Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Profile on Belly Dancer, Anya!

My wonderful friend Andrea, aka Anya, is a successful, creative, professional belly dancer with a great little blog called Belly Belly Yeah. Her blog gives insight into the world of a belly dancer/belly dance instructor including the struggles, triumphs aaaaand… costumes! I’ve been really intrigued by the glamour and mystery of the whole thing, and this fine lady was kind enough to share a piece of her world with us. Be sure to read to the end to find out how you can learn to shake what your momma gave you, and where you can see Anya dance! You can also check out her website at

How did you start belly dancing, what does it mean for you?
I started dancing in the fall of 2004. A couple years earlier when Shakira hit it big time I was very intrigued that a woman's body could move with such fluidity and sensuality and wanted my body to be able to roll and undulate like that. I looked into it a bit more and found that belly dance can create those movements. In my very first class I fell in love!

For me, belly dance is the total expression of soul, love and culture. This is an ancient dance and art form that has been kept alive from generation to generation and has now spread all over the world.

What keeps you motivated?
My students are a huge motivating factor; I want to be the best teacher for them and create choreographies that push their limits, but also let them have fun as they explore.  Being able to share this dance with others is what makes it all worth while! I also have wonderful mentors who want to see me to succeed - having their support is priceless.

Fashion and costumes seem to play a large part in belly dancing. Why is it so important?
Like anything, you want to look good, and you want to feel comfortable. There are definite fashion trends, and the way costumes are constructed and styled has changed so much over the years. The most important thing for me is to make sure the costume is flattering on my body shape, that it reflects my dancing style and personality, and that I can dance without worrying that my bra is going to fall off!

Do the costumes have meaning behind them?
Some costumes can, especially if a dancer is performing a folkloric piece where the dress needs to be respectful and indicative of the region she is representing. Some costumes also hold great sentimental value - especially those that have been worn by a dancer's favorite dancer, or her mentor. I own a costume that belonged to my mentor Hadia and would have a very hard time ever selling it. I also had two costumes that were custom made for me by a Canadian designer, which I would have a very hard time parting with too.

Is makeup also a large part?
For sure - it completes the look. In order for our features to be seen on stage we have to really lay it on thick! Most dancers tend to do a smoky eye with liner although anything goes. We have to really play the part when it comes to appearance - it adds to the allure.

Where do you buy your costumes?
Many of my costumes are second, third or even fourth-hand costumes. Belly dancers love to rotate their closets to keep them new and exciting, so swapping is a way to do that while keeping the bills down. is a great belly dance forum that has a "belly dance swap meet" where dancers can buy and sell costumes from each other. I'm also very lucky to have a body twin in Toronto, and we swap costumes quite often. I also purchase them online through or

How would you describe your style when you’re not dancing?
It's pretty casual, and I like to keep it simple. I usually wear dark, fitted jeans and t-shirts with cardigans or sweaters. I always wear bangles and love big dangly earrings. And as soon as it's warm enough, the dresses come out!

Is there a large belly dancing community in Edmonton?
Absolutely! It's gotten quite big over the last couple of years, which is exciting, but also provides competition to make sure we're stepping up our game and offering our best.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
My job revolves around being creative and self motivated. If I don't practice, I'm not going to get any better, if I'm in a creative rut there's not a whole lot I can do to fix that. You have to ride out until the next wave of inspiration or motivation hits sometimes.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being able to look back at old performances and say WOW I've gotten better, or when I finally get a move or choreography that I've been busting my ass over.  I also love watching my students progress and see them find their inner dancer.

Can we take lessons from you?
Yes please! You can check my website at
I teach an eight-week session in the spring starting May 1 and a six-week session in the summer starting July 7.

Where can we see you perform?
I regularly perform at It's All Greek (10127 100A street, Edmonton, 780.425.2073) - just make reservations, and ask if Anya is available. If I am, I'll be there!  I also often get hired for private events like weddings, stagettes, birthdays, company parties, and other special events.

What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about belly dancing?
That it has nothing to do with harems and genies, pleasing your husband, or stripping. It's an amazing, ancient art form that is fun, challenging, completely beautiful and accessible to all regardless of age, weight, or previous dance experience.


  1. Very interesting... beautiful pictures, and great interview!!



  2. Anonymous4/16/2010

    Really enjoyed the interview Anya and love the pics. You rock girl!
    Nancy :)

  3. I must admit I was a little nervous when I purchased this but It fits perfectly and it is absolutely stunning I received so many compliments on this as I went out. It is way more than I expected!!!
    I love it. I would recommended to purchase bra at


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