The New Faces of FatChanceBellyDance®

Since my last Fireside Chat on the topic, the question of “Who is FatChanceBellyDance®?” has been an open one. In some sense, this has always been the case—FCBD® has evolved through many iterations over the three decades of its existence. Dancers come and dancers go—change (and me, of course) has been the only constant.

After disbanding the troupe in 2013, it made sense to reestablish FCBD in a more fluid form. I wanted the freedom to reinvigorate the group with new energy and fresh ideas, which resulted in the creation of the FatChanceBellyDance Collective. Any dancer who demonstrated the requisite skill and dedication could be eligible to perform as part of the FCBD Collective. During this period, FatChanceBellyDance was simply whomever the stage or occasion called for. In this open environment, the cream of the crop at Studio SF were truly able to rise to the top and flourish.

Unfortunately, as yet another adage goes, nothing lasts forever—and this rang true even with our hallowed studio space at 670 South Van Ness. As I explained in my farewell video to 670, FCBD had to modernize or die. In addition to finding a new dance home, this meant reevaluating, reorganizing, and regrouping.

Which brings us back to the question of “Who is FatChanceBellyDance?” While the answer has certainly changed over time, a new group of dancers has assumed the mantle of FatChanceBellyDance: Juhay Ahn, Yuka Sakata, Sofia Salazar-Rubio, Michiyo Salisbury, and Jesse Stanbridge.

I have chosen these women to carry on the legacy of FatChanceBellyDance because they embody the values at the heart of FCBD®Style: integrity, humility, and community. Not only are they extraordinary dancers devoted to the highest caliber of ATS performance and instruction (and I would know, having trained all of them myself), they are some of the most enthusiastic and dedicated people that I have had the privilege of working with.

As members of FatChanceBellyDance, these ladies have adopted a collective structure, of which I’m also a part. This requires shared commitment, mutual responsibility, and equal say. Together, they are holding down the fort in San Francisco. They’ve stepped up to keep classes going and are always pursuing opportunities to foster the dance community. They attend each other’s classes in a tireless effort to refine their technique. They love working and dancing together, which shines onstage in top-notch performances. They are passionate and enthusiastic ATS ambassadors to the world at large. Most importantly, they support each other and me.

I’m still very much a part of FCBD—and always will be. But as I continue to move into semi-retirement and concentrate my focus on other pursuits, I’m only able to do so because I know that FatChanceBellyDance is in capable hands. I have the utmost faith in these awesome women, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together in 2017 and beyond.

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