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The pressure on women to conform to unreasonable ideas of beauty is unforgiving in the age of filters, Instagram, photoshop and all the rest. Loving yourself for who you are is a journey of discovery and one of the life learnings encouraged by Aphrodite Belly Dancing Studio.

Aphrodite Belly Dancing Studio based in Strandfontein, is a non profit organization that empowers women through belly dancing. Run by Stephanie Singh, the organization offers its members a safe space where everyone feels free to express themselves. They recognise that being in a non-judgemental space is crucial for personal development and that encouragement is the best way to spark people’s passion. 

Sasha Leigh Khan, 20, was first introduced to Aphrodite Dance Studio when Stephanie Singh came to Strandfontein High School to recruit young dancers to learn belly dancing.

Sasha considers herself a dancer by heart and has grown to love belly dancing.  “A normal day in rehearsal takes a lot out of me because I believe in giving my all whether it is practice or on stage. Rehearsals require focus and energy but the most important thing is to just have fun.”

Highlights for Sasha include performing for the annual Cape Town Carnival, dancing at the CIAD international competition and dancing for World Belly Dance Day which she found extremely fun and memorable.

Sasha says, “I entertain because I love to make my audience feel like they are part of something special.  People can show their support by watching me and the other amazing dancers perform. It takes a lot of confidence to get up and perform for strangers even though I do enjoy it. Besides the excitement there will always be that nervous feeling we dancers get before we perform so support from the community and audience is what myself and us dancers need.”

Dancing is a wonderful way of learning how to step into your power. Being part of the group has taught Sasha discipline and hard work while mastering control and awareness over her body. 

“Treating your body and yourself with love and respect. Stepping into your power, into who YOU are unapologetically and authentically, is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. This is what the Aphrodite Belly Dancing Studio aims to do. Hold space for them and teach them that it is an amazing thing to be filled with passion and love” says Aphrodite founder, Stephanie Singh.

Aphrodite Belly Dance Studio is one the Cape Town Carnival Community Group participants.  The #followyouheART initiative was developed to help the local community groups gain more recognition and exposure and give the participants opportunities to perform.   

Encouraging people to follow their passion, showcase their art and be inspired by what makes them dance or sing, this initiative encourages you to #followyourheART #findyourgroup, especially during these isolating times.