Saffron Dance is the best part of my week, my month, my year! -Judy
Name | Heather
Occupation | Museum Planning Consultant
Why belly dance? I've always loved dance. Like many, I took ballet classes when I was young only to find out it was not for me. Many years later I took some Greek folk dance classes in Greece during my junior year abroad which I enjoyed. Finally, years later, I found bellydance! I love the way bellydance makes me feel, forces me out of my comfort zone, uses my brain in different ways, and provides a creative outlet. And, let's face it - the sparkles are a big draw!
How long have you been at Saffron? 5 1/2 years, I started in September/October 2011
How did you find Saffron Dance, and what keeps you coming back? My friend Jehan was performing with her Saffron Dance Student Company at Clarendon Day and we went to see her perform. After the show, Saphira did a mini shimmy tutorial with the audience. I thought "that was fun" and that I should try the intro class. I loved the it and have been shimmying ever since! What brings me back every semester is not just the dance and music, but is also the wonderful community and family of Saffronitas I have met over the years. As a parent of a teenager and a toddler, finding the time and making the commitment to doing something purely for me is challenging - belly dance is my commitment to myself, and it makes me a better person.

What were your thoughts after your first class?  "That was fun and uncomfortable!" I was in a room full of strangers moving and learning in new ways - yet I felt safe and welcome. So after taking the intro class I signed right up for Oriental 1. I've been hooked ever since!
Can you speak a bit about your experience in Student Company and working closely with faculty and fellow dancers?  After taking classes at Saffron for several months I found I particularly enjoyed learning combinations and choreographies. I had been to several shows and was getting a lot of encouragement from friends at Saffron to perform. The next step was to join a Student Company. I was a member of Chiftitelli for two years, and am currently in my third year as a member of Ayoub. I love being part of a Company - working with a group of women to put a piece of art on the stage is incredibly rewarding. I've had the pleasure of dancing with amazing Saffronitas and learning from the super talented faculty at Saffron.
Any other comments thoughts you'd like to add? Saphira and the faculty at Saffron understand that we all are on different roads and journeys, and seem to know when to push and when to pull back. This year I am working on things that challenge me - I took Saphira's improv class in the fall and am taking Jenna's choreography primer this winter. Whether or not these push me to perform a solo/small group piece or not, it is about the commitment to myself and my journey in dance and life. I am so grateful to have Saffron Dance and all the Saffronitas in my life!

How she inspires us | The first time I had Heather as a student was 3 years ago, back when I was the director of Chiftitelli Student Company.  Although the students were working at a beginner level, they approached our pieces with remarkable seriousness and commitment.  Heather was no exception.  Not only did she work hard, but she always brought a positive and warm energy to the classroom, and to this day has a special way of making those around her feel comfortable and supported.  My favorite example of Heather's commitment to her dance occurred when she performed in the 2014 "The Spice of Life" show... 9 months pregnant!  She was dedicated to giving her best possible performance and to being there for her fellow Company members, and then barely a month after giving birth was right back with us in the studio.   Seeing Heather's love for belly dance and for the community at Saffron is remarkable, and continues to be an inspiration to us all.  - Elena Faye