An exercise for your soul & body – Dance with Fayzah
Author- Mridula Rajagopal
“Home is on a plane,” said Fayzah in a cramped corner of a Union Square Starbucks. And just like that, with one sentence, she alluded to her incredibly unique and eclectic life, perfectly complementing her just as unique personality.
Born in America but raised in Germany…then back to America. Then off to the Caribbean. Then back to America, Fayzah has been a student of experiences her whole life. “I was classically trained in ballet and jazz when I was young, but every other style just kind of happened spontaneously,” she said in her coolly cavalier tone. Not a ‘cool’ that is pretentious in the least, but the kind of cool that can only be possessed by someone who made an impromptu move to the Caribbean and began DJ-ing, which, incidentally, Fayzah has done.
Although she now works as a tango instructor in Solas in New York, it is only a fraction of what she does and an even smaller portion of her interest in the field of dance. “Dance is a consequence of music,” she said. And so, her interest in any style of dance is always rooted in its music. From Middle Eastern dances to classical Indian dances such as Bharathnatyam, to tango, street style and tribal fusion, Fayzah has tried and conquered them all. She simply gravitates towards the music that moves her and then explores the dance genre behind it. “It is hard to be a multi-hyphenate when it is all about dance, but I promise, I really have taken the time to learn each of these styles,” she said.
Fayzah is perhaps most well known for her tribal fusion style because of its unique, distinctive nature. “Traveling is the best education,” she said, and because of her constant travels, she has been able to master many different genres of dance. “Even though I fuse dance styles, I am very connected to each of these dances because I study their roots,” she said. Her interests in varying styles of dance have always been a consequence of the environment she was in, hence the wide range of styles in her repertoire. “Also, my mom is Latina, so I was always surrounded by dance and music growing up,” she said.
However, under the multitude of dance styles and interests lies her fundamental love for dance as an art form. “I think it is something very natural. There is a human desire to express and connect with people and yourself, and dance is very freeing in that way.” Fayzah also recognizes that although it is a basic human desire, it is very hard for some people to fully let go of control and enjoy the dance, not worrying about what they look like. This is the barrier she hopes to break, no matter what class setting she is in—private or group. “I love to see people transform through [dance]. They think they have an idea of who they are, but by giving them permission to explore other parts of themselves, you really see them open up.”
Dance was also there for Fayzah at a time when her body wasn’t. Suffering from extreme stress and anxiety, her immune system shut down, basically paralyzing her arms and legs. “I had to teach myself to re-learn how to move my limbs, it was very serious.” Instead of being discouraged, Fayzah drew inspiration from her love of dance and found in it a therapeutic and healing aspect. “As dancers, or just as humans in general, we don’t take care of our bodies enough. So, I really found a need for my workshop ‘Strong and Supple.” It is a combination of meditation, strength and core training as well as dancing, creating a great combination of exercise with a soulful element—and this is what you can look forward to in her ‘Strong and Supple’ workshop. “We need to take care of our bodies, soul and spirit.” So, what are you waiting for?