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Yalla (يلا)

Let's get moving!  Belly dance, called raqs sharki in Arabic and oryantal dans in Turkish, is rooted in dances done at social celebrations.  It is a joyful dance that fosters togetherness and creativity.  Tucson Belly Dance Academy classes provide a chance to make new friends and learn new skills, and a way to practice body positivity while learning this beautiful dance form. 

Dancers also gain strength and confidence as they learn to move their bodies in new ways.  Students often find that their posture and balance improve, and that belly dance is a great low impact and fun way to get moving and find their strength.  


Raqs sharki/oryantal dans is done from Anatolia to Persia to Morocco.  Its long history is shaped by changing trade routes and shifting borders.  As we learn to translate the music into movement, we also learn about the diverse cultures this dance belongs to.  Belly dance is often a gateway to greater cultural understanding, appreciation, and connnection. 

Founded by Bonnie Grate, the studio embraces her unique technique based on her diverse training under several instructors including Nada El Masyra, Kathryn Ferguson, and Ava Fleming. 


Bonnie Grate

Instructor | Creative Director

Bonnie fell in love with this dance style over 20 years ago in her very first dance class with Kristen Cunningham in California.  After moving to Arizona, she studied under Ava Fleming and then in Tucson found intstructor and dance mentor, Kathryn Ferguson, who she studied with until her death in 2017. Since then she has studied under Nada El Masyra, an Egyptian Master Instructor.  

Bonnie has received her Reda Level 1 Certification and her JTE 1 & 2 Certifications (Sahra Saidi's Journey Through Egypt Dance Ethnology Program).  She continues to travel and study with instructors from all over the country and Egypt.  She is also a member of the Xanadu Dance Collective and performs throughout Southern Arizona and the Southwest with the performance company and as a soloist.   

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