When you open the cheerful red door and cross the threshold into the Red Door Dance studio, you know you have stepped into a magical place. You can hear the echo of rhythmic feet on the black and white tile floor and the inscription on the wall sets your mind and heart at ease:
‘Dance with your heart and your feet will follow.’
Do not fear if you have two left feet, have no sense of rhythm or feel unhappy about what you see in the mirror. All are welcome and cared for at Red Door Dance, and proprietress Toni ‘Talia” Todd makes sure of this. As a long-time, award-winning Jazzercise instructor, Talia is no stranger to the art of combining fun and fitness. Classes at Red Door Dance include several levels and styles of Belly Dance classes, including a great, high-energy workout class—Sassy Pants Belly Dance Workout, which takes basic belly dance movements and turns it into a fun workout for dancers and non-dancers alike.
“Besides the great workout and the fun new dance techniques that I have acquired, I have been able to make some great friendships, too,” says regular student, Zoraida, of Brentwood. “As a mom and wife, working full-time in a corporate environment, it is quite nice to be able to de-stress and enjoy the company of other women looking for the same thing. This is my ‘me’ time to have fun with friends and workout.”
As dancers progress and increase their commitment to the dance, Talia offers testing and certification at different levels. The biggest reward for this effort is not just the self-satisfaction of being able to dance at the technical level that Talia requires, but the possibility of being able to perform in one of her dance troupes as well. Talia’s Dansoleil troupes have performed in dozens of venues, including the world-renown Rakkasah Middle Eastern Dance Festival.
Talia’s introduction to belly dance came after a grueling illness that ended in surgery, leaving her once fit body fragile and bloated. “I was depressed, and wanted to get back in shape in a kinder and gentler way than the hard- core cardio classes I used to teach.” So she signed up for a Belly Dance class through Parks and Rec with the hope that she would lose a little weight and look and feel better someday. “But I knew in my heart,” she says, “that I wanted to make Belly Dance my new passion, and that someday I would teach and perform this amazing style of dance.”
Red Door Dance also offers other dance classes, including Club Cardio (an hour-long fun cardio dance class), Zumba Fitness, and Ballroom, Latin and Swing. Starting in October the studio will be offering a Little Havana Night with a mini salsa lesson and open floor salsa dancing. For the younger set, Red Door offers Hippity-Do-Dah Belly Dance for Girls (ages 5 – 13), and fabulous Princess Parties for Girls. The studio is also available to rent for parties (belly dancer hired separately), and rehearsal space.
817 First Street in Brentwood (94513)
Studio photo courtesy of Talia
Photos of Talia Soleil and the Rakkasah Festival courtesy of Carl Sermon