Jane with Suhaila & Isabel
Jane Yee Shan Chung
Live a DanceDivasí Life!
Interview with Jane Yee Shan Chung
by Lisa Chen
Recently among the local bellydance community in Taiwan,
people talk a lot about Janeís classes and
her Suhaila-inspired techniques. ďDid you sign up for Janeís
class yet?Ē becomes a quite common greeting. Janeís Mauritius-born
background and her passion to bellydance makes her a very inspiring
instructor as well as a brilliant bellydancer of her own style.
Q: Tell our readers about you.
J: I was born in Mauritius - to those who donít know where
Mauritius is, it is a tiny and beautiful island on the Indian Ocean.
After high school graduation,
I went to Taipei for college education, where I majored in dance and really polished
my Chinese. Then I married and have my own family here with two wonderful kids.
Now I live and work in Taipei.
Q: How did you start with bellydance?
J: Bellydance was never foreign to me. My home town in Mauritius
is a multi-cultural place where the Islam community is quite strong
there. So naturally we had bellydancers
and I saw them performing a lot.
Upon my graduation
from college, I began to teach dance. I taught several kinds
of dance and bellydance was one of the dances
I taught in the classes. My students really love bellydance.
For me at that time, bellydance was quite fun to teach and
but not particularly appealing among all the dance forms I was
teaching at the time. I simply wished to have my students enjoy
dancing more and help them explore the versatile world of dancing
by introducing bellydance to them.
I attended a 10-day intensive bellydance workshop in Maui,
Hawaii.[ed note- Delilah's?] That was the turning
point to me. During the 10 days I was so inspired and touched
by this beautiful
this workshop, I was totally drawn to bellydance and became very
serious about it. I have been very focus on bellydance since
then. I began to attend bellydance workshops and learn more about
bellydance through books and the internet.
Q: You are the first Suhaila Technique Level 1 and Level 2 certificated
dancer and instructor in Taiwan. You even have Suhailaís permission
to teach those techniques from the level you hold in Taiwan. How
did you get involved with Suhaila Salimpour and her techniques?
J: My first impression with Suhaila came from her performing
in the first Bellydance
Superstar performance DVD. I was very impressed by her
passionate and yet powerful stage presence. So I started to look
up more information on her. The more I learned about her, the
more I fell for. Then I saw the Suhaila technique workshop announced
on her website and I just signed up without knowing exactly what
her format is. I am the only person who did not learn Suhaila
format before at that workshop. I was so naÔve, I simply wanted
to give it a try.
It is quite an unforgettable experience to attend Suhaila workshop.
You feel so different from the first day to the last day at workshop.
It gets more challenging each day during the 5-day workshop and
sometimes it is very frustrated that one might wonder why she
signed up for it. From my own experiences, Level 1 is not that
difficult with my past teaching experiences with yoga and aerobic
exercise. Level 2 is truly physically challenging and much more
frustrating. However, once you finished with the level 2, you
start to miss it and you wish you could have done it again.
I didnít expect that all the techniques and knowledge I learned
from the Suhaila workshop would turn out to be very beneficial
to my teaching later on. I learn more and further through teaching
with references from Suhailaís techniques. It is a great preparation
for bellydance but not limited to bellydance. You donít just
bellydance with those techniques rather you develop your own
bellydance on the foundation of those techniques.
I also enjoy Jamilaís finger cymbal classes
very much. It is not only a great way to learn different patterns
along with all kinds of steps and movements, it is also very
challenging mentally: you have to be able to tell the transition
between different patterns and do it very accurately and yet
smoothly. It also helps me a lot to teach students the skills
and application of finger cymbals with a larger provision out
of bellydance. We try different dance movements with those finger
cymbal patterns and we have a lot of fun doing it together. I
think finger cymbal is not merely a prop or instrument attached
to belly dance, it is an art itself.
Q: You have a troupe called DanceDivas.
J: DanceDivas is formed by me and my students who have learned with me for
years. I think it is natural to have a troupe because performing is also part
of our learning experiences and it is a very important part. Students enjoy learning
dances on classes and they could have learned further and get inspired much through
performing on stage. It is a different mind-set and we all enjoy it, which is
essential to my faith- you have to enjoy it to do it, otherwise it is only a
When we first formed the troupe, we were more into a fusion
mood. We explored all possible fusion dance forms and different
music. Now we are slightly more into oriental dance mood. I donít
want to restrict my troupe members on specific styles or forms;
so long as we stay with bellydance and together we could work
out something particular belonging to DanceDivas.
Q: Whatís your future plan as a bellydancer?
J: Iíd like to stay with Suhaila technique Level 3 for now, while continuing
to teach my students with further preparation techniques. I really enjoy teaching
especially when students come to tell me that they feel a sense of progress from
As I learn more from Suhaila, I think it is very important to
share the technique and knowledge with local bellydance community.
I think Suhaila technique is a great preparation and solid foundation
for bellydance. With such foundation, we could have more freedom
and imagination to develop something quite different and something
only belonging to us. In addition, being at her workshops or
classes is also a great encouraging way- you ďsurviveĒ the workshop
and you become stronger both physically and mentally. It makes
oneís mind-set more focused and generates a sense of self-achievement.
Thatís another unexpected benefit to us, as dancers and human
beings as well.
I hope some day I would invite the Salimpour family here to
share energy and knowledge with my students and the local bellydance
Q: Thank you for accepting the interview, Jane.
Shortly after this interview, Jane went to attend the 2008 Belly
Dancer of the Universe Competitions in Long Beach, California.
She is the first Taiwan bellydancer attending this world-renowned
competition and she won in two categories: First runner up at
Fusion category and Veil category respectively. Afterwards she
was invited by Amira, one of the judges, to
perform with her.
Jane and her troupe DanceDiva
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
Matrix: A Long Journey, The Belly Dance Scene in Taiwan,
by Lisa Chen
one might have to admit that learning only choreographies might
lead students and dancers away from learning the essential elements
of traditional Belly dance.
to ? From Toronto,
Ontario, Canada The International Bellydance Conference
of Canada Video reports by Gilded
Masouma Rose, Shira, Lynette Harris and many others. Reports are
presented in video format inbedded all on the same page. Wednesday
Evening show- "Remix 2007", Daytime activities on Thursday,
Friday and Saturday. Main Stage Shows from Thursday and Friday
Night. Yet to come-- Saturday Night Gala performance at the
Ryerson Theatre, Sunday Daytime acitivities and Sunday Night at
the Nightclub "Myth"
Relations Comic by Pepper Alexandria
Remember me? I'm your long lost cousin!
with the Legends - honoring the musicians who shaped
our dance world... Eddie Kochak, the Sheik, the Man by
Elizabeth Artemis Mourat, & Christy Guenther
found that the melodies from Aleppo still spoke to him as an
adult. He continues, “I thought I could take some of these
melodies, put my feelings to them, and create what we now call
the Amer-Aba sound. We created simple routines for the teacher
to teach and the student to learn.
Karioka, Queen of Oriental Cabaret Dance by Sausan
the 1980’s, the spread of Islam and its fundamental militancy
proved to be a big blow for Egypt’s belly dance industry.
As a result, several dancers publicly renounced their pasts and
donned the Islamic veil.
Loved the Old Days at the Bagdad! by Habiba Nawal
think I was making about fifteen or twenty dollars a night plus
tips. It was all about the tips! The girls from New York made
twenty-five, if I remember right. Bert sometimes got me shows
for about thirty or seventy-five dollars for what he called “The
Furry Animal Clubs”, like the Lions, the Elk and the Kiwanis.