Sumra watched her first bellydancing performance at a renaissance fair and was mesmerized by the sensuality, control, and intricacy of the art. Not long after that, at another belly dancing venue, she was convinced to begin her own Middle Eastern dance training.
[Sumra] “I was so excited that there was a dance form for women over 30,” Sumra explained. “This was an art form for women of all ages.”
Sumra was classically trained in ballet and studied jazz and tap. She quit dancing after college, to marry, have children and pursue a career in marketing management. Today she is a performing soloist, director and member of the dance troupe, Shazadi, and choreographer. She will be teaching an intermediate belly dance class this fall.
“I enjoy choreographing dances and seeing my ideas come to life,” she said.
Born and raised in Logan, Sumra was aware that belly dance training in Cache Valley was limited. So, 6 years ago the Utah State University Middle Eastern Dance Club was created with only 6 members and no teachers. In order to learn the dance, each member was assigned a belly dance video to watch and then they taught each other the movements. They also brought in major dancers from across the Wasatch Front to teach workshops and dance. This was mainly for the club’s benefit, but it also educated the Cache Valley audience regarding Middle Eastern Dance.
Today they boast more than 50 students and each year they host a workshop and performance with a nationally recognized Middle Eastern Dancer. Their workshops and shows are professional and a lot of fun, and they have a fabulous core audience.
“I have studied with everyone in Utah and various teachers around the United States,” explains Sumra. “I am excited that there are so many talented dancers in Utah. I am always surprised at the high caliber of dancing in this state. I believe Utah is one of Middle Eastern dance’s best kept secrets.”
Sumra is one of those talented dancers, technically accurate, and delightfully expressive. Her interpretation of Middle Eastern dance is elegant, refined, and hot. Sumra’s dedication to her art is undeniable. In 2003, at Wiggles of the West, she won second place as Entertainer of the Year, and was part of Shazadi’s coming in second and third, as Ensemble of the Year, in 2003 and 2004.
“I was especially influenced by Jillina’s creativity, interpretation, and choreography, Hadia’s sensibility and teaching ability, and Aziza’s fluidity and perpetual motion,” Sumra said. “For my own dance interpretation, I take a little from each teacher and incorporate it into my own style. My favorite form of Middle Eastern dance is Egyptian Cabaret, but my dance style is definitely American. I am not a purist. I bring to the dance all I have learned and express it in my own way.”
Shazadi will be hosting the fabulous Ansuya, teaching a workshop and performing, this November. It’s a short drive to Logan to watch Middle Eastern dancing in all its variety, and you will catch a rising star, Sumra, dancing solo and with Shazadi. See you there!