Q & A with Sophia Ravenna
This Belly Dance at Any Size Q & A features Sophia Ravenna. Sophia is a regular contributor on the site and has been a welcome addition to the writing team. She lives and dances in Tucson, AZ. She enjoys performing fusion belly dance and the occasional tribal jam. In addition to performing as a soloist she is a proud member of Fire & Gold Belly Dance.
Primary style of dance: Fusion
Favorite dancer(s): Mira Betz, Mardi Love, Jolie Roberson, Donna Meija
Number of years you’ve been a belly dancer: 8
Tell me about why you are involved in Belly Dance at Any Size?
I love that there’s a website that combines two things I’m passionate about: belly dance, and body positivity! I think it’s important to let people know that no matter your size or physical limitations, if you want to dance, you should!
Additionally, I love to write, so it’s nice to have another outlet to share some thoughts and opinions with the dance community!
What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?
I admire dancers who know that sometimes, a simple accent at the right moment is more impressive than the most insane layering trick…But by the same token, I admire dancers who have taken the time to train hard and master their technique. To me, technique and artistic expression are equally important, so the dancers I admire the most are the ones who have a perfect blend of those two things.
What is your biggest challenge as it relates belly dance?
I have all kinds of weird issues going on in my body, largely stemming from the fact that for most of my life, I walked around on tip-toes. I have really tight hips which make some moves really difficult and uncomfortable. I’m ashamed to admit that I have never mastered a walking quick 3/4 shimmy because I can’t get my hips to relax enough to move that fast.
How do you work to make your belly dance community a positive environment for all dancers?
When my teacher Jolie Roberson moved away, my troupe mates and I inherited the Open Stage event that she hosted. Our event is open to dancers of all shapes, sizes, genders, ages, experience levels and dance styles. We’ve partnered with a great venue that allows us to have the event for free, with no cover charge, so everyone can bring lots of friends and family to build a really supportive audience. Because it’s open to the public, we’ve also helped random people learn that men can be belly dancers too, that tribal fusion is a thing, and that of course, you don’t have to have an idealized figure to get up and dance.
What is your most treasured belly dance possession?
Easily the small fascinator/hat I bought from Snake Church. It’s made out of color-shifting silk shantung, adorned with all sorts of vintage textiles, lined with velvet, but most importantly, it’s decorated with a giant insect made out of jewel beetle pieces and vintage rhinestone chain. It is the most “me” thing ever made. I completely blew my budget to buy it and I’ve never regretted it for a moment.
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