Juneau residents will have the opportunity to discover the goddess within themselves next week when nationally-renowned performer and belly dancer Dolphina comes to town.
Dolphina will be in Juneau from June 26 through 28 to perform and conduct belly dance and burlesque workshops, as well as teach her unique philosophy of feminine empowerment.
"Basically, she thinks everyone needs to embrace their inner goddess and treat themselves like a goddess," said Courtney Nelson, Dolphina's friend. "Everybody I've met that is a belly dancer has commented on how good she is, including people from the Middle East. She is a remarkable person."
Dolphina will be offering an introductory dance workshop at Juneau Dance Unlimited on June 28.
"My philosophy about dancing is that anyone can do it," Dolphina said. She said she tries to make the classes fun so that people leave feeling good.
In addition to being an experienced teacher, Dolphina is a successful businesswoman who founded the Goddess Center in Marina Del Rey, Calif., for classes and retreats. Her company, GoddessLife, offers instructional and workout DVDs that teach belly dancing moves as a way to tone the body. She has also written books on belly dancing.
"I believe that every woman is a goddess. When a woman embraces this power she has as being a woman, a whole new way of life opens up. They feel like they can do anything and enjoy their life even more," Dolphina said.
The core of her company, however, is her mission to not only empower women, but to bring them together. Women should support each other and celebrate each other's strengths, she says.
"It removes a big burden off your shoulders when you stop competing with other women," she said.
As a child, Dolphina watched belly dancers perform while living with her family in Morocco. She was enthralled by the experience and thus began her lifelong affair with the art form.
She studied dance in New York City and then lived briefly in the Caribbean where she had a near fatal boating accident after getting caught in a squall. She said she was drifting at sea when she was rescued by dolphins that swam her back to shore.
Shortly thereafter she changed her name to Dolphina.
She has since traveled the world espousing her philosophy, and recently returned from teaching her GoddessLife philosophy in Kuwait. She taught the classes at the U.S. Embassy, as belly dancing is prohibited in Kuwait.
"I felt like I was bringing their dance back to them," she said.
The Kuwaiti women were allowed to attend her class with no men present. Dolphina said there are no night clubs, bars, or gyms in Kuwait, which is a very conservative country.
Another recent adventure was an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on June 18.
Dolphina's arrival complements an already thriving belly-dance scene in Juneau. One popular local troupe is Patshiva, which means "party" in the gypsy language of Romany. Mother and daughter Phyllis and Pilar Scott dance with Patshiva, and say they have found belly dancing to be a very empowering experience.
"It gives you a lot of confidence to learn the dance form," Phyllis said. "And you are with women who all support each other."
Pilar said belly dancing is important for body and mind.
"Belly dancing is a really important way to get some exercise," she said. "It's very low stress. It helps energize your body and make you feel good about yourself. It's similar to yoga. It is really about getting in touch with your body and feeling good in your skin.... You sit in an office all day and you lose touch with your body. It is really important to get that touch back."