“Mother Daughter Duo” from San Diego
Sep 15th, 2008 | By Diana Corpus| Category: Interviews with Famous Belly Dancers| from tE Magazine "Bellydance Divas"
I know some people in the belly dance community that are second and third generation belly dancers. Most of them find a career in this beautiful art form. Zaira who is part of the “Mother Daughter Duo” from San Diego passed on this tradition to her daughter, Valeria. In an intimate interview, Zaira reveals how belly dance changed her life and how it helped form a strong bond between her daughter.
1. How and when did you start to belly dance?
I was introduced to the dance when I met my best friend and mentor. She is from Turkey so for her it is very natural to pick up the dishes after dinner, play some music and start dancing.
2. How long have you been belly dancing? I started taking lessons many years ago and tried different instructors they were all good, but I was too shy to get up and dance by myself. I thought I needed to be well trained or to have exceptional skills, but it wasn’t until I met my current teacher the beautiful Leilania that I started feeling comfortable dancing with a small audience and I started taking it seriously. I don’t consider myself “professional” belly dancer I do it because I love dancing and Leilainia helped me to enjoy performing and to have fun while dancing. I asked her once before my first performance “Leilania what if I make a mistake” and she said “You won’t make a mistake just have fun Zaira”. The best thing belly dance gave me is great friends that like to surround themselves with beautiful and talented people and every one of them have left a mark in our lives, never in my wildest dreams I thought I would see and experience so many magical nights, full of music and beauty that I cannot describe with words.
It also opened a door to my relationship with my daughter. Dancing with her is very special I feel I’m giving her a gift that she can pass on to her own children a gift that has no monetary value, but it will turn into an inheritance, a strong link between generations. Who knows? Maybe one day my great-great grand children will see our pictures dancing together and see the special bond between us.
3. How did your daughter Valeria get into belly dancing? I used to take her to my dance lessons, the first few classes she will just sit and watch until one day she got up and started dancing with us and asked me to enroll her in class with me and I did, ever since, she has loved to dance and perform.
4. What do you hope to accomplish through belly dance? I’ll give you a personal example about what I want to accomplish trough belly dance! I have a big scar on my belly and I was told that I should try to get it removed, I haven’t done it because it’s part of me it makes me unique it makes me who I am and when I dance with my belly uncovered I show it with pride, I don’t think about it and I know the audience does not see it they only see me dancing. I want to tell every woman to learn to love themselves before they love others I’m not talking about self center love no! I want girls like my daughter to love their imperfections to love their scars, freckles, dimples, molds birth marks to find beauty in them to release all the confidence and the beauty we are afraid to show to others. I want women in general to turn their weaknesses into strength and this dance lets you be strong, free and beautiful it is a dance where I’ll never be too old or to fat or too skinny to do it.
5. Can you tell me about your performances? Do you use props, if so which ones? Yes! I use veil and zills. Haa and I turn like a whirling dervish!!!
6. What would you tell someone who doesn’t know what belly dance is? I’ll tell them, come and join us! And also I’ll tell them to give it a try and forget all the misconceptions about this dance. I’ll tell them to learn about it because it is more than just a dance. I want people to know that this dance comes from countries where most women can’t even show their faces let along dance in public, work or receive an education and the only joy they have is to dance among themselves in hiding.
7. Have you performed to live music, if so which bands or drummers have you danced to? I have been fortunate to dance with Danyavaad and honor to have one song from Guitarmaggedon Greg Vangaugh specially written for me to dance to it for the first time on our debut show on February 2008. It’s a beautiful Spanish guitar song named Zaragoza.
8. How would you describe your dance style and why? A free gypsy soul, because I follow the music and what the music is telling me at that moment. Honestly I cannot remember choreographies. I love to dance and belly dance give’s me the freedom to express myself in a very feminine way. 9. What type of music is your favorite to dance to and why?
I like music with a lot of energy, I have a CD from Hozzam Ramsey named “Flamenco Arabe” it is a mix between Spanish guitar and Arabic drums. I love it I do identify a lot with that style of music.
10. Where and when do you perform? About how often do you perform? We have performed as part of Leilainia’s troupe at local art festivals, private events and their monthly Nomads show at Portugalia restaurant in Ocean Beach.
11. What advice would you give to people on the beautiful mother daughter relationship you have?
Give your children something they’ll remember you for. I made my daughter a promise when she was born, I promised I would always answer her questions as honestly as possible according with age, I also promised I would let her be whoever she wanted to be. I always told her how important she is in my life and how happy I was when I knew I was going to have a girl. I always told her she can do anything “the sky is the limit” and I’ll always be there for you. So if you want advice, I’ll tell you in our relationship Love, Trust, Confidence and Respect are only the beginning. The rest is easy!
INA : 2009 Award Winning Dancer Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition Veil
"For me going to Leilainia`s class is entering a different world.
Her class is one hour in a world where nothing else exists - just you and the dance.You forget everything bad that happened to you during the day. Leilainia taught me not only dance moves, she showed me a new way of expressing myself and feel beautiful inside and out. I`ve been going to her classes for over 3 years and still feel more excited waiting for the next class." Ina Dimitrova - Bellydancer of the Universe 2009 Veil Category
"I hired Leilainia to help me prepare for an audition and it was the best choice I could have made for my career and my art. Leilainia came in and immediately put me at ease with her sensitive and personable nature. She has an innate understanding of how to connect with her students and bring out their latent abilities. Using her intuitive awareness, she was able to tap into what I needed to develop my art further and spark the creative fire inside me. By the end of the hour I was dancing with passion, joy and immense pleasure. She guided me into making the shift between merely doing the moves into finding the depth, story and soul of the dance. I got the role I wanted and I know that Leilainia was a vital force in making that happen." ~Zoe Tantrum (of The Tragic Tantrum and Zoe Tantrum Productions)
Photo by Anthony Robertson
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