In Appreciation of Asata

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We all start somewhere. In July of 2001, I found my way to bellydance as a means of adding movement to my life. I walked into the Albany Community Center tentative, unsure and disconnected from my body. I did not know much about bellydance. Really, I did not know much about dance. I just knew that I was not the stereotypical image of a bellydancer at all. That July, at twenty-nine years of age, I walked into my very first dance class. I was uncoordinated, and lacking in both confidence and musicality. Bellydance felt safe and accessible to me because I saw that the instructor Asata was explicitly introducing the dance to women of color and full-figured women. She helped me see myself in the dance. I don’t think I would have taken the chance otherwise, and I am glad I took the risk. I wonder if I would have found my way to bellydance without Asata.

Our first bellydance teacher, Asata

I am grateful to Asata for holding space for people like me. In our work with Your Body Raks, Tammy and I work to plant seeds and to seek out folks who have never considered bellydance. Asata was our mirror and now we are the mirrors for others, too. Thank you Asata. I celebrate your grace, your courage, and your passion. Thank you for introducing bellydance to me in a way that helped me to connect to my body and myself. Thank you for igniting a joy, a love and a freedom inside of me.

Who inspires you? We invite you to join Your Body Raks in our celebration of Women in Dance this month by submitting a photo or video with a message about the dancer to They can be an international, national or local dancer from any dance style.

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