these elements. It's also about relationships, about energy flows between dancers, between performer and audience, and within ourselves.

"Belly dance is a feminine, very gentle thing. It's about women believing in ourselves, coming to terms with our sexuality, our in-born sensuality, our natural strength. Sometimes it's painful. We find out where and why things hurt, we discover things we didn't know about, but then we find it's liberating and healing - physically, mentally and spiritually.

"Belly dance started as a fertility rite. We should remember that. The Egyptians call it Raqs Sharqi, which means 'dance of the Middle East'. Belly dance began in the temples of ancient Egypt. It's so ancient, the moves have been called 'the alphabet of dance'.

"I think we've lost touch with those origins. People have forgotten about its history... they think of Raqs Sharqi as pure entertainment or pure technique. My teaching emphasises feeling, freedom and improvisation.

"As a belly dance artist, I work from the heart. I care passionately about creating, inspiring, and bringing people together. My greatest pleasure is to work with others to spread the benefits of belly dance.

"I also like to bring different teachings and dance traditions to help coach, perform and develop new ideas. I have no problem borrowing from contemporary, folk and fusion dance to create new belly dance forms, to help build a bridge between the ancient and modern.

"I'm in the middle of a journey of discovery. I constantly think about what belly dance means for me, for other performers and for my students. I perform regularly - I'll never give that up - but I've built a base from which I aim to make real advances in research, teaching and performance.

"What does belly dance really mean to me? In a word, it's holistic. It's about healing, but it's also about art. It helps us connect with the universal feminine, with ourselves, and with other people on this earth. It's pure light. For a woman, belly dance is the ultimate high."