DENİZ ÖNER

I have never needed to write down an official CV before as I work freelance as a Dance Instructor… I mainly taught, trained, prepared projects for the stage; then all that I did became a reference for me; I kept on doing more of the same; in short I lived through the work that I did… I never needed to express myself verbally; dance is a process of the body, it is a process of the soul… when I finally had to sit and write about what I do, I realized how difficult it was; it is so difficult to turn something that you experience three-dimensional into a two-dimensional form… but I have tried to the best of my ability to express what I have done, what I want to do and all about me…

If we start with definitions, I am a Dance Instructor and a Choreographer.

I started dancing with Turkish Folk Dance when I was very young. For a long time, I continued dancing with several dance associations, participated in both national and international dance shows and competitions with professional dance companies as a dancer, worked as an instructor and choreographer for both new and experienced groups. I worked especially in detail on the dances of Çiftetelli and Roman. Folk dances provided me with a strong base of movement. My perception of rhythm, knowledge of choreography and experience of stage management developed immensely. My personal experience on stage also gave me strength and know-how.

Then I left Turkey and moved to Australia where I found myself completely immersed in belly dancing. During my two years there, I got trained in the traditional Middle Eastern style of oriental dance by Egyptian and Arab trainers. When combined with my previous knowledge, I could not help but develop my own technique and style and started giving oriental belly dance lessons in the Çiftetelli & Roman and Middle Eastern style. I had many students from Australia and the Far East; in addition to my routine dance lessons, I organized workshops on “Teaching Methods” for oriental dance instructors and trained them as dance trainers. Just when I was about to set up a school there on oriental belly dancing, winds of change began to blow towards Turkey again; I packed up my suitcase and returned home. I continued teaching dancing in Turkey. To continue my personal development as a belly dancer and instructor, I traveled to Egypt to take lessons from legendary instructors like Mahmoud Reda, Farida Fahmy, Tito, Alaa El Din Yousef, Mohamed Kazafy, Khaled Mahmoud, Yousry Sharif and Lubna Emam.

In January 2013, as an instructor I was invited to attend to the Nile Group Festival which is one of the most prestigious oriental festivals in the world that the best instructors feel honored to be included.

Although oriental belly dancing seems to be at the focus of my training career, my training in dance and my career as a dance instructor are surely not confined by the limits of oriental dancing. To add to my cultural and physical competency on dancing, I have worked on a significant amount of ballet, modern dance, Greek folk dances, Latin and ballroom dances both in Turkey and abroad.

In connection, I worked as one of the managers and founding trainers of Arthur Murray International Franchised Dance Studios that opened their first branch in Turkey in 2011. I trained dancers on Latin and Ballroom Dancing, I choreographed and prepared shows for my students. I also prepared choreographies and trained couples for their first dances at their weddings. In the meantime, I got trained by foreign professional Latin and Ballroom dance instructors to train dancers in 15 different pair-dances. Working at Arthur Murray was a meaningful experience in my dancing career as it provided me with the means of developing my management skills. At the same time, new dimensions were added to my knowledge on dance and as a dancer I kept on developing.

Last but not least by all definitions; the best thing that ever happened to me was meeting Ömer İnanç in 2008. An old ballet himself, Ömer İnanç developed his own method of stretching and conditioning classes relying on maintaining the right posture, lengthening and strengthening of the vertebrae and muscles and conditioning of the whole body in order to work successfully with dancers, people with physical health problems such as scoliosis and other vertebrae posture defects, and other healthy individuals of all ages who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Working with him and mastering on his method, both my dancing and my career as a trainer rose to unimaginable heights.

Together with Ömer İnanç, we adapted this method to oriental belly dancing to give dancers flexibility and balance along with a reshaping of their body structure. Through these classes, we developed a training system that enables students to use their bodies correctly while keeping them fit and also strengthening their backs and waist areas through applying the “corset” method to prevent pain due to wrong posture.

When I look back on my curriculum vitae, I see most of my efforts concentrated around being a trainer/instructor and developing my own training method. After graduating from the Art History Department of the Istanbul University, I did my graduate degree on Educational Sciences to learn teaching methods thoroughly. Building on my foundation training from my own mother who was a preschool teacher, I trained 3-6 year-old preschool children in dancing for years; conducted creative body and movement performances and developed special training methods for dancing.

Currently, I am teaching my private belly dancing classes, choreographing for professional belly dancers and groups; organizing trainer workshops for foreign oriental trainers on choosing the right music, teaching dance figures through the right methodology, forming a choreography and preparing a curriculum; continuing dancing with Beşik Folk Dancing Group and dancing on stage in international dance festivals; and also continuously building on our Stretching-Conditioning method together with my instructor Ömer İnanç.

I am developing my technique every passing day with new experiences, I keep on learning and projecting this on my ever-evolving teaching program. With a growing awareness, I realize that I love the miraculous process of learning and teaching; I am doing and living through the work I love.