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Pole dancing and belly dancing?

By on February 26, 2019 in Arts with 1 Comment
Nadège Margaria does a belly dance to live music at Tango Del Rey in San Diego. Photo by Bruce Meyer

By Marlene

Belly dancing and pole dancing might not appear to have much in common, but for Nadège Margaria, they are the two foci of an evolving passion.

Nadège described the standing ovation she received after a performance in 2018 as a highlight of her belly dancing career. At the Leavenworth Film Festival she danced to El hob Kolloh, an eight-minute song featuring Arabic strings, cymbals, wind instruments and drums. 

“It’s a song I used in competition that I wasn’t quite satisfied with,” said Nadège. “I really wanted to do it justice.” 

While most of us are content to walk across a room without stumbling, Nadège’s belly dancing shows the true capabilities of the human body. 

She can isolate and activate muscles in sequence, creating beautiful rolls and peaking with thrusts of her shoulders, chest or hips. She brings the music’s rhythm to life in dazzling sequins and billowing silk. 

Her staccato movements accented the music when it was percussive with a prominent beat. When the music turned slow and melodic, Nadège’s dancing became fluid, relaxed and introspective. 

By the end, the applause and whistles made it clear she controlled the audience with the sinuous designs she painted with her motions. 

It all began back in Nice, France, where Nadège grew up. As a child she was drawn to ballet and rhythmic gymnastics. Arabic culture is prominent in France’s melting pot, so by the time she was a teenager, she had found what would be her first life-long passion, belly dancing.

At age 23, love brought her to San Diego, where she immersed herself in the thriving dance community, giving group and solo performances at theaters and cafes and teaching classes at a gym and at the University of La Jolla. 

Nadège looked to add to her repertoire, and yoga afforded the balance she craved. “When I’m performing I’m very extroverted. Yoga is a more internal and introverted space. And when I love something, I want to teach it, so I became trained as a yoga instructor.” 

Nadège teaches Vinyasa yoga, known for its creative flow akin to dance, and Yin yoga, in which poses are held for longer periods. 

She and her husband had another stint in France before settling in Leavenworth right before her daughter, Chloe, now 10, was born.

Pushing herself to the next level, Nadège took the opportunity in Europe to be mentored by the Bellydance Superstars and other mentors. “I learned the double veil, and refined my spinning technique and layering shimmies.” 

Dancing with veils, each over seven feet long, allows the dancer to make impressively intricate patterns. 

“Layering is when I add other movements like undulations, circles and arm movements to the shimmies (that is, fast moving hip and shoulder techniques). It creates a “wow” effect.

In central Washington, Nadège has performed at a range of venues, enchanting audiences at summer theater productions, the Dangerous Women Women’s History Month celebration, the International Dance Festival, private parties and more. 

Then, in 2016, Nadège took her first pole dancing class, and it took over as a new obsession. 

Pole dancing is freeing itself from the gentleman’s club’s connection, said Nadège, who trained and practiced new athletic moves at a studio in San Diego.

This dance form, now popularized and free from its connection to gentleman’s clubs, brings together — even more so than belly dancing — the expressiveness of dance with the muscular strength and endurance of acrobatics. 

After hours of training and certification, Nadège began offering classes, setting up several poles in a local gym. This dance style, both sensual and empowering, also drew bachelorette party customers.

Nadège climbs a pole with ease. Several feet off the ground, she’s in constant motion, extending outward and curling inward, spinning and defying gravity with only one tightly wrapped leg or arm. Grace masks the exertion required. “Since beginning pole dancing I think I’ve tripled my strength.”

The pole has two positions, static and spinning. “You get momentum from the spinning pole, but you must have a really good grip,” Nadège explained. 

She is mostly self-taught from watching online tutorials but also has mentors in Seattle. “I value learning from someone else. Some of the moves are scary at first.”

Her training sessions range from two to five hours. She begins with cardio and flexibility and then repeats new inversions, spins and choreographed routines until she does them perfectly. “It’s exhausting, and I got a ton of bruises at first.” 

Now she’s preparing for an April Broadway-inspired performance at Emerald City Trapeze Arts in Seattle. Along with trapeze artists and aerialists, Nadège will do an original pole dance set to All That Jazz from Chicago

It’s a bit lonely, artistically speaking, in central Washington for this now-single mom. Back in France she could fill classes of adults or kids for belly dancing, but attendance in Leavenworth has been sparser. 

Nadège shows her form during a photo shoot to promote her yoga and belly dance classes at Snowcreek Yoga Studio in 2011. Taken on Mountain Home Road above Leavenworth. Photo by Shane Wilder

Nadège plans to maintain ties to Leavenworth but is relocating to Seattle, where she’ll have a more steady flow of classes and shows. And she’ll be closer to her fellow pole dancers. She said, “I’ve found so much support, shared joy and encouragement there. It is a safe place to be completely free, express our sensuality, and feel confident.”

Nadège has touched many locals through her teaching and performances. “My classes are empowering for women. They get stronger and fitter.” And her time with daughter, Chloe, who takes ballet and jazz, often includes spontaneous dance parties. 

“Through what I do and the path I chose, I hope to inspire Chloe to cultivate her own strength, creative spirit, drive, and a healthy lifestyle.”

More about Nadège Margaria can be found on Facebook, @danceexpressionpoledancebellydance, and on Instagram, @danceexpressionyogaflow.

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  1. Hali says:

    Beautiful article on a beautiful person. Enjoyed reading this.

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