10 Question Quickie with Colette Todorov

It seemed only fitting that for this month's Quickie we meet Colette Todorov as I'm still in the Northwest. There's a region in Oregon east of Portland that sits along the river known as "The Gorge". If you are ever there Ms. Colette is definitely your American Tribal Style dance source. She has a lovely studio called Scarlet Thistle and directs a troupe by the same name. She makes the trip into Portland once a week and teaches classes at the Datura studio (Rachel Brice's Studio!).

No more waiting, I am pleased to introduce to you Colette Todorov.
1. What first attracted you to bellydancing?
I had seen some belly dance performances at fairs in San Francisco but one evening stands out in my mind.  While having tea at Cafe Istanbul (in SF) a group of women came out and their dancing and costuming blew me away.  I knew nothing about belly dance and hadn't been anticipating a performance that evening, but that night stuck with me.  Years passed, and when I finally found and attended my first belly dance class I ended up studying with the group I saw at Cafe Istanbul – FatChanceBellyDance (FCBD).

2. How long have you been studying bellydance?
Since 1997

3. Why do you continue to study/dance it?
Ive always loved to dance and move to music and belly dance is a constant challenge.  Being fascinated by anatomy, the process of learning to move in a new way and access a new part of my body is always great fun.  Another aspect that keeps me coming back is the amazing groups of women I get to dance with and the great sense of community that the troupe develops.

4.     What is most challenging about it?
Presenting a full range of emotion, particularly during a solo.  I see dancers, such as Mira Betz or Sedona, that say so much with their expressions – and their expressions reinforce their movements and the music.  It is such a powerful aspect of performance.

5. What is your next goal in bellydance?
As an ATS troupe, we dance in groups and work with a vocabulary of movements that each have a specific cue.  The dancers communicate via gesture or cue to present fully improvised performances – right now, Im working on developing and refining some Scarlet Thistle signature moves. 

6. What/who is your inspiration at the moment?
Right now Im looking back to images of Ghawazee dancers and feeling very inspired by their costuming and adornment. 

7. Do you find that it has presented challenges with family and friends or do you  feel you have support?
There are definitely challenges.  Being part of a troupe means committing to rehearsals and gigs and having to say no to other activities.  Those choices are always hard to make.  I was already a belly dancer when I met my husband, so my dance schedule has always been a part of our life together.  He is incredibly supportive of my dancing, and teaching, and the traveling that goes along with it.  Im lucky to have his support and lucky that my 6-year old daughter loves being around the dancing ladies!

8.     What has bellydance changed for you?
I tend to be shy and quiet, generally enjoy staying in the background.  Belly dance has been the incentive to push myself out of my comfort zone of shyness.  If you're out in public wearing a brightly colored costume, bare belly, playing zils and a full face of makeup, there is no way you can blend into the background – you've got to stand tall and proud and look people in the eye.  That self-assurance has flowed into my everyday life.

9.     Where do you see yourself going with bellydance?
I love teaching and helping others cultivate creativity and expression.

10. What other hobbies or passions do you enjoy and do you have time for them?
Gardening – a seasonal hobby…Im so happy in the spring when I can start getting my hands dirty again.
Cooking – I like to eat and Im lucky to be surrounded by agriculture and a lot of wonderful food production.
Snowboarding – the main winter season activity with my family. 

Bonus Questions:

What one word would you use to sum up what bellydance means to you?

Briefly share something about yourself that we wouldn't know from a simple conversation/interview with you.

I have a creepy root cellar in my house that I keep stocked with homemade applesauce, jam and pickles.

Thank you so much Colette!

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