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Dancing To a Different Tune
By John Kurucz, Coquitlam NOW November 19, 2010

Sometimes it's a case of a career finding the person, rather than the reverse.

That's how the cards were dealt to Port Coquitlam's Francesca Anastasi, who parlayed a career in dance into a successful studio that specializes in belly dancing.

Up and running since 2002, Confidance boasts a wide array of dance instruction ranging from salsa and tango to Bollywood and ballroom. But it was Anastasi's transition into belly dancing in 1997 that paved the way for the PoCo native to capitalize on the current upswing in popularity that belly dancing is experiencing.

"I ended up teaching out of demand. It was never my intention to teach belly dancing," said Anastasi, who goes by the stage name Sabeya. "I've always liked dancing in general, and I dance in a number of different styles. But with belly dancing, I really liked how exotic it was and I always really liked the feminine aspect of the dance. And of course, I love the costumes."

Born in Italy, Anastasi moved to California at the age of 17 and started her formal dance training a year later. She began dancing recreationally at first, dabbling in myriad dance styles including ballet, jazz and ballroom, before transitioning into belly dancing more than 10 years ago.

"It is different from other dance forms in that you really have to make the person understand which muscles are driving each move," she said. "The biggest difference is the extreme control of muscle isolation. For someone with the untrained eye, it looks very easy. But when you actually physically try it, you realize there's a lot more involved than meets the eye. It is very important to teach students which muscles to use and how to hold their postures."

The last two years in particular have seen Anastasi ratchet her career up a few notches, as she's taken part in a number of international events and instruction-based seminars.

In September, she was the only Canadian invited to teach at a four-day belly dancing conference in Las Vegas that drew participants and instructors from around the world.
It was the same type of scenario early last year, when Anastasi was invited by noted international belly dancer Jillina for a similar type of instructional seminar in Los Angeles.

"Jillina is extremely picky. She doesn't pick just anybody to take courses with her. She only took 20 people from around the world and the only way to take part in this training was by audition," Anastasi said.

From there, she travelled across the U.S. to Rhode Island to film an instructional DVD that's set to see the light of day at some point next year.

"It's purely instructional and it covers the foundations of belly dance moves: how to do it and how to get started," she said.

As for her classes at Confidance, Anastasi said the majority of her clientele ranges in age between 20 and 45, representing a cross section of participants from the casual weekend warrior to those who are serious about a career in dance.

"We also offer a lot dance workouts for people that don't know how to dance, but want to learn how to dance and get a workout at the same time," she said. "Anybody can start, and we've had people start dancing well into their 50s. We have people who within two or three years are going into competitions who are winning gold. It's quite an accomplishment to see somebody who's never danced before go and do that."

For more info, see www.confidance.ca or call 604-942-6999.

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