DANCING FROM THE HEART….
An interview with Jasmina
As she enters the room, her effervescent smile lights up the stage. It is Jasmina, one of San Diego’s “gems” - a true performer who dances from the heart...
This month, it is my delight to present Jasmina, a professional dancer and master instructor at Mesa College. She is also an accomplished scholar, having earned an Associate of Arts degree in General Education, Associate of Science degree in Culinary Entrepreneurship, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance and Master’s Degree in Physical Education specializing in Instructional Effectiveness. Currently, Jasmina is earning an Educational Doctorate in Higher Education and Adult learning!! Impressive!
Jasmina began dancing when she was 7 years old and studied ballet, tap, and acrobatics. At age 12, she participated in synchronized swimming. In high school, Jasmina competed as a gymnast and performed in a dance company, adding jazz, modern, and point ballet to her repertoire.
At age 17, Jasmina embarked on her path to belly dance. With her mother’s encouragement, Jasmina began taking classes at the recreation center in Yorba Linda, California. Interestingly, as Jasmina watched dancers in the intermediate class, she knew “this was the dance for me.”
Jasmina’s first teacher was “Lois Rocci, a wonderful teacher” who refrained from public performances. From the inception of class, Ms. Rocci taught finger cymbals and many different rhythms to enrich her students’ learning experience.
When asked about her first performance, Jasmina said her “first show was at the Sultan Restaurant in Orange County in 1975. She had taken classes for approximately one year and her instructor arranged for the students to see Karen Joi perform at the Sultan Restaurant. The band, consisting of an Oud player and a drummer, found out we were students and ask if any of us would perform. The class all pointed at me so I got up and danced.”
The rest is history…..
Jasmina describes her style as American Cabaret. She recalls her most memorable feature about her first performance was that after finishing her show, Karen Joi approached and said the restaurant owner was interested in hiring her to perform there. “I was overjoyed and started the next weekend. I danced Friday and Saturday nights, three shows a night. It was the first job I ever had.”
When asked about her most memorable show, Jasmina said “That is a really hard question to answer as I have had so many wonderful and memorable shows. I have had the opportunity to dance with so many remarkable dancers and have always had fun.” Jasmina’s coveted award for first place at Belly Dancer of the Universe and Wiggles of the West “will always be memorable.”
During her career, Jasmina has overcome many challenges, including one of her funniest experiences at the Marrakesh in La Jolla. Apparently, Jasmina performed “a nice hip twist” and her skirt fell to the floor, leaving her standing in her underwear. Fortunately Jasmina’s underwear matched her costume. Jasmina laughs when she recalls the event where she grabbed her skirt, covered herself and then ran into the bathroom. After fixing her skirt and being inspired by the music, Jasmina contemplated returning to the dance floor to finish her show. However, she decided the incident was enough entertainment for the evening.
During her career, Jasmina has observed many changes in the art of Middle Eastern Dance, including the increased popularity of the many forms of tribal and fusion belly dance. As a teacher, Jasmina strives to impress that Belly dance like any other form of dance, takes practice and dedication.
Her future plans? Jasmina reports “Dancing will always be a part of me. I love dancing and I love choreography. I enjoy working with other people in group pieces and hope to pick that back up after I am done with my doctorate.”
Jasmina’s advice for future dancers:
Belly dance is an art and needs to be respected as such. “Most of all, you need to have a passion for what you do, life is short… enjoy every minute of it.”
…Spoken like a true professional.