Inspire Belly Dance: Julie Eason, From Ballet Refugee to Belly Dance Business Guru
When ballet taught Julie Eason to fix her body in order to dance, she sought a different lesson in belly dance. Now, with her company Belly Dance Business Academy, she teaches other dancers how to build careers in Middle Eastern Dance.
A ballet dancer since the age of four, Julie thought she knew exactly where her career was going: a life as a professional ballet dancer. Unfortunately, as she grew older, she suddenly found herself as a self-proclaimed 'ballet refugee', cut out from the dance she loved and unaware of any alternatives.
"I became a teenager, sprouted hips and boobs, and was 'released' from my dance company," Julie said. "After dieting like crazy to lose my hips and a painful surgery to 'fix' my feet, I tried to continue dancing ballet. But my body just wasn't the right shape anymore."
But in 1986, Julie witnessed belly dance for the first time. With a variety of people in all shapes, sizes, and ages dancing together, she realized she could keep dancing without punishing her figure. She's been belly dancing ever since.
Since her discovery of belly dance, Julie has been a student, performer, mother and teacher. Now with a daytime job in marketing, copywriting and public relations, Julie spreads her expertise to the belly dancing world through her website BellyDanceBusinessAcademy.com and her online community "The Circle."
"I coach and consult with professional (and pre-professional) dancers to help them get more students, bigger gigs and build a fulfilling career to whatever level they dream of," said Julie.
Her services are greatly appreciated by the dance community at large. Especially Rosa Noreen, who finds Julie's advice an invaluable resource for belly dancers who want to understand the business side of belly dance.
"From the free advice in her monthly newsletter to her Circle membership program to her coaching services, Julie presents a can-do attitude and solid steps to take to improve your business," said Rosa.
When Julie first began performing, however, the marketing world was a much different scene. To promote events, flyers needed to be photocopied and distributed around town, each individual student had to be called and reminded of performance times, and finding music and costumes in a remote town was near impossible.
With modern technologies at her disposal, Julie is able to take her business to places she never dreamed possible.
"Sometimes I think the younger generations take for granted that they can go to a different festival every weekend or hop online and talk with other dancers all over the world any time of the day or night. It's a different world," said Julie.
Julie rarely experiences the prejudices and negativity about Middle Eastern dance that other belly dancers constantly fight, although she admits that, at her age, she frankly couldn't care less what others think of her dancing. However, the pressures of work, family, and living in a remote town, all while pursuing dance, can often result in Julie feeling burnt-out.
"Sometimes I'll pull back on my dance activity; sometimes I need to increase it to feel better," Julie said. "There's a balance. And when I feel like it's time to stop dancing, that's a sign I'm out of balance."
Though she may at times have to scale back on her belly dancing, at the root of her soul lies a dancer. She couldn’t live any other way: belly dance helps her maintain her health, and her sanity. And when it comes to inspiration, Julie looks up to some of the greats, such as Morocco, Anjelika Nemeth and Zahra Zuhair.
"They walk the talk every day that belly dance is for EVERY woman," said Julie.
Additionally, she has the support of her husband, students and family behind her, most especially her mother. As a child, Julie was told she could be whoever she wanted to be, and as an adult, Julie's mother is always the first person to express the pride she has for her daughter.
For the world outside of belly dance, Julie hopes they soon recognize that coming together and dancing is not only fun, but healthy. Videos can only substitute the community of belly dancing for a time, they can never replace the connection of dancing with like-minded women, at any skill level. But when all else fails, just dance.
"You don't have to be perfect. And you don't have to dance like anyone else. Be yourself when you dance," Julie said. "Just keep dancing! It could save the world."