As I mentioned in my recent Bellydance Resource Guide, I was fortunate to take a few classes with world-renown bellydance superstar, Ansuya while I was in Florida last month. I was also fortunate to see her perform several times – Wow! And to top it all off, you and I are now fortunate to gain some wonderful insights from Ansuya in this in-depth interview. Thank you Ansuya!
When you’re done reading this be sure to check out her online bellydance classes. They really increase your skills while you have fun! At the end of this interview are links to some of her performance videos and a link to my review of Ansuya’s online classes.
- As an outside observer it seems as though you have achieved great success in your career as a dancer and teacher. From superlative performances, to dancing with the Belly Dance Super Stars, to establishing an international audience of students for your online classes, you have achieved and are achieving the kind of success many only dream of. To what do you attribute your success? People, beliefs, practices that you consistently stick to, etc…
Thank you for your observation! I think I may read it to myself as my daily affirmation! Lol! As a matter of fact, I believe in the Law of Attraction and it suggests that what we attract into our lives directly corresponds to the story we are telling about it. So, within my mind and heart I tell the story of my life almost as you have stated it here, in order to generate the actual experience of it. I have been doing this since I was a child as my mother encouraged it. It started as a dream, as a mental vision board, and then a mantra and then the truth. Admittedly, my mental habits are not purely positive. That may account for some of my “behind the scenes experiences” where I feel I have fought tooth and nail, through blood, sweat, and tears to achieve what is still becoming a 100% experience of the dream. But, 90% of my life is a magical fairy tale that I attribute to a moment to moment focus on directing my mental picture of my life to match my dream.
- When did you first start dancing? Can you recall an experience from childhood? When did you first know that you wanted to have a career in dance?
My mother Bellydanced while she was pregnant with me, so I believe it was one of the first ways I sensed the Earth. My earliest memory of Bellydancing was my very first performance at the age of four. I felt the flood of love coming from the audience, the bright lights of the stage, and the magical energy of backstage and I knew I wanted more.
- What experiences shaped your work ethic and drive to succeed?
I do have an insane work ethic. It comes from a long line of hard working pioneers and trail blazing feminists. I call my work ethic insane because I’ve actually had to learn to balance it in order to not become, well, insane. Thank the Goddess for the holistic industry and for the alternative spiritual growth industry. It’s from that influence that I have learned to listen to my body, mind, and soul so that I don’t work myself into the ground. Balance is key for me because when I am not accessing my mother’s heritage (“no pain no gain”), I am accessing my father’s heritage and he was part of a royal family (“no way I’m working”). So, my personality started out flip flopping from working too hard to “I can’t work at all!” and now I am learning to pace myself in good rhythm with source energy.
- Which people in your life have been most influential and in what way?
My mother has taught me how to access a magical life through Bellydance, my grandmother taught our whole family how to think for ourselves by living outside the lines of society, and my brother has taught me how to access my funny bone by daring to be different. I think all this plus a dash of my father’s family lore, and a drizzle of life experience has been the recipe that’s made me.
- Who have you studied with?
I learned to Bellydance from my mother, Jenaeni Rathor. Her protegés Alexandra King and Aleili also became my teachers. The other dancers in her company called “Yaleil” also each had an influence on my dance and on my life.
- Are there certain things, music, or people who inspire you to dance? Do you have dance idols?
I draw inspiration from everywhere. I can see a painting that transports my imagination to another time and as I ponder myself there I sense a demeanor, a style, a perspective that informs my dance. I can hear music from any genre and feel myself dancing to it and the movements will come out in my performance. I can see people whose personalities strike me in a way that influences how I express myself as I dance. I still idolize my mother because, though retired, she still coaches me and when she speaks about life or dance I am enthralled, when she shows me a move, I am mesmerized.
- What does belly dancing mean to you? What does it do for you? What do you think it’s purpose is?
I feel so lucky to be able to be on a journey that accesses my personal power through Bellydance. Like yoga, it has the ability to awaken one’s chakras which helps us to access our inner intuition which lines us up with source energy which I believe is who we are in our broadest form. For me, Bellydance does all of this by integrating sensuality with spirituality and it is my honor to make a study of this and to share what I learn with others.
- How much dancing do you do each week? How do you balance that with the technology and business tasks of your career?
I have to say I am surprised to have been converted to a tech fiend. I really felt that cyber space was cramping my vibrational style. Lol! Until I realized the level of information exchange, subsequent education, endless creativity and ultimate freedom of the Internet and all it has to offer. Now cyber space is sexy to me! As far as my schedule goes, I do a whole lot of everything everyday. As a female entrepreneur pioneering a cutting edge business inside an artistic industry, I have to stay on my toes. I do bounce from right brain to left-brain frequently throughout my week. But, as I get savvy at it I find it to be exhilarating rather than taxing. At this point I feel I have designed myself an epic schedule that feeds the soul, nourishes the body, and stimulates the mind. I still feel like I have too much to do inside every category of my life but this improves everyday. My challenge now is to tell this story: “I have enough time and enough prosperity to relax and enjoy what I have created.” And, if that affirmation isn’t working, I try this one: “Duh, how do you think you got this far? Of course you can bring this vision all the way into perfection. Come on!”
- What helps you to stay grounded?
In terms of ego, that’s easy because if I ever showed any signs of behaving as though I did not represent “every woman” and was committed to protecting and serving the well being of the universe my mother and grandmother would attack me…verbally. However in terms of keeping my center in the swirl of life and the unpredictable behavior of others, I relish the idea that I give a grounded impression. I think I arrived at that by allowing life and people to catapult me way out into the stratosphere to the point of almost losing it and then learning how to navigate my way back down to the ground and firmly rooting myself within the center of my being. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but in my personal and professional life I have encountered an enormous amount of manipulation and betrayal. I chuckle about it now even when a glimmer comes up or even when it temporarily surrounds me. But, I didn’t think it was funny at all when it first started happening. At first I buried it inside me and that gave me severe anxiety. Then, I outwardly defended myself and that gave me insanity as a reputation. Now, I can direct my vibration through a pretty high level of negative energy without losing focus. I can’t even begin to express how freeing that is. The most pivotal experience that led me to strengthening this ability was when I had a tragedy in my love life that I thought my psyche would not survive. My mother saw the look on my face when I came into the full realization of what was happening and she took the immediate action of requiring me to live my life in 10 minute increments. She said only ten minutes on any given task. This was smart because I could only focus for about this long before going into extreme emotional pain. She also forbid me to think about the betrayal I was experiencing. It was like a forced denial until I could process the information (at a much, much later date) without it destroying my system. I think this saved my life as well as taught me how to live it. I am no longer in an acute stage so I am really enjoying my ability now to choose what I focus on and how I react to life. These are wonderful skills to get to play with when attempting to create your reality using the principals of the Law of Attraction.
- What keeps the dance fresh, new, and exciting for you? What feeds your creativity?
A new costume! A new song! Seeing a hot man! Having a great day! Getting lots of rest! Eating well! Stretching! Taking walks! Swimming in the ocean! Talking to amazing people! Seeing a great film or TV show! Taking a bath with my jewelry on! Lol!
- What do you do to get mentally ready for a performance? And how do you unwind afterwards?
I love to be very still and quiet before a show. I like to build and conserve my energy for the stage. After a show I like to be wild and loud and have fun with friends and then have a great conversation pondering how the universe works with my mom.
- How do you define success in your career and in your life?
I define everything by money. Just kidding. Actually, I do think prosperity is a sign of health that means you are connecting to your full potential. So, now that I feel I have a good bead on how to access my creativity, I would like to access my full prosperity potential to provide myself with a deeper sense of inner peace so I can feel freer to have more fun. I just realized how I should do this. I should have more fun, which will provide me with a deeper sense of inner peace, which will increase my connection to prosperity. I’m going to get right on that!
- What are your non-belly dance outlets and interests in life?
I am also an actress. I adore the sensation of acting and am looking forward to doing it more. I would also like to pursue Yoga further to access more physical well being. I have finally succeeded in becoming Vegan so I am in love with and very fulfilled by my ever-evolving diet. I need a man. Oh! Did I type that out loud? Jeez. Nobody try to set me up, though. I’m too unusual to match! I’ll have to work that out on my own through visualization and magic! Lol!
- You’ve established yourself as a belly dance pioneer offering online classes! What have been your challenges, pleasant surprises, and what are your future goals in this area?
I am so excited to be able to create an empowering community where beginning through advanced level students can learn all about Bellydance including the physical, spiritual, and social rewards it provides. I provide classes, performances, behind the scenes talk, costuming advice, make up advice, tips on sacred space creation, diet tips, and more. I knew I wanted to do this project, but I had no idea how much I would love it! After I get all done creating a month’s worth of material for the site, shooting it, editing it, and creating the marketing for it, I totally become an Ansuya.com member myself, because I can’t wait to chat with members on my Facebook, my Youtube channel, my Twitter, through email, and live on Bellyskypes. We talk about all the things we share as we are on our Bellydance journey’s together! My goal now is just to make sure that the thousands of students I have taught around the globe are aware that they can experience this connection at Ansuya.com and then to get the word out to mainstream women who have yet to be exposed to the wonders of Bellydance!
- Tell us about your future plans. What is coming up next for you professionally? Do you have anything new planned?
I am very lucky to own a colorful Bellydance studio with exotic decor in the tropical location of Naples, Florida. I am looking forward to creating Bellydance Vacations for visiting students who want to access their inner goddess with Bellydance and rejuvenate their mind, body, and soul by taking in the glorious sunshine, the beautiful beach, and the Mediterranean architecture of Naples, FL – a lovely city will small town charm!
- What advice do you have for aspiring dancers who want to improve?
I love to advise aspiring dancers! There is a lot of raw talent out there right now and I enjoy coaching dancers to reach their full potential. Along with the pre-recorded online classes at Ansuya.com and live online classes through Bellyskypes, I offer YouTube Critiques where dancers can upload a video of themselves dancing to YouTube, provide me with a link, and then I provide a full written critique that I email to them. Yet another way I can connect with women who want to experience the fun of Bellydance no matter where they are in the world!
- Anything else you want the world to know?
The first time I heard “never give up” I felt inspired and thought I could do that. I had no idea it meant “NEVER GIVE UP!” When I realized to what level I needed to commit to this in order to actually never give up and succeed I put my nose to the grindstone and almost burnt out because I was fighting rather than flowing. Next I realized what “NEVER GIVE UP” actually means for me. Never give up means: never give up on the truest sense of yourself that you can find within you. It means never give up on your purest dreams even if they seem beyond impossible. It means never give up on feeling ecstasy on all levels of your life. It means never give up on refining your intuition. It means never give up on your vision for the world. And, beyond all else it means, never give up on love!
Thank you so much Ansuya!
Thank you so much, Kristin, for helping me to share my vision of teaching women how to create magical lives for themselves through Bellydance at Ansuya.com!
Ansuya on Social Media
Other Bellydance Resources
Review of Ansuya’s Online Classes (scroll down to “Online Classes”)
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