Dancing through life

My first teacher in this genre was Sahar in Santa Cruz, 2002 (pictured above, with my cohort of her Serpentine Dancers). While I have had probably over a hundred dance teachers at this point, I’m grateful that I had such a wonderful beginning. No wonder I fell in love with raqs sharqi, American Cabaret, folkloric and fusion styles, she did them all! This is my revival of her piece, “Shashkin” - here with Morrigan, and David Rayner drumming along.

Monarchs rule

In 2018, I made like a monarch and migrated across the Pacific Ocean, from California to New Zealand. Another surfy West Coast town, New Plymouth quickly felt like home in a lot of ways - but also a big chance for change. It was time to take the lead.

Monarch Belly Dance Theatre was the first group I formed, in tribute to the transformative power of dance. We showcased classical and vintage genres of raqs sharqi/bellydance.

My current student group is Juniper and the Gems!

Juniper poses with monarch wings at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth
Pop-up dance party at a friend's house

Santa Cruz represent

It’s funny how I see Santa Cruz shirts everywhere, some people have no idea it’s a real place, not just a brand! I’ve met a lot of fun people like Mel here, willing to just “give it a go” and try a new skill. This is an impromptu moment at her party.

New Plymouth is wonderfully diverse, so I also learn from my friends/students (there’s significant overlap between those two categories)!

Stories with friends

I’ve explored many art forms in my life, from illustration and animation as my first real career, to writing young adult fiction while my kids were still little.

Dance is the best one for this season of my life, because it connects me to my new community. I’m not overly concerned about looking amazing - I just dance the way the song makes me feel, hopefully in a way that takes the audience along too.

It’s way easier to tell stories through fusion dance instead of games or novels, and it’s more fun with other people!

Dance to express, not impress
Preschooler Juniper watches her mom put on makeup in the green room while a woman with an 80s mullet smiles at camera

Behind the scenes

This is me backstage with Mom and one of my future Modern Dance teachers, Sandy Metzler. I saw a LOT of rehearsals and green rooms as a child, and I loved being in shows once I had a chance. I haven’t always danced consistently, but dance has always been there when I need it.

Even if dance is just your own private outlet, you might plant a seed. I like to think my kids benefit from seeing mom happy, active, and expressing herself - who knows what they’ll get up to later?

Dancing with Mom

Jazz and Modern still sneak into my style sometimes, and that’s alright with me :-) This is an improv session from a visit to my childhood home in Northern California.

My grandparents used to take us to the best dance shows in San Francisco, memorably Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. I’m a small town girl, but “The City” (as we called SF) left an imprint early on.

More of my favorite things

I’m a geek who loves social justice, cats, books, comics, board games, and starting the morning with a flat white and pastry. I occasionally still draw, especially my original favorite subject (This fanart is of Leetah from ElfQuest, copyright Warp Graphics).

Pan au chocolat, flat white, and "Women and Power: A Manifesto" by Mary Beard
Kittens demand attention by standing on my to-do list
My canary of Leetah nursing her baby, characters copyright Warp Graphics


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