Flowing, moving, energetic and delightful are adjectives I would use to describe Sultra’s dancing. Her love of Middle Eastern dance is always apparent when she is onstage, as is her warm and passionate personality. She is a genuinely kind and caring person who can dip into her emotional well and transmit her inner self to her audience. Transplanted to Salt Lake City from San Diego, she has been dancing since she was four years old, studying ballet, tap and jazz. She was and still is attracted to anything from the Middle East and as she was growing up, saw the Nutcracker many times just to watch the Arabian dance section.
“It was just in my blood. I loved the costumes and the music for as long as I can remember.”
But it wasn’t until she saw Thia dance at the Grecian Gardens seven years ago that she became totally mesmerized and enchanted with the world of belly dancing.
“Thia totally blew me away that night,” laughed Sultra. “I could hardly sit in my seat, I was so excited.”
Thia saw how impressed and excited Sultra was that evening and came to her table to talk to her about belly dancing. Sultra had been home being a wife and a mother of two very special boys, had put on a little weight, and didn’t think she was dance material anymore. Thia quickly corrected her thinking. Middle Eastern dancing is for women of all shapes, sizes and ages, and often the dance is more effective and definitive with a larger woman, and the more mature woman can often times emit emotional ranges more effectively than a young girl. Sultra immediately began studying with Thia shortly after that and has performed solos and danced with Topaz, Ambrosia and Avatar under the direction of Thia.
“I was so excited to be dancing, because I thought I never would again. A whole new world and life opened up for me through belly dancing.”
Sultra’s dance style is a combination of all she has learned. Her favorite dancers are Hadia, for her emotional content; Ansuya, because of her incredible zil work; and Nadia Gamal, her all-time favorite of the early dancers. She is presently member of Cartouche, a folkloric troupe directed by Tamar. Her absolute favorite dance style is to improvise with a live band because it allows her to express her heart, soul and personality.
“Improvisation lets the real essence of who you are emerge. It isn’t someone else’s dance or choreography—it’s just you, in the moment. Technique is important, but it isn’t everything. You need to feel good about yourself and allow that to reach out to your audience.”
Sultra will be performing in the Belly Dance Spring Fest on March 5. She can also be seen in Thia’s Virginia Show in June, and the Utah Belly Dance Festival this August. She performs regularly at the Open Dance sessions held once a month at the Grecian Gardens.