I began to bellydance in 1998, when I attended an Egyptian Dance class. I've been fascinated with Ancient Egypt ever since I was 7 years old, so the name piqued my curiosity. I would have died of embarrassment if I'd known it was bellydance, but I remained blissfully ignorant until class was well underway. I enjoyed the dance form, but not the instructor, so I studied on my own for the next several years with books and videos. I quickly fell in love with American Tribal Style bellydance when I encountered the Fat Chance Bellydance instructional videos.
In 2004, the Bristol Renaissance Faire hired me to perform with the Sahara Nights troupe, and I found myself on stage that August with no clear idea how it had happened. This gave me the confidence to start performing solos in public. I danced for a few seasons at the Bristol Renaissance Faire as Yasmina.
In the summer of 2004, I also met Laila Lee, and started taking dance lessons from her. After a year, Laila told me, "I think you've learned all you can from me, and you can move on to another teacher." I was intrigued by a Choreography workshop at Arabesque Dance Studio, and after two hours with Sonya, I knew I wanted to study with her. For several years, I studied Cabaret and Egyptian bellydance with Sonya and American Tribal bellydance with Eliza. I have had the immense pleasure of taking workshops with Ariellah, Rachel Brice, Tempest, Princess Farhana, Zoe Jakes, and Mardi Love. (See my Links page for more information).
Sonya is a strong influence and support in the realm of dance. Her deft instruction helped me to understand the practical and magical aspects of the dance more clearly than anyone else has, and she has been a tireless coach and sounding board when I ventured into the more esoteric aspects of the art forrm and the pragmatic reality of producing a show.
I studied burlesque in 2006 with Michelle L'Amour. While I love and respect burlesque, I remained fascinated with the unearthly isolations of bellydance, and realized it would take my full devotion. Burlesque definitely gave me a sassier edge and boosted my confidence. I was, however, in love with the burlesque stage name Moxie, so I dropped "Yasmina" and kept Moxie as my dance name.
A workshop with Rachel Brice in 2007 introduced me to Tribal Fusion, and I fell head over heels in love with the style. As a soloist, I had pulled from Cabaret and Tribal moves as I pleased, and this integration into a fluid and uncanny style captivated me utterly.
In 2007, I had the tremendous pleasure of founding the Improvisational Tribal Style troupe Tandava with Ebony and Saffron. We parted amicably over creative differences in 2008, when I opted to pursue Tribal Fusion rather than ITS. We remain good friends to this day.
In 2009, I began studying Tribal Fusion privately with Eliza. I had reached a point in dance where I had taken self-study as far as I could. A girl can only get so far from obsessively studying DVDs and Youtube performances! People noticed a change once I started practicing with her. Around this time, I left my corporate day job and began working at a yoga studio. I began practicing yoga with more devotion and enrolled in a teacher training program. These elements strengthened me in body and practice. In February of 2012, after 8 days of intense work with the exquisite Zoe Jakes, Amy Sigil, Heather Stants, Kami Liddle, Mira Betz, the Lady Fred, and dancers from around the world, I was proud and humbled to receive the Tribal Massive Certification.
When I dance, I illustrate what I hear in the song for you. Through presence and costuming, I show you the mood I hear. I use different movements to show the melodies and musical accents that stand out to me, to give you a sense of story and character.
I live and perform in the Chicago area, where I have produced several Helping Hips benefit shows and produced Raqs Arcana Weekend with Ariellah. I am on the production team of the Windy City Burlesque Festival, and I attend Tribal Revolution every year. Most people recognize me as "the one with the huge tattoo on her back."