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Start to Shimmy

​From the outside, it looks like just a red brick building in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood. You don’t know what magic lies within, says its occupant Saphira.

Saphira’s Saffron Dance is a dedicated studio for belly dance, an art form carried forward by generations and geographies of women. Visiting Arlington? Sign up to participate in a class or fitness program.

The studio seeks to elevate the art of belly dance through education and training via classes, workshops and retreats. The dancers also help produce stage performances at area theaters.

Saphira, who started Saffron Dance 10 years ago, describes herself as a lawyer from southern Oklahoma who is serving as a “diplomat for Arabic culture.” The faculty also includes master teacher Faten, who helped found the National Folkloric Troupe of Egypt.

The art form of belly dance is rarely found in much of the United States which makes it a unique sort of offering from the culturally diverse Arlington area, Saphira said. The studio attracts highly accomplished, professional women who seek to learn the folkloric dances from various parts of the Middle East, and the school seeks to honor the movements and music in their original forms and contexts.

“It’s more easily accessible for the range of body types, and it allows for all body types and fitness levels,” Saphira said. Even women without any previous dance training find it enjoyable, she said.

Classes build upon one another but an introductory class called From Start to Shimmy is perfect for beginners and travelers, Saphira said.

Conveniently located one block from the Clarendon Metro, Saffron Dance also offers parking in the adjacent parking lot with designated spaces.

Saffron class graduates dance on stage here:

Author: Kathleen Murphy