Safiya’s lifelong fascination with language (BA Honors French, MA Linguistics) is at the root of her love affair with bellydance. Discovering the underlying structure of this most ancient dance has led her to a deep exploration of the language of the body through bellydance, how the body works, what moves it and how it moves, how it learns and remembers.
Safiya’s first dance love was folk dance which she learned as a child at family functions. After seeing a bellydancer perform at cousin’s wedding, Safiya’s secret desire to learn to bellydance took hold. Several years later she summoned the courage to take a class, was led to The Anahid Sofian Studio and never left (she has been a student of New York Master teacher Anahid Sofian since 1989)! Thanks to Anahid’s brilliant technique and her profound understanding of the essence of middle eastern dance, Safiya has mastered the core elements of the dance: the music and rhythms and playing zills (finger cymbals); traditional Turkish, Arabic North African styles; veilwork, floorwork, cane and sword. She also studied Egyptian folklore and technique with Gamila El Masry and Shoshana. and Turkish folklore and Roma (Gypsy) dance in Istanbul, Flamenco, and a little Bollywood. Safiya completed her Pilates training with Kelly Kane in 2000 and has been studying movement technique with Martha Yoshida since 1999.
Safiya has been a member of the Anahid Sofian Dance Company since 1998 and has performed with the Benat El Nessma Dancers under the direction of Gamila El Masry, the Shoshana Dance Theatre and the Mystical Motion Dancers. Company performances include shows at Town Hall on Broadway, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Lincoln Centre Library for the Performing Arts, Queens Theatre in the Park, Superstar Theatre at Resorts International-Atlantic City, the Cleveland Museum of Art. In addition to company work, she has also performed at the Vermont Festival of the Arts, as well as at cultural events in New York, the Mid-West, Paris and Istanbul. Safiya performs throughout the year in restaurants, clubs and parties throughout the tri-state area.
Safiya has been teaching weekly classes since 1998. She has taught ongoing dance classes at Columbia University and NYU, and special workshops at The Juilliard School, NYU Medical Center, The Vermont Festival of the Arts. She is currently on staff at The Bridge For Dance (since 1999), The Anahid Sofian Studio (since 2001), and The New York Open Center (since 2005). Safiya also is a costume maker, creating costumes for Middle Eastern dance for cabaret, concert and film.
Taking her inspiration from Anahid, Safiya seeks to carry on the tradition established here by the great Turkish, Arabic and American dancers of the 1960’s whose skill, strength and passion were legendary.