Interview with Gaby from Studio Rakhshanda – Cochabamba, Boliva
1. How long have you been belly dancing?
I started in 2005, going to take classes to my first teacher’s house at night, starting this “Belly Dance Romance” and checking all the information that I could find in the internet.
2. How did you get into belly dancing?
By accident I think. I was teaching dance to children in some organization to help them with their subjects in school and other artistic education; when my boss asked me if I wanted to take classes of belly dance in her house…. I didn’t have money, so she gave me classes for free. In my first class I felt and i knew that Belly dance , it was that I had been looking for to do it the rest of my life…
3. How often do you teach and perform?
At the moment , I teach 4 days a week, and each day I pass 4 or 5 hours. About performing we try to perform in every special date, holiday or opportunity that we have. Also every three months we made it to the haflas in connection with other countries.’s
4. What belly dance artists inspire you?
So many, in my first years of learning I was so inspired by Ansuya, Sadie, Suhaila Salimpour, Bozenka,Didem, Aziza and Orit. But a few years later I fell in love of tribal style of Rachel Brice ( you know that I have pictures of her in my Studio),Maxime Astorga, Mardi Love,Ariellah, Zoe Jakes, the mezmer society, Sharon Kihara and Morgana. in this last years I met ( not in person) Ju Marconato , Angeles Cayunao, Amir Thaleb, Saida, Oscar Flores, Alika Hannan, Omaris, Paula Lena and Natalia Fadda. But if I have to choose just 3 of those beautiful dancers I will take Nesrin Topkapi, Samia Gamal and Nagwa Fouad.
5. Can you tell us about your local performance venues?
Now in Cochabamba, there aren’t many places like in other countries to perform this dance. There are theaters, and some restaurants that you can choose from. We dance where we get invited to. Places like bars, restaurants, other Dance Schools, in the street, in cultural festivals, artistic parties, in squares, etc. we just love the chance to perform!!
6. What is your favorite belly dance style? Why?
I really really like Classical Belly Dance like from the old movies up to the 80′s (I was so fantastic about ancient Egyptian history, culture and movies} I also like the different fusions that modern belly dancers have made like Gipsy fusion, spanish, Burlesque TRibal, balkan style, those are so much fun! I looove folk style influenced belly dance like Reda’s troupe and Farida Fahmy or Kamal Al Bayati. I also like the turkish style belly dancing it so feminine, so fast and passionate and so beautiful.
7. Can you describe the popularity of belly dancing in your country?
In Bolivia, the belly dance movement is increasing and the people know about us. we have big Belly dance Schools from La Paz, Tarija, Sucre, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. and all are in contact to continue growing so I think in a few years we will have national tours of our dancers!!! (always positive)
8. What are some challenges you face with the dance form in Bolivia, and how do you overcome them?
Here in Bolivia, we are “dancer people”, we have like 30 or 40 folk dances, so in every festivity you can see different performs and people enjoy to see always something new… so Belly Dance form has been well accepted in these last years. Sadly, at the same time we have also the misconception that the Belly dance is like an exotic dance that women use to seduce men and show some sensual movements with a sexy costume but this the general overview is changing now because the level and the technique is improving every year and the people take notice that we are a serious community of dancers that we want to share with everybody.
9. How did belly dance affect and/or change your life?
I think the dance grew with me since I was a child, starting with ballet and spanish dance;watching my mother how she expressed the dance in her body and soul and how she could make me feel this different sensations when she performed. I ‘ve always felt this fascination about the people and the different stories from “one thousand nights”that I read when I was 8, the music from movies at the 40′s and 50′s showing this different environment and those mysterious powerful women. At school I always chose Egypt, Persia, Libya, or other countries to present it in class… it was so obvious that belly dance would become in my way of expressing myself….
but there was a time that I lost this connection with my family and my dance …. and I got depressed and became a very negative “no future” girl. So when I started to learn Belly dance I found myself again, and it took me to my Road again, I think Belly dance saved me and made a better person. change my way to see the life and gave me so beautiful things like friends, travels, jobs, experiences, brothers and sisters and it continues giving me so many surprises!!! ….
10. Any dance plans for the future?
Well, I’ll always always keep learning and improving…as a person, a dancer and a choreographer …. I feel that my belly dance education is halfway there, but I have all my life to continue….