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Keep the Dance Alive!

On Saturday, July 25, Hayatidance and Bogdana Sokolov will be hosting a virtual bellydance event with two intentions. The first is to keep the artistic dance form alive during these times of social distancing. The other is to raise funds for the WNY Women’s Foundation. Starting at 7:30pm on that day, a series of new dance routines will be “unveiled” on Hayati Bellydance’s YouTube channel.

“This virtual event is free to the public and geared toward showcasing new work created under quarantine,” said Hayati (Bogdana Sokolov). “The event will feature a number of belly dance styles and different props, including veils and swords.”

Belly dancing has become a big deal in Buffalo, with a number of different troupes performing and teaching throughout Western NY. Many of these performers can be seen entertaining festival-goers throughout the year, but with COVID-19 putting a damper on events, these shows are now being aired virtually.

“Whether to Keep the Dance Alive through these unprecedented times wasn’t even a question, the only question was how to accomplish it,” said Hayati, whose goal is to keep the art form intact in Buffalo during COVID. “Dancing is a way of life to those who practice it regularly. It keeps you moving, allows you to stay physically healthy, and boosts your energy and endorphin levels, uplifting your mood and allowing you to better cope with the challenges you face through the rest of your day. Staying connected online and being able to continue to both learn and perform without the space and time constant of being physically there has been an incredible blessing. It has allowed a number of us to continue to feel a sense of community, as well as pursue first time accomplishments like exploring new styles, creating our first solo, learning a new instrument or prop or returning to the stage after a first child. Being able to continue to bring shows to our beloved audience has also allowed us to raise funds to support local organizations like Haven House and the WNY Women’s Foundation to help our community in its hour of need.”

To join in on the virtual fun, be sure to visit Hayatidance on Facebook, and/or this Facebook event page on Saturday, July 25, starting at 7:30pm. Here’s part of the line-up (more spotlights are being added leading up to the event):

Performer Spotlight: Hayatidance is a certified dance instructor who loves creating memorable performances. She has been involved in a number of dance forms since childhood and is interested in combining different styles to bring new meaning to familiar motifs. Her influences include ballet, Latin, jazz, exotic, flow and burlesque. She is level 5 Bohemian blade and Bellyqueen teacher training certified and working on her Amy Sigil certification. Hayati is especially fond of props. She strives to bring variety to the Buffalo dance scene with her choreography. She is the founder and creative force behind The Kind Killers as well as co-founder of Fire and Ice Belly Dance Company and HipSis. Join her LIVE Online classes via Zoom or join in person mask mandatory socially distant classes outdoors.

Performer Spotlight: Emerald Starling Belly Dance is directed by Liz Hennessy and provides instruction and performance of group improv belly dance in the FatChanceBellyDance® format.

Liz began taking Egyptian and Cabaret-style belly dance classes in Buffalo, NY in 2012. Soon after, she discovered FatChanceStyle and fell in love! She took classes with FatChanceBellyDance-certified Sister Studio instructor Diana Miranda and performed with the troupe, Relativity BellyDance, in Buffalo from 2013 through 2020.

In early 2020, Liz moved to Syracuse, NY and started Emerald Starling Belly Dance. She is excited for this new journey and looks forward to expanding her circle of belly dance friends!

Performer Spotlight: Stacey Ennis is a proud native New Mexican. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Dance as well as a master’s in Communicative Disorders. She is an 8 Elements Initiate (Rachel Brice), Bellydance Cohesion Stage 1 certificate holder (April Rose) and certified SEEDS instructor (Myra Krien). She is currently working towards her ITS Level 1 certification (Amy Sigil). She has studied various forms of bellydance over the past 18 years and acknowledges that the study of this dance form is often a life long journey (and adventure!) with the quote by Brett Dennen, “The more I learn, the less I know.”

Performer spotlight: Troupe Nisaa Bellydance is based out of Batavia New York and call Go Art their home. This bellydance troupe has been performing together since 2011, but has dancers with 2 to over 40 years of bellydance experience. They love to use props in many of their self choreographed performances, swords being a particular favorite. They love to combine more traditional Bellydance principles with a fusion flair and interesting song choices to bring out the best in all their dancers. They will be performing to Puppeteer by Max and using their beloved swords!

Performer Spotlight: Sway is a Buffalo based fusion performer with no dance experience prior to Bellydance and has been making up for lost time since first discovering it at age 15, 15 years ago. In recent years she’s taken to literally playing with fire during her dances and has been loving the way these particular props give her no choice but to dance as big as she can.

Performer Spotlight: Annakiya has been studying Middle Eastern Dance since age 14, with this amazing dance form bringing her much joy over the years. She loves bringing smiles to her audience’s faces, and enjoys keeping her performances dynamic and interesting. Annakiya feels honored to study this ancient art form, and is always excited to learn more. She is excited to perform and raise money for such a good cause. Her piece is inspired by her son, and the adventures that he gets into with his blanket while he is sleeping. The music is Life in Clay by Koloto.

Performer Spotlight: The Kind Killers are Hayati’s student performance troupe. They are experienced driven dancers who are not afraid to take on a challenge and perform with a range of props and in variety of different dance styles. Wings, veils, fans, parasols, candles and of course swords and double sword – they’ve literally done it all! These fun and fierce ladies always deliver a fantastic show. Photo by K. Frazier Photography

Performer spotlight: Relativity BellyDance is an American Tribal Style® BellyDance (ATS®) troupe based in Western New York. Established in 2011, the troupe has performed extensively throughout Western New York, Seattle, and San Francisco. Diana Miranda, the founder, is a Sister Studio to the San Francisco based troupe, FatChance BellyDance®. She received her certification in 2008 by the creator of ATS®, Carolena Nericcio. Diana teaches classes in Buffalo, NY as well as workshops in the area. Relativity BellyDance is comprised of five dedicated dancers who have been studying the style for several years. Each member studies other styles of dance and enjoys performing with other troupes that include The Kind Killers as well as Buffalo Fusion Belly Dance. They love to spread their wings in the local dance scene.

Performer spotlight: Aneeta started belly dancing in 2001, taking classes on the Main Line School Night. She went on to study June Seaney, Tessa Myers, Habiba, and Zoe Akili. She recently received BellyQueen Teaching Certification and currently serves as a substitute bellydance instructor in Philadelphia. She enjoys both fusion and cabaret. She just today received the scholarship for Jillina’s workshop this weekend! For more info, check out

Performer spotlight: Melek grew up loving all forms of dancing from a young age. Her aunt taught her how to belly dance, bringing the tradition with them from Turkey. When Melek isn’t dancing she is doing aerial. She will perform a roman havasi solo. Photo by Glenn Murray

Performer Spotlight: HipSis is composed of Annakiya and Hayatidance. Both practice fusion and traditional belly dance styles and both are Bohemian Blade certified (levels 3 and 5 respectively). They like to deliver an engaging fusion of different musical and dance elements in their performances and enjoy an interactive audience. They find inspiration in great works of art and contemporary references and mix in a variety of styles and techniques for an innovative experience. They will perform a Belladonna’s Bohemian Belly Dance sword choreography they learned online in lockdown.

Performer spotlight: Joanne Crofts has been studying FatChanceBellyDanceⓇ Style for over five years under Diana Miranda-Gaeddert, a FatChanceBellyDance sister studio, and a variety of belly dance styles for nearly two years under Hayati Bellydance.It was through both of these teachers, Joanne discovered her passion for dancing with swords! Joanne is a member of Relativity BellyDance and The Kind Killers, two student troupes based in Buffalo, New York. The choreography for this performance is Kae Montgomery’s Burning Sword Choreography to the song Burning of the Temple by Djinn. This is Joanne’s first solo performance, and she can be found on Instagram @WanderingThistlesDance. Photo by Legacy Photography – CR Shipman

Performer spotlight: Soraiyah Sireen has been in love with dancing since she was 5 years old, and has been in a committed relationship with belly dancing since 2010. She is the co-founder of Fire and Ice Belly Dance Company. She has performed professionally for several years and more recently took time off to have her first child. She credits belly dance with helping her overcome the physical and mental struggles associated with infertility. She is excited to reunite with dancing and perform once again.

All proceeds to benefit WNY Women’s Foundation. To donate, PayPal (family and friends for the full amount to be donated) or Venmo @Bogdana-Sokolov-Hayatidance. Visit for further information.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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