Maria Chavez (Solstice Belly Dance): Interview Continued

IZA: For our readers that don’t know much about Belly Dance. How did it originate and what inspired you to get involved with it? Belly Dance originates in the many countries of the Middle East and North Africa, aka Egypt. It is the cultural dance that pre-dates Islam, and has its roots in more goddess-based times, where the female body was considered sacred. I got involved with it because it looked fun, was mezmorizing, and the music stole my heart. Great exercise for body and mind!”

IZA: Talk to us about your favorite memorable experience as a Dancer and where it took place? “My most memorable experience with a dancer was when I taught for Central NM Community College. It was our end of semester hafla (dance party) for my class, and our door was open for fresh air. Some veiled Middle Eastern women who were students in the ESL program came into the room, eyes filled with joy and tears, telling me how wonderful it was to hear music from their homeland. They joined up for the party, and complimented me on what I was doing at CNM to educate students about the dance and culture.

IZA: Please give us a brief history on the types of dance you provide: “I dance in all of these styles, because I love the music so much. I choreograph or improvise based on what the music inspires in me. The styles are like clay that I mold into a finished piece for performance. They include: – Raqs Sharqi Dance: Traditional Style (What you see in most Middle Eastern restaurants) – Folkloric Dance: The “Mother” dance, Cultural/Tribal based. – American Tribal Dance: Founded by Fat Chance Belly Dance, based on lead, follow, and cues. – Modern Theatrical Dance:Theatrical-based choreography. – Tribal & Ethno Fusion Dance: Fusion-based choreography where elements of other ethnic dances are worked into the piece. – American Cabaret: Our own American twist on Raqs Sharqi.”

IZA: Care to talk to us about your drumming and providing middle eastern percussion into your dance performance? I have had the honor to study under many amazing teachers here in Albuquerque. I play doumbek, riq, frame drum, and finger cymbals, aka zills. I enjoy playing with other musicians, and at my own monthly event.

IZA: Are there any singers, musicians, designers or dancers that you’d like to mention, that have been part of your growth in dance and music? “My teachers along the way have all been a great inspiration to me, as well as the beautiful Tamalyn Dahllal, who is an international performer. Music wise, I am inspired many, including Solace, Hossam Ramzy, Raquy Danzier, David Macejka, Ruben Von Rompaey, Azam Ali, The Khans, Beats Antique, and many more!! Also Steve Brisk, aka AudioBuddha, has inspired me on many levels, including music mixing and music production, musical collaboration and how to be professional and how to network!”

IZA: What goals would like to manifest with Four Winds Belly Dance? “I would love for the troupe and I to be able to travel and perform at some fun festivals in the US and beyond!”

IZA: Have you considered touring America or elsewhere? Yes. Of course!

IZA: What projects do you currently have going on and what can we look forward to from Four Winds Belly Dance? “We are performing at many local events, including Albuquerque Railyard Market. I had the honor of performing at the Girl’s Night Out charity event for the Ronald McDonald House of New Mexico that helps families with children that need help with medical expenses.”

IZA: You also design Veils, Costumes and Jewelry. Talk to us a bit about that. “I like to keep busy and create! I sew, make jewelry, and dye silk dance veils for my business called Lilac Moon Creations. I sell my creations at local arts and crafts fairs, and online.”

IZA: If you had a time machine what year would you visit and why? Good question. Hmmm…I would love to visit pre-historic times so I can see those amazing dinosaurs and the earth before humans started changing it so much!

IZA: Aside from dance and, what do you like to do for fun? “I love to hike, camp, cook, watch movies, travel, shop for raw materials for my art and costumes, and I also love to make my close friends laugh, as I think humor is essential to survival.”

IZA: Thank you for taking the time to open up to us.
You can find Maria on the web at:

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