About Bhana

Bhana started attending belly dancing classes in 1995, just before her fifteenth birthday. Her best friend had asked her to join the class with her, but having an older brother, Bhana was more of a ‘tom boy’ and very reluctant to join. Once she attended her first class however, she fell head-over-heels in love with the music and the movement (and the glitter and colourful outfits)! That was her – hooked and she has never looked back! When she started Belly Dancing all those years ago, South Africa was a very different place. There was so little available back then, in terms of videos clips; music; outfits & teachers. She learnt form anyone and everyone she came across – gathering as much information and material she could. Be it from her piers in the industry or friends who had travelled to the Middle East etc. Today, there is so much available, from instructional & performance DVDs, international performers’ workshops on our doorstep… and of course – Youtube. “We must make use of all of that is available to us, but not to forget our own local talent, we have so much to offer especially to each other!” says Bhana.

Shalimar, the ‘Grandmother of Belly Dance’ in South Africa, was Bhana’s instructor and often her inspiration. After a few months under Shalimar's instruction, she joined the professional troupe and began performing at various functions across South Africa. She was the youngest professional belly dancer in the country at the time (’96) and soon became a resident dancer at The Tent (Egyptian restaurant). She eventually broke away from the studio to go solo, but also collaborating with various other local performers on occasion.

Bhana started performing at The Sheikh’s Palace (Lebanese restaurant in Sandton) in ‘97 and has been a resident dancer there for 17+ years now. Dancing there has been an incredible experience for her and is where she has learnt most of what she knows about the different Middle Eastern cultures & dance styles - from customers who frequent the restaurant, to other dancers & entertainers who have performed there and of course years of experience. She has had the opportunity to perform for very important guests, such as Saudi Royalty, Presidents and Prime Ministers of various countries, and also local and international celebrities.

Belly dancing has taken Bhana all over the world where she has received a lot of recognition and media exposure. From ‘98 to ‘02 she travelled frequently with an Egyptian trade exhibition to Mauritius and Madagascar. Other countries she has been invited to perform in, are Lesotho, Botswana, Belgium, Egypt, Zambia, Seychelles, Namibia, Swaziland and Greece. She admits, it is the best way to travel!

Throughout the earlier years Bhana had received many requests to teach Belly Dance classes, but for the most part she resisted strongly as she did not feel ‘qualified’ or ‘experienced’ enough yet. After 8 or 9 years of performing full time, she eventually gave in, to a young girl who approached her for private lessons. This student was the turning point for Bhana, opening a new chapter in her dance career - Teaching.

Discovering how much you learn, yourself, by teaching others, was the first thing that Bhana realised, ‘’…it forces you to break out of your comfort zone as a performer, to give your students as much information as possible and not limit them to what you are comfortable with…”. Despite the years of experience under her belt, not having any ’formal’ dance training, Bhana found herself breaking each and every movement down, uncovering which muscles were being used and in what way, in order to explain and teach the movements clearly and precisely. This has been her main focus when teaching, giving her students a sense of muscular awareness. She also spends time working certain muscle groups with toning & strengthening exercises and uses Yoga based warm ups and cool downs – Bhana is a Yoga teacher in Ashtanga and Vinyasa styes of Yoga. Bhana is a passionate dance teacher who has a unique way of teaching movement based on muscle control and visualization. She specializes in 1-on-1 training, offering her students a tailor made approach to the experience.

Bhana believes that one never stops learning and encourages her students to learn from as many teachers as they can. Her classes have a strong focus on learning how to improvise, just letting go and interpreting the music as an individual. Many of her students have become professional performers themselves and perform regularly at many top Middle Eastern venues.

She feels that a teacher should have sufficient knowledge about what they are teaching. They should be an excellent communicator, have genuine patience with the ability to know where; when and how to push their students, as everybody learns differently and at their own pace. Also, she feels that a teacher should have a good understanding of the human anatomy and be able to teach their students techniques to help prevent dance related injuries. A teacher should be grounded yet passionate about what they are teaching and they should teach their students respect for the art form, respect for other dancers and of course, respect for themselves.

“I love Belly Dancing with all my heart and soul, unconditionally” …Bhana

 

© Copyright Bhana 2016