Photo: Tom Sparks Photography
In the world of belly dancing, people come and people go. It is especially wonderful when an energetic and exciting dancer returns. One such a dancer is Shazia, who has come back to the Utah Middle Eastern dance scene after several years’ absence, bringing with her a boundless enthusiasm and a perpetual joy for dancing. She is so much fun to watch because she appears to be having such a good time and effortlessly manages to include her audience in the experience. Shazia recreates the early days of belly dancing with her self-proclaimed “old Salt Lake” style of belly dancing — big movements, more hip action than isolations and lots of energy. Her exuberance is infectious, and her command of the stage is undeniable. A real player and a born performer, Shazia knows how to bring an audience into her dance aura. She is talented and a consummate professional.
“I only want to dance where I am treated well and people are happy to see me,” Shazia says. “Coming back into the Utah dance scene after being gone for several years, I have found a relaxed and accepting environment. I like this evolution of the dance community. There seems to be a place for all styles and artistic expression. Everyone just goes for it. It’s all about having fun!”
Shazia grew up in Honeyville, Utah, where she studied gymnastics, ballroom dance, ballet, modern dance and lyrical dance. She excelled in jazz and clogging, in which she was involved for seven years and won several national championships.
“I became enamored with belly dancing at an SCA event. Some belly dancers there showed me the basic moves, and I was hooked. I started studying with Kismet immediately,” she says. “Yasamina, Kimaya, Jason and Zahira were my teachers, and they were wonderful. I also danced in Kismet’s performing troupe for two years. I created Scimitar in 1999 and shortly after that moved to Seattle.”
Shazia has also taken workshops from Fat Chance Belly Dance, Amaya, and Tina Sargent. “My favorite, though, is Sahra Saeeda because she is so intelligent, energetic and optimistic [on top of] being an incredibly talented dancer. I love taking workshops in all styles because I believe learning something new makes me a better dancer. Then I take all the variations and styles and blend them into my own ‘old Salt Lake’ style of dance. I like to dance big and think big.”
Today, Shazia lives in Brigham City and is the single mother of two boys, ages 9 and 13. She teaches beginning and intermediate belly dance classes and is the director and choreographer for Scimitar, a professional performing dance troupe. She has also taught workshops in Utah, Colorado, Washington and Idaho.
Shazia performs off and on at Cedars of Lebanon in Salt Lake City. She will be dancing this summer with Scimitar at the Weber County Fair, Roy Days Celebration and the Ogden Arts Festival. For dates and times, check out scimitardance.com.