Get to Know a Bellydancer: Heather Labonté

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Name

I’m Heather Labonté

Where are you from?

I’m from St. John’s, Newfoundland and now living in downtown Toronto!

Astrological Sign?

Libra– and even though I don’t pay too much mind to astrology, I definitely fit the bill. I hate conflict and love fairness, I work well in partnerships, and I’m a born strategist. Like a typical Libra, I’m a slave to anything beautiful.

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

I am with the Dark Side Studio, where I teach and direct the Student Troupe. And I’m just coming up on four years with Lavish Dance, under the direction of Audra Simmons.

I also love working as a soloist, and with other groups and partners when I get the chance. This past year I danced in a piece choreographed by Mira Betz at Tribal Massive, and collaborated on a really cool duet with Alexis Southall at Infusion Emporium.

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing for 18 years. I started with jazz, and later studied ballet, modern, hip hop and ballroom. Belly dance came a little later, and seven years ago I fell in love with tribal fusion. Some days I feel like I am just started, and other days I can’t even remember what my life was like before!

What is your favourite music?

Wow that’s a tough one! I had to circle around and finish the other questions before getting back to this one! I love everything from classical music to top 40. I love hip hop, middle eastern music, glitchy weird stuff, old country music. Everything! But I can tell you what my favourite song is today!

Favourite costume piece?

I make a lot of my own costume pieces, so a lot of them represent a lot of blood, sweat and tears. In general I like making belts best!

Your Vices?

Oh where to even start. I can be impatient, a control freak, and a perfectionist. I want everything now and I want it to be exactly right. Sometimes this leads me to be a little bit too hard on myself.

Your Virtues?

Some of the same qualities! I’m persistent, and I work hard. When it comes to dance, I definitely don’t consider myself a “natural” and so my stubbornness pay off there!

Upcoming project/event?

One of the most exciting things coming up for me this spring is The Lavish Project. Samantha Emanuel and Heather Stants are coming to The Dark Side Studio for the week, and Audra and I are going to make a show with them! It’s a unique concept, and I am so honoured to be working with these three women, who have all inspired me deeply in my own dancing!

Workshops happening between May 27 and June 1, with the gala show on Saturday, May 31.

Why bellydance?

I started belly dancing first as a high school student, and came back when I was 20. I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted. It answered a lot of questions for me, some of which I hadn’t even thought to ask yet. Besides the physical challenge, it felt like a key to a new world filled with these unbelievable women who were stunning, graceful, stylish, and smart. I was instantly drawn to the tribal fusion aesthetic, which embodied everything I found beautiful and strong.

The dance itself was nothing like I’d ever tried. It made me feel powerful and expressive. Although it didn’t come easily, I loved how my body looked and felt. That was a new feeling for me. I wanted to dance all the time, to practice and grow. I wanted to make dances and perform my work. I also wanted to share what I’d learned and bring something that made me so happy into the lives of other women.

So… belly dance because, in my life, becoming a woman and becoming a belly dancer are inextricably linked.

Who inspires you?

My mom and sister – They are superheroes to me who are hilarious, supportive, and fierce. They run a super successful business, and honestly just kill it all the time. They’re role models for me.

My teacher and dance partner, Audra – She has given me so much over the past five years, in terms of knowledge, friendship and so much more.She inspires me daily as an artist and teacher!

This could become a pretty lengthy list, but that’s a good start!

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