From the inside out …
Why do you belly dance?
I’ve been Belly Dancing since I was a child and it was the only dance that accepted me for who I was.
How long have you been belly dancing and how did you get started?
I started private classes with Rozetta Ahalyeas in 1985. I always had a fascination as a child. My family are from Egypt, so I was influenced by culture and music and the feeling of family, laughter and celebration. Becoming serious about dance was something entirely different and wasn’t an acceptable profession. I am sure my family thought I was another “phase” I was going through.
What is your favourite belly dance memory?
Too many over the last 3 decades. I suppose you always remember “the first time’ so all my firsts! The first time I met Rozeta, the first time I put on costume and performed on stage , the day I opened Amera’s Palace in 1987, the first time I saw “Samira” aka Dee Wells dance, the first I flew into Lebanon – there was so many memories – you will have to wait for my book 😊
Who is your belly dance inspiration and why?
Many dancers and musicians and costume designers. I have to say Rozeta, Dee, Barb Wolfkamp, Shamira, Yasmina ,my manager in Lebanon Toros Siranossian, Egyptian Belly dance and Musicians. and I have to be real here and say my inspiration is always when I see a performer has the X factor – that’s inspirational. The other thing is that I am always inspired by dancers who look for their X factor – “Why“ they dance – that speaks volumes to me just by watching them – they are telling me without words – that is universal language for me.
What dance projects are you working on right now?
I have retired from performing and just teach some local classes (when I have energy) and do workshops on invitation. At present I am gearing up for the Newcastle Belly Dance festival, where I will be teaching a Lebanese workshop, then we have Egypt Revisited in September, and Adelaide festival – that’s my year as far as dance is concerned. I’m also working on revamping my website, and my other passion is helping Foster Carers. So, I am writing a book on foster care.
Why did you choose this photo to share?
It was an old one in the first 10 years of my career, and the one with the camel was on a photo shoot in Al Ain, UAE and the costume was made by Madame Abla.
What is your belly dance goal?
I think I have reached them as far as belly dance is concerned! If there was one thing, it is that I would love to see a legacy left and the Australian Belly Dance scene moving forward acknowledges its roots and leaves a footprint of all the wonderful dancers in this country . We can contribute to the development of belly dance in this country and not be known as the Australian Belly Dance community that was inspired just by the USA. The dance is Middle Eastern in its indigenous foundation but each country has a part to play in development . We are need to recognise our pedigree.
What do you do when you are not belly dancing?
I always have something new on the burner . The eternal entrepreneur – these days though I don’t have the energy to keep the fire burning – so I need someone to take the flame!
Mainly I work in Foster care for an NGO, I support, train and assess people that want to be foster carers. I have my own child that I have adopted, and I also have my other 2 big kids that I raised.
I’m also writing a book on my journey of being a foster carer, which is more cathartic than anything else.
I also live in the most beautiful place in Newcastle Hunter area, so I make sure I pay a lot of gratitude to where I live. I walk my dog Rocket – who is my personal trainer!
I have two little pop up businesses called Cave Woman and Cave Dog in Caves Beach – which goes into hibernation in the winter months.
How would your best friends describe you?
Kind, caring, giving, entrepreneurial, funny (in a Mum kind of way) – I don’t know ! – you have to ask them!
I think I am different things to different people – I have a few besties – they know who they are, and they are the ones that I let get close enough to me – there the ones I let come over for sleep overs ! LOL
What is something about yourself that most people don’t know?
I’m actually a bit of an introvert – – and I only let a few people in my inner circle.
What are the most important things in your life?
My son Emmanuel, my family, my close friends, being grateful for my health, my good genes …
What do you worry about and why?
Oh gosh, what a loaded question! The older I get the more I worry.
I worry about the cost of living, I worry about my son and what sort of world he will have to navigate – and that’s only a few things I worry about.
What qualities do you admire in others?
I absolutely admire those when the going gets tough, they keep going. I admire resilience, I admire people that have look adversity in the face and hurdle over it .
I admire those that can share love – give and receive it unconditionally.
What would your autobiography be called?
Amera – same as on my pyramid when I pass over !
What is your greatest achievement in life?
Can I have 3? 1. To be the first Australian Belly Dance to have long term contracts in the Middle East.
2.raised my foster children 3. adopt my son.
Which colour represents you best and why?
Pinkie Purple – because I like Pink and Purple!
What was the last gift you gave someone?
To Dee, a bottle of wine – because she bought a new house.
What is the funniest / scariest / craziest thing you have ever done?
Go to the Middle East without a contract with a suitcase full of costumes and $100 usd and not come back till I got my first contract in Lebanon.
What is your favourite way to relax and have fun?
Summer sitting on my beach, go to an early dinner with friends.
What do you recommend?
Place to Visit: highly recommend a trip to Egypt and Lebanon with me
Book: In a Beirut Mood or The Yacoubian Building.
Film: The World’s Greatest Showman or Avatar.