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EDUCATION: B.A. in math & Latin; Master of Arts in Teaching in Latin and classical humanities; Virginia DOE certified teacher; AFAA Group Fitness Instructor; SharQui the Bellydance Workout Instructor; countless hours of studying with local, national, and international dance artists.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? As a kid I often "played school," but I was also drawn to the performing arts through involvement in music, movement and theater productions.
CAREER HISTORY: Having been a dedicated belly dance student for over five years, I was encouraged by one of my dance instructors, Scheherazade of Richmond, to take the next step and become a professional performer. In the fall of 2007 everything fell into place. I was confident about my performance abilities, and there were jobs available. Quickly I had a busy schedule, with multiple performances every weekend. After intensive training in Egyptian folkloric dance styles, Middle Eastern music, and becoming a certified fitness instructor, I started teaching belly dance classes in Fredericksburg. I have now logged well over 300 solo performances and have been teaching weekly classes for almost three years.
FIRST JOB: My first solo job as a professional belly dancer was at a wedding reception in Richmond.
WORST JOB: I honestly can't come up with anything I would call the "worst." I get to dance at so many fun, happy events! I guess performing outside on slippery wet grass for a graduation party was not my favorite experience.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR JOB? I perform regularly in Gainesville and also in Richmond, so I have put many, many miles on my car for this job. Having a chauffeur would be lovely!
WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOUR A MENTOR EVER GAVE YOU? One of my professors gave me the following career advice, "Figure out what you love to do, then find a way to make money doing it."
HAVE YOU EVER WORKED WITH A NOTABLE PERSON OR CELEBRITY? IF SO, WHO? On March 16, I performed in a dance show that featured the Bellydance Superstars, an internationally known touring group. They may not be notable to the general public, but they certainly are certainly famous in the belly dance world.
WHAT BUSINESS BOOK DO YOU RECOMMEND THE MOST AND WHY? Honestly, I don't think there's one book that is going to fit every business. Instead, I recommend thoroughly researching your particular field. Books are great, but connecting with other business owners who have been successful through the ups and downs of the economy and genre trends is even better.
CAN YOU SHARE A WEIRD FUN FACT ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION THAT WE MIGHT NOT KNOW? This style of dance is actually called, "Raks Sharqi," meaning "Dance of the East" or "Oriental Dance." During the Victorian era, the (literally) strait-laced, corseted Westerners were so mesmerized by the hip and torso articulations and flexibility of the Middle Eastern dancers that they dubbed it "belly dance." They took a folkloric-based dance performance art with a rich history and reduced it to one area of the body!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS RIGHT NOW? Make sure you really love what you are doing. You will be investing your time, money, heart, and soul!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO BE DOING WHEN NOT WORKING? Driving to work. Ha!
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? I have a long list, but I would at least like to triple the number of students in my classes and host dance workshops in Fredericksburg. Traveling to the Middle East is a priority, too.
WHO WOULD YOU RATHER SPEND TIME WITH, WARREN BUFFETT, DORIS BUFFETT OR JIMMY BUFFETT? Doris Buffett. Her website explains that her Sunshine Lady Foundation is "helping battered women, sick children, and at-risk kids who otherwise would never have had the chance to go to college." While I don't have her millions to donate, I am hosting a "donations only" belly dance class with all proceeds going to Fredericksburg's Hope House. This will take place on April 15 at 3 p.m. at Babaganoush (on U.S. 1 in the Eagle Village shops). I hope this is the first of many such events.
--As told to Craig Schulin
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