Sascha the belly dancing ‘goddess’

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Donna Collins

Swakopmund-Professional belly dancer Sascha Olivier-Sampson is about as close to a goddess as you may find.

She is an exotic beauty, and creative dancer who has shimmied her hips in countless belly dance spectacles in Namibia, and around the world.

She started belly dancing over ten years ago, when she established her ‘Moon Goddess Dance Studio’ in Windhoek, and has since wowed audiences with her grace and radiance.

She is also a lecturer at the University of Namibia (Unam), where she heads the Visual and Performing Arts Department, inspiring young people to embrace their creative talents.
Through her arts she has danced on stages around the world, in particular Sweden and Switzerland’s Orient Alps Festival.

The latter being part of a Unam exchange workshop. Sascha works tirelessly at being a world class belly dancer. She has shifted perceptions of this particular dance genre, which has entered a new level of entertainment in Namibia.

Her major achievement to date, must be the annual ‘Shimmy for Shelter’ belly dancing extravaganza, choreographed by the ‘Moon Goddess Dance Studio’ for the past eight years.
‘Shimmy’ is a showcase of local belly dancing talent, and is hosted every year in Windhoek and Swakopmund, to coincide with the celebration of World Belly Dance Day during May.

With a heart of gold to add to her string of attributes – in particular a compassion for animals – Sascha produced the ‘Shimmy for Shelter’ as a fund raising platform for various animal charity causes in Namibia.

Having recently taken a well-deserved curtain call from her two-hour sell out shows, this year’s theme ‘Myths and Legends”, was everything and more.

The fabulous costumes and props were designed mostly by the dancers themselves, who comprised a cast of around 40.

Local dancers were joined by groups from South Africa, Zambia and America, with the youngest cast member being nine years old.

This year, the generous funds collected through the Windhoek show were donated to ISAP (Intelligence Service Against Poaching), while they will donate the money raised in Swakopmund to the much needed Desert Lion project.

In previous years Sascha has been focusing on donating the funds raised to the Windhoek SPCA, Have-A-Heart which sterilises underprivileged pets, as well as the Swakopmund township Feed-A-Paw charity.

“I am concerned with animal welfare and am a huge animal lover, so I have used my platform as a belly dancer to create awareness for animals in need,” she says.
“Belly dancing has really grown from when I first started, and ‘Shimmy’ has done a lot to change audience’s perception, whilst putting Namibian belly dancers on the map,” Sascha says.

“This is a show enjoyed by the whole family, and has become so popular, I have repeated requests to take the show internationally.”

She also said that she now offers belly dancing workshops as the demand has increased.
“I am proud of what ‘Shimmy’ has become, as I didn’t start out with expectations, and was just producing a show to raise funds for a charity of my choice,” Sascha adds.

But her work doesn’t stop here. In addition to holding workshops, and judging competitions, Sascha has been invited to perform at a major Belly Dance Festival’ in Johannesburg.

She also has been asked to perform in fund raiser for the deaf, as well as a Cancer Association charity event in October. She will wrap up her busy year with the not-to-be missed ‘Carnival of Flames’ held in Swakopmund during the December festive season.

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