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Our Bellydance Bio

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Bellydancers of Color Collective (BOCC) was founded in 2017 by Adina Gittens-Smith and Leila Rosado Nelson to celebrate and restore the dance lineage of bellydancers throughout the diaspora of African people—to connect and honor the artistic human experience, strength and beauty of people of color through the art of bellydance, drum, and other traditional dance forms. We believe in shaping the lives of people through dance, especially helping women embrace and love all of who they are—physically, mentally and spiritually.

Bellydancing is considered to be the oldest form of dance by many historical experts, and roots of the dance have been traced to Africa. BOCC seeks to collaborate and connect dancers of color throughout the world – shifting the story of the dance and connecting back to its source.

Traditionally, bellydancing was always performed by women, for women. It was never a sexual display performed for men like many people believe. In fact, in most cases, the presence of men was not permitted. (Now – seduction is a fringe benefit 😊!)  Bellydancing was performed during fertility and pre-marriage ceremonies. Women would gather and celebrate each other’s beauty, femininity, and stage in life, such as entering womanhood or preparing for marriage.

In 2004, Adina and Leila were introduced to the sacred art of bellydance in Washington, DC at Mamasitas Dance & Wellness Studio. At a young age, both had fallen in love with the beauty of dance, and both felt an immediate connection to the art of bellydance and the people they met at Mamasitas. Under the tutelage of Dr. Sunyatta Amen and Sharhira Jones, they fully embraced the joy, passion, technique, acceptance, and feminine power of Afro-Caribbean Fusion bellydance. Adina and Leila were certified in Bellydance Instruction in 2014 by Dr. Sunyatta Amen.


BOCC specializes in Afro-Caribbean Fusion Bellydancing classes, events, and performances. All levels of dancers are welcome! BOCC believes dance is a moving meditation, a healing salve to the soul that opens energy channels so prana flows freely and keeps us young. We believe bellydancing brings vitality to our physical bodies, and when revered as sacred, becomes a manifestation of the Divine in action. We teach you how to shimmy up joy from your soul and have fun swaying your hips while working up a sweat! Your inner girly goddess will enjoy the moves, passion and grace that celebrate all the goodness that comes with womanhood.

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