Yallah: How many years have you been Belly Dancing?
Margarita Dodd: I have been belly dancing about 7 years.
Y: What attached you to the art of belly dancing?
M.D: The culture and the history of Africa and the Middle Eastern Cultures.
I’m an aficionado of National Geographic and always read the articles that inspire me as a traveler and as a
dancer. The travel stories between the forest and desert, as know as the Sahel can be very interesting. The
travel caravans are currently in danger. A camel transporting a block of 132 ponds of salt is sold for only
Y: How did you go about learning how to belly dance?
M.D: Latin people are always surrounded by popular music: salsa, merengue, sevillanas, tangos and
bulerias . Most of the time, we party in our own homes or local tascas. When I move to United States, I was
looking for a place to dance. I started to attend intensive seminars like The Spirit of the Tribes and The Miami
Belly Dance Convention. I took classes with Maja, Bozenka, Nathalie, Myriam Eli from Harmonic Motions and
Yamil Annum form Argentina.
Y: Describe your personal style of belly dance?
M.D: Nature is one of my passions. I love the Egyptian Armana Style that is influenced by the organic
movements from nature. I like to add music with my Spanish castanets when I dance baladi songs. I love to
add Amis because remains my friends in Hawaii and my teacher Kajira Djoumahna. Hip twist to accent hip
moves. I love to wear a tribal tassel belt, made by my teacher Julianne Battaglia. For me the hands are a very
important element on the dance, I practice my floreos at the beginning of my routines.
Y: What sets belly dancing apart from other types of dance?
M.D: Belly Dancers are strongly focusing on helping the community. Most of the time Belly Dancers invest in
this form of art as a hobby and them we become advocates of a cause. Yallah Magazine has been having a
big impact in the community of Belly Dance. The article in the premier issue: “Johanna, Basha and Kamileh
The Belly Dancing Warriors” by Johanna Krynytzky is a good example of dedication. I personally had
participated in creating founds for Solace International to create schools in developing countries. Also
contribute to rise founds to Cure Duchene’s with my friend Najmah at Springfield, Jacksonville.
Y: When do you perform? Do you typically perform solo or in a dance troupe?
M.D: Currently I dance “solo” as a Belly Dancer, and I also dance with a troupe-group Flamenco de la Costa
by Naomi Vail.
Y: Do you teach Belly Dance Classes? If so, when and where?
M.D: I teach a beginner course at Bolero’s Dance Center, at Atlantic Blvd. Jacksonville, North Florida. For
classes and schedule please call at 904.721.339
Y: How do you prepare_ both mentally and physically- for a major belly dance performance?
M.D: I practice meditation and yoga. The meditation keeps me in harmony with my surroundings and the
yoga imperfect balance. A good cup of green tea helps too.!
Y: What types of physical conditioning does it take to become a successful belly dancer?
M.D: Is recommended for all the belly dancer to workout vigorously. Cardiovascular exercise is the most
common. But for dancer who would like to try new disciplines, I encourage them to try ballet and jazz. Also,
water sports are excellent to tone your body…now I have my standing paddle board ready to continue
practicing on summer! Belly’s in the water!
Y: Where are you from originally? Where do you current live?
M.D: I’m originally from Venezuela and my family is from Colombia. On my early teens my family move to
Puerto Rico where are graduate as an interior designer. Actually I live in Amelia Island, North Florida.
Y: How do you channel your nationality into your own personal style of belly dance?
M.D: My latin american heritage has a big influence in my belly dance. In Venezuela we learn to dance
Joropo with our family and practice at local pueblo fiestas or templetes. Usually these fiestas are in the plaza
with local food with arepas and local art. Is the best time for us to meet our friends! In Puerto Rico witch I
consider part of my culture too, we called Fiestas Patronales, where I can eat a lot of bacala’itos! and we
dance the bomba and plena. All this influence has been helping me to develop a free style personality.
Y: What do you enjoy most about performing?
M.D: I enjoy all the process form practicing, selecting music, selecting costumes, cropping make up styles.
But really, the best part is interacting with the public and been satisfied for doing a good performance.
Y: Do you feel you are a role model in the belly dance community?
M.D: Yes, in my home town community. I live apart from mayor cities where belly dance is a new way of
expression. The women in the island are interesting in learning this art expression, this year I will be starting
to teach in my hometown at A Chance to Dance Studio.
Y: What advice can you give for aspiring belly dancers?
M.D: To always enjoy the learning curve. Some dancers like to become part of a troupe others like to
become professional solo dancers. In any projection your dance journey is taking, you always need to study
and practice a lot. Practice, practice at home and at the teacher studio. Planning a group trip for workshops
is fun…. is a good excuse to get away from the daily routine … and last…. travel the world!
Y: Do you have any upcoming performances scheduled? If so, when and where?
M.D: Yes, this year we have The 45th Shrimp Festival and Parade on May 1st, in Down Town, Fernandina
Beach and “The Fiesta de Santa Maria” where we celebrate the Hispanic heritage in honor to Jose Marti on
September 20th. I invite all the belly dancer to discover Fernandina Beach… we have incredible beaches and
is very romantic.
Y: Where do you hope your career as a belly dancer will lead you in the next five to 10 years?
M.D: Dear Yallah, I love this question. My Cuban ballet teacher Dulce Anaya is a senior teacher at with all the
reputations a ballerina can achieve. I picture myself just like her…. Moving every bone of my body and don’t
look back….. life is good when you are dancing. Recording music is one or my passions and I would love to
record with Omar Faruk Takbilek and Niyaz. Que sigan Bailando!