There aren't nearly enough bellydance instructors in country areas, so Echuca is very lucky to have Darshiva, who is not only a lovely dancer but a fully certified belly dance teacher. She is a passionate advocate not just for belly dance but for Egypt and Middle Eastern culture in general.
For more about Darshiva including contact details, visit her website, Raqsriverine.com.
If you live in the Murray-Goulburn area and would like to make contact with other dancers in your region, join Darshiva's Murray-Goulburn Bellydancers Group on Facebook.
Interview with belly dancer Darshiva
How did you get started with belly dancing?
It's something I'd always wanted to try, but never felt like I could do it, so I never actually started looking for classes. In 2001, my boyfriend (now my husband) started pointing out classes to me and saying that he thought it was something I'd enjoy. It took me until 2003 to get up the nerve to try it out.
What is your favourite belly dancing style and/or prop?
Modern Oriental for performing, classical Egyptian for watching. I'm enamoured with both wings & stick, but if I had to choose a prop for the rest of my life I'd probably go with veil, even thought it's not my favourite, for its versatility.
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your belly dance style?
Keti Sharif & Ranya Renee for contemporary dancers, Suheir Zaki & Samia Gamal for classic dancers. Very different styles, but I think you can probably see Samia Gamal's influence the most. I like to float across the stage like a sugar plum fairy!
What advice would you offer an aspiring belly dancer?
Bellydance will take over your life if you let it. Be ready for it and be ready to say no to it when you need to. It can be anything from a hobby to an all-consuming passion. What it is for you is up to you, but you need to be very honest with yourself going into this or it can take years to find your feet & get what you want out of it.
Be prepared. This isn't a cheap hobby. This is an addiction verging on crack in terms of financial outlay. If you aren't prepared in advance for how much money you will want to spend on this dance, you will be in for a big shock when it happens.
Do your homework before choosing a teacher. If you're after serious dance lessons, you will be very disappointed in a social class; if you're after a weekly sanity break from life, you will probably find a more structured class dull.
Go into this knowing what you want out of it and you will get the most out of it. That said, if your needs change, change with them. There's no point sticking out a class if you're not getting what you want out of it. It's okay to change classes, and most teachers will understand. The good ones will help you find a new teacher that will suit you.