Leilah Moon is a professional belly dancer for hire. Her dance explores modern Egyptian cabaret, and she dabbles in other styles as well. Her style ranges from to folkloric Saidi to modern Egyptian to theatrical fusion, but anything with a strong drumbeat gets her hips going! Leilah began teaching bellydance in the winter of 2013/2014 and currently teaches classes and runs the performance team at Rendezvous studio in Rockville. You can catch her performing regularly at venues throughout the DC area including Pasha Land restaurant in Gaithersburg and Tarab Lounge in Falls Church. You can learn more about Leilah Moon on her website or Facebook.
What style of dance do you consider yourself?
I would consider myself primarily an Egyptian Cabaret style bellydancer, but I love me some shaabi.
What styles of dance are you trained in and perform?
I am trained in and perform Raqs Sharqi, Shaabi, and a little Khaleegy based on my current clientele and venues. Over the years, I have dabbled with many different forms of dance (both oriental and western). As a beginner bellydancer, I tried on styles like they were costumes and was blessed to study with many different teachers in the Baltimore/DC metro area. I started out taking tribal fusion classes but quickly realized that fusion is at it’s best when a dancer is fully trained in one style before adding additional elements in, so I decided to focus on that luscious Egyptian style.
How long have you been teaching?
Not long! I began teaching over the winter of 2013/14 in Baltimore, and was hired at Rendezvous in Rockville just about a year ago when I moved closer to DC.
I know that you were dancing at Susquehanna University but when did you start dancing?
Correct, I did start my bellydance journey as a founding member of the Susquehanna University Bellydance Circle my freshman year of college, but returning home for every holiday and summer break, I sought out formal bellydance instruction in my hometown within the first couple months that I started.
What was the biggest benefit of dancing in college?
The biggest benefit to dancing in college was the series of the lasting friendships I made with other young women from my college group, some of whom I still occasionally dance with today in Zaida Rising Dance Collective. Not to mention, having a creative outlet that made me feel good about my body was a huge source of stress relief.
What was the biggest adjustment from college to dancing professionally?
It’s not as if I went straight into dancing professionally once I graduated. I did enter the corporate world to pursue a career in marketing/content writing as I continued my dance education. The biggest adjustment is in the way in which I take care of my body. My body is my livelihood now, so it is important to maintain good eating, sleeping, grooming, and exercise habits for both my health and professional image.
When did you decide to pursue professional dancing as a career?
Performing professionally was always something that I had dreamed of, but it seemed like a pipe dream until the past few years when I decided to really push and dedicate myself to the craft. I’ve had encouragement from highly respected dancers and personal dance mentors/teachers of mine. It was now or never since I’m still pretty young and there’s opportunity here in DC. I’m still definitely in the start-up stages of a professional dance career, but my goal is to be a full-time professional dancer with a traveling workshop schedule by the time I turn 28.
How did you decide you were ready to start teaching?
To be honest, I was very apprehensive when I started teaching. There’s always always more to learn, and while I was confident in my knowledge base and my ability to communicate how movements should feel and how the musculature works, I feel like you can never definitively say “I am ready”. Self-doubt might actually be crucial to being a good teacher. After 5 years of performing and doing my research, I just made up my mind that I would give it a try and either fall flat on my face or succeed and here I am, so I guess I’m doing alright.
Biggest tip to new teachers or those thinking of starting to teach?
Consider your reasons for teaching and whether you can offer instruction that provides something different or better than other teachers in your area. Make sure that you have a mentor that can be honest about your technical abilities and chances of success. Teach only what you know.
Second biggest tip… always bring back-up music and a back-up lesson plan. I learned this the hard way.
Any upcoming shows for you or your troupe?
I perform weekly at public venues in the DC area so I always have something coming up, but I also am delighted to present my students at our holiday hafla on Saturday December 19th, as well as our upcoming student showcase/1 year anniversary show on March 12th, 2016. The Raqs Rendezvous program has grown so much in just this year and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.