“The dance struck a chord in me - the music, the movement, the colour and the depth of this dance completely gripped me”. - Virginia
"The most outstanding troupe piece was a fan veil dance by Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance from Wollongong. Virginia never ceases to impress with her choreographic skill and range of styles"
WINNER - 'Most Innovative Choreography' (Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival, 2015)
"At Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance we are strongly committed to providing quality instruction in a supportive, fun, and encouraging environment". - Virginia
Virginia Keft is the founding director and principal of Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance. With a lifelong love of dance Virginia was immediately fascinated by the earthy strength and mesmerising sensuality of belly dance when she witnessed a small troupe dancing at a Blue Mountains festival. She found a local dance class and after her very first beginners class in 1996 she was hooked, “The dance struck a chord in me - the music, the movement, the colour and the depth of this dance completely gripped me”. Virginia dove in to learning and exploring the dance:
“I became immersed in the practical aspects of belly dance - and then I began to delve further into its background and I discovered that there was even more to learn about the incredibly rich and diverse history of belly dance. I was also studying at the University of Wollongong at the time and my belly dance world and academic studies began to meld and merge; I searched far and wide for literature about the dance and its history. I was in dance heaven – I read about the dance, I wrote about it, danced about it, and basically lived and breathed belly dance”.
During her studies Virginia spent time traveling the world to hone her skills by learning from the world’s most respected and revered belly dance masters. Some of the most influential teachers Virginia has studied with include Caroline Evanoff (Egypt), Bert Ballandine (US), Dina (Egypt), Morocco (NY) and modern greats Amel Tafsout (Algeria/UK), Mira Betz (US), Sadie Marquardt (US), Artemis Mourat (US), and Elizabeth Strong (US) to name a few.
After completing two Bachelor degrees at the University of Wollongong (Australia), and receiving 1st class Honours for her work on the ‘History of belly dance in 19th Century Travel Writing’ she was awarded a prestigious scholarship to undertake her Doctorate of Philosophy. Virginia earned her PhD in 2007 after producing the first complete doctoral thesis on the history of belly dance in literature and culture (read more about Virginia's research here).
In 2005 Virginia took a leap and opened Cinnamon Twist School of Belly Dance. The school started with 3 weekly classes in a small community hall and now – as Cinnamon Twist celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2015 the ever growing school hosts over 20 classes a week to over 200 dedicated students in their beautifully presented professional dance studio in Wollongong. Virginia says, “I’m immensely proud to have contributed to the thriving dance community here and abroad, I absolutely love to see our new students enter our doors unsure at first, then they flourish as they begin to soak up the belly dance vibe in the same way I did so many years ago! In every class we laugh, we dance, and we enjoy each others company”.
Virginia is a highly sought after instructor and has taught and performed both nationally and internationally to glowing reviews. Following Cinnamon Twist’s appearance at the “Hadia Live in Sydney” show, Rachel Bond wrote for Oasis Magazine;
"The most outstanding troupe piece was a fan veil dance by Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance from Wollongong. Virginia never ceases to impress with her choreographic skill and range of styles. This was a wonderful example of how she maximises the impact of her routines through cannons and formations. [Cinnamon Twist] are a tight-knit and dedicated bunch who put a huge effort into learning and rehearsing – and it shows. They all looked confident and connected throughout a routine with numerous changes and a tricky prop: fan veils!" (Review of 'Hadia in Sydney', by Rachel Bond Bellydance Oasis, 9 February 2015)
Some of Virginia's favourite career highlights to date include Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival (2006, 2011- 2015), in 2015 Virginia was awarded the prize for “Most Innovative Choreography” (SMEDF 2015), Fire in the Belly Festival (2014), Tasmanian Middle Eastern Dance Festival (2012), Western Australia Middle Eastern Dance Festival (2012-2014), Bahar Bayram Middle Eastern Dance Festival (2012), Newcastle Bellydance Festival (2012-2013), and performing at the high profile Belly Dance Evolution in Oz: Red Carpet Night (2014). Virginia has published numerous papers and books on the subject of Belly Dance and has presented her academic work in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Cinnamon Twist team are comprised of highly dedicated, and experienced teachers and performers with a deep understanding of belly dance and a passion for sharing it with our students. Virginia's teaching philosophy is based on the notion that dance is a community endeavour as well as a personal journey.
"At Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance we are strongly committed to providing
quality instruction in a supportive, fun, and encouraging environment.
Whether you are just starting your belly dance journey or whether you've
been dancing for a while you will find our classes unique, fun
Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance offers belly dance classes for all ages, all fitness levels, and all shapes and sizes. We also offer Arabic Drumming for all levels.
At Cinnamon Twist we believe that belly dance is not only a fun way to get fit and meet other women, but it can open the doors to a whole world of music, sequins, laughter, and joy.
We hope to see you at Cinnamon Twist soon!
In our words
Dr. Virginia Keft is an internationally acclaimed belly dance artist, master instructor, and choreographer from Australia. She is a dynamic performer and a generous teacher with a diverse repertoire and passion for Oriental dance. She holds a PhD from the University of Wollongong and regularly teaches, performs, and presents her research both nationally and internationally. She is the founding Director and Principal of Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance, Australia.
Virginia teaches at every level in the school from beginners to advanced. Virginia has a broad knowledge of contemporary cabaret belly dance as well focused knowledge of a variety of folkloric dances from the Middle East and North Africa. Some of Virginia's favourite folkloric styles include Turkish Rom, Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan as well as Saiidi, and Khaleegy of the Arabian Gulf.
To each and every class Virginia brings her love of dance, her passion for teaching, and her commitment to excellence. Virginia is an accredited Zumba Fitness instructor.
Mel began belly dancing in 1995 when she was 3 months pregnant with her first child. When she heard about the benefits of belly dancing through pregnancy and labour she thought "it seemed a good time to start". Mel has now danced her way through 3 pregnancies! She says, “I love belly dancing because it’s my chance to be creative and free, plus I love to dress up!” Apart from teaching belly dance Mel is also a member of Cinnamon Twist's advanced class. She says, “it's wonderful to be a student of Cinnamon Twist, I enjoy constantly being challenged and I'm learning and growing with every class". Mel says, "teaching is very rewarding and it gives me the chance to share the joy that I find in the dance; it’s incredibly uplifting".
Mel teaches Beginners & Intermediate for adults and she is the well-loved teacher for the Little Genies kids belly dance classes at Cinnamon Twist. Mel is a Cinnamon Twist dance troupe member.
Tern 1 classes will run as 6-week session
Term 2 will return to 9 week sessions.
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