Find Your Bliss Through Belly Dance!
Hi! I’m Annya Ishtara, and I help women discover exciting possibilities for themselves through movement and energy.
I work with women of all ages and body types who want to feel feminine and fit, but who struggle with finding exercise that is fun and challenging, as well as feminine and expressive, and I help them feel their confidence and sensuality through belly dance so they can be more like the women they’ve always wanted to be in their career and personal life.
I am a belly dance instructor and performer, as well as a women’s energy health educator based in Taos, NM. I offer belly dance, qigong classes, and embodiment practices for women to bring out your most radiant, blissful self.
I love inspiring women who want to connect with their bodies through the sensual, healing movement of belly dance to achieve a greater sense of confidence, connection, and joy so they can feel more powerful in a feminine way. If you are looking for a belly dance teacher who can guide you to understand how to move your body from the inside out, who celebrates your desire for more joy through dance, and who can help you understand how to get your body to move “like that”, you’ve come to the right place.
You can choose from weekly classes, private lessons, and workshops on a wide variety of belly dance topics, as well as Rajasthani Gypsy Dance/Kalbelia Dance, to help you find your personal version of bliss through belly dance. Please see the Belly Dance Classes page for descriptions of classes and schedule information for upcoming class sessions. You can take belly dance classes for fun and exercise, personal growth, to become a performer, or any combination of these.
I also offer Women’s Qigong: Self Care With Energy Classes for Women to help you strengthen the foundational life force energy of your amazing woman’s body. My qigong energy classes help you become healthier and more embodied as a woman, as well as being more vibrant and energized so you can feel and look your best.
I also offer women’s circles where you can connect with other sisters in order to deepen your connection with yourself, learn to stay in your center, and find support within and without.
Annya Ishtara’s Dance and Movement Training
My path to becoming a belly dancer began as a young girl, when I knew I wanted to be a belly dancer, despite having never seen one, or even having heard Middle Eastern music. When I eventually began belly dance lessons in 1991, I was instantly hooked on the beautiful movements, vibrant music, exotic costuming, and the discovery of Middle Eastern cultures from which this dance comes. Belly dance is such a diverse, deep, and fascinating topic, that I haven’t stopped learning since!
My other dance studies began with Jazz and Ballet when I was a teenager and evolved to encompass Haitian, West African, and Cuban Orisha dances, Butoh, and Contact Improvisation, among others. I have also studied Rajasthani Gypsy dance of the Kalbelia people and Ghoomar Ladies dance in Rajasthan, India, and Turkish Roman (Gypsy) dance in Turkey.
I have a wide background in movement, energy training, and physical body studies. I have studied a variety of dance and movement forms for over 35 years, including yoga (in India and the US), and tai chi and qigong (in the US and China). I have a Qigong Instructor Certification and a Tai Chi Teacher certification from Qigong Academy. I am also a trained massage therapist, Level 2 Reiki practioner, licensed minister, and have been trained as a licensed Art of Feminine Presence® teacher. I am certified in Level 1 of Sadie Marquant’s Raqs Flow Bellydance Training Program.
A few things about my dance experience that might surprise and delight you are:
When I first began to take dance classes in jazz and ballet as teenager, I was so uncoordinated, that dance teachers used to tell me that they didn’t think I’d ever become a dancer. Well, I proved them wrong! Now most people think I am a natural dancer and have trouble believing that there was ever a time when I couldn’t do a simple step-together-step. Because of my own difficult dance experience in the past, I know a lot about how to help women get into their bodies and really dance.
My oldest student (so far) was 89, and my youngest student was 7. Belly dance really is for all ages! I have also taught men as well as women.
- As a belly dance soloist, I improvise 99% of my performances, meaning that I create a unique dance in the moment just for that particular experience. To see some of my improvised performances, go to my Videos page.
- Most of my early belly dance performances were to live music, as opposed to recorded music, which is now the norm in the US. Most of the bands I performed with were Middle Eastern inspired. However, I have also belly danced to a sitar band, a psychedelic klezmer band, several industrial rock/punk bands, Cuban bata drum ensembles, and I have performed with rock guitar virtuoso Eric McFadden and his trio.
More About Annya
My belly dance style has been described as flowing and dynamic. My primary belly dance style is eclectic American Classic, ranging from lyrical veil work and sensuous taxims and floorwork to upbeat Turkish 9/8 and dynamic drum solos. I am especially noted for my mastery of veil and double veil. I have been teaching belly dance since the late 1990’s.
I also love Turkish Roman (Gypsy) dance, which I studied in Turkey and the US, and Rajasthani Kalbelia Gypsy dance, which I studied in India.
To see some of my performances, please go to the Videos page.
About My Belly Dance Classes
I teach a blend of Turkish and American Classic style belly dance, tempered with my own eclectic touch. I draw from my training and experience as a dancer in many genres, as well as my massage and qigong training, to help dance students safely and effectively train their bodies to easily and gracefully perform the movements of belly dance. Students develop body awareness and learn to increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Classes focus on technique, as well as expressive and energy aspects of dance. What sets me apart from other belly dance teachers is that I come from an internal, body centered perspective, which I blend with a visceral understanding of energy, so that women can really understand and develop tools with which to inhabit their bodies more fully. I have found that the key to better dancing is to really feel and be present with what’s going on in your body. It would be my pleasure to guide you in your discovery of your own personal version of bliss through belly dance.
You can start belly dancing with me right away with my free Welcome to Your Hips! video. You also get a free Feminine Energy Activation video to get you feeling more connected to your feminine energy and shining even brighter than you already do! Just put your name and email in the boxes at the bottom of this page where it says Newsletter Subscription to receive your free videos. You’ll also receive occasional information on my classes, performances, and other belly dance related events. I look forward to dancing with you!
“As a trained massage therapist and long-time student of movement, Annya’s stretching exercises at the beginning of class were a class in themselves.”
— Jannet Edminson, Toronto, Canada
“I have become a much better dancer over the years because of belly dance, and it has helped so much in the other kinds of dance that I study. Because of Annya’s gentle encouragement, I have been in a few performances, which is something I was certain I would NEVER do, but it has been such a huge accomplishment for me!”
— Emily Schumacher, Arroyo Seco, NM