Learning to Dance

Myra Morris teaches girls to love their bodies through belly dancing

By Candelora Versace In The New Mexican December, 2001

Myra Morris a professional dancer for 25 years, knows all too well the challenges that face young women today when it comes to body image and self-esteem.

“I was both a singer and a dancer when I was growing up,|” Morris said.  “And people kept saying, you’ll never make it as a dancer, you should focus on your singing, because I was heavy and I was short.  People were outrageously unsupportive.  Eventually, thought, the doors that opened for me were for my dancing, not my singing.”
Morris, the daughter of a nonprofessional Middle Eastern dancer, specializes in what is now called American Tribal Style® dance; in lay-person’s terms, we recognize it as belly-dancing.

In the mid-90s, her dancing caught the eye of noted fusion flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert, and she joined him on tour, opening his shows with a 20-minute solo; she subsequently appeared on a BS program that still airs periodically on KNME.

At a recent Tribal Dance festival in California, some 80 companies from across the country participated, making the dance style itself – a fusion of forms that follow the roma Gypsies through India, the Arab countries, North Africa and Spain – a bonafide American movement, Morris said.

“Any woman any size, any height and age can do this,” she pointed out.  “|t is perfectly accessible, and it builds self-confidence because you learn to know you are beautiful from the inside.  It’s a beauty that has nothing to do with media images.  Most importantly, it lends itself to these young girls for obvious reasons.”