“I’ve been a dancer my whole life, but in 2002 my uncle and his wife came to visit from California, so family and I went to celebrate in El Cairo, an Arabic restaurant in Puerto Rico. There was a belly dancer performing that evening. She asked me to dance with her during her show and later she gave me her business card. I enjoyed myself very much and decided right away to begin taking classes,” Mia Sha’uri of Puerto Rico explains.
As is said, the rest is history. Mia has since made a name for herself in the world of Middle Eastern belly dance. She has performed and conducted workshops in Costa Rica, Italy, South Korea, France, Spain and in the United States. During the coming year, she will be touring Europe and Asia, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii and the United States’ mainland. When not touring, Mia teaches every week at the School of the Performing Arts in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
“I do perform at one regular venue in Puerto Rico. I perform every Friday and Saturday night at Tantra, an Indo-Latino restaurant in Old San Juan. This is my “bread and butter,” so to speak. I also perform at certain “private” functions: private meaning that the function usually takes place at a location not open to the general public. It can be anything, though, such as a birthday, wedding, medical conference or expo,” Mia says.
“The most unusual place I’ve ever performed was at a convenience store/farmer’s market.”
“I do not have a dance troupe. I do get together with a few professional belly dancers here and we choreograph together so that we may call on one another when we get gigs. We use many different styles of dance, not just those that fall under belly dancing. We also use flamenco, hula and even some aerial acrobatics!”
One of Mia’s most memorable dance experiences was at Bellydancer of the Universe until this past summer and a visit to Spain.
“Nesma Al Andalus invited me to dance in Spain at 2011Raks Madrid this past July and my performance at the Gala Show was in front of Mahmoud Reda, Aida Noor, Yousry Sharif, Lubna Emam and Mohamad Kazafy. I thought, “My style is not Egyptian. They are going to hate me!” I was really nervous to be dancing in front of such marvelous teachers that I truly admired. It turns out, they really liked my performance! We all ended up spending a lot of time together that weekend and my experience with these great teachers taught me that dance is a language with many different dialects. You may not have been meant to speak all of them, but you can definitely appreciate their beauty. It was a wonderful life lesson and a whole lotta fun!”
“Recently, I’ve been able to dance and teachwith Mohamed Kazafy of Egypt and we are working on a tour together in 2013. I have also had the great opportunity to collaborate with Silvia Salamanca,” Mia says. “I also continue to train with Karen Barbee who is someone I am fortunate to have as a dance mentor. I love her precision. She is a great example and a whole lot of fun to work with.”
Mia Sha’uri is renowned for her creative use of props and has been crowned “the queen of props.”
“There isn’t one specific prop that I prefer, but the reason I feel so at ease when using props is that my basic belly dance education was so prop-oriented. In Puerto Rico the audience expects a big flashy show, not just good technique. I’ve managed to carry that over to the stage. I am happy to say that some people whose talents and opinions I greatly respect seemed to have noticed what I have tried to do. Watch sometime and you decide!” Mia says.
“It’s a work in progress, I think, finding something that sets me apart, or that will make me memorable for years to come. For now, I believe that my ability to connect with my audience, to make them feel that they’re part of my performance, to let them know I want to share my dance with them, sets me apart from other dancers.”
“The best advice I could give I got from my parents: “patience, practice and humility.” Patience will get you through the toughest situations and allow you to deal with many different types of people. Practice will help you transition from a good performer or teacher to a great and memorable one. Finally, humility will allow you to accept critique, know that you never stop learning and understand that perfection is an ideal toward which you forever stride.”