Monday, May 2, 2011


By Andrew Griffin

    We all know about the Taj Mahal in India, one of the most beautiful structures in the world. Taj is also the name of Chicago’s beautiful and talented Princess of Fun!
    Taj is also an international jewel who has danced around the world, teaching movement classes to men, women, and children. She says she grew up a willful child, dancing on the freshly mopped kitchen floor with her arms extended, performing her own silent concert. As a teen, she began paying attention to her body and innate sensory awareness, which led her to take ballet, jazz dance, and tap dancing classes.
    While attending a workshop in California, Taj decided to take a belly dancing class on a whim. She was smitten and was drawn into the intriguing world of belly dancing. She explains that being a classically trained dancer actually worked against her. She had to relearn how to dance from an earthier center of gravity. She stayed with it and mastered the dance, as well as becoming a certified yoga instructor.
    Continued study with teachers internationally has broadened her scope and style to include other cultural dances, like Brazilian Samba and Hawaiian Hula. She also uses dances for fun and effective body-toning exercises with chair dances and pole dancing (which has less of a taboo now that it is under consideration as an Olympic sport).
    Because of their sensuous movements, some of these dances still are considered inappropriate for respectable women to engage in. But, they are gaining popularity to judge by the bookings Taj is getting for lessons, private parties, and special events throughout the year.
Taj is an independent thinker who cares about the well-being of others and our planet. She continues to study holistic science and massage therapy. Upon receiving her certifications, she worked for area hospitals and sports teams, but couldn’t resist the attraction of movement and dance.
    Taj explains that belly dancing is a classical technique that was originally designed for women to come together and celebrate special events in their lives. Belly dancing is very sensual, using eyes and gestures to bring inner feelings outward. The dancer explores the sensuality of being a woman. Every country involved in the dance has developed unique movements and styles.
    Is it difficult to teach women to dance? Taj says, “I love what I do because I don’t consider it teaching. I think of it as creating a space where women can feel comfortable enough to let their guards down and come into a space with like-minded women to explore who they are.” She adds, “I don’t claim to be anyone’s doctor, but a master of encouragement.” Taj emphasizes that dancing eases mental and physical stress.
    Taj smiles when she thinks about the initial comments she hears from hesitant women: “My husband signed me up for this class – I didn’t want to come, and now I love it!”
    Because of many people’s initial fear of trying something new, Taj encourages consultation before enrolling and feedback afterwards. Taj relies on her instinct and ability to read people very quickly. This helps her determine the direction to take her classes. Taj realizes she cannot take for granted that all women are comfortable with their bodies or that she can walk up and suggest physical adjustments to another woman’s body. It can be as simple as reminding people to breathe.
    Taj receives great acknowledgement from her students, thanking her for boosting their self-awareness, being more present in their bodies, and increasing their focus on their work.
    To further inspire people, Taj has taken the title of author, having written four books and narrating an audiobook based on the theme of human communication, with emphasis on gesture and movement. Another component is an instructional DVD she produced entitled, belly Dance With Me, an introduction to the world of belly dancing.
    For information and to register online or in person for ongoing classes at Little Black Pearl Design Center in Hyde Park and Levy Center in Evanston, log onto or email Taj says if there is enough interest, she would like to provide dance and movement classes on Chicago’s West Side.

No comments:

Post a Comment