Chilli 2010 © Hannah Mapley
Chilli 2010 © Hannah Mapley

From Gay:

I have had the great fortune of teaching ( and learning – as this never ends) Egyptian Belly Dance for over 15 years.


I started dancing when the general reaction from most people was a snigger of disbelief – Belly Dance was little heard of around my area. Now it is very popular all over the world.


I have studied under some of the great teachers: Hossam and Serena Ramsey, Wendy Buonaventura, Jacqui Jamal, Kareen Butchart and Amel Tafsont – to name just a few who have humbled and inspired me. I have danced in Eygpt and Morocco.


As there were no Belly Dance ‘qualifications’ back then, I decided to do a Certificate in Education studying Belly Dance and graduated at Portsmouth University as the most accomplished student in Education. At that time, I also qualified in Indian Head Massage and Reflexology and was initiated into Raki Healing. These I found very relevant and helpful with the discovery of the healing powers of the dance. I also took up drumming which helped to understand and create rhythms.


I taught at Portsmouth and Chichester Colleges for some years; have taught workshops all over the South of England and hold regular classes in different venues. I have been on local radio and TV  and National TV. As a group, The Spirits of Ishtar have created shows put on to raise money for charity.

The greatest gift this dance has given me is the chance to meet many amazing people from all walks of life, who come together to share and give mutual support to each other. I love to see the transformations in them and to encourage aspirations they may have to perform and/or teach. (Though nowadays there are qualifications for teaching this dance and I would highly recommend that they are obtained before venturing into this field.)


This dance really did change my life in ways I had never dreamed of.