Everyone on the Sydney belly dancing scene will be familiar with my next feature artist, Rachel – founder of the Inspire Belly Dance school.
Rachel is also an excellent teacher. You can see her students performing regularly at community fairs around Sydney, and she actively mentors new teachers. I have attended her workshops on zills and sword, and was impressed by her ability to break down and explain technique.
She also holds regular workshops, so even if her class locations aren’t convenient, it’s worth joining her mailing list or Facebook page.
Classes by Rachel are currently available in Waverley, Rozelle and Lindfield, and by her assistant teachers in Burwood, Hornsby, Mosman and Eastwood.
Interview with Belly Dancer Rachel Bond
How did you get started with belly dancing?
I can’t remember what piqued my curiosity. I was given the opportunity to attend a week-long course and pretty much thought “why not?” As far as I recall, I’d never even seen any bellydance; but I’d always wanted to do some kind of dancing and never really had much opportunity, due to living in a rural area.
What is your favourite belly dancing style and/or prop?
It changes from month to month and year to year! A while ago, saidi was my favourite, especially with the stick: the strength and power of it appealed.
I’m currently in a phase of loving melaya eskanderany, almost the opposite extreme with its cheeky, flirty girliness! But perhaps the rich emotional texture and understatement of accordion balady is my true favourite, maybe because its very understatedness is so hard to achieve in our current Australian atmosphere where fusion, techno, fast moves and the latest flashy props seem to be much more in fashion.
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your belly dance style?
Every teacher I’ve had the privilege to work with has influenced me – both my long-term teachers here in Sydney, and the master teachers that I’ve had a chance to do one or two workshops with in Egypt. But I’d have to say Päivi Mielikäinen has been my greatest influence.
Not only was she the one who first opened my eyes (and heart!) to the incredibly diverse and important world of Egyptian folkloric dances – which themselves have hugely influenced my dancing – but her teaching of classical bellydance has enriched me enormously. More than any other teacher, she’s drawn out the richness of the dance for me, on both the intricate physical level and the emotional, expressive one. Unfortunately I can’t boast to dance like she does: my style is dictated as much by my body’s natural way of moving as by anything I’ve been taught, so it’s not entirely something I’ve chosen!
What advice would you offer an aspiring belly dancer?
It depends what they are aspiring to! But certainly to try many teachers and styles, to find out what most stirs their heart; to be proud of the art form itself but humble in learning/performing; and to realise and rejoice that this is an art form that you can study for a lifetime and never master, because there is always, always so much more to learn!