Belly Dance by ÂYA of Istanbul
Performance, Instruction, Choreography
Testimonials, Quotes, Reviews
Aya's work has been critically acclaimed. Her authenticity and professionalism both as a performer and as a teacher have been acknowledged by Audience Members and Students alike.
"Aya thank you so much for your beautiful dancing at our party. In the beginning my brother in law was upset because I hired a belly dancer for the party because we had many guests there that are very conservative. But your dance was so beautiful and elegant, and you have so much charm, that in the end, I can't believe you convinced even the very conservative elders to dance. I don't think they have ever done that, not even when they were young! My 5 year old nephew says he's going to marry you when he grows up. My whole family wants to come watch you at all the restaurants where you dance!"
- Reza (Audience Member)
" If you want to learn the real thing, I highly recommend Aya. Nowadays, there are so many instructors out there. I have had many belly dance instructors both in California and in Atlanta and I can assure you that Aya is the best. I love the way that she demonstrates and explains movements. Whether it’s technique or stage presence, she doesn’t give run of the mill general instructions. She looks at YOU specifically, the way that you move, the way that you’re built, and even your personality. For example she’ll say “for your arms this works best” or “focus more on relaxing your fingers, since you seem to carry most of your tension in them”.
- Sue (Student)
"I have watched so many dancers in this country. In Egypt, this is part of our culture and we enjoy the beauty of it very much. There are many dancers here that pretend to know Oriental Dance but they don't. I think this is insulting to people like me. You are the first one I have seen that dances true oriental. The other dancers perform Oriental Dance like they are acting in the theatre. But you are different because you dance with the beautiful natural movement and feeling. This is something that you are born with, not something that you learn."
- Nebileh (Audience Member)
"Last February, I took my first belly dance class and haven’t looked back since. I fell in love with this beautiful dance and the freedom of self-expression that accompanies it. And although I have studied with different instructors, none has had as strong an impact on me as Aya has. From day one, I could tell that Aya truly loves to teach. At the studio where I had previously been taking classes, I felt lost in the shuffle – just another anonymous student. In Aya’s classes, however, this is not the case. She takes a very personalized approach to each class. She takes the time to coach each of us, answering any questions we might have about a particular move or combination. She is incredibly patient and approachable, always generous with her time, making sure that we feel comfortable with what she has just taught us.
Aya also teaches from a holistic approach. She doesn’t rush us through the moves or mechanically teach us a choreography. She teaches us a variety of different styles of Middle Eastern dance. And her classes are designed to teach us not only about the dance but also about the context of each style of dance. In this way, we are not just rotely memorizing combinations or a particular choreography but are also learning about Middle Eastern culture and the influences of different regional cultures in the dances we are learning.
Aya also offers numerous performance opportunities for her student dancers. Every student, no matter what shape, size or color, is invited to perform. This feeling of inclusion creates a truly welcoming and nurturing environment where we are all encouraged and inspired to grow in our learning of Middle Eastern dance and culture.
As a dancer, there is no comparison to Aya. Even if you were to watch her perform for only a minute, you would feel that she dances with pure joy and passion. Her love for this dance form comes through so genuinely each and every time she dances, through each fluid movement. This expression of joy cannot be taught, memorized or copied, but rather, comes from a place inside your heart. If you wish to study the art of belly dance in a fun, positive and welcoming environment with a truly dedicated teacher (and also get a great workout at the same time!), I would highly recommend that you study with Aya of Istanbul."
- Mari (Student)
"I started belly dancing because I thought it would be a change of pace from the health club. But it’s so amazing, after taking classes with Aya, I found that I really identified with this dance, like it had been a part of me all along. I felt like I was part of an ancient tradition that came before me and that will continue after me. In addition, I have gotten so many compliments on my abs!"
- Janie (Student)
“Aya is very true to how the dance is supposed to look and feel and does not give in to the pressures of the mainstream, or sacrifice the dance to increase her earnings. I’m part Syrian and Turkish, and I really appreciate how Aya gives cultural information and context, NOT STEREOTYPES or generalizations of how a dance is supposed to feel or look. I think a big part of this comes from her cultural background and is not something that can be read in a book or learned in a seminar. She is genuinely protective of the dance because it is such a big part of who she is and yet she’s always willing to share information with others.”
- Suze (Student)
"Aya's so funny and personable. It's amazing how you can learn so much, get a great workout and have so much fun at the same time!"
- Elizabeth (Student)
"I have seen many well trained bellydancers in our area. But there is a difference when Aya dances. Technically her dancing is very beauitful, but what sets her apart is the joy she brings to the dance. Watching her it is very obvious that she loves to dance, and loves to share the dance with everyone there. This is how she performs and this is how she teaches. Her father told her that she must not just teach her students the movements, but she must teach them to truely dance. She does this very well and I'm honored to be able to learn under her."
- Kitty (Student)
Aya performing at a wedding...