Nashita – it means energetic and full of life and was a birthday gift from my first bellydance teacher.
Where are you from?
I’m a Toronto girl. Okay, yes, I was raised in the suburbs but I knew I never really belonged there and ran screaming for the city at the first opportunity.
Well, in traditional astrology I’m a Scorpio, which means I’m fiercely passionate and loyal, but also jealous and resentful. In Chinese astrology I was born in the Year of the Monkey, which makes me social and intelligent, but also stubborn and egotistical. Sigh. I never said I was the most balanced person on the planet…
Who do you dance with (Soloist/Company/Studio affiliation)?
I’m currently between troupes, working on my solo repertoire and expanding my dance vocabulary at The Dark Side Studio under the tutelage of Audra Simmons. I just finished her most Recent Basic Black Intensive and though I was too chicken to take the test, it really gave me a fresh perspective and rekindled my excitement to grow and learn.
How long have you been dancing?
Since I was three-years-old, so longer than I care to admit! I started out in ballet and quickly added tap and jazz. During my younger years I did annual competitions across the province and completed several levels of my classical and character RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) ballet exams.
I fell into bellydance quite by accident. A friend of a friend, Judy Reynolds, was opening a studio and I went to take what I thought would just be a few classes to help support her new business. Alas, after the first class I was hooked! I joined Judy’s Troupe Naditu in my early days, then, after about four years, when off to explore other studios and teachers to expand my education. Over the last six years I have taken classes with Roula Said, Anuka and Zahira at Dragonfly, Audra and Heather at The Dark Side and Mayada.
I spent four years with Mayada’s Fierce Studio as my home and was in both her folkloric troupe, Banat el Sharq, and her student cabaret troupe. The Banat el Sharq ladies became like family and we’re still pretty tight though we’ve all moved on to other studios and troupes.
To date, I have been focused almost entirely on Egyptian but have been craving more fusion as I find myself interested in dancing to non-traditional music, and watching tribal dancers like Violet Scrap, Samantha Emanuel, Heather Stants, Zoe Jakes and, of course, Rachel Brice. I have taken some Steam Punk fusion with Zahira (so much fun!) and workshops in ATS, ITS and Gypsy Caravan styles, as well as a recent return to The Dark Side to expand on my modern fusion technique. This is my 10th anniversary as a bellydancer and I plan for there to be at least another 10 to go!
What is your favourite music?
I’m a bit of an eclectic girl when it comes to my musical choices. I was raised on classical – I still regularly attend the symphony with my father – so I have a soft spot for Mozart, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. Mostly though, I’ve been listening to bands like Vampire Weekend, Metric, the Arctic Monkeys, Of Monsters and Men and Fun. I’m also really into Neko Case, Adele and Regina Spektor, and love to mellow out to The Lumineers, the John Butler Trio and Mumford and Sons.
Favourite costume piece?
While I love so many of my costumes and pieces of jewelry, I would have to say my hair falls are my favourite. My own hair is super fine and straight, so it goes into limp noodle mode within seconds of being on stage, and that’s just not sexy. My falls really put me into my character of “Nashita the Bellydancer”, though I have been known to dance without if my own short bob fits the mood.
Books, bubble baths, popcorn, red wine and my cats. I probably spend most of my money on dance classes, workshops and anything purple and glittery. I’m also a huge ham, so being on the stage – any stage – dancing, is a big vice for me.
Sometimes, being a stubborn Scorpio can be a very good thing; when I set my mind to a task, I do it to the best of my ability and will drill problem steps and combos over and over again. I work hard to be the best I can be and am always excited and eager to try new things. I also consider myself a good friend and a great cheerleader for my fellow bellydancers.
I will be performing at Dancenette at Arabesque on May 11th and then I have the honour of dancing at the Lavish Project Gala Show on May 31st at The Dark Side Studio. I will also likely be at a few of the summer festivals, so keep an eye out for me!
I started my dance life as a ballerina, so my hips were always a curse. Even in jazz and tap, being tall, slim and willowy was the prized body type, so when I was told at the age of 14 I’d never be a professional dancer because my body was the wrong shape, I was absolutely devastated.
Then many moons later, the Universe stuck bellydance in my path. Suddenly my hips were a prized asset and no one seemed to care that I was a short chick. It was a dream come true!
Bellydance is a dance form truly made for women. Overall, no one cares how tall you are, what your body shape is, what colour you are or how old you are, and that’s massive for me as I came into bellydance rather later than most. Sure there are some exceptions, but overall it’s a very welcoming community.
I also suffer from osteoarthritis in my left knee and have had surgery twice. While in many dance forms this would mean the end of my dance career, my orthopedic surgeon has promised to keep me dancing for as long as possible!
Who inspires you?
Wow, so many people! Toronto – and if we expand across Ontario – is lucky to be a hub of bellydance goodness and I am inspired by so many local dancers, I couldn’t even begin to try to list them all.
My mom is also a great inspiration. She has had a pretty challenging life but always manages to stay positive and is so amazingly supportive of everything I do.
– Photo by Samira Hafezi