About Annya Ishtara
Hi! I’m Annya Ishtara.
I facilitate women to come into deep, embodied connection with themselves and their unique wisdom as they learn how to use their bodies and their energies for their own joy, creativity, well-being, and personal power.
Together we work with movement, energy, and meditation using the ancient and time-tested methods of qigong, belly dance, and meditation to help each woman remember her sacredness and beauty. Through my work women connect with their own authentic truth and learn to be true to themselves so they can more fully express their unique soul beingness.
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.
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 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!
As a trained massage therapist and long-time student of movement, Annya’s stretching exercises at the beginning of class were a class in and of themselves.