There is something very relaxing about meeting up with friends after a long day to dance your hearts out... -Stacey

Name | Laurie (Laila)

Occupation | Department of Justice Account Leader for Ernst & Young

How long have you been at Saffron? One and a half years.

Why Belly Dance? I went to high school in the Middle East and have such fond memories. While there, I fell in love with the music and dance, and it has always stuck with me ever since.   

How did you find Saffron Dance and what keeps you coming back? I reached a point in life where I felt as if I was taking care of everyone but me. In an effort to focus on the things I enjoy, I put together a “40 before 40” list of what I wanted to do before turning 40. Taking a bellydance class made the cut, and it was one of the first items that I took on. I signed up for a Crash Course with Malek, and I’ve been hooked ever since. There is so much about Saffron Dance that I love. Being around so many amazing women helps me be the strong and confident person that I want to be. Dance is such an empowering activity. I enjoy getting the heart rate going, engaging my mind, and of course listening to the music. I love the variety that I’m able to get as well. Taking Persian with Annie over the winter was such a great experience, and I’m completely obsessed with all things Tribal thanks to Jenna. A highlight for me has been learning from Saphira and traveling with her and the group to Morocco. That trip cemented my love for the art and provided me a greater appreciation for what being part of Saffron has brought to my life.

What were your thoughts after your first class? I remember leaving and being hungry for more.

Can you speak a bit about your experience in Student Company and working closely with faculty and fellow dancers? Keika has been my dance mom. I took my first technique class with her, and she later convinced me to join an Oriental 1 performance group. I was overjoyed when I found out that I’d get to continue to work with her in Malfouf Student Company. It is such a great group, and I enjoy getting to spend the year together working towards the goal of being completely in sync by performance time.

How she inspires us |  Laurie first showed up in my class at Saffron Dance, because she wanted to learn to belly dance as one of her "40 before 40" life goals. She thought that she would take a class, check it off her list, and then move on. I'm delighted that things didn't play out that way! She found a passion for the dance that stuck, and she continued to make it a priority in her life. In addition to performing with Malfouf on the big stage multiple times, she now has a solo performance under her coin belt, and has travelled to Morocco to study with her Saffronita sisters. These are huge accomplishments.

Laurie is a very giving individual, always calm and collected, a guiding light to those around her. She is committed to her fellow Student Company members and goes above and beyond her role as Rehearsal Captain to ensure that everyone knows the choreography and gets the attention that they need. I can see the love that Laurie has for this art form in her face when she dances. It makes her a delight to watch.  I am honored to work with her as a choreographer and instructor, and learn from her as a peer and fellow Saffronita. To Laurie!