In 1995, I attended my first belly dance class with the late Saiqa (pictured at left) and was instantly hooked. I was hungry for the dance and wanted to learn as much as I could, so I attended classes four days a week with other teachers. Belly dance opened up a whole new world to me, led to a lot of self-discovery and guided me towards an exciting life path. Throughout the years, I have studied with many instructors throughout the Bay Area and beyond. My studies have also included finger cymbals and percussion, allowing me to become well-rounded in the dance. Itís important to me to continue taking classes. I find that the best teachers are also my peers, so I attend as many belly dance events as possible, looking for styles and movements which speak to me. I also watch a lot of instructional / performance DVDs.

In 2002, I began teaching belly dance classes at San Jose State University through Associate Students. After several years, I started holding classes at my beautiful home studio located in San Jose, CA. I find teaching to be extremely challenging, but I am grateful to be able to pass on all the movements and technique I have learned and developed. Itís hard work, but teaching is also extremely rewarding. I love to see studentsí progress in their dance and to witness improvement in their self-esteem. 

These days, I enjoy dancing in small groups and troupes far better than soloing because of the challenge of perfecting choreography while dancing in formation ďas oneĒ. Raks al Khalil (Dance of Friends) is my student troupe, we have been performing together since 2006 (check us out on YouTube). We have had some truly magical moments together, and the past years have been wonderful. I also dance in a lively duet with Sonja; we call ourselves Shimmy & Shake. She is the dance partner Iíve always been looking for, we both love the dance, and share a playfulness during performances.

Until recently, I also danced with Karavansaray Dance Company for almost eight years. I was drawn to it because my teacher Amanda used to be a member of Hahbií Ru which I was a big fan of; when I heard Amanda was beginning a troupe, I knew I wanted to be part of it. I enjoyed Amandaís complex routines and performing Near Eastern dance in its original and true form. Itís been a pleasure learning the dances which are the foundation to belly dance as we know it in the U.S.

Throughout the years, I have had the honor of performing in many duets, trios, troupes and in various projects. I have had a lot of fun and have learned so much from all these endeavors.

For me, so much of the dance is all about the costume. I enjoy designing, fabricating and dressing up in costumes. A shy person by nature, costuming helps me to become someone else, my ultra-alter ego Ė Khajulah! I somehow feel hidden from my everyday self when Iím in costume. With a flair for the traditional, I favor the ethnic style of costume with a generous splash of flash. Dancing Diva Designs is the name of my costuming company, where I am primarily doing custom work and occasionally vending at various festivals. The most exciting part of the work is seeing my costumes come to life on stage. 

I have a degree in Photography with a concentration in Commercial Photography. I am a freelance photographer and graphic designer serving the belly dance community at large. I enjoy dabbling in anything artistic: sculpture, painting, drawing, crafting and graphic design. Most recently, I have taken up clay wheel throwing, which, like belly dance, is not as easy as it looks.

My life has been and continues to be enriched by belly dance. Iíve found a way to express my artistic self with it and Iím so blessed to walk this path.

04-07-15