One summer day while walking in beautiful Downtown St. John's I happened across a jingling band of bellydancers. I thought to myself, "You don't see that every day." Little did I know they had just completed their beginners classes and were off to a fun filled dining experience full of all things bellydance. Some time later, in the fall, I saw an ad for bellydance lessons and said to myself, "I have to try this." When I went to my first class I must say I was a little lost and a little humbled. It was just so very very wonderful. I wondered if I could ever get my body to do things like that. It didn't want to at first and I had to convince it, but eventually my body listened to the things my brain knew were possible. I was excited every time I came to class. I talked continuously to anyone who would listen about the things I was learning. I found excuses to wear costume pieces in every day life. It was sublime!
Now I am lucky to call the people I've met in the bellydance world friends. We've learned and danced together. I don't think I could do any other kind of dance. When ever I move my body to music it always turns into bellydance. When I became pregnant with my son I worried I wouldn't be able to dance any more but I danced up to the very end of my pregnancy. I even preformed a few times.
I've helped with workshops and classes. I've been a part of many public performances as well. What I enjoy most is learning new choreography and spending time with the girls. Its a wonderful way to express yourself. I'd recommend it to anyone!
My name is Caitlyn and I am one of the more recent inductees into The Neighbourhood Strays Bellydance Troupe.
I was born and raised in Nova Scotia- A quiet, shy girl living in the Annapolis Valley. I moved to St. John’s in 2003 to attend Memorial University under the Archaeology/Physical Anthropology program. Living in a new place, with no family and no friends to speak of was very challenging at first. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.
This attitude is what brought me to Mary Griffiths Night in 2005- The Neighbourhood Strays were performing and I. Was. Hooked! It would be another year before I mustered up the courage to enrol in a beginner’s class taught by Andrea Kitta. Over the last 5 years I have taken every bellydance class that the Neighbourhood Strays had to offer. As Wild Lily Dance Centre continues to grow I have taken many of their bellydance classes as well as workshops from visiting performers.
I had taken several dance classes as a child, including ballet, jazz and tap as well as some informal lessons in swing and hip hop. Bellydance is the first place where I felt like I was accepted just as I was; that I was beautiful and graceful, no matter what my body type- and I love that about it!
I feel like a new person- strong, confident, elegant. I love that dance can take what is on your mind and in your heart and turn it into a work of art. I love to express myself through unstructured dance such as flocking and improvisation. I will continue to expand my dance horizons by training under fantastic Canadian performers and seeking new dance forms- like my newest obsession, a form of bellydance-hip-hop-fusion.
I look forward to creating a phenomenal experience for our audience in the futur and I could not ask to spend my time and energy with a better group of women. The Neighbourhood Strays have become a family of women performers over the last few years. Come out and see us sometime. We’re not just dancing for us, St. John’s. We’re dancing for you too.
Shimmy! I’m Diana aka Maysi. Since your reading this I guess you’re interested in knowing more about me, well I won’t let you down.
I’m a CFA (come from away) and I hail from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Three years ago I moved here to complete my Masters Degree at Memorial University and decided to stay upon completion. What originally got me interested in bellydance was an advertisement I saw in a mail brochure. I was curious about it but I could not afford the classes on a student budget and so I wrote it off. A few months later I saw a poster at MUN about classes with the Neighbourhood Strays and was glad to see that I could afford it.
I was hooked my first class and have been here ever since. From my first public performance at Summer Dance 2008 to watching the Strays dance at various events, I knew I wanted to be one of them. And now I’m here 2 years later!
I have taken many classes and workshops over my two years; Beginners all the way of to advanced improvisation and workshops with Monique Ryan. In all, I strive to continue to learn, to improve myself and my skills, and to hopefully one day gain enough experience to become a semi-professional bellydancer.
Dancing has changed me not just physically but mentally as well. I always had negative body issues and would never even fathom the idea of showing off my stomach. Now I am dancing without my stomach covered. I have become proud of the way I am and accept the way I look. As well, having no family in Newfoundland, dancing helped me meet people and make many new friends here.
If I could say only one thing about bellydance, it would be that it is freeing. You are freed of all social expectations about body image, free of your daily stress, free to express your emotions through your movements, and free to awaken your inner goddess.
"Locked in this dance is a secret language that tells the story of womens' lives... their passions and their spirituality, their sacrifices, their joys, their intuitions, their emotional life drama." ---Delilah
Hi there! I'm Karen, and one of the newest members of the Neighbourhood Strays. Let me start by saying that my adventure into the world of belly dance has been one of the most rewarding (and surprising) experiences I have had so far.
Like many dancers, my entrance into the dance world started in the beginners class. However I did not start at 4, I started at 40! I had never tried any form of dance before, so when a friend of mine mentioned that there was an adult belly dance class, well, I was intrigued from the start. Let me just say that from the first class, I was hooked! The music was so much fun to dance to. I have always loved music, and this was a music genre I had never listened to before! But there was something else that drew me even more.
I have always been an active person, and could be found at the gym 3 or 4 times a week lifting weights. But I hate cardio! All forms of cardio! I was surprised to find after a class I had broke a sweat, was a little out of breath, and boy, did my muscles know I had been physical the night before! What a work out - and I was smiling and laughing the whole time! Another benefit, I learnt much more about muscle control and isolation that complimented my weight training.
So I enrolled in as many classes as my schedule would allow, from veils, American Tribal style, layering, improvisation, workshops from visiting dancers - whatever I could do, I did! And my hard work paid off - in 2010, I was invited to become a member of the Strays, and am thrilled to be able to bring this this form of dance to audiences in the province.
In the process of discovering a beautiful dance form that was unknown to me, I have found friendships that will last a life time. I have also gained the confidence to promote the beauty of a woman regardless regardless of size, shape, age...there is beauty in every one and belly dance will bring it out!
Another obvious benefit...I get to dress up in sparkly clothes, dance with veils, put flowers in my hair and wear colourful make-up and shiney jewelry! What could be better than that??
My wish for you is that if you ever wanted to try belly dancing but were too nervous - come and see a show. You'll see how much fun we have performing for you - and that is no act! The fun is contagious!
I started taking belly dance classes in the fall of 2006 as a way to help with my healing after a very tumultuous and hurtful time in my life. From the very first class I was captivated. Without any prior structured dancing experience I was a little intimidated during the first set of classes but fell so completely in love with the dance form I couldn’t and wouldn’t give it up. I decided to take beginners again to be sure I was able to go on to the intermediate levels with the proper techniques.
With numerous intermediate and advanced classes under my coin belt I was invited to join the Neighbourhood Strays in the spring of 2009. What an absolutely amazing honour it was!! My life has cascaded into a beautiful harmony of jingly, shiny coin belts, bracelets, fringe belts, tops and skirts! Words could not express how liberated and beautiful I feel when I dance. It continues to heal my heart, soul and body. I have undergone an astounding transformation and I have to thank my fellow dancers and teachers for that. They have captured my heart.
Hi! My name is Michelle (a.k.a Bastet) and I am a member with The Neighbourhood Strays. I initially started the beginners class in March 2005 and after moving through the various levels I became an official “Stray” in March 2006. I became interested in belly dancing because I wanted to do something totally different. I felt that it would be a fun way to exercise plus a way to meet new people.
Andrea makes belly dancing look so easy and effortless but I can say from experience that is was not that way for me! It takes a lot of practice and muscle control.
Overall I can honestly say that joining Andrea’s class and then moving on to troupe has been one of the best things that I could have done for myself. Not only have I made good friends with my fellow Strays I have gained more self- confidence from our performances.
For those of you who are wondering why I am also known as Bastet. It was a name given to me by Andrea to help me build my confidence. Most dancers will take on a stage name to help them become a different personality on stage. For those of you who know me you will know that I love cats and Bastet is the Egyptian Cat Goddess!
Hi, my name is Terrilynn and I’m a bellydance-aholic! I first started bellydancing when a friend of mine from college asked me to sign up for classes with her. We hadn’t been in touch for awhile, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to reconnect with her. Little did I know, she would be the one responsible for one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life!
When the Strays asked their students to participate in an event called Dancing On The Edge in May 2008, I thought, “Nah, there’s no way I can get up and dance in front of people!” As much as I loved bellydancing, I never thought I would perform. That was until a group of girls from class who I became very close with, convinced me to do it. “We get to dance the dance we love and dress up in all of our new shiny, sparkly bellydance outfits,” they said. How can you say no to that! But I convinced that I was going to be sick right up to the second I went on stage. And the minute our performance was over, I thought, “When can I do that again!” And that was the moment I knew I was a bellydancer for life!
Bellydancing makes me feel alive! I’ve never had any sort of training in dance and I’ve been clumsy all of my life. But once you take the time to dedicate yourself to learning this beautiful dance, you realize that anyone can do it! I love the way bellydancing makes me feel and I’ve learned to become confident in myself as a dancer and as a person.
On May 11th, 2009, those same girls who convinced me to do my first performance and myself, officially became Neighbourhood Strays, after being known as Baby Strays for 6 months. It was one of the happiest moments of my life! I had admired the Strays from the minute I first saw them perform as a troupe. They were beautiful, graceful, and dignified and how I wanted to be like them! So to be asked to join this amazing and inspiring group of women, was a dream come true! It is truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of this troupe.
“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.” ~Hopi Indian Saying
Hi my name is Rebecca and I’m in my second year at Memorial University. My bellydance history started off when I ended up tagging along with my old friend Jared Reid, then just starting out as a photographer, who was going to take photos at the opening of the Neighbourhood Strays dance studio in 2008. I was a shy girl back then, and I remember being so impressed with all the cheerful kind women in fabulous costumes. I was so shy and my bellydance dream almost never came true. However when my friend won the studio's door prize- a gift bag full of bellydance clothes and jewellery- he looked at me, handed me the wonderful shinny items and said, “ ...Well you have the stuff, so now you have to take lessons.” And so my adventure into the wonderful world of bellydance happened as if by fate.
I have grown so much as a person and as a woman because of dance; and especially because of the wonderful girls who I dance with. Through taking lessons and dancing with the Neighbourhood Strays I have become a more confident person. In relation I have also come to care even more about women's issues and empowerment. Being a part of the dance community, and being able to give back to the community through dancing is a constant source of joy for me.
Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I'm one of the newest members of The Neighbourhood Strays. I first saw The Neighbourhood Strays perform at Dance on the Edge I and couldn't wait to start learning belly dance myself. I took my first beginners class with Kristine Nolte in the fall of 2008 and was absolutely hooked from the first class! Over the past four years I took every belly dance class that I could from The Neighbourhood Strays and then Wild Lily Dance Centre. I have also had the amazing opportunity to take classes from other belly dancers such as Audra Simmons (Toronto), Heather Labonte (St. John's/Toronto), Monique Ryan (Halifax), Elysium Tribal (Oakville), and Rachel Brice (eek!).
I started dancing at the age of seven studying jazz primarily, but I also danced for several years in ballet, lyrical jazz, and modern. I have always loved dancing and performing, but it wasn't until I started belly dancing that I felt truly at home and feel like a real dancer. This dance form is so welcoming of everyone regardless of size, shape, or age and you will leave every class with a smile on your face. I have grown so much over the past four years not only as a dancer, but as a person and I have met some of the most amazing women along the way who I am so excited to call my friends and (now) my troupe sisters.
"In those moments where beauty and emotion fuse and climax, something of the immortal floats about the dancer; she wanders in a divine ray, in a mist where all works of art circle in unison with her."