Adriana started the first belly dance school in Hobart in 1991, now known as “Bellywood” (love the name!). She has trained in Amera’s Bellyrobics and Keti Sharif’s A to Z, and incorporates these into her teaching.
I like the sound of Adriana’s latest innovation, “Shimmyfit” – an after-work class which is light on choreography, an ideal class for when your brain hasn’t yet recovered from the workday!
As well as belly dancing classes, the school has an enthusiastic drumming group. Check out her website, bellywood.com.au, for more details.
Interview with belly dancer Adriana
How did you get started with belly dancing?
For as long as I can remember I wanted to learn belly dancing, maybe it was from watching as a child “I Dream of Jeannie” & Elvis Presley movies that often had a bellydancer in them. Every year I would check out the Yellow Pages & see if a school now offered belly dance. When working as a massage therapist I came across a very special man who had spent many years working in a circus & was very experienced in yoga. He showed me some exercises to move my belly. That was in 1980.
I didn’t find a dance teacher until 1985, Marjolein Douglas-Broers started teaching classes at WEA. Woohooo! I was hooked. While I never had any intention of “going public” with encouragment from Belyssa who taught the first workshop I attended, & Marjolein, I started dancing at haflas, then concerts & then at paid gigs.
As for teaching, I taught some small groups in Adelaide & then, after moving to Tasmania in 1991 & discovering that the only belly dancing was a waitress donning a costume for 2 minutes & getting patrons to shimmy & break plates in a Greek restaurant I advertised lessons. The rest, as they say, is history & Belly Dance in Tasmania was born.
What is your favourite belly dancing style and/or prop?
I love the old style belly dancing, relaxed & passionate, the Egyptian style, Baladi Accordion.
Props? Love my Isis Wings for drama, veil for the romance & playfulness & stick for a bit of earthy fire.
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your belly dance style?
So many wonderful dancers have influenced my style. I think the most memorable are my first teachers, Amaya, my first experience of an International teacher, taught show”wo”manship, that we are entertainers as well as dancers. Bert Balladine & Ibrahim Farrah taught passion so well we fell in love with them at workshops & took that feeling into our dance, Suraya Hilal taught the importance of using the body in a flowing manner, very earthy & connected. In later years the dancers coming out from Egypt have all been a strong influence. The very first videos I watched of Mona said & Nagwa Fouad – they were copies of copies of copies, copied so many times we viewed the dancing through scratchy lines on the screen & we watched them over & over. Students these days don’t even want to see that footage, we are so spoilt with the high quality available now on dvds, but nothing compares to the excitement I felt when I first saw Mona Said in her rainbow coloured costume.
Mostly I think it is life experience that influences my style.
What advice would you offer an aspiring belly dancer?
Practice and have fun with your dance, get together with your friends & play with your dancing. Technique is important but the best technique done with a poker face isn’t going to inspire an audience. Interact with your audience. Don’t forget the roots of the dance, respect the culture it comes from & those who pass the dance on to you. Attend as many workshops as you can, you will always pick up something you can use. I still love to go to a beginners class if I get the chance as there is always some little snippet of information that can bring an “Aha!” moment.
Remember if you smile while you are dancing, your face will relax & therefore your body will relax 🙂