Called “sensual and captivating” by Stephen Watkins, the manager and deejay of musical group, Juno Reactor, Hay has built upon her diverse dance training and abilities in belly dance, theatrical and latin dance to develop her own unique and versatile style.
Hay talks about the high points of her illustrious career, her international travels and what dance means to her, personally.
How did you get started in dance?
I started dancing when I was 3 years old and as a kid learned ballet, jazz, tap, modern dance, contemporary, hip hop, salsa and more. At the age of 16 I went to a bellydance class for the first time in my life and fell in love. One month after I started going to classes, I became an instructor myself.
What have been the highlights- the top moments - of your career to date?
I was invited to perform in front of 100,000 people in a live show in Budapest, Hungary a couple of months ago as a part of the international tour of Juno Reactor [a trance-oriental music group]. Another big moment for me was when my dance video on Youtube became international and reached over to 20,000,000 views. The thought that I make people smile and happy by my art is the best feeling I can ask for.
You've been fortunate to travel in your work as a dancer. Do you enjoy traveling?
Traveling around the world is a dream come true for me. The best part is certainly the moments on stage and expanding my knowledge of different cultures, traditions, food, places and especially getting to know new friends around the world. I am lucky but I do find myself sometimes just wanting to be in my bed at home. I miss my friends and students but especially I miss my family. At the end of the day it is the best experience I can ever have and it makes me stronger.
What is the hardest part about being a dancer?
Preserving my name and recognition as a top bellydancer around the world requires 6-8 hours a day of dancing and practicing, eating healthfully, keeping my body in shape and thinking all the time about new ideas, choreographies and costumes. It is a hard work but at the end of the day, I thank god for the gift and the opportunity to share my talent and do what i love.
What important lesson have you learned in your career?
First of all you have to believe in yourself; you have to be confident in what you do, to listen to your heart and follow that. I also believe in giving back and being positive. Try to be happy with what you have and appreciate it. This attitude keeps you from spending energy on negative issues and you will always have good people around you.
Can you think of a time dance has helped you through a tough time?
My dad died couple of months ago and I was so sad that I couldn't dance for about a month, the first dance after this month was, for me, the most powerful dance I have had for a very long time. I was crying during the dance and felt like flying in the space. I let myself improvise and express all my feelings through my body movements. It was really sad and amazing at the same time and helped me release a lot of sadness that I kept inside.
What do you wish more people knew about bellydancing?
Bellydance is a very feminine dance that came from the middle east, mainly from Egypt, and began as a way to help pregnant women. Women used hips movements as exercises to ease the pain of the birth process. Bellydancing is all about release, the body, the hips and the soul.
If you didn't dance what would you do or love to do instead?
I have BA in business administration majoring in marketing, an MBA majoring in finance and banking risk focus, an Arabic and communication diploma and body language and interpersonal communication certificate in addition to my dance diplomas. However, I actually do not even think about it. All my life I have been dancing. If I were not, I would probably be involved in music, productions or sports.
What are you looking forward in the new year?
I am looking forward to sharing my talent, performing and teaching in more places around the world.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work as a performer?
The moments on stage, the feeling afterwards, the love of the audience, the feedback and the ability to expose more and more people to this beautiful art are the most rewarding things.