You can come to belly dancing with no prior dance and learn a fun and enjoyable dance. -Grace

Saffronita of the Month: July

  • by Elena Faye
  • Jul 01, 2017

Name | Sandra

Occupation | Retired Federal Government Employee

Why bellydance Why not?! I’ve had this discussion with several Saffronitas closer to my age, and we have concluded that we are not “normal”. Fine by me. I dance because it is FUN; because it is a vigorous yet gentler-on-the-joints exercise that challenges my body and brain in new and strategic ways. 

How long have you been at Saffron?  I took my first class in 2009! A friend told me about a dance studio named a best new Arlington small business; she put on her hip scarf and some amazing music, demonstrated a twisty shimmy, and invited me to try out her “40 and Over” class with Saphira. I was intrigued.

How did you find Saffron Dance, and what keeps you coming back? I was “sold” after my first class, honestly. I took classes for exercise before I retired, but post retirement focused more intently on learning the dance by joining Student Companies and increasing my class load and variety. The quality of the teaching and the dedication of the faculty to the students are key for me, as is the engagement with a varied group of interesting, creative, smart women. Dancing also keeps me motivated to continue with my weight and cardio training. Who knew silk veils were so heavy!

What were your thoughts after your first class?  I giggled! It was different from anything I had ever done. I knew I wanted to pursue this activity. I remember seeing a pile of papers accidentally left behind by Saphira and sneaking a peak at the content. It was a detailed and structured vision for a dance curriculum and program from stem to stern. I was impressed by Saphira’s vision, ambition and focus, and by her ability to draw similarly driven and impressive teachers and dancers to Saffron Dance. 

Can you speak a bit about your experience in Student Company and working closely with faculty and fellow dancers?  I’ve met lovely women who share this dance “bug” and made some good friends along the way. I believe that combining progressively challenging performance opportunities with solid technique instruction yields a better, happier, and more enduring dancer. Company classes and practices are interesting, fun, occasionally frustrating, but ultimately satisfying as the instructor and dancers develop and hone choreography. Each Company Director brings something unique and valuable that I have tried to incorporate into my study of this beautiful and deceptively challenging dance form. 

Any other comments you want to add on your belly dance experience and future goals | I recall Elena asking me during a Mexico Raqs Retreat why I wanted to study this dance. One might wonder why a mature woman with little dance experience would Belly Dance. One of the things that impressed me about Saffron Dance and its faculty was that a woman would be able to pursue this dance form as a career. The conviction and courage of these professional dancers was truly a revelation! If you have any doubt about that courage, look no further than Saphira’s dance studio vision; the recent and stunningly spectacular professional production, “Elegant Universe”; or the creative and entertaining dance performances by Saffron students at Performance Development Circles. To be able to to learn this dance here and now is a gift I continue to give myself.

How she inspires us | One of the things I treasure about Saffron is that it is a place where women from all stages of life converge.  Our studio is home to high school & college students, working professionals, mothers, grandmothers, and retirees - something that not every dance school can say.  Sandra is an example of the many women who have sought out belly dance later in life as a way to challenge themselves and do something purely for them.  As we know, learning a new skill can be harder later in life, so I am especially inspired when I see mature women stepping out of their comfort zones and pushing themselves and their bodies in new ways.  I have watched Sandra's progress over the past several years, and the amount of dedication and love that she has poured into her dance has always been apparent.  From her participating in serveral of our international Raqs Retreat intensives, to her Student Company membership and her dilligent work in private lessons, Sandra puts both her head and heart into her studies.  And while she may wear a serious face in class, the joy bubbles out each time she performs on stage.  It is in these moments that you can see all her hard work pay off, and that she becomes an inspiration not only for me, but for everyone watching her shine on stage.  - Elena Faye