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COVER STORY: Sadira





Q: Tell us about your Fusion process- how would you describe your style? A: My Fusion process is a dynamic blend of various dance styles, including traditional belly dance, FCBD®, as well as EDM and Latin dance elements. I describe my style as eclectic and innovative, drawing inspiration from diverse cultural influences and personal experiences to create a unique expression of movement. 2. Q: When you teach classes what is your approach and what do you focus on most? A: When I teach classes, my approach is centered around fostering creativity and self-expression. I encourage students to explore different movement dynamics, experiment with musicality, and cultivate their individual style. While technique is important, I also prioritize studying dance history/culture, while cultivating a supportive and inclusive learning environment where students feel empowered to embrace their artistic voice. 3. Q: You do both traditional and Fusion as well as other dance styles. How do you keep them separate and how do you choose when to use what style? A: Balancing traditional and Fusion dance styles requires a nuanced understanding of each form's cultural context and aesthetic principles. I keep them separate by honoring the integrity of each style while also exploring opportunities for creative fusion. I choose which style to use based on the theme or mood of the performance, allowing the music and inspiration to guide my artistic choices. (i.e. a Mehndi party vs a steampunk or cosplay event) 4. Q: You run a nonprofit - tell us about that! A: My non-profit organization, the National CARE Foundation, is dedicated to advocating for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and other traumatic circumstances by connecting them with services and resources that can enhance their quality of life, as well as through community awareness. We also address social issues through sex-positive research and education. Belly dance was my creative outlet while I was healing from my own trauma: physical and sexual child abuse, teen homelessness, rape, military sexual assault and domestic violence. When I’m not dancing, I travel speaking publicly and host a sex-positive, educational podcast. 5. Q: How does your entrepreneur experience factor into your dance life? A: My entrepreneurial experience has been instrumental in navigating the business side of dance, from marketing and promotion to managing finances and networking with industry professionals. It has taught me valuable skills in strategic planning, negotiation, and resource management, which I apply to both my artistic endeavors and organizational leadership. I have been a full-time entrepreneur since April 2009. 6. Q: Where do you do see Fusion heading? A: I see Fusion dance continuing to evolve and expand, pushing the boundaries of creativity and cultural fusion. As artists continue to explore new influences and experiment with innovative choreographic concepts, Fusion dance will remain at the forefront of the contemporary dance scene, captivating audiences with its dynamic energy and diverse aesthetics. 7. Q: How do you pitch teaching this style to studios and performing it to venues? A: When pitching teaching Fusion dance to studios and performing at venues, I emphasize the versatility and appeal of the style, highlighting its ability to engage diverse audiences and infuse traditional dance forms with a contemporary twist. I showcase my unique choreographic style, professional expertise, and commitment to artistic excellence to demonstrate the value of incorporating Fusion dance into their programming. I usually provide a video clip sample during my pitch to avoid any misconceptions about belly dance since it can often be mistaken to be an erotic dance as opposed to a family-friendly, cultural, empowering dance form. 8. Q: How do you handle conversations on cultural appropriation? A: Conversations on cultural appropriation are important and require sensitivity, respect, and cultural competency. As a Fusion dancer, I strive to honor and acknowledge the cultural origins of the dance forms I incorporate while also recognizing my own positionality as a non-native practitioner. I engage in ongoing learning and dialogue, actively seeking input from diverse voices and communities to ensure that my artistic expression is culturally respectful and socially responsible. (i.e. I currently do not engage in wearing a bindi during my performances even though it was common in FCBD and Fusion circles for a while. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism the bindi is associated with the ajna chakra, and Bindu is known as the third eye chakra. Bindu is the point or dot around which the mandala is created, representing the universe. The bindi has a historical, religious and cultural presence in the region of Greater India. This personally does not resonate with me. This is just one example when it comes to the conversation of appreciation vs appropriation.) 9. Q: What is your favorite thing about Fusion dance? Least favorite? A: My favorite thing about Fusion dance is its limitless creative potential and ability to transcend cultural boundaries, allowing me to explore and express my identity in a uniquely personal way. My least favorite aspect is navigating misconceptions or criticisms from those who may not fully understand or appreciate the artistic integrity of Fusion dance. I’m also not fond of up and coming “Fusion” dancers who do not take the time to appreciate the historical and cultural context that their foundational movements are coming from which can come off as an incomplete or disconnected “sentence” during a demonstration or performance as opposed to blending seamlessly and being a cohesive thought. 10. Q: Lastly what advice would you give to someone in Fusion? A: To someone interested in Fusion dance, my advice would be to embrace curiosity, experimentation, and self-discovery. Allow yourself the freedom to explore diverse movement vocabularies, musical genres, and cultural influences, while also staying grounded in foundational techniques and cultural awareness. Cultivate an open-minded attitude towards collaboration and learning from others, and never stop pushing the boundaries of your creativity and expression. Yes, your dance lineage IS important ;)



Erica "Sadira" Rivera is a Belly Dance performer and instructor based in Flagler County, Florida. She combines her love of Middle Eastern dance with her passion for different cultures and displays her unique blend of dance fusion in both solo and troupe pieces. Belly dancing since 2008, she has studied under some of the most notable names in the industry and is proficient in several Oriental & Fusion subgenres. You can inquire about having her at your next special event or take a class and join her on a journey of self-love and acceptance. Every year, her students have the opportunity to showcase a demonstration for their friends and family at Volusia-Flagler Turtle Patrol's Annual Turtle Fest in Flagler Beach, Florida.


Class Offerings:


Every Thursday Halifax Repertory Theatre Ormond Beach, Florida

Shimmy Chic Fitness™ @ 6:30pm (ongoing)

Belly Dance Basics @ 7:30pm (Spring and Fall sessions)


1st Saturdays, Bellywood Studios, Orlando, Florida

Modern Fusion, 12p-2p (Int+)


3rd Saturdays, Studio 904, Jacksonville, Florida

Modern Fusion, 12p-2p (Int+)


Available nationally for workshop and performance inquiries: sadira.bellydancer@yahoo.com


Socials:


@theericarivera on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (X), TikTok and Patreon.

@ntlcarefoundation on Facebook & Instagram

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