Santa Fean Salutes
Myra Krien: Rethinking Strategies for Girl Power
By Marin Sardy In The Santa Fean March, 2007
We’ve all heard it before: love our bodies. Yet it’s still depressingly rare to find people who actually do. That’s probably why, for belly dancer, instructor, and entrepreneur Myra Krien, this conviction has become her most powerful asset. It gives the classes, workshops, and performances of her company, Pomegranate Studios – with one professional and two apprentice troupes – the power to reach beyond the medium and facilitate real growth. It’s also the radical concept behind Pomegranate SEEDs® (Self-Esteem, Empowerment, and Education through Dance), her groundbreaking dance and development program for teenage girls.
San Francisco- born Krien, 43, has been belly dancing since age 3. She founded her first company, Azadeh, at age 15, and performed and choreographed there until moving to Santa Fe to attend St. John’s College. She opened Pomegranate Studios in 1996 with a desire to cultivate the talent of serious young belly dancers – and through this work as a teacher, developed the concept for Pomegranate SEEDs. Realizing many of the teenaged girls in her classes needed guidance and emotional support beyond what she could offer as a dance instructor, she launched the new after-school program in 2001.
Based on the study of American Tribal Style® belly dancing, SEEDs combines practical dance instruction with intensive talking circles, presentation by local experts and successful women, and journaling. Girls aged 15-18 discuss topics from balancing a budget to birth control and what it means to be a woman. Those who can’t pay are eligible for scholarships. And with its small size (about 25 girls), three classes per week, and four performances per school-year-length course, the SEEDs format helps the girls form strong personal bonds. Krien matches their commitment. “We’ve had some heavy stuff go down in here,” she says. “We do whatever it takes to find help for them.”
Yet at its core, SEEDs relies on the power of movement to promote a sense of beauty and self-respect. “The dance is not about your physical form,” Krien says. “It is about the line you make, the movement, and the expression of what’ s unique about you.” Her point seems well taken: In 2006, SEEDs gathered enough funding to become an independent nonprofit. Now, Krien says, “I envision SEEDs all over the world.” With plans for a summer session, and ideas on the table for a SEEDs teacher training institute as well as similar programs for boys and adult women, Myra Krien – and her groundbreaking moves – are worth applauding.