Interview with Heather Shoopman at Tribal Fest, May 2012
Its always a pleasure to see Heather’s big smile at events around LA, so it was especially lovely to have her in my interview chair sharing her diverse history. She has learned gymnastics, martial arts, rock climbing, martial arts and choreographed for the Pom Pom Squad in High School. She loves to sing, and once moved to San Francisco to play bass in a band. When thinking about her early memories of dance, she fondly recalls going with her Grandma to square dance and watching the feet.
“It’s great to be around older women and feel the power of the generations ahead of you.”
Her bellydance training began with Mesmera who has been “a fabulous role model”. We talked for a few minutes about Mesmera’s beautiful dancing and Heather’s gratitude for her mentorship and friendship. In addition to teaching Heather “the ropes”, (gigs, bidding, costuming, etc.) Mesmera also taught the importance of sisterhood. “She’s tribal without being tribal.”
Heather’s background in music has helped her musicality and her background in plays and college theatre has helped her stage presence. She tells her students “You should smile if you can’t relax your face” and frequently uses humor to dispel nerves.
“This is the afterparty for your piece.”
When I asked her what she would recommend to people who are new to the stage, she recounted being back stage with Rachel Brice and her dancers the night before. Rachel had said, “we already did all the work, this is the fun part”. Heather exclaimed “This is the afterparty for your piece. Because you…worked so hard, this is the part where you’re supposed to enjoy it. Don’t put stress on it that it has to be perfect, it already is perfect…you can just glide through it and have a nice time.”
Heather Shoopman is founding member of Belly Fusion Los Angeles. She currently teaches at Dance Garden in Atwater Village and CalTech in Pasadena. Her classes include an ATS “blend”, Tribal Fusion drills or choreography, Perinatal Bellydance, yoga and meditation.