Ebony is a professional belly dance artist with a passion for teaching and performing both traditional and fusion styles. Ebony’s playful and sharing spirit flavors both her performances and her approach to over 14 years of teaching belly dance. A combination of strong technique, musicality, and innovation are the foundations of her colorful dance presence. Ebony has taught and performed throughout Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. She has toured internationally with the world famous Bellydance Superstars and Bellydance Evolution and has performed in and choreographed for Zoe Jake’s House of Tarot. A founding instructor of Sahara Dance – Washington DC’s Center for Middle Eastern Dance, her students describe her as “approachable” and her classes as “fun” and “challenging”. She teaches weekly classes in both traditional and urban fusion formats and has choreographed for Raqs Sahara, Sahara Tribal, Raqs Caravan West, Raqs Caravan East, and has directed both Raquettes ShimmyPop and Raqs Caravan Urban. To learn more about Ebony visit her website.
First time you saw bellydance?
I believe that I hadn’t seen any belly dancing until I started taking classes at a studio here in Washington, DC. My first belly dance teacher, Laurel Victoria Gray was the first to expose me to eastern movement. I thought it was lovely, feminine and graceful.
How did you get started?
I started taking belly dance classes because I needed an extra curricular activity. I needed something fun to do after work besides just hit the gym. It was a toss up between belly dance or flamenco class. Belly dance won and I’ve been hooked ever since. I started taking weekly classes and eventually expanded my practice to several times a week and included workshops with master teachers.
I continue to belly dance because I love the way it gives women an avenue to express ourselves and our sensuality in whatever way we choose. I’m hooked on the community and the friends that I continue to make through this art. I mostly do it because it’s fun and challenging. It’s inspiring to know that there’s still so much for me to learn, that I can keep growing, whether I’m learning about the cultures that this art originates from or learning dances that are new to me.
Why do you dance?
I dance as a way to express my creativity, my personality, and my gratitude. I feel that dancing is one method that I can use to elevate my mental and physical well being. I also do it because I love sharing this dance and helping others find their own voice in dance.
Donna Mejia said something really important in a workshop I recently took with her. She said that wherever you are in your dance is where you’re supposed to be, and not to let anyone make you feel that you’re ‘less than’. I agree with her. I think it’s strengthening to have goals and aspirations, but balancing our inner self critic is really crucial so that we don’t impede our own joy or progress.
Anything inspiring you lately?
I really want to get deep into some beladi. Hahaha! I’m really feeling the juicy earthiness of that style and think I have something to express there. But, I’m not well versed in the style and am looking to expand myself in that direction.
What’s up next?
My home studio, Sahara Dance, has just started the Winter session of classes, so I’m there multiple days a week teaching both traditional and fusion styles. I also have workshops coming up this year in Osaka, Bali and the west coast of the US.
More information on classes?
You can take weekly classes with me in Washington, DC at saharadance.com.
My instragram feed is a lot of fun, too, though not necessarily all dance. Find me at “ebonydances”.
Photo Credit in Order
2.) Photo by Stereo Vision Photography