There is no other dance form like bellydance. Women of all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, cultures and beliefs are not only accepted but embraced and supported - united in a love for dance
Vanessa is a multi-faceted woman with extremely diverse interests and fields of expertise. She has an insatiable appetite for learning and has the ability to identify, understand, and explain concepts from the highest level down to the most technical of details. A true dance nerd.
Vanessa is a serial entrepreneur who owns and manages a number of businesses when she isn't dancing. She loves building websites (like this one), runs a growing digital agency which supports and empowers small to medium businesses. She also manages the day to day running of the studio.
She dances to the beat of her own drum in all spheres of her life and thrives on helping others reaching their true potential. She has the sweetest little boy who is the light of her life and certainly keeps her on her toes in the motherhood juggling act most working moms face.
Vanessa started bellydance at the awkward age of 16 in 1997. After finding a flyer in the postbox at home she dragged her mom and a couple of friends to a trial class. That was it!
It felt like coming home.
She signed up to dance twice a week, which wasn't enough, and soon after four times a week. From that very first class she danced furiously and at any and every opportunity. She was promoted to the advanced class (where she met Candida) after 3 months and began performing a few months later - she actually did her very first show with Candida...
Read more about their unique story here.
Bellydance had a hugely profound effect on her. Not only did it feel like coming home but it felt like she already knew all the moves and they came completely naturally to her. It was as if she wasn't learning movements from scratch but being reminded of them.
From that very first class, her fate was sealed. She knew what she would be doing for the rest of her life.
Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.-Ann Voskamp
Vanessa has an extensive and varied dance history.
From the age of 6 she started modern, ballet, and tap and continued for many years. This provided her with a solid foundation paired with a disciplined approach to dance practice, something that is often lacking in the belly dance industry.
Only bellydance made her feel like her true self - strong, empowered, independent, creative, and the creator of her own happiness. Her relationship with bellydance has lasted longer than any other, her passion growing by the day.
While Vanessa can be quiet and reserved at times she is a natural performer from having stage experience from such a young age. A true ambivert.
She has a confident, interactive, and cheeky stage persona. She has a knack for engaging with audiences from all walks of life and in any situation.
She has performed for intimate gatherings and bridal showers, and in massive stage productions in front of thousands of people. She has been on numerous TV shows as well as performing at high profile events and corporate functions.
She is comfortable in any environment as long as she gets to dance.
Vanessa was a resident dancer at the Sheikh's Palace for a number of years. She's had the opportunity to perform for Arab dignitaries and ambassadors, on many occasions, and has performed all over the country and abroad.
Vanessa's teaching style has a strong technical focus coupled with a keen eye for details. Her unique dance style draws from her extensive dance experience in a variety of styles to create complex choreography, always from the audience's perspective, with a modern influence.
She has a passion for fusion of all kinds, breaking the rules (you've got to learn them first before you can break them) choreography, and going against the grain.
She is interested in theatrical bellydance as her stagecraft abilities develop, assisted by her innate skills cultivated from being a stage performer for most of her life.
Be yourself. Everybody else is taken. - Oscar Wilde
vanessa's message to dancers and wannabe dancers
"Never be afraid to try something new. There is so much joy to be discovered through movement, and bellydance is the fastest way to get to a space of body acceptance and self-confidence.
Don't be afraid to be who you are, to develop your own style, and to embrace the things that make you different. Bellydance creates a safe space for you to flourish."
• Began dancing at the age of 6 starting with modern, ballet and tap.
• Began bellydance classes at 16
• Began performing professionally at 17
• Began teaching at 19 and started her own studio at 22.
• Creator, choreographer, producer and artistic director for stage productions
• Organiser and contributor to World Belly Dance Day Johannesburg events in 2013, 2014 and 2016
• Taught classes and performed safely up to 8 months pregnant in preparation for childbirth, returning to teaching and dancing 6 weeks post-partum
• Resident dancer at the Sheikh's Palace 2000-2003
• Performing for a number of Arab ambassadors and dignitaries
• Performing around the country as well as internationally in Swaziland and Namibia
• Interviewed, featured, and performed on a variety of TV shows; Great Expectations about motherhood and body acceptance, featured on an episodes of Binnelanders, Pasella, Mamepe, Craze-E, KTV, and interviewed on Soweto TV
• Has attended workshops with international dancers Rania, Samantha Emanuel, Jillina of Bellydance Evolution, Khader Ahmed, Lauren Boldt, Donna Mejia, Kami Liddle, Karim Nagi, Sharon Kihara, Liza Laziza, Mahmoud Reda, Danisa, and Tamalyn Dallal
• Has trained with local dancers Shalimar (Shalimar's Bellydance Studio) from 1999-2004 and Marion Nowak 2010-2013 (Tribal Fusion) and completed Level 1 (ATS©) with Tribal Angels
• Has attended a number of workshops with Cape Town studio Soma (Tribal Fusion)
All photos taken by Sarah de Pina of Sarah de Pina Photography