Najia is a Belly Dance instructor and Tango dancer. She brings a very natural and spiritual perspective to her teaching and dancing. Najia is passionate, friendly, open, and honest. You can find Najia in Tango classes Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the studio! Ladies, Belly Dance classes are offered Monday evenings at Sangha Space! The second Friday of each month is “Goddess Night Out”, a celebration of mystical movement, feminine energy, and internal reflection. Come transform through movement!
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
In Philadelphia, PA
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BELLY DANCING?
Over 20 years. Actually much longer, but I’m afraid to show my age.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT IT?
It’s the most beautiful dance I could ever imagine and you feel the beauty move through your body and it transforms how you feel. It’s so feminine. All of the beauty, it can make me cry when I think about it sometimes.
ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW TO BELLY DANCING?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. There are no tests. The thing is, you’re gonna be a beginner for a long time. As a beginner, it takes a couple years to cycle through the moves to build a foundation. There’s people in the class who have been in there 2 months, 12 months, 2 years, and then a lot of professionals (dancing 10 years+) will still take my beginner class for foundation. So, often what happens is people compare themselves to others in the class rather than being inspired on them. So they’re hard on themselves. If you see something that you like that someone else is doing, stand behind them and be inspired and say “I”m gonna do that someday”.
The main thing is to connect to your deep feminine feeling. It’s the most important thing, rather than analyzing everything. If you’re feeling anxious and critical, you’re not going to learn. You have to relax and know that I interview all of the people that come through to make sure that supportive people are coming into community of supportive women. And don’t deny yourself a dance that has no pre-requisite for weight. There’s all shapes, sizes, and ages who do this professionally, let alone as students. It’s so great for stress relief, major stress relief. Women become transformed psychologically, emotionally, and physically. My students literally change before my eyes. They start doing everything differently, sculpt their bodies, experimenting with make-up or doing their hair differently. They really get in touch with their feminine side.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE BELLY DANCING IN 3 WORDS?
Earthy. Sensual. Feminine.
HOW DID YOU ENCOUNTER TANGO?
I first encountered tango in these old black and white movies, and the music and the feel of it. Then I got this old antique flip book, where you could watch people tango by flipping the pages and it made a movie. And I said, “someday I’m gonna do this”. I tried to break down the steps of each pages, but that was useless. You need a partner. Now I have some nights off, so I can finally come.
ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW TO TANGO?
Relax, everyone’s friendly. Sangha Space tends to attract the best people, it really does. I’ve taught in and been to many studios, and there’s a reason people will drive 3 hours to get here.
There’s a reason. There’s a certain energy and it’s worth it just to feel good.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE TANGO IN 3 WORDS?
Connectivity. Meditative. Passion.
WHAT IS ONE SIMILARITY AND ONE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BELLY DANCING AND TANGO?
Similarity is that there is a deep meditative quality that you can get into, where dance is a form of spiritual transformation. They look like they’re sexy, but they’re actually very spiritual. When you really get into it, you feel the spiritual nature of both of them. This is why I love both. The contrast is the body postures are completely different. So, they‘re a nice compliment to each other for the body, because their postures are so different. For exercise and posture you’re going to get benefits from both.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT TEACHING AT SANGHA SPACE?
The building is alive. This building has a soul. You come in this building, without anyone in it, it is alive. And you feel the heart of the building. And it’s heart is so loving that it only attracts love, and repels everything else. And I’ve seen it repel people who were nasty. People who come in here and they’re saying, “ew this buildings old”, “where are all the mirrors?” They just don’t get it, and they’re not going to stay long. The sweetest people come in awe, and just look up and sit, and feel the stress melt out. They feel the love the embrace of this building with all of its history, all of the love of the events that happen here. This is a really special place. I do everything I can to stay here and keep teaching classes.
SOME SAY TEACHERS ARE LIFELONG LEARNERS. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY LEARNING MORE ABOUT OR WORKING ON AS A DANCE TEACHER?
I’ve been working on the mystical side of dance for a while now. People really connect to it. Just delve into dance. What the heart and soul of dance really is, is celebrating community and worship. It’s about getting in touch with how you really feel and your connectivity to the earth. It’s a form of praise and giving thanks. I learned from opening up to that, and from my research, and my students have said it’s the most important thing that has helped them with the rest of the dance and with themselves. It’s a very personal experience to transform yourself, to feel better, to feel whole, to connect. To be at peace with your body. To be at peace with your mind.
WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES (BESIDES DANCING) DO YOU ENJOY?
Hiking. I love being in the woods. I love having my feet step on stones and the roots of trees. Following all of the meandering paths and see all the different foliage change, and the sky open up from the falling leaves, or the canopy. I love feeling the rain…I love nature and I bring that into my dance. I love cooking vegan. I love sharing my knowledge of vegan food, it helps me stay healthy, from all of my previous bad habits before, and I look a lot younger which is really nice. And I’ve shared that with other people and they‘re health improved drastically and they looked about 10, 20 years younger after going vegan. I make a lot of my own beauty products. I’ve found that is a wonderful time saver and money saver. Photography and drawing, I’m an illustrator.
IF YOU WERE TO WIN THE LOTTERY, HOW WOULD YOU SPEND YOUR TIME?
I would do everything I’m doing now, except I would like to add some things. I’d produce my own vegan cooking show, which also would have some dance and other things, and all the stuff I love included. Maybe have an additional studio space that’s all decorated as a fantasy world for people to enter. I’d do everything I’m doing, I’d just do more, without worry.
WHAT’S SOMETHING SECRETLY AWESOME ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW?
I’ve never been unkind to anyone in my life, even my enemies. No matter what someone‘s done to me, or how bad it is, I’ve always been kind regardless.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
You’re always welcome to call me to find out more. 610-449-7201. I’m very friendly on the phone. I’m here to help. This is my passion. I’m here to be of service and answer any questions. I’m here to help people who want to transform through this type of movement.