Kelebek is widely known for her emotional performances and stage presence, as well as her technique and stunning, original costuming. Her overall style combines American Cabaret and Modern Tribal with Hip hop, Latin, and Burlesque; which create fantastic fantasy performances. She performs as four distinct personas ranging from Cabaret fusion to Tribal fusion. She can be seen performing at events throughout the Northeast in addition to her home states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition to her continuous studies, performing, and teaching, Kelebek designs custom belly dance clothing and accessories. She has a shop on Etsy where you can place orders for original, character inspired items. To view Kelebek’s teaching and performance schedule please visit kelebekfusion.com.
First time you saw dance?
Growing up in Brooklyn New York, I always saw street performers dancing in the park, at the entrances of subways or local buildings. I believe I was around 7 years old, I was sitting on my front stoop watching performers at our neighborhood block party, there were several dance groups performing. Most of the groups performed break dancing routines, but one dancer came dressed ready for the stage in a beautiful leotard with matching top and legwarmers. Her modern dance routine was so vibrant to me. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I cannot remember the song she danced to, but I remember her movements and being so jealous of her awesome (1980s) outfit.
First time you saw bellydance?
The first time I saw authentic belly dance was in NYC at a day of dance event. The perfomance was called “The legendary Nourhan Sharif.” I just happen to find out about it while eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation on the subway. I am so glad I attended that show.
How did you get started?
I have my mother to thank for me getting started with my studies. The two of us were going through very rough times in our lives back in 2006 and neither one of us felt any drive. The stress of my chronic health issues and Graduate School left me in a deep depression. She was still missing my father who had died in 2002. She heard about Belly dance classes for Senior citizens (she was in her mid 60s at the time) and wanted to know if I would be interested. Unfortunately, the classes were more than 2 hours from my house so I declined. She encouraged me to look for classes closer to my area in New Jersey. I put it on the back burner for a month to concentrate on my finals. To help relieve some of the stress I was feeling, I scheduled a massage appointment at a Wellness Studio called Body Encounters. While waiting for my masseuse, I saw a sign advertising a 2 hour Intro to Belly dance workshop. There were two dates, I chose the later. When I returned home after the workshop, I emailed the instructor immediately and asked about local classes. Then I went online and bought my first pieces of belly dance gear, 3 CDs, and a book. I started classes five days later with the workshop instructor on Thursday nights. A month later, I signed up for Egyptian Cabaret lessons on the weekends with another instructor.
As a child, I grew up in very rough neighborhoods. Sometimes, it was safer to play indoors. I always immersed myself in the world of fantasy and dance. I always took dressing up to a whole different level. I put on shows by myself all the time because I genuinely enjoy entertaining people. Incorporating that love of cosplay and fantasy with bellydance is a dream come true for me.
In addition, in my personal opinion, Belly dance IS one of the most elegant, powerful, and confident forms of dance there is. Whenever, I am dancing, regardless of the music, costume, or style, I always feel my most beautiful and confident.
Why do you dance?
For me, dance is not a hobby. It is an enormous part of my life. It is my primary form of exercise (a minimum of four days a week), my social outlet, my stress reliever, my connection to the world, my connection to other women, and most importantly-my connection to myself. I do not think I truly discovered who I was until I started belly dancing. Dancing has also increased my creativity and motivation in other areas. I learned how to sew, knit, and make jewelry at a young age. However, I never pursued them until I starting dancing. I love being able to create costumes and pieces based on dance inspiration.
My advise to new dancers:
1.) Try to avoid emulating your teacher. Learn the proper technique. Take notes on their mannerisms and stage presence, but be yourself. When you dance people should see you and your personality, not a replicate of someone else.
2.) It is important to establish good habits early on, dedicate yourself to a disciplined practice routine from the very beginning. Doing so will only help you go further in this form of art.
Anything inspiring you lately?
As I am approaching my 40th birthday, I have recently become inspired to reconnect with my Caribbean heritage. I am exploring dancing to more retro music with Latin-American and West-Indian flare. Particularly Calypso, Merengue, Reggae, and Reggaeton. I look forward to showing people my roots.
My work as a scientist has also blossomed and that has inspired me to work that into my costumes. Starting this year, and going into 2018, my costumes will reach new heights.
What’s up next?
I have been a soloist for more than 8 years. I am excited to do more collaborations in the coming year. I have been receiving requests to teach more workshops (I only teach 2-3 a year), particularly on the topics such as character development, improvisation, and feather fan dancing. I plan on upping that number to 5 this year and hopefully 6-10 next year.
Watch out for more performances outside of the tri-state area as well. I am elated at all the opportunities I have before me.
More information on classes?
I teach a mixed level class on Monday evenings and a Saturday drills class. All of my classes are taught in Berlin, New Jersey. I am also available for private lessons. More information is available on my website: www.Kelebekfusion.com
- Photo by Stereo Vision Photography
- Photo by Carl Sermon Photography
- Photo by Pixie Vision Photography
- Photo by The Dancer’s Eye