Emma Brown is an aspiring aerial acrobat who fell in love with the performing art in 2012. She has been a lover of dance and movement for many years, and has found her artistic outlet in this unique performing art. Aerial dance allows her to combine her creativity, strength, and flexibility to formulate performance routines and lesson plans for beginning to intermediate students.
Emma first studied aerial silks under the direction of Jenn Rauscher of JennuineFire. She continues to attend aerial workshops and classes whenever she can to advance herself as a performer and teacher. Emma is a personal trainer and has a BS in Nutrition and Fitness, both of which she utilizes to promote a healthy balance of training, recovery, and longevity for herself and her students.
In July of 2014, Emma won the Intermediate Silks Division at the Aerial Expo Amateur Aerial Competition. She has performed at private parties for CARFAX and the True/False Film Festival. Emma has also performed with Quixotic Fusion, a Kansas City-based performing arts group.
In this lifetime we are given a few unique opportunities to discover who we are on a much deeper level. These opportunities tend to reveal to us our own capacities and inner resources in a way that nothing else can. For me, these moments have included watching death, giving birth, motherhood, attending births, and dancing.
I had taken dancing lessons from a young age, and my intensity and stage presence was something that was remarked upon for as long as I can remember. The pinnacle in my young mind was to reach the age where I could move en pointe in my ballet class. The summer before that milestone, I sustained an injury. Such that I was a goner for ballet. My love of dance cooled as I moved into my teen years - my family was watching my Father suffer from a long illness that would take him from us at the age of 47. I became hard, reckless, and angry in the face of that suffering.
Motherhood found me, quite unexpectedly, at the age of 20. My daughter, like her sister 5 years later, brought a light and sweetness that I never knew I’d experience. I became soft again - I became open. Through an incredibly fortuitous set of connections and determination, I began attending births and ultimately supported hundreds of women through their journey. In these years dance came back to me. Kandice and I began our belly dance journey together with the most incredible group of ragtag teachers and friends. We cobbled together different dance styles from videos and workshops - and hand sewed our costumes from whatever bits we could find or scrape together change to buy. We danced because it felt good. We danced for one another. We danced when the babies kept coming. We danced as mamas moved far away and then back.
When Kandice began Moon Belly in her home, I knew she was starting something special. Our bodies are older but better than ever. The technique has leveled up beyond what we imagined as young, unshaven, hippie mamas with babies strapped on our bodies. Dance, for me, is that core of softness, love, and appreciation for myself and my women friends - and Moon Belly is now the home for that.
My name is Brittney Banaei from Springfield,Missouri. I have been in love with dance my entire life. I love the way I feel when I'm dancing, I love the process involved in becoming a dancer, and I love the positive effect that dance has on people's lives. I began studying bellydance at age 14 with Troupe Sarab of Springfield, and continued my dance education with Arabesque Academy in Toronto, Suhaila Salimpour in Berkeley, and most recently Amy Sigil in Sacramento and Ruby Beh in Portland. This year I began the BFA Dance program at Missouri State University where my focus is on studying the transmutation of cultural dance in the age of internet, and how traditional art is merging with contemporary forms to tell new stories in an increasingly homogenized world. I direct the dance company 'the Phenomenon Ensemble' where I am developing a repertoire work that ranges from the classical/folkloric to the contemporary/experimental. I am also proud to be involved with the Springfield Dance Alliance, a growing not for profit organization focusing on creating a dynamic dance community. In addition to dance I am a Massage Therapist, have 4 cats and 1 dog, and love to bake and garden. Fun Fact: Kandi was the first person to ever host me for a dance workshop. I am so excited and honored to be a part of this production!
Dancing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom had my sisters and me in dance by the age of 3 and we were in classes most of my childhood. My mother is a dancer and has instructed off and on my whole life, so I was either taking from her or at some other dance school and I loved it! I learned how to express myself through dance and it just became my identity; I was a dancer.
Things changed pretty abruptly when my parents divorced when I was 12. We moved to another state and began going to a public school for the first time. Up to this point, we were either homeschooled or in a private school and were pretty sheltered from the world around us. To say the least, we were quite culture shocked and I had a hard time navigating through all the changes going on around me. My mom started teaching ballroom dance and for whatever reason, we did not return to dance classes. We danced with my mom as she practiced her new style of dance and we learned a lot from her in our home and I used to dream of competing and dancing professionally in the Ballroom dance world.
Somewhere along the way, I began to get very lost. I never felt that I fit in at any school I went to, and we moved around… a lot. I always felt like as soon as I began to get comfortable somewhere, we’d pick up and move again or we would flip flop back and forth between my mom and dad. My dad had moved to be closer to us after deciding living states away was much too difficult. Thankfully I always had my twin sister alongside me during the many changes in schools, but we eventually began to grow apart in our efforts to find our own identities. I began seeking out other “outsiders” and started using drugs and alcohol at a very young age. I thought I had found a solution to my feelings of being “different” and that I finally fit in somewhere. More time passed between me and dancing. My longing to dance again began to fade away and although I still described myself as a “dancer”, I had no credentials to speak of anymore ,and it was just some distant dream.
My journey to where I am at today was long and painful. I struggled to find myself again but I was looking in all the wrong places. My spirit was dying and I did not know how to breathe life back into it. Eventually, through some power not my own, I became ready and willing to do something different. Once I made that decision there was no turning back. As I began to find myself again, I had this knowing that one day, I didn’t know how, where, or when, I would dance again. About a year ago a dear friend called me and asked if I wanted to go to a belly dance class with her. Just the thought of going to a dance class, any kind of dance class, was so exciting and I was all in! I went to my first Moon Belly class and to a performance at the Bridge that weekend, and was hooked immediately. I was mesmerized by the dancers and I thought that could be me someday! Finding myself on a dance floor again has revived my spirit in so many ways. I have come to love Moon Belly and what it represents to me: That embracing and loving yourself as you are, your perfect imperfections and all, is what being a woman is about. Dancing at Moon Belly with these amazing women, I have found someone who is strong, confident, and beautiful and that someone is me!
This blog is designed to provide information about Moon Belly and MOON dance company happenings. At times, it becomes an open journal of our various theatrical explorations. At other times, it serves as a source of education on belly dance culture and history.