You can come to belly dancing with no prior dance and learn a fun and enjoyable dance. -Grace
Name | Erica
Occupation |  Scientist working in Immuno-assay development
Why belly dance? I was drawn to bellydance at an early age. My first encounter was at around 13 years old. I was at an event and in the shopping area I saw this procession of absolutely beautiful women and I thought their ensembles were fantastic and they moved so gracefully through the space, just radiating confidence. They looked so cool! I instantly wanted to be one of them, to be a part of their group. Later that evening there was a Hafla with bonfires and live musicians and these same women were bellydancing. I caught the eye of one of them, and she invited me to come dance. I went; I mirrored her movements and at that moment I knew this was where I belonged. I knew this dance form was meant for me because of how it makes me feel, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I feel like I can be completely myself when I dance, I am free.
How long have you been at Saffron? I took my first semester of classes this past fall.
How did you find Saffron Dance, and what keeps you coming back? I found Saffron Dance through Living Social. I haven’t had very much organized/structured/formal dance education. What I’ve learned has been very organic and my dance style has evolved over the years, influenced by many different styles and experiences I’ve had with other dancers. I felt like my dance had reached a plateau regarding what I was able to pick up on my own, and I wanted to have a bit more structure to help solidify my foundation and identify what I need to work on in order to increase my ability to take on more complicated movements, layering and combinations. 

What were your thoughts after your first class?  “Ooo, I can learn a lot here!” I was excited about Saffron’s approach to teaching bellydance; and not to mention the knowledgeable, encouraging and TALENTED faculty. 
Can you speak a bit about your experience in Student Company and working closely with faculty and fellow dancers?  My first Semester I took the Tribal Performance class with Jenna Shear, and I had a fantastic time learning her intricate choreography and dancing with the other girls in the group. This was the first performance I’ve done in a group setting, and also the first choreographed piece. All of my previous performance experience has been largely improvisational, so it was a fun challenge for me to not only learn a choreography, but to do so in a group setting.
Any other comments thoughts you'd like to add? I love my own personal style of dance – which I’m having a difficult time categorizing into any particular “formal” dance style since I am inspired by many different styles of bellydance. So I look forward to refining my movements and technique as well as incorporating new elements and movements into my dance and self-expression.

How she inspires us | When I first met Erica, I knew right away that she was an ambitious woman. Her eyes showed laser-like focus, and she had a determined set to her jaw as we drilled through class. However, ambition is a double-edge sword. On the one hand, it can help you cut to the essence of every technical challenge and accelerate your artistic progress through sheer will. But on the other hand, ambition can seriously hamper your growth if you get wrapped up in self-judgement and the progress of others. I see many dancers get sidetracked by ambition's more dubious side, but that's not the case with Erica. When she started taking regular classes at Saffron, she was right between levels and selected the lower one -- not as a show of humility, but because she was hungry to learn from the ground up and innately understood that with a deep knowledge of the basics, she'd accelerate her journey toward new technical heights. She uses her drive to hone in on the details, ask smart questions, and deeply digest class material. She is the master of her ambition, and therefore, she never misses a beat.  

-Jenna Shear