A graduate of Saffron's Teacher Training program, Dona is a powerhouse of infectious energy and good vibrations. You'll find her here at the studio teaching O1 and O2 classes, as well as her heart-pumping Shimmy Shakedown classes. When not teaching, she continues honing her skills as a member of Maqsoum Student Company and Saffron Dance Company. Recently we had a chance to chat with Dona to learn a bit more about her life, both in and out of the studio.
How did you first discover belly dance? What were your initial thoughts?
I saw owner and creative director Saphira, dancing down Wilson Blvd to the beat of the local high school drum line, at Clarendon's Mardi Gras parade! She was (and IS) ethereal in her movements and I just knew I HAD to study with her!!
Why have you stuck with belly dance for so long? What keeps you coming back?
There are infinite ways to continue to be challenged in this art form, so the learning and growth is never ending PLUS it is genuinely the nicest most empowering group of women I've ever met!!
How has teaching changed your relationship to the dance?
I feel like I can see people's confidence and bodies changing all for the better. It's made me even more committed to and in love with Saffron.
When did you know you wanted to teach belly dance? Was the transition from student to teacher difficult?
I knew when Saphira told me she felt I was ready, and I have complete faith in her assessments. It was challenging because the pedagogy at Saffron is precise, and to embody that takes time and practice.
Who are your biggest artistic inspirations?
My teachers, Saphira, Elena Faye, & past Saffron faculty who've since moved on to the international arena full time.
Aside from belly dance, what do you do to stay active?
I'm certified to teach barre and Shimmy Shakedown at Saffron which I love. My go-to activities are yoga and barre as they're low-impact but also huge challenges.
Tell us about your leading man. What are his thoughts on your belly dancing?
He's learned that it's all or nothing :) Meaning this is a part of who I am! AND he's bonded with the other dancers' signifcant others and they all have a blast when they're together!
Embarrasing performances. We all have 'em. What's your most memorable performance faux pas?
FORGETTING MY CUE TO GO BACK ON STAGE!!! I made it through one run-through of a show and forgot the second!! In the edited videos I look like Waldo; there's Dona, no Dona, oh wait there she is again!
What's your day job? Do your coworkers know you teach and perform belly dance?
I'm a psychotherapist so mental health and physical heath are HUGE parts of my belief system and the way I do my work. Some colleagues do know and have even come to shows!
Aside from dance what other hobbies keep you busy?
I love to cook and explore new places. Finding good food is also at the top of my hobbies list ;-)
Just for fun: what TV shows are currently top of your list?
Veronica Mars, Suits, & any good network show!
Lastly, tell us one fun fact about you that people may not know :-p
I speak 4 languages.