In this edition of Dancer Origin Stories, I’m thrilled to feature Oreet. Currently based in Philadelphia, PA (USA), Oreet is a powerful dancer. both physically and emotionally. She has won numerous awards–but more importantly, she will make you feel.
One of my first conversations with Oreet was at an event we both attended, during the creation process for my first DVD. She generously offered insights gained from her experience producing her SharQui belly dance fitness videos, which were so helpful. Her desire to “remind women and men that they are already Beautiful, Strong and that they CAN do it, dammit!” is most admirable, both in intention and execution.
Let’s dig into Oreet’s Origin Story…
Q. What is your first memory of dance?
My first memory of dance and the moment I knew that I wanted to become a dancer was when I saw American Ballet Theater’s, The Nutcracker, in NYC at the age of 6.
Q. Was social dance or music a part of your life growing up? If so, how?
Oh yes! So from the ages of 6-18 I took tap, ballet and jazz lessons. It was my escape as a child and I loved it! I especially loved and still love the thrill of performing.
As far as music, I was trained in classical piano from the ages 7-16 and even did local competitions. Knowing music has really helped how I hear music for choreography and has helped me in being co-creator of my SharQui Bellydance Club Mix Cd’s.
Q. How did you first encounter belly dance?
The first time I saw bellydance was at a party in Israel (I’m of Israeli heritage) at the age of 5. I loved the coins, the sparkle and the zills!
Q. What phase of life were you in when you took your very first dance class?
As far as dance, I took tap dance at the age of 6 year at a local dance studio where I lived in Long Island, NY.
Now as far as bellydance, I grew up with the art form and took a few classes in Israel. But I would say my first formal training was in NYC at Morocco’s weeklong intensive.
Q. Many dancers took classes when they were little, but then returned to dance as adults. Was this the case for you?
Not the case for me. Dance has always been my career from the beginning. After taking dance classes at my local dance studio until the age of 18, I continued into college with modern dance; received my BFA in Dance and Performance; then moved back to NYC to grow my career as a modern dancer for 10 years.
Q. What (people/phase of life/experience) led to you becoming serious about your dance studies?
You know, I just knew. Once I saw my first ballet performance I was determined.
As far as an event that triggered my seriousness to pursue in college was when I was accepted to be part of a summer dance intensive for kids between 16-18 to experience what it would be like to be a dancer in NYC. The workshops were taught by famous NY choreographers and included classes such as Broadway style dance, ballet, jazz, acting, singing, as well as mock auditions.
Well, at one of the mock auditions I lasted to the end and the choreographer said, “You are too short for the part but you are an amazing dancer. Here’s the number of my friend who’s choreographing a show that needs someone your height!” That’s all I needed to hear.
Q. What let you to become serious about belly dance?
When I fell into teaching bellydance for fitness in 1998 at Gold’s Gym in NYC. (I will tell you more about that below). As soon I started my first class I became serious abut learning everything bellydance!
Q. How do other forms you have studied influence your belly dancing?
My lines such as arms and feet, posture, turns, and even ideas for movement….
The most important thing is that these other forms have given me the strength to do bellydance. Heck, I think ballet should be a requirement in bellydance practice.
Q. Tell me about one of your most influential teachers.
I loved taking classes from teachers who had a diverse dance background.
I love taking classes from Amir Thaleb for his beautiful transitions. He has a ballet background.
I loved taking classes from Elena Lentini for her musicality and shape. She has Spanish and flamenco dance background.
Q. Share the memory of learning a movement that came easily to you…
Undulations! I’ve been performing undulations since my first jazz class at 6 ears old. Oh remember the “snake” from the 80’s?? That’s a side undulation, lol!
Q. … and a movement that you had to work hard to master.
Oh gosh…belly rolls. Still have not mastered them. I don’t think my body ever will. I’ve accepted it. Screw it…onward and upward!
Q. Tell me about one “ah hah” moment that you recall, whether technical, emotional, or conceptual.
So when I was a competitive bellydancer I hired an acting coach, not a bellydance coach, to mentor me. I really wanted to stand out on a big stage, as I am only 4 feet 10 inches tall.
My coach told me to perform as if I am teaching the audience my piece. Use your eyes to teach and make your movement bigger so that a beginner student really sees and understands what you are doing.
Holy crap, from then on, my dancing changed. I teach this concept to my students now.
Q. What dance skills translate to your everyday life?
How I use my core and legs. Specifically when lifting and playing with my 2 small children. Kids are workout!
Q. What everyday skills translate to your dance life?
My administrative skills and speaking skills!
Q. What else would you like to add?
Educate yourself about the dance’s roots. Doesn’t need to be extensive but enough that when someone asks you what this dance is about and where it’s from, you have a nice base knowledge to share.
Now while educating yourself, please, please, still BE YOURSELF. Look, bellydance is simply dance.
Do what makes you feel good. If you want to fuse a little jazz, ballet or other bellydance styles, do it!
Don’t get caught up about doing the right move to a certain rhythm, or doing a drum solo before the veil dance or wearing the perfect costume. When your beauty and passion shines through, people will watch. Plain and simple.
Q. What do you currently have in progress?
The ONLINE SharQui Instructor Training. This training gives you all the tools you need to teach a Bellydance Fitness class that keeps your heart rate up, burns fat, is for all dance and fitness levels and gets people dancing right from the start!
It’s the perfect marriage of authentic bellydance and fitness. I am so proud of it.
The next training is in late October and you can go to www.teachsharqui.com for more info.