Inspire Belly Dance: Myra Krien, Planting The Seeds and Sharing The Art Of Belly Dance
When Myra Krien was 14, she never dreamt that the belly dance class she taught to avoid taking P.E. would be the starting point to a career in Middle Eastern dance. Though only in high school at the time, Myra already had 3 years of performances on her resume, a teacher list that belly dancers today would envy.
"I hated P.E. and somehow convinced the Principal that he should let me teach a class three times a week on the Student Mezzanine... The class was extremely successful," Myra said. "I had both boys and girls in the class and one of my students later became a well-known dancer in the San Francisco/Bay Area scene."
Myra continued, "My mother was an avid student of belly dance in the Bay Area in the early 1960's. She and I would go to her classes (Bert Balladine, Jamilla Salimpour, etc.) and come home and practice together."
You can add to her young list of accomplishments that while still in high school she directed her first company, Azadeh. "We had a live band and the other dancers (much older than myself) and I performed quite extensively. We were even filmed for Japanese Television," Myra said. From there she began doing 'Belly Grams' and at 15 performed in several of the local Middle Eastern Restaurants.
Her dedication and early-start paid off. Beginning in 1996, Myra became a national traveling performer, invited by Ottmar Liebert, a Sony recording artist, to be his opening act. When she returned home from the tour, she started two dance companies before opening Pomegranate Studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which she owns and teaches at today. Still, she saw a need in the community for something more, and in 2010 created S.E.E.D.s (Self-Esteem, Empowerment and Education through Dance).
"It's an AMAZING youth mentoring dance program for teen girls that uses belly dance as a vehicle for sharing life skills, emotional support, and encourages healthy active living," said Stephanie Bolton of Kona, Hawaii.
In addition, Myra always designs clothing for Persephone Transformative Clothing, and invented her own form of fusion called Belly Baile. She cites her students as her biggest inspiration, but the support goes both ways. Family members, dance companies, and the local community all support Myra’s endeavors in return. She also receives funding from a variety of sources, all signs that she’s on the right track.
"She has not only run S.E.E.D.s herself for the last eleven years, she has also trained many other dancers how to run programs like in several other states giving this love and support to countless young women all over the country," Stephanie said.
"Basically, she is a saint and a Renaissance woman like no other who deserves some recognition for her self-less contributions to the world of belly dance."
With all of Myra's success and vision, it would be easy to assume a career in belly dance was always her top goal. In fact, she never even considered belly dance as a career. The idea grew slowly over time, helped by four distinct moments that revealed her true path, including sleeping in her car because she couldn’t afford an apartment San Francisco to pursue dance opportunities there, performing on stage in front of 2,000 to 4,000 member audiences for three months straight, and saying a tearful goodbye to flamenco dancing upon realizing her true passion and drive lie with belly dance.
Her fourth and final moment that put her permanently on a path to belly dance occurred while desperately searching for her life’s true meaning.
"I was having a sort of life crisis, trying desperately to decide who I was going to be in the world. I had been accomplished at many things and needed to find a point of focus for my career. I was sitting in meditation every day and asking God to show me my path and promising that whatever that was I would walk it. Over and over I asked and over and over I received the same message," said Myra.
The message was, of course, belly dance. The minute she decided to pursue belly dance, the doors started opening and haven’t stopped since. But not every door has been a good one. Myra has faced a lot of adversity over the years that have made her question her choice.
"Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill an infinite number of times." Myra said. "Sometimes unspeakable, horrible things will happen, but I know that the dance is nothing but light. It has nothing to do with dance, just people."
All the pain and hardships melt away whenever Myra sees 'that look' in a dancer's eyes. She believes belly dance is a gift, and encourages new dancers to enjoy the mystery of belly dance as long as they can. She doesn’t mind the sacrifice, although she wishes those outside of the dance knew more about what belly dancers give up in pursuit of their love.
"Life is a mystery, dance with mastery, walk with grace, live in beauty, be what you believe. When we respect ourselves others will respect the dance. God gives us our gifts; what we choose to do with them is our gift back to God."