A Gypsy Past
At age of 6 one Saturday morning I was watching TV eating a bowl of fruit loops. I decided that the cartoon at the time just didn’t cut it so I changed the channel and low and behold I came across belly dance on our local station. I stared mesmerized at the TV and from that day forward I knew in my soul what I was born to do. Now I was a little Catholic girl so you can imagine what my Mom said when I told her I wanted to be a belly dancer. A little pat on the head and “I don’t think so” was basically all that she said. But as the years passed I never forgot that feeling or memory of watching women doing a dance that for some odd reason I remembered.
I can remember at age 16 I went to a Greek Festival and saw dancers performing and my heart just ached because I knew I should be up on stage dancing too. It wasn’t until I was 22 that I got my break and I started to belly dance. I met a wonderful dancer named Dina and my journey in this dance began. I studied for 2 years before I ever performed. I was taking classes from an internationally known dancer Sakti Rinek when I was asked to perform for the New Mexico Dance Coalition. So my dance debut was in a room that was packed full of people and our show was televised. Talk About Pressure!!
After the show I kept on practicing even though I was a working cowgirl. You can imagine me practicing around my horses in the pasture. I did this because I had no other place to practice in because at the time I lived in a Gypsy wagon and I was out on ranches. I had huge draft horses that thought they should be my audience and give an opinion. Eventually this didn’t work out so well because my chickens and goats decided to join the horses along with an occasional fly here and there.
Studying in Egypt
In 1991 Sakti invited me to go to Egypt with her and I stayed 6 months. I experienced many life altering epiphany’s while I was there and I came back a more fulfilled woman and dancer. I was fortunate enough to study with Mahmoud Reda before I went to Egypt and was able to spend some time studying with his contemporary Madam Bousy. But I have to tell you the most amazing experience for me was watching Zohair Zaki perform before she retired. She is my inspiration that keeps me dancing to this day and she reminds me as to why I am a dancer.
California, New Mexico, Texas
I eventually moved to California for awhile and danced at various restaurants. One of my favorite restaurants that I danced for was in Glendale called Chattanooga. Another restaurant I danced at was in Beverly Hills called The Greek Connection where I met many well known clothing designers. I decided to move back home to New Mexico because I was homesick and I wanted a smaller hometown environment to bring my daughter up in. Once in Albuquerque, New Mexico I joined a studio called Dancers Supporting Dancers and thus began the next faze in my dance career. I moved to Texas after a year for better dance opportunities and I must say this is where my dancing really began to mature and where I started to make a name for myself. I performed at various nightclubs and restaurants in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. One of the first restaurants that I danced at was called The Veranda Greek Café located on the outskirts of Dallas.
A nightclub that was my favorite in Dallas is called Al Amir and it is still going strong today. I danced in Fort Worth for Marios Hedary at his restaurant Byblos and for his families restaurant Hedarys. Another favorite around Dallas was Sinbad’s. This restaurant had the Sinbad theme and was so beautiful to work in. It was a Persian restaurant at the time I danced there and I was fortunate enough to work with famous singers and comedians. Another favorite in Dallas was Café Royale. I worked there through two owners and was able to dance to a live band and work with wonderful singers. In Houston I worked at a nightclub called Cleopatra’s and again was able to dance with a wonderful band. When Cleopatras closed I started dancing at a wonderful nightclub called The Mirage. My best experience was performing for Diplomats from all over the world. As far as dancing for famous bands goes I was very lucky to dance for the Gypsy Kings.
I was dancing at a restaurant for a group of doctors when the restaurant owner got a call and informed me that the Gypsy Kings were coming to the restaurant for a late night dinner and requested that I stay and dance for them. Life in those moments is more amazing than you can imagine!
Back to New Mexico
Being the Gypsy that I am, I decided to come back to New Mexico and raise my daughter around my family. So I started back from square one and built up my dance career in Albuquerque. I opened my studio in Corrales, New Mexico. It went strong for 3 years and than I closed it to pursue my workshop and video aspirations.
My first instructional DVD came out “Hip Phylosophy” in 2004 and now I am in preparation to publish my first book to come out along with coaching on-line instruction.
In March of 2006 I co- produced a theatrical dance play with distinguished choreographer/dancer Rozana Al Jinan called “Cleopatra’s Court”. It was held at the Joan Kent Theater and was a benefit show to help out women and children of domestic violence. The drama students at Cibola High School participated in the show. Our theatrical show is now a showcase to demonstrate how to integrate high school drama students into worthy venues.
So this kind of brings things back full circle and these days I find myself doing things such as regularly writing articles for “The Chronicles”, “Zaghareet” and “Jareeda” and reaching out to connect with students globally through the use of “Internet TV”. One thing I can say with assuredness is that keeping the dance alive as a community and for each of us as individual dancers means always being open to new ideas, people and unions.