About the School
Sojourn Belly Dance Company is Memphis’ source for tribal-fusion, transnational belly dance instruction. Our classes range from basic, beginner instruction in traditional belly dance technique, to Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS) belly dance, and more advanced transnational-inspired belly dance, yoga and dance aptitude.
Our motivation is to help others find empowerment, creativity, strength, resiliency and joy in life through the art and community of belly dance.
Meet the Owner - Nicolette Edwards
Sometimes in life, we seek out leadership – we intentionally look for an opportunity to rise above and make ourselves, and others, better. Other times, leadership is bestowed upon us out of no act of our own and we have a choice to either accept the challenge, or to pass – to lead others when others desire leading, or not. In this case, the opportunity to lead was laid upon me and I was inspired to act by creating Sojourn Belly Dance Company.
From 2005 through 2015, I had the honor to dance alongside and under the tutelage of one of Memphis’ forefront belly dancers – Liz London, founder of Tribal Memphis, Memphis Raqs Belly Dance, and Lavinnia London's Cabaret. During that time, I myself instructed and performed professionally under the Memphis Raqs name, and attended numerous belly dance conferences and workshops locally and afar - learning and cultivating skills from the tribal fusion belly dance greats (Zoe Jakes, Mira Betz, Donna Mejia, Kami Liddle, April Rose, Jules Downum and Mardi Love - to name just a few). I continuously seek new avenues of inspiration and dance motivation for growth and improvement. In addition, I maintain a regular yoga practice that influences and enhances my dance daily.
Sojourn opened its doors in May 2016 upon the announcement of Liz's departure from the Memphis area. My hope is to foster and continue to grow the same love for belly dance that sparked my heart all those years ago, in the hearts of my students. I want to encourage and support other women as they discover their own potential through the spirit of belly dance. It is more than just a shimmy and a shake – it is an exciting journey!
Benefits of Belly Dance:
Strength and Stamina
The physical benefits of belly dance are myriad. Through the specific movements of belly dance, you will strengthen and tone muscle you didn’t even know existed. Belly dance utilizes muscle groups that often lay dormant during the day or are often ignored in regular exercise routines found at the gym. Besides your core, belly dance will help you build strength in your glutes, thighs, back and arms. And when we say core, we mean every ounce of your core; from the pelvic floor up to the center of the rib cage, from lat to lat, and from hip to hip. And with all that shimmying and dancing, you will increase cardio stamina as well.
Balance and Flexibility
With regular practice, belly dance will increase your muscle flexibility and will help you to find a greater sense of balance. Moves like hip slides and rib circles will gradually open up your hips and chest, while shoulder work can help to relieve stress in your neck and upper back. With the stronger core built by belly dance, students will begin to find their center of balance vastly improved.
For those with joint issues, arthritis or other physical limitations that make traditional workouts troublesome (and sometimes painful), belly dance is an incredible practice. Its low-impact approach allows for a great core and back workout without over-taxing your joints. You work with what you got, meaning no additional weights are added and you move with your body as it wants you to move, gradually building strength and length.
Our community of belly dancers and students is friendly and welcoming. We are all different, but we all have this one thing in common – the desire to better ourselves and grow through belly dance. It’s what brings us together. Be prepared to meet some fabulous ladies that you otherwise would never meet, from all walks of life, in this wonderfully diverse and accepting community.
If creative expression is your thing, or if you want to invite more creative thinking into your life, belly dance is a perfect fit. Traditional belly dance movement, composure and discipline is at the root of our training, but we layer many other styles on top for a very unique and beautiful dance practice. There is so much room for original movement and artistic interpretation once you learn the basics.
Outside of the physical, belly dance is a mentally engaging form of exercise. It fine-tunes not just your body, but your mind, and the way they communicate with each other. It’s a lot like that childhood game where you try to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time, only a little more complicated and a LOT more fun. Belly dance combines and strengthens both your body and your brain.
Celebration of Womanhood
Belly dance appreciates and loves ALL shapes and sizes. The variety in our bodies and the way we each move differently is what makes us beautiful and unique. In the supportive and encouraging environment provided by the studio, we learn to embrace that which makes us special and to appreciate all that our bodies can do for us as women.
Belly dance teaches proper alignment and posture, giving us the tools and ability to lift our heads and our hearts high. Learning new skills and techniques – ways of moving our bodies – is also a great accomplishment. The success of attending class, taking away an “ah-ha!” moment, and feeling a sense of achievement through dance follows you outside the studio. The happiness you find through your belly dance practice will positively influence other areas of your life.
Ancient Beauty Secret
When you feel good about yourself, your health and the good things you are doing for yourself (like learning to belly dance!), it shows. That healthy, exuberant glow you get in the studio will last well past the last shimmy. Your spirit will be given a good dose of happy.
Besides the health benefits – increased stamina, sculpted muscles, better balance and flexibility throughout your center, improved complexion, less stress, improved mental agility and confidence – belly dance is FUN! It is truly a unique art form – one that will leave you smiling and anxiously awaiting your next session.