Artemis has spent her career empowering women through the art of dance. After opening up a dance studio on Westcott Street, she began to attract belly dancing students from around the city. According to Artemis, there was already a small belly dancing community in Syracuse, but it was based on more traditional techniques. “My style is more of a fusion art: I brought modern dance and borrowed movements from other cultures,” she said. “This style was more exciting and resonated with the women of Syracuse.”
Goddess of the hunt: Zoe Artemis will move in mysterious ways at a belly dancing workshop Saturday at the Spa at 500. MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
Even though Artemis now lives in New York City, the belly dancing community has continued to thrive. The style of dance that has evolved since the mid-1990s mixes different styles including American Tribal, Oriental, Folkloric Egyptian and Turkish, Sword, Ballet and Modern. All along, the empowerment of women has been a central theme to this movement since its origins in biblical times. “Belly dancing allows women to interact with others of all shapes, sizes and ages,” she noted. “No one is intimidated by pretty, slim young women.”
Artemis’ objective for this workshop is to teach a variety of yoga poses—particularly animal poses such as bird and snake—that strengthen the upper body. These yoga movements will then become part of the dance. Her intention is to “elevate belly dancing to a high art form, to help people get in touch with themselves and to bring together the belly dancing community.” On a more personal level, women who participate in this workshop will have the opportunity to “enjoy expressing the sensuality and femininity of the dance and playing dress-up,” Artemis added. “When else do we have the opportunity to dress so outrageously?”
This event will focus on the use of mudras, which involves the movement of one’s hands. According to Artemis, hands are an essential part of belly dancing that are often overlooked. Artemis cites many reasons why the hand should be considered so important, such as the fact that it is considered a sacred symbol in the Koran and the Bible, and is a symbol of justice in France. “Hands are used to flatter and to enhance the movements of the dance. The use of fluid hand movements is very important,” she noted.
Chelle Naef, a former student of Artemis, put together this event. Naef has played her own significant role in expanding the belly dancing community in Syracuse. She works to inspire children in her dance troupe at Nottingham High School and uses dance to instill the importance of respecting art and elevating the role of belly dancing in contemporary culture. This fall will see the 10-year anniversary of Full Moon Tribal Dance Company, which Naef owns. The Soul Workshop will mark the beginning of many events to celebrate the founding and continuing influence of belly dancing in Syracuse.
The workshop takes place Saturday, June 20, 2 to 4:30 p.m., at the Spa at 500, 500 W. Onondaga St. The workshop costs $50. It is recommended that participants have at least some prior knowledge of belly dancing. Artemis suggests wearing bracelets, flowing sleeves or other accessories that will accentuate hand movements. For more information about the workshop, contact Chelle Naef at 382-4069.