In 2009 I started teaching Belly Dance. Dance had helped me through a terrible bout with anxiety and depression. It got me through the other end to a place of calm, productivity, and joy, whereas before I was a near shut-in and filled with doubt and fear.
Dance helped me get back on my feet – literally – because of its life-giving pleasure and its ability to keep my body moving, heart pumping, and blood flowing. Apart from its strong effect on my mood, it was also the most effective exercise I could stick with. I fell in love with dance, then I fell in love with my body, then I fell in love with myself, then I fell in love with life. I know in my heart that no other form of exercise could send me down that beautiful path.
I danced for years with different teachers until I finally made the decision to teach. I had observed in the classes I took that I and the other students were usually bored from either the class not being challenging enough or not being exciting enough. I decided to offer a different sort of class. I also used a different method to teach to make sure people understood how to do the moves, like by covering the mirrors so they couldn’t see themselves and feel self-conscious, for example. I learned other tricks like that and decided to start a blog to share them all with the dancing public.
Years after my worst experience with anxiety and depression, I found that dance helped me in other ways as well. It helped me stay flexible, it helped me stay accountable for my health, and most wonderfully it helped me in all my relations with the people around me.
It had been a long time that I was on my dance path when my family started noticing that my mother was having memory problems. Although it progressed slowly as it still is, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Known as “the long goodbye”, this heartbreaking thief of life affects 6 million people in the United States, and is believed to be double in the next twenty years. Dance was so curative for me in so many ways, I at first was so sad that it couldn’t help her. But – I learned soon later that I was wrong. It could help her.
According to a 2008 study done by Columbia University, freestyle dancing can prevent the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as other dementia-related illnesses by a staggering 75%. By this point I had already felt that, if there is such a thing as a life purpose, dance was probably mine, but after learning this about its dementia-preventive powers I was absolutely certain beyond a doubt.
Although my mother already developed the disease, I was still able to use dance to help soothe her, keep her active, and give her mind a rest from the occasional thought-loops and delusions that are so common with this disease. I have no concrete evidence of this, but I do believe that dance has helped keep her active, still largely functional, and self-sufficient seven years after her symptoms first surfaced.
Dance is powerful and magical. In my own experience, my mother’s, and the numerous students I’ve had, I feel that it gives you exactly what it is that you specifically need.
Before fully focusing on dance, I was a Massage Therapist. I completed the Master Course at California Healing Arts College in 2006, where I did 650 hours of training. I worked independently, at spas, and chiropractor offices and helped many people experiencing different ailments and guided them in making the necessary lifestyle changes.
I have taught Belly Dance in studios throughout Los Angeles but mostly in the South Bay, as well as for the city of Manhattan Beach, the city of El Segundo, and for the Church of Religious Science in Redondo Beach. I’ve taught private lessons as well as group classes for private events such as birthdays and bridal showers. Outside of Los Angeles, I’ve also held Belly Dance workshops in Chicago, Illinois.
What students are saying:
“I absolutely love Rita’s class. Anyone who takes it is in for a treat.” – Lisa F., Redondo Beach
“I had a wonderful time! Rita is a great teacher. I also had a nice workout.” – Lee H., Torrance
“Rita is a fantastic teacher. She showed me how to ease myself into the move instead of force my body to do something it wasn’t able to do. Her technique made me more in tune with my body and I am still feeling lightness in my body because of it.” – Laura F., Chicago
“Loved it! Great workout! Rita made me feel very comfortable.” – Gina L., Carson
“Rita is the hidden gem of the South Bay.” – Luana H., Torrance
There are programs I’ve written to help you use dance to change specific things in your life, and there is also currently an ebook available. But I recommend experiencing dance in person to get the full benefits of it.
It was hard for me to understand for a long time, but I have happily accepted that my purpose in life is to spread the word of dance. I am now very happy to be its humble servant.
I also urge you to contact me if you have any questions, either about my offerings or about dance in general. I love to hear from everyone!