VDA Artist Profile #86
Yvonne can’t remember a time when she wasn’t listening to music. Raised on the 331/3 RPM records of her pianist mother, she knew at an early age that music and movement should go together. Already exposed to classical music and popular American musicals, she began to explore the international options at her local public libraries. In almost no time, she became captivated by the music of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and India. However, she still knew that there were types of specific dances related to the musical cultures of these regions and that she had to find them.
Fast forward to the late ’80’s when Yvonne began to study Raqs Sharqi (Egyptian Style Belly Dance) and attend recitals and haflas around her native home of Washington., D.C. Having an abundance of experienced professional dance teachers in the area allowed her to study and perform Raqs Sharqi, Classical Persian, Middle Eastern Folk dance and folk dances of Uzbekistan. Dancing under the state name Sekhmet, Yvonne believes that her inspiration as a dancer truly emerged when she began to study Danse Orientale (Turkish Style belly dance) with acclaimed scholar and dancer Artemis Mourat. Yvonne found in Danse Orientale an emotional complexity and cultural richness that she could begin to build her stage persona on. Influenced largely by the Roma people of Turkey, Danse Orientale has been a medium for her to demonstrate her core belief that strength and beauty need not be opposites on stage.