"Bellydance gives me power. I know my strengths and weaknesses and I own them."
Interview from February 10th 2020.
Sofiya (27) is a professional dancer, teacher and since 2019 a certified
ESSENCE OF BELLYDANCE™ teacher. Her work centers around emotion, she
applies it in her teaching as well as performing. Sofiya has created
her unique style, which merges bellydance, tribal fusion, contemporary
dance and ballet. She places a special emphasis on improvisation and
body-mind centering. In her dance, she focuses on human emotions and
creates choreographies that are inspired by real personal stories and
strong inner conflicts.
How did you get in touch with the Bellydance and what does it give you?
It was actually quite funny. I never knew much about Bellydance, I
always wanted to do hip hop and never imagined myself
going for Bellydance. So the very first time I was so to speak
dragged to the class. However, I loved it right away! I had the
luck to have a very inspirational teacher (Veneta Gerganova),
who taught me to move from the inside, finding an motivation
for every move from an inner drive. And that is what makes a
dance a dance and not just movement, isn’t it? Feeling every
move with your whole body and living in the moment, in the dance.
The moment I started doing Bellydance changed my life forever.
It profoundly changed me as a person and acted as a therapy, which
cured a lot of the pain and trauma I carried with me. Before I started
dancing, I used to be very shy and insecure, and really cared about
what people think about me. Now I feel confident and strong, and
do not concern myself with the opinion of others. I have grown
to learn my strengths and weaknesses and I own them. Having weaknesses
is human and no one should be embarrassed about it. Instead, we
should acknowledge them and search to improve.
Bellydance gives me power. I can do whatever I want with my
body, I can move any part of my body just because I want to. This is
a very powerful feeling. Especially when you see the response
of the audience, being enchanted by these small and yet magical
and powerful moves. It is priceless.
You have a Master in Chemistry, how did you decide to make dancing your career?
This was a true inner struggle between my heart and my brain,
between my intuition and what society told me. I felt that something
was off already in the end of my Bachelor degree. I hit a point of
my life, in which dance made me so much happier than chemistry.
However, as most people do, I ignored the signs and kept on going
the usual, standard way. Because I was told that this is how life
should be… You grow up, get a degree, get a job, have a family…
What no one told me was that it doesn’t have to be like this. It
can be, but does not have to.
After graduating with a Bachelor degree, I was seriously considering
doing a career in dance, but I had strong doubts. I feared that I am
not good enough, that I can’t earn a living doing what I love.
So I was very kept on following the “standard” way, despite
the fact it made me miserable. Truth be told, what made it all
manageable was the fact that I was continuously dancing. I was
already teaching classes, and was organizing and participating
Soon after, I graduated with a Master degree and started searching
for a job. It took me around 9 months to finally find what turned
out to be a terrible job, which made me quite unhappy…
I only lasted a year. That was my turning point. I could not
continue forcing myself to do something that I dislike when I
was ignoring something which I so dearly love and am also good at.
I finally decided to quit my job and only continue with my dance
teaching and performing.
Four years. That is how long it took me to take this decision.
Yes, it is really hard financially, and yes, it is unstable and
insecure at times, but it is amazing to do what you love. Transitioning
from my strict scientific degree to a dance career was a very hard
but necessary step for me. It made me very happy and satisfied with
my life. I believe that everyone has to find their own way in life without
prejudice and judgment, without comparison to others. You are who
you are and you need to find the best way for yourself.
How did you start and what were the important milestones or
turning points in your career?
I first started teaching. This was while I was studying my for my Masters degree.
It was quite challenging since I did not have any degree in dance or
teaching, but I have been a tutor so I had some experience working
with people. I was following my instincts and learned how to teach
mostly by myself.
Another turning point was the decision to quit my job and to work
full time on my dance career. From that moment on, I worked very hard
and things started working out by themselves. I had my goals set and
worked hard to achieve them, but I was still very uncertain, scared and
This was resolved by the ESSENCE OF BELLYDANCE™ teacher training. It
was during the training when I finally managed to achieve inner peace,
to relax and accept that whatever happens, in the end things will
From that moment on, every day I do a small milestone that brings me
closer to my dreams. I challenge myself to be brave and strong, to
not be worried about whether things will work out but to make them happen.
2018 you created, directed and perfomed in "La Femme", a full
contemporary oriental dance show that celebrates strong women.
Congratulations, that‘s very impressive. Can you tell us more
'La Femme' touches on social issues such as social prejudice and
pressure, as well as more intimate ones like having a miscarriage
and being in an abusive relationship. Three inspiring women came
forward to tell their stories. Their words were expressed through
contemporary oriental dance and supported by theatrical elements.
My goal with this performance was to wake up something very deep
in everyone that sees it. Mostly, I wanted to support women that
are in similar situations by showing them that they are not the
only ones and that there is a way out. It is important to discuss
these topics openly so that people in similar situations do not feel
ashamed and can look for help.
You joined the ESSENCE OF BELLYDANCE™ Teacher Training in 2019,
did you have doubts if it‘s the right thing to do?
I have been wanting to join the ESSENCE OF BELLYDANCE teacher
training for a very long time, a few years ago already. But I was
not sure about it. I felt that I was not ready yet. I
had it in my mind that someday, when I think it is time, I will
One late night in mid-2018, a few months before I finally decided
to become a dancer, I remembered about the training and wrote right
away... at 1 am in the night. It was very exciting, I was so happy!
It really felt this was the right decision at the right time. I was
in the perfect state of mind once the training began, I could learn
and absorb the most.
Now when I think about it, once again I realize how powerful
intuition and following your heart are.
How did the training change you?
Under the guidance of Coco, I build a very strong connection
with my body, which brought me into harmony with myself. This
connection turned out to be a missing piece. I felt that I was missing
something for a very long time, but did not realize what it was
until that moment. Now I know and understand myself better and
know what I need to do to feel better.
Another thing, which I already intuitively felt but did not yet
realize consciously, was that everyone is different and that is
completely fine. Coco welcomes you as you are and teaches you
to love yourself. This is such an important lesson to learn, and
there are so few people that are ready to teach that to you. I now teach
my students to accept and love themselves for who they are and
see them becoming empowered.
What was the best moment in your dance life so far?
The ESSENCE OF BELLYDANCE™ teacher training! It is so hard to
describe with words what I felt. I can only say that it was a
truly magical moment, an amazing atmosphere with great people.
I sometimes wish I can do it again and again! It changed my life.
Is there something you regret?
Regret is not a feeling I want to cultivate. I believe that instead
of regretting something, people should learn from it. We are all
human and we all make mistakes. It is something completely natural
and we should not punish ourselves or anyone else for it. Instead,
accept it as it is and learn your lesson.
What 3 tips would you like to share with women who want to pursue a similar dream?
1. Be strong and brave, do not overthink and worry. Do it and see
what happens. If you fail once, it is not the end of the world.
Accept it and move forward on the next task. Learn from it.
2. Always keep your mind open and your heart in place. Stay humble
and allow yourself to improve without wanting to be better than
someone. Instead of feeling ashamed for not knowing something,
just learn from the ones that know.
3. Focus on the positive things in your life.
How does a day in your life look like?
Sometimes days vary, but usually, I wake up and try to take some
quality time for myself: stretching, meditation, reading a book,
or doing pelvic floor exercises. After that, I eat breakfast and
start working on the tasks for the day.
Currently, I teach classes 5 days out of 7. During the class-free
days I aim to record and edit a video or two, which I then publish
on my Youtube channel and Instagram. I always want to improve more,
so I also regularly visit other dance classes.
My only problem right now is that the day has only 24 hours.
My enthusiasm and for what I do give me enough energy
to do a lot more and organizing the priorities is not always easy.
What are the 3 books that shaped your life?
“The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne introduced me to the law of attraction.
“Mindfulness in Plain English” by Henepola Gunaratana instilled the
idea of awareness and living in the present moment.
“Pussy Yoga” by Coco. I deeply connect to a lot of the content and
it made me realize a lot of things I was missing until now.
What is your vision for the future?
To be truly happy and to dance. Everything else will fall into
place over time.
I have recently found this one feeling of „true happiness“.
It is a combination of a feeling of satisfaction with everything
you have, positivity for what’s to come, and love towards everything.
It is a feeling of being alive with every part of your body.
Thank you so much for the interview Sofiya! You are an inspiration.
Do you love to dance and want to inspire other women?
Then join our international community of excellent dance teachers and start teaching your own ESSENCE OF BELLYDANCE™ classes.
You can do it!