Name or Dance Name | Rachael aka Razilee
Occupation | Agricultural Economist with the USDA
Why bellydance? I've enjoyed dancing and music from a young age. My mom put me in ballet classes at 2 and from there I went on to learn several instruments (and you can usually find me being a spaz on the dance floor).
There's something about music that just speaks to me. Belly dancing seemed like a great way to learn a new form on music and dance style. I also admired the confidence and grace the belly dancers project and wanted to find that within myself as well.
How long have you been at Saffron? I took my first class in December 2013.
How did you find Saffron Dance, and what keeps you coming back? I joined a meetups group for women in their 20s and 30s when I moved to the area and one outing was belly dancing; the cost was $20. I remember thinking that I've spent $20 on worse things and to just see what it's like. Two and a half years and thousands of dollars later - I'm a belly dancer.
What were your thoughts after your first class? Saphira taught the intro class I took and during the class she said that people usually either feel really good or very uncomfortable their first time dancing. I felt pretty good, it was great to dance again, so I decided to stalk the Saffron website and signed up for the next Crash Course that was available.
Can you speak a bit about your experience in Student Company and working closely with faculty and fellow dancers? I've been in two Student Companies, Chiftitelli and Ayoub. Both afforded me the opportunity to grow my dance and to be a part of a micro-community within the Saffron community. That being said, I'm very excited to be dancing with Samai this coming year! One of the things I really enjoy about Saffron is the caliber of its faculty. They are all well versed in different styles of dance and bring their own unique flavor to the dances we learn. The ability to work one or one or in small groups with the faculty is something that has afforded me the opportunity to grow my dance exponentially. Without Saffron I would not have met the wonderful people that make up the Saffron community - dancers, teachers, volunteers. Not only are they great dancers, but they're great people and it's evident in the friendships that I've formed with many of them. It's quite special to be in a room full of people who you are friends with and to grow and change together. It can be quite magical.
Saffron has been a great place to safely grow as a person. It's like when you're a kid and you plag tag, but there's that safe base. Saffron is my safe base. I come to learn and grow without the distractions of life outside its walls. Everyone at Saffron is there to grow with you and to give you a boost when you need it.
One of the pleasures of training dancers is being a part of their unique journeys, and one of the most exciting things is to witness a student grow from complete beginner to budding soloist. In Rachael's case, she dove into her dance as if she had been dancing her whole life, taking on the challenge of creating a solos, participating in and helping with the coordination of community haflas, and even designing and making costuming. Her enthusiasm for this dance is noticed not only here at Saffron, but also within the regional community. Earlier this year, she took her hard work and artistry outside of the DC area and earned the title of Rising Star at the East Coast Classic belly dance competition in Hampton, VA, and has continued to pursue solo performance opportunities at various local events. We are so proud that this talented student calls Saffron Dance home, and are excited to see all of the wonderful and beautiful ways she expresses herself in her dance.