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Synesthetic Dance Artist

A multi-sensory kinesthetic journey

Background

I have been learning, dancing, performing, costuming, teaching, choreographing, gigging, producing, and traveling all things Middle Eastern dance for over 21 years. Now I am diving into my life experience as a synesthete and how if affects my dance, including pioneering a new style called Nordic Fusion Belly Dance, a modern experience that evokes ancient roots.
 

Inspired by the rich cultural world of Middle Eastern dance, my passion for movement has turned towards the exploratory; from academically pursuing Kandinsky's theory of stimmung; to intersecting my love of nature with my love of dance; to connecting the somatic/psyche/spirit and more. I seek to weave into movement that which I experience.  My dance tells stories that are simultaneously personal and collective. Rich, organic sounds. Fluid, sensuous movement. Soulful, deep connection. A visual representation of the somatic experience. My hope is to inspire you to learn, grow, and create.


I hold three formal teaching certifications from world renown master instructors, am the creative director and choreographer for Nornir Dance Company, and have a BS in Biology from the University of Washington. I've had the honor to perform for the Consul of Oman and the Minister of Culture of Tanzania. Over the years I have taught hundreds of students, directed successful dance troupes, been repeatedly selected as a competition judge, and produced stage shows elevating the art of raqs sharqi, including one held at the prestigious Seattle Art Museum. I have been featured in The Columbian, The Seattle Times, King 5 News, The Belly Dance Chronicles, Sequins & Shimmies, and graced the cover of Belly Dance Japan.

 

I release performance videos, filmed specifically for the digital spectator, several times a year.

Why I (sometimes) call it belly dance:


The role of Middle Eastern dance in my style cannot and should not be understated or disconnected. I have trained with some of the world’s most elite dancers: Mahmoud Reda, Dina, Mona al Said, Tito Seif, Tamalyn Dallal, Delilah, Suhaila Salimpour, Rachel Brice, and so many more. True artists. I feel that learning and acknowledging both the folkloric roots and the nightclub beginnings of raqs sharqi is an integral and necessary step in every belly dancer’s journey, regardless of personal style. Learning the rhythms, beloved songs, foundational movement, and most importantly the musicality, the feeling, is paramount. It is how I fell in love with belly dance. It’s what I look for in other dancers, regardless of which path of bellydance they travel. It cannot be dissected out from my current fusion style nor should it. By calling what I do belly dance, I pay homage to the amazing culture that has created an art form so beloved it is now a global phenomenon. Middle Eastern dance is so powerful it has created an explosion of creativity across the world.  It has birthed so many unique dance styles, influenced countless musicians and will hopefully continue to be one of the world’s most beautiful art forms for generations to come. Make no mistake, what I do is not Middle Eastern dance, nor do I call it that. But the term belly dance (a misnomer from its inception) is now globalized to encompass many forms, and so it is of utmost importance that those of us in fusion styles recognize and honor the MENAHT roots of our art. That we study the origins. That we know the history. That we learn from source dancers.  Middle Eastern dance roots cannot and should not be erased from what I do. Calling it fusion belly dance is my way of honoring this.

In the Press

The Columbian - Belly Dance is for 'all shapes, 'all sizes'...

NW Folklife Festival – What is Zeffa?

Sequins and Shimmies – featured Artist of the Month

Belly Dance Japan – Cover model, June 2012

Orientalia Zanzibar – a featured performer for the Drug-Free Zanzibar fundraiser, July 2011

King 5 News TV – one of the featured belly dancers for World Belly Dance Day, May 2011

The Seattle Times: Hathor Unveiled – featured as co-producer of the Seattle show that honors local dance legends

The Belly Dance Chronicles – featured as co-producer for Hathor Unveiled, summer 2010 issue

Malia holds teaching certifications from internationally-renown dancers:

  - Tamalyn Dallal Teacher Training Intensive

  - Saqra Raybuck Teacher Training Intensive

  - Myra Krien SEEDs Teacher Training Intensive

Malia also has a Bachelors of Science in Biology from University of Washington and Professional Certificate of Human Resources Management from Portland State University.  She recently completed a graduate-level Independent Research Semester at Reed College, Portland OR that helped inform the direction of her artistic pursuits.

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