I had the great pleasure of meeting Varia in Portland, Oregon at the 8 elements Initiation Training with Rachel Brice of Datura. Varia is a beautiful dancer and she was super cool and had a great sense of fashion. I asked her if she would share a little of herself with the world and she was happy to share her passion.
So Varia darling, what type of physical activities have you done in your life? ” I have been dancing since 2008 with a primary focus on bellydance. Prior to that I used to dance East and West Coast swing and Lindy Hop with sprinklings of Walts, Foxtrot, Salsa, Cha Cha and contra dancing. I also enjoys hiking, snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing (indoor and outdoor) and advanced SCUBA.”…( I had no idea she was such a badass!! Wow)
Varia lives in the Washington DC area. She began belly dance in 2007, inspired by Amustela’s performances at the MD Renaissance Fair . She has explored various styles including American Cabaret, classical Egyptian, and her favorite, tribal fusion. She has performed solo and as a member of local troupes Belladonna’s Bellatrix, Wendy Broadway’s ATS Tribe Masala, and Ayperi Leyla’s Al Kamiya.
Varia has received training under many world renown instructors including Suhaila Salimpour, Zoe Jakes, and Rachel Brice. Currently she is expanding her growth as a member of the DC Salimpour Collective under director Donna Manalo, and is pursuing certifications in the Salimpour formats and the Datura 8 Elements program.
Since receiving her FTT certification, Varia has been invited each year to teach at the Maryland Council for Dance Festival, and has held workshops at various locations in the northern VA area. She is also available for private instruction upon request.
Varia’s focus is to bring awareness to safe body alignment, encourage confidence, and most importantly to have fun!
Congratulations Varia for following her passions and dreams. Dreams are so important. Never give up on your dreams.
I had the great honor and privilege to attend a Datura bellydance workshop in Portland, Oregon last week. It was such an amazing adventure. It really took me outside of my comfort zone on so many levels.
What was it that took you out of your comfort zone?
Well first of all I had to get myself packed, get my dog packed and get to the airport on time. If you have ever had the pleasure of missing a flight, then you know, that you don’t want to experience that again. So I started out my trip with a ticket from California Highway Patrol. I stayed cool despite this ticket. But it was a little irritating to say the least.
Then I got to the airport past security. My boarding pass was B14. But I got the gate mixed up and was sitting in Gate B14 for at least an hour. Then someone paged Valerie and they said your supposed to be at gate 20!! How the hell that happened I don’t know but I ran down there and made it to the plane.
I made it to my hotel and then realized I had left a very critical bag. My bag that had my toothbrush. Luckily my hotel gave me one and I had toothpaste. I remembered my make up so, all in all, it wasn’t bad.
What was the deal with the Datura Workshop?
Datura is a style of bellydance created by Rachel Brice. She has classes online at Datura online and she teaches workshops in Portland at a cool dance studio called Nia. She has her own Datura studio as well but to accommodate more people she had the training at Nia.
The Datura Phase I Initiation of the 8 elements brought together 40 students from all over the world. Represented countries included: Japan, Australia, Mexico, United Kingdom and United States. There were professional dancers as well as students. But everyone was a student this week to learn and absorb as much as they could from Rachel Brice
Rachel shared part of her dance journey as well as the reason for putting together the course so that this dance form can be shared with the world. She had told us at the beginning of the week that we were going to feel like, “She was filling up our mouths with a fire hose.” At first it made me laugh but by the 3rd day, I completed understood the concept. I felt like my brain was being stretched out really far. I didn’t want to stretch it but then she stretched it for me and I was so glad she did.
What was the most awesome experience?
We would learn these dance sequences. First we would learn the feet, then she would add isolations, then Zils and then finally arms. It doesn’t sound that difficult and even when you see it, it doesn’t look terribly difficult. But playing the Zils while dancing and keeping rhythem while your arms, legs and body are doing something different was mind blowing. And then we did it in perfect unison at full speed. It was like, “Hell Yeah!!!” I couldn’t believe we were able to do it all together. If you’ve ever been around dancers there are usually varying levels of dance experience. But in 3 days she had as doing it. I felt like a complete badass!!!
Just for the record, I felt like such a beginner. There were definitely dancers who had such cool moves. Some were awesome with Zils and everyone just brought their own gifts and talents. Truly an amazing group of people.
She shared her costumes in Costume Cafe which was just amazing. In the video above I was able to see her headdress in person. She shared her inspiration for costumes and also so many things. She is a complete badass. Bruce Lee’s baby sister. I bow down to her.
What was the take away from the training?
Whatever it is you do everyday becomes your practice. You simply have to find the time to do whatever it is you love to do. Sometimes we get stuck in bad habits, or get caught in the responsibilities of life. But no matter, practice is the most important. In talking to Rachel, she explained some of the ways she practices and how she just goes over it over and over again until she gets it down to how she likes it. I was also super happy to know that her absolutely favorite type of dance is improvisational dance which is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE THING TO DO!!. So it gave me support to know that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH IMPROVISATION!! And she does such an amazing job with it.
You’re Not Music’s Bitch
What does that mean? It means as dancer that you control your movement. YOu can pause and stretch and pose and dance how you want. Music is there to help you express yourself but you and music work together and you do whatever you want. It’s you dancing after all.
What are my plans going forward?
I realized that more than anything I need a good teacher. I plan to continue to study dance. A good teacher will mold me to their vision. I will be like a child coming to my teacher. I will allow them to teach me and that is the best I can do for right now. There’s nothing wrong with being a student. It’s like letting someone else drive you around for a while and I get to just enjoy the ride. I will continue to pursue my dream of dance. As long as I am dancing, EVERYTHING WILL BE OK.