Posted on 24/09/2019 by siteadmin

Getting to know: Moyra Banks

Moyra Banks aka The Scottish Bellydancer is based in Edinburgh where she teaches regular bellydance classes. I remember the first time she came on one of my Cairo trips – and bought a Sahar Okasha costume – the most expensive costumier in Cairo. More than 10 years later she still has it …… so it must have been worth it. Moyra now has a range of designer bellydance costumes: Eman Zaki and Hanan Mahmoud as well as her Sahar ones. As she performs regularly she does need them. She is probably the best dressed bellydancer in Scotland! – Kay

How did you get into belly dance?
As a teenager I saw my friends attend a bellydance class. I originally thought this was hilarious and wondered why on earth they would do such a thing. I then went to see them perform and I was hooked from then on. Something in the music and the costumes just resonated with me and I knew I had been missing out.

Tell us a bit about your dance journey – how did you end up teaching and performing

Through my first teacher I began regularly performing in a local restaurant with other students. From there other performance opportunities arose and I have been performing at weddings, hen parties, restaurants and even a funeral or two ever since. I am lucky that the dance community is relatively small in Scotland so I know most of the other dancers.
In terms of teaching this came about as an opportunity when my teacher moved to Cairo. She passed on some classes to me and since then I have grown and developed my teaching including through completing the JWAAD teaching diploma. I am now training to teach the JWAAD accredited courses which I am very excited about.

What did you like most – and what did you like least – about teaching bellydance?
I love seeing my students develop and go from hiding at the back of the class to rocking it on stage. I love the development of the nerves and uncertainty before their first performance to being asked if they can dance again after it as they loved it so much.
Teaching certainly keeps you on your toes and developing so you’ve always got something to teach your students and sometimes you can doubt yourself which is definitely a downside to it.
I have become a JWAAD mentor and this has led to teaching more private lessons as I help folks progress with their dance. I love seeing the difference this makes – and it gives me more confidence that I am doing something right.

You are really busy with dance, a day job and being one of the principle dancers in the Helwa Dance Company – what does a normal week look like for you?

Moyra leaping off stage sha’abi style

I think it can be summed up in the word “busy”! I teach 2 to 3 nights per week and one night per week I am normally reminding myself of what is on the lesson plan that week. At the weekends I normally have at least one gig and there can also be full day Helwa rehearsal too and on occasions I try to squeeze in a lesson with Kay Taylor of Farida Dance. I am very excited about out upcoming Helwa tour – you can find details on

I am lucky that my day job is focused on outcomes and not hours and I have a really supportive manager. I can work from home when required so there are times when I may leave work in the middle of the day to dance and then log back on in the evening.

What do you like to do to relax?
I’ve recently started to focus back on my own health and wellbeing after realising I was always giving to my students and not taking time to myself. This involves early starts at my local gym doing a focused programme but it is great start to the day and helps me take time for me. I also love a spa day and on occasion I can be found at the local stables out on a hack. Normally though, due to time you can find me having a long soak in the bath with a good book.

What is your star sign?
I am a Pisces and I love that this is associated with creativity and the arts. It is also known for being addictive which may explain why dance takes up most of my time…..

What is your favourite colour and why?
I wasn’t sure I had one but I’ve just checked my dance wardrobe and I think I will have to say green / blues. I just seem to be drawn to this and on reflection a lot of the ateliers seem to put me in these colours. There must be a reason for that!

At Fantasia you are teaching ’Sassy Saidi’ – can you tell us a bit about what to expect:
I love Saidi.  My aim is to deliver an upbeat and vibrant workshop and hopefully give people some new ideas to spice up their saidi. It’s a short workshop but we’ll look at some patterns and combinations. (You can see Moyra performing saidi at the Aini Ya Aini festival here.)

You are one of the team launching a new festival in Edinburgh: Alba Orientale. Tell us a bit about it.
I am really excited to be part of this festival. There’s something really special about being in Cairo and watching a dancer live, not everyone can get to Cairo so we’re bring a little bit of Cairo to Edinburgh. I am passionate about showing as many people as possible how amazing dance can be and encourage people to push themselves and try new styles and moves. This is an opportunity for people to have access to some of the most amazing teachers and styles. Find out more on

Lastly, what would you like to be doing in 5 years time?
Hopefully a little less day job and some more dancing and teaching. I’d like to make some time to see some more of the world too.

To book your Fantasia day ticket click here.
Fantasia is Londons longest established bellydance festival. If you haven’t been to a Fantasia Bellydance Festival yet, now is the time!

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