Dance is the language of the soul and is used to nourish our bodies to ignite the divine spark within us all. We used to dance to create a connection to our past, to ground us in the present, and to inspire a future of love. We expand through experiencing the joy of dance.
What is Belly dance?
The word belly dance is a misnomer and as you develop your knowledge base on the subject the inaccurate designation will become more clear to you. This term is popular in English speaking classes however it is our hope to inspire all belly dancers to learn more about the Arabic language exploring words such as ; raks sharki, beladi, wahda wa noss ect. The art and culture at the heart of the belly dance stem from the Arab nations. Countries like Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco are popular for their belly dance artists and cabarets however the modern dancer will incorporate styles from a variety of places including the Saudi gulf, Tunisia, and Algeria from northern Africa. By no means is this influential style exclusive to the Arabic speaking nations, you can also find belly dance styles in Turkey and Greece but its influence is found across the globe.
The Los Angeles Bellydance Academy finds its origin in the most unlikely of places with less than a predictable outcome. Picture in your mind the capital city of a sunflower state in which time was left behind. Do you know the sunflower state? It’s easy to locate, it’s just smack in the middle of the United States of America. Now picture a young dancer with a dream that the world is a beautiful place and it would be fun to continue dance not walk down the path of life. Always in transition, Stefanya’s alias has included the name Stevie which was her childhood name when she was dropped in Kansas. There at the age of three she began learning how to dance at the local dance studio. Her mother enrolled her, her grandmother would drive her, and her father would show up at every show to video record. This once a week, sixty-minute tap and jazz dance class for kids expanded into a focused and disciplined study of classical ballet and contemporary American dance styles. During her young adult years, Stefanya participated in numerous regional and national dance competitions. While still in school, she was the winner of “Best of Show” at Termain Dance Convention national finals, receiving the highest score out of four hundred entries for a lyrical dance number which she choreographed and performed. She was also the recipient of numerous scholarships to study with professionals at studios in New York and Los Angeles. These experiences combined with her enthusiasm and drive led Stefanya to decide she would leave her hometown in Kansas and move to Los Angeles, California where she could refine her artistic skills and pursue a professional dance career.
Stefanya’s training and specialty skills soon landed her a position as a cast member of the world-famous Bellydance Superstars. She caught the eye of mogul Miles Copeland, the show’s producer, and was chosen from a 90-dancer audition in Los Angeles to join the touring company. Since her debut, she has performed in over eight hundred shows across twenty-five countries at the world’s most well-known venues for celebrities, dignitaries, and royalty. While performing her specialty act of dancing on stilts, Stefanya was also the troupe’s assistant director. It is at this time in Stefanya’s life that she cultivated a deep appreciation and love for oriental dance / raks sharki dance style. Night after night sharing the stage with the most memorable, talented, and cutting-edge world dance artists of that time such as Bozenka, Sonia, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes, Amar Gamal, and Jillina. After eight incredible years of world tours, Stefanya returned full time to Los Angeles with an intact passion for dance but new ambitions.
In 2011, Stefanya founded The L.A. Bellydance Academy and started welcoming new students in a cozy studio located in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. This space was previously owned and operated by legendary dance artist Adam Basma. Stefanya and Adam Basma were introduced at the Beirut Nights dance competition that Adam sponsored in Los Angeles. Stefanya was the 2nd place winner and was invited to meet with Adam Basma in his Bazaar. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The studio moved to the Mid-City Art Center in the summer of 2014 to provide a more spacious and comfortable experience for its dancers and students.
The studio today offers an average of 20 classes a week taught by active professionals, private lessons, workshops, open houses, and different cultural events throughout the year.
Stefanya also contributes to cultivating and spreading the legacy of legendary artist Adam Basma.
Stefanya is a performance company member of the world-famous touring belly dance company, the Bellydance Superstars. This professional dance experience of over eight hundred shows in more than twenty-five countries provided Stefanya the tools and motivation needed to move forward passionately with insight and professionalism. She has produced multiple successful events, including “Allah Kushnir LIVE in Los Angeles”, “Club Bellydance L.A.”, and the “Arabic Arts Festival”. Stefanya’s goal is to unite dancers in celebration of truth and life through the love of dance.