Mystic Bellydance formed in 2008 with founder and troupe director Leanne Carrington-Payne at the helm. The group wanted to positively promote and share oriental dance across the east coast of Suffolk, and just have a sense of 'togetherness' from a love of dancing.
The troupe 'Mystique' perform 'cabaret' style oriental dance, which takes a base of Egyptian, Turkish and Arabian, and to this they add their own unique style, infusing elements of Bollywood, Latin, Flamenco and more.
Performing since December 2008, the troupe have danced for events throughout East Anglia (Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex), and have raised thousands of pounds with their own fundraising, and currently support the St Elizabeth's Hospice in Ipswich and the Cat's Protection League, alongside the efforts of their dance family at Gypsy Dreams Belly Dance.
MY DANCE STORY - by Troupe Director Leanne Carrington-Payne
(Leela of Suffolk)
I began my dance journey with Ballroom, Latin American and Disco because of my mum. I was very quiet and shy and she thought it would help me overcome that. I'd always loved dancing and was obsessed with the idea of being a ballerina when I was about 6, but there were no local classes, so I was sent to ballroom instead when I was 7, and though the dancing didn't help me overcome my confidence issues, it did give me a wonderful sense of freedom, and with my sparkly sandals I felt like I could conquer the world!
As a child, I loved history and was fascinated by the Arabian Nights tales, Sinbad the sailor films and ancient Egyptian history. I fell in love with the funeral mask of Tutankhamun when I was about 8 - I had no idea of its worth, just felt transfixed by those eyes. All those things have always been in the back of my mind I guess, so when I saw an advertisement in a local newspaper for classes in 2004, I signed up!
I went along to the first class expecting it to be easy, but my goodness it was nothing like I imagined, and I guess I felt very disappointed in myself for not being more able, bearing in mind all the years of dance under my belt. By lesson 3 however, I was hooked, I bought lots of costumes (far too many, so I advise students to be wise in their choices) and began my dance journey with Ayesha (Mo Farrant). Over the years I have continued my dance education through attending workshops with respected local dancers and teachers, and national and international teachers, and I research a great deal, talk to the dance community and enjoy sharing this wonderful gift with a new generation of dancers. I was once asked why I teach belly dance, and I said "I was given this wonderful gift by my first (belly) dance teacher, and this gift just keeps giving and giving. I have met so many incredible and inspirational people that I just have to share it... and that's why I teach!"
In addition to the dancing, I was the first teacher in East Anglia to introduce 'Beauty & the Belly' which is a dedicated make-up and photographic workshop. The first one took place officially in 2009, and these have grown in popularity and influenced other teachers to do the same, because it makes such a huge difference to the students make-up knowledge, understanding about polished images for performing, and it gives them both a great sense of confidence, but also this incredible feeling of belonging. It is one of my favourite workshops to teach and share with the attendees.
My favourite phrase is that I am 'Chief Imagineer' for Mystic Bellydance, which means I am responsible for choreographing all of the dances that the troupe perform and students learn in class. "I love writing choreography... it opens up ideas in my mind or feelings from the heart and allows a wide spectrum of creativity to just mesh together. It has and will always be important to me that my choreography is my own work. I get ideas from lots of places, films, books, an idea that just pops into my mind or even from a dream - one of my current ideas has been inspired by the TV show 'Outlander' and it fits in brilliantly with a little project that I have in mind, so hope to work on that a bit more during the rest of 2017.
I ensure that I am mindful of the community I belong to, and respectful of my dance colleagues. I was heavily influenced by a video by Beata Cifuentes on the subject of 'copying' early on in my dance journey, and that has been the backbone to my dance choreography always being my own.
When it comes to the wider dance community it's something I try to support as much as possible. I spend quite a lot of time talking to other teachers and dancers, and ensure that my students have opportunities to grow. I am founder of the following Facebook groups to help promote and support the local community
* Dancing... East-Anglia
* Belly Dance East Anglia
* Belly Dance Suffolk
* Mystic Bellydance (Public/Open Group)
* Suffolk Belly Dance Academy
THE TROUPE DANCERS
Our current troupe line up consists of 11 dancers at present and we've danced at various events from Private Parties to WI groups, Care homes to Corporate Events, Village Fetes, Arts Festivals, Family Celebrations, Carnivals and more... and we're a pretty hardy bunch too, as we danced in blistering hot temperatures for a 90 minute carnival route through to a Christmas parade in the snow... not to mention torrential down-pours at village fetes where the public have all run for cover and we've just carried on! ...the Trimley fete stands out for that, we just danced our little hearts out, and at the end there was a mass eruption of cheering and applause from the warm safety of the pavilliion.
We have themed dance routines as well as the more traditional and modern dances to offer our audiences. Our seasonal dances have been called 'a performance that's more like mini-show' and our medieval inspired dance has been described as 'hypnotically beautiful' and 'conjures thoughts of elegant ballrooms and Mr Darcy'. Equally, our 1920's routines have been well received and people cannot help but smile whilst watching them, as they tap their feet.
We can also choreograph routines for specific events, but suggest that a really polished performance needs about 12 to 24 hours depending on the request and what the costume needs may be.
Performing 'Tyro Nour' at a 50th Birthday Party in Lowestoft in 2016