Interview with Bellydancer Ashley Rhianne

Ashley3What sparked your interest in bellydance?

I saw my first bellydancer at age 14. It was at a goddess fair in Langley.  Being a Bohemian hippy teen, I was super inspired and wanted to learn how to dance like those women.  I had studied ballet for several years and then jazz dance, and bellydance was something totally different and up my alley.

I had also been fascinated by Egypt since I was little, and the music seemed to touch a chord deep inside me.  I started to look around White Rock, where I grew up, for classes. And I came across a teacher named Nahida who had danced in Egypt. I started taking her classes in 1995, and the rest is history!

Was dance and performance part of your upbringing? 

I was a natural performer since pretty much from the time I could walk.  My parents and younger sisters don’t dance, but my father loves to perform and be on stage.  He was often organizing lip sync contests at his work where he was the lead singer, and was quite addicted to karaoke for a while!  My paternal grandmother was a dancer and danced pretty much up to her death at 85.  I definitely take after her.  She was one of the brightest sparks I ever knew.

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Dance- there are so many strengths to it…

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“Dance- there are so many strengths to it, beyond the superficial, that people don’t know about.  I think that dance is such an internal thing.  I think it feeds the soul in such a way that it stems from this passion but also from our experiences.  And the things that we’ve gone through, the things that we have on our minds, are pushed out and energized into the world through a movement.  Sometimes I watch people perform, and you can tell they’ve really BEEN somewhere.  And I don’t know where that somewhere is, and I don’t always NEED to know where that somewhere is.  But you connect to those people because you can see how much their dancing is driven by something really deep and rich and powerful.”

– Marc Kimelman