Get to Know a Bellydancer: Kaleena

Kaleena_25

Name

Kaleena

Where are you from?

Toronto

Astrological Sign?

Virgo

Who do you dance with (Soloist/Company/Studio affiliation)?

I’m working toward being a soloist and I’m equally passionate about troupe work. Currently, I’m in Evolution Dance Theatre’s dance ensemble.

I also dance with the Egyptian Dance Academy’s Folklore Troupe and have taken most of my classes at EDA, with pretty much every instructor but primarily: Nada El Masriya, Abigail and Emilia. I’m also taking Roula Said’s Level 3 and I train with Habeeba Hobeika when I can.

How long have you been dancing?

I started in September 2009. The classes were a birthday gift from my Mother since our birthdays are a day apart. For the first 2 years we were taking one class a week for fun and to spend time together.

What is your favourite music?

I actually really enjoy the Egyptian classics and Middle Eastern music in general from pop to instrumental but before my life as a belly dancer I used to be into metal/rock and alternative. I went to a lot of shows then too. I’ve been so submerged in belly dance that have no idea what’s going on in Western music anymore.

Favourite costume piece?

I like blingy necklaces and wear them all of the time.

Your Vices?

I’m partial to wine and/or beer, sweet stuff and fun.

Your Virtues?

I’m a hardworking student. For me, belly dance is an art form and a lifelong study.

I like supporting other dancers because we all work so hard and also, I want to give back to the community that has supported me and continues to help me get over extreme shyness and self consciousness issues. It feels good to do something I love so much and I couldn’t have made such huge leaps in my personal development without my (belly dance) friends.

Upcoming project/event?

Evolution Dance Theatre’s “Follow Your Heart”, will premiered May 8-11, 2014 at Harbourfront Fleck Dance Theatre. It’s a globally cast, multidisciplinary, Middle Eastern dance show. “Follow Your Heart” will have: innovative pieces, acting, original compositions, live musicians, cool effects via multimedia displays and many styles of dance from belly dance to hip hop.

This is a non-profit company and I lead the Marketing & Communications Department. It’s an easy job (when I’m not working my hips off!) because I really believe in it and think it will be a great show.

The Egyptian Dance Academy Folklore Troupe recently competed in Star Bellydancer Canada on February 9, 2014. These dancers are also my best friends and even though this event is in the past, I wouldn’t have wanted to experience this with anyone else! We’re a very close troupe (under the artistic direction of Abigail) and a “Get to Know Me” wouldn’t be complete without mentioning them!

I’m performing (solo) on February 22nd at Tattoo Rock Parlor for the Art Galleria Expo. Lots of cool artwork on silent auction, fashion show and great performers, including my colleague, Jaicyea. We both did this show back in October and it’s a blast!

I’ll be dancing Roula Said’s “Daret El Ayam” choreography at the Dragonfly Majlis on March 2nd.

Why bellydance?

Belly dance chose me. I wasn’t even all that into it at first but ever since my first chaine turn, and then realizing how good it felt to feel the music in my body, I felt a sense of freedom that I had never experienced before.

I like that belly dance’s roots are in improvisation and feeling the music. It’s a great way to unleash creativity spontaneously and have it seen instantly by an audience. I didn’t get that when my creative outlet was writing fiction.

Also, belly dancing totally brought out a more extroverted, girly side. I grew up as a tomboy and didn’t have that balance in my life.

Who inspires you?

Inspiration is everywhere. I’m definitely inspired constantly by my teachers, peers and the “greats” of past and present but lately I like spying on the beginner classes. I’m awestruck by their enjoyment in learning and having fun, even though they still look awkward. I remember being a beginner and not even realizing how weird my arms looked, and not even knowing what first position is. Now when I get frustrated that my posture isn’t perfect I shift to the beginner’s mentality and dance for the first and foremost reason I’m so addicted to this dance; the pure joy of it.

Unsolicited Advice

When you start with a new teacher, start by matching your feet with hers and continue all of the way up. Once you get used to the way your teacher moves and have the basic technique, start to look more at her expression. If the song is in Arabic, ask why she looked so happy, sad, etc. Belly dancing has a lot to do with the connection to the music. Even if you don’t know the words but you listen to the same song often, you find your own meaning. Expressing music through the body when you genuinely feel connected is the heart of this dance.

Also, learn the origins of your dance and study the rhythms that are relevant to your style. I spent a lot of time learning Egyptian folklore and being drilled on rhythms. It was frustrating at times (can I wear a pretty costume yet?) but I see now that it gave me the foundation to really dig in deep and and get to know this art form on a level that many don’t even know exists.

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