*Barbara, known as The Dancing Spirit of RI lives in Tiverton where she owns and runs The Dancing Spirit Studio . She began dancing in Rye NY at age 4.She choreographed her first group dance for twenty kids at age 16. She attended The Washington School of Ballet and The Professional Children's School, NYC. She received her BFA in Dance from SUNY,Purchase. After college Barb then a Modern-Ballet Dancer performed with Grethe Holby, Takako Asakawa Dance Co, Dibble Dance and others while studying Ballet with Finis Jhung. In Colorado she danced with The Nancy Spanier Dance Co.Mark and Barbara moved from NY to RI to raise their three kids. Barbara co directed The Tanagra Movement Theatre Company for 5 yrs with Michelle Bach, Head of The Brown University Dance Dept and opened The Dancing Spirit Studio #One at Tiverton Four Corners for children, adults, ballet, modern, creative movement and Pilates. *Barb fell in love with Belly Dance in 2001 in a class at a Y.She has studied with some of the best Middle Eastern Oriental Belly Dance teachers and performers in the world. Her teaching and performance style is a fusion of all the dance forms she has studied throughout her life. She has presented many performances around Newport County and sometimes performs in NYC with Morocco, Dalia Carella and Anahid Sofian. Barb performed in Hawaii with Delilah, in Turkey, at Tayaar's Music & Dance Camp with Sema Yildz, Lee Ali and Nourhan Sharif .She taught skirts & zills and performed in Bali with Samra, in Sayulita, Mexico @ Haramara and was with the luminous 2nd Theatrical Belly Dance Convention, NYC.*Barb brought International Shimmy Mob to RI in 2011 celebrating National Dance Week, World Belly Dance Day and International Shimmy Mob together. May 9, 2015 was her studio's 5th Shimmy Mob, which featured her own choreography shared on five continents. The performance of many dancers included live music by Margerate Ferri, a reading of The Dancer by K. Gibran by scholar Brian Sullivan and a live painting by Courtney Cartin.Together everyone rose funds for The Women's Resource Center of Newport. September 19th,2015 on World Peace Day, Barbara shared a Dancing Spirit Peace choreography inside and outside with a special gathering of peaceful dancers. *Nov 19th, 2015 The Studio hosted a hafla fundraiser for Syrian refugees accompanied by Charlie Hallals band. Barb's Shimmy Mob story is on DanseTrack http://dansetrack.com/barbara-donahue-shares-her-love-of-dance-for-a-worthy-cause/ Barb has been performing solo and with groups for SOAH ( Singing out against Hunger ) presenting the only dance for 12 years at Everylyn's seaside tent and has brought the only dance to The Tiverton Four Corners Arts Festival for 18 yrs.The Tanagra Troupe brought the only dance to the Newport Rocks Series at Fort Adams, Summer 2014 *Barb says, "I never imagined I would become a Belly Dancer. I never knew anything about the dance form or the complex world history .I have said many times it is the gift that keeps on giving. Belly Dance can grab you. Learning the technique, skirt work, veil grace, rhythms, finger cymbals and the earthy feeling can add much expression to any dancers repetoire. Belly Dance is classical, traditional folk dance and fusion which blends and encourages the dancing spirit in everyone .I love watching students as they learn and grow in wonderful blossoming and expressive ways."
Belly Dance Passion
Dancing Spirit classes are for children through adults. All students teen through adults learn belly dance basics including zills, skirt work and veils. My style is refered to as Belly Dance Fusion as I mix styles and music genres. .
Oriental Middle Eastern Belly Dance ( Raks Sharqi, Egyptian classical name) is from Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon but it is danced through the Mid East ( and Persia) and has Indian and Flamenco influences.The styles can be referred to as gypsy, cabaret, american tribal style, ATS, tribal fusion,Gothic tribal.. Belly Dance is a globally loved dance form but because of the funny name ( misnomer) it can be misunderstood by those who don't grow up in the culture of it or who never take a class. A trained Belly Dancer knows all techniques, rhythms, finger cymbals, veil work, skirt, cane ( sometimes chamadans, swords and snakes). Belly Dance can be hard to find and unknown ( I own one of the only Belly Dance studios in RI) by much of the classical dance world ( I didn't know about it) The costumes and the name Belly Dance ( Who dances with their belly?) throw many off. When I realized most USA Dance education does not include Mid East Dance I became a crusader. Many passionate belly dancers become crusaders. Basic beginning steps are folk dance steps danced at many celebrations around the world.The dance has a long history
Dance & non dance students come to class for fun but they learn focus, concentration,grace, musicality, confidence, posture, technique, strength, practice & discipline & fortitude. If they are grabbed the way I was they begin a journey I call blossoming.
Since the age 4 my dance models were ballerinas & Isadora Duncan. When I discovered Belly Dance I fell in love. I love the creative freedom of Belly Dance. I always urge my students to experiment with steps,styles,music & costumes, blending all dance movment forms with Mid East flair for a fusion evolution. Blanca, a good dance friend said " Belly Dance grabs you" and it's true. If you are ready, you want to learn as much,as fast as you can, but as you learn, you open many unknown, undiscovered fun doors which is the journey. A special aspect of Belly Dance is that it is very feminine but earthy at the same time. It also is educational in many fun and surprising ways. Belly Dance is an expression of joy and celebration
One of my favorite mottos is, 'If you dance for five minutes a day you will be happier, healthier & friendlier.'
Dance Article - Belly Dance Class Observed
I found myself in an unlikely situation when my grandmother asked me if I would like to accompany her to a Belly Dance class. To anyone on the street, hearing this from a white American female in her mid 60's would have to look twice, unless they had met my free spirited family. Though I did have to decline participating because of minor surgery I had the honor of sitting in on one of her classes. Upon my arrival at The Dancing Spirit Studio my eyes were bombarded with an array of colors and beautiful paintings. Gorgeous multi colored rugs, long flowing veils and bangled hip scarves for students to decorate themselves with added color and definition to the room. This flare had a clear origin. The teacher, introduced as Barbara, appeared in vibrantly colored dance costume , flowers adorning her hair. When asked if I would be able to watch she responded, 'If you can walk, you can dance!' She said ' No one is ever allowed to watch class because if you don't dance you can't feel the movements'. She put a hip scarf in my lap, a veil in my arms and encouraged me to participate with my arms whenever I could. The dancing was brilliant and is clearly misunderstood by the majority of Americans who seem to believe that Belly Dance is straight from the brothels of India. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. Belly Dance is clearly a wonderful dance form. This type of Ethnic dance requires a fine technique that accentuates the subtleties of the human body and is also a great way to work out. Belly Dance is not about thrusts and jives like Swing and Tango but is about moving the body in slow subtle motions when blended together can be an amazing form of art & self expression. Belly Dance vocabulary is known for specific movements such as an isolated hip drop or a shimmy. Belly Dancers are recognized by proud posture, flair, a certain larger than life attitude which is required to create a dramatic vision .The contrast of graceful rhythmical subtlety and control combined with the earthiness in their step creates quite a show. With Barb's enthusiasm and instruction the class of women, different ages, not spring chickens, accept for one, were full throttle dancing and full of life. During class it was mentioned that students are dancing from aged 10 up thru 60 something. Everyone dances together and students are traveling to the studio from all over RI, Mass. and even from Connecticut Twinkle-toed Americans struggle with strong, rhythmical foot stomping combined with soft knees which makes the dance graceful and the proud posture that it takes to feel the ground with every step expressing interpretations of the world music. Belly Dance is one of the finer expressions of what nature is: real and yet subtle. With each stomp of the foot the observer can see as well as hear the realness of the earth beneath the dancers feet. With each flip of the hand or twirl of the scarf the observer can see gracefulness and beauty. With each small but strong movement the observer begins to understand the more subtle things—the curves of a flowers petals or the feel of a slight breeze in the summer. To truly understand the feel and beat of the art of Belly Dance one must get up and try it. Through the dance become one with nature for a brief earth thumping totally alive moments. Where better to try it than with Barb at the Dancing Spirit Studio. 'If you can walk, you can dance!' Dani