Get Your Greek On!
Being a belly dancer in a rather conservative society can get lonely. As a result, I try to connect with fellow belly dancers across the world using social media, Twitter and Instagram being my favourite platforms. It was a series of Twitter connects and #FFs from mutual followers that led me to connect with Greek belly dancer Amartia, from Baltimore, Maryland.
Amartia and I have enjoyed a great deal of Twitter conversation, and some really terrible puns (most of them were my doing, I confess). Amartia was also the very first international (translation: non-Indian) participant of the TwitterGetsFitter movement, and a super dedicated one at that. She has since also started teaching some of my routines to her belly dance students, whom I’m guessing now know/hate me as “the Indian lady who brought Goal Posts into our lives”. (Yay?)
A Baltimore native of Greek descent, Amartia has been Greek folk dancing since she was in elementary school, and belly dancing for the last 14 years. Her first tryst with belly dance happened when she stumbled upon a belly dance class at a local gym. But when classes at the gym ended and Amartia found herself willing to drive out to a church in Baltimore county to keep taking lessons, she knew there was no looking back. Having never been someone to approach anything half-heartedly, Amartia soon mastered the moves, and began teaching and performing. She has since raked in awards and accolades for her dancing, and was also among 23 dancers chosen for the reality show Project Bellydance.
Being a belly dancer myself, I had to ask Amartia — given that belly dance has been a rather misunderstood art, did she too, face societal pressures when choosing to pursue it as a career? “There have been moments where people misunderstood what bellydancing is and in Greek culture it is not always looked upon in the best light”, she says. “But I try my hardest to push past that. It just fuels my fire to showcase it as a beautiful art form even more.”
She does, however, add that there are plenty of more light-hearted moments that come with the territory. Take, for instance, the time her dancing earned her a marriage proposal! “I was proposed to by a patron while performing”, Amartia laughs. “He was inebriated, but the whole hookah lounge stopped and became quiet as he loudly announced that he was going to marry the bellydancer, and got down on one knee. I pretended to go along with it and fanned myself, but it was only a moment or two before the bouncers escorted him to a coffee cup.”
Well, who can blame the man? 😉
I look forward to the day Amartia and I could dance together. Perhaps soon! In the meantime, she was subjected to the TDF Rapid Fire (as are all the dancers I love).
The Dance Floor: Mykonos or Manhattan?
Belly dancer Amartia: Mykonos.
TDF: Name a dancer you would love to dance/perform with.
Amartia: The Greek belly dancer Boubouka.
TDF: Veils or swords?
TDF: One thing most people don’t know about you.
Amartia: I have a Masters of Science in molecular and cellular biology. (All this, and brains too!)
TDF: Pizza or pavlova?
TDF: Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks?
Amartia: Tom Hanks.
TDF: Your greatest fear?
Amartia: Disappointing my mentor. I don’t ever want her to not be proud of me or feel like I’m not giving this art my all.
TDF: If you weren’t a dancer, you would be…?
Amartia: A scientist. But I do that as my day job, so…
TDF: Beaches or mountains?
TDF: Your guilty pleasure.
Amartia: French fries. I love everything made of potatoes. (I knew I liked this girl!)
Photography: Stereovision Photography | MUAH: Christine Beck-Millan