Senta Duffield

Owner, Maya Dance Company

If you want to heal a broken heart, try belly dancing.

That’s what Senta Duffield did, and she not only regained her confidence and sense of value, but found a new career as well.

Duffield (35) is now a professional belly dancer, the owner of Maya Dance Company and chair of the Belly Dance Division of the South African Dance Teachers Association.

She regularly studies and performs in Cairo, the belly dancing capital, and has taken her students to perform there too.

It really did start as a hobby to heal a heartbreak, she says. “It gave me such confidence in myself again after coming out of a four-year relationship in my early 20s.

“Having a community of women who are all loving and supportive dancing together helped me find myself again. Looking at yourself in a dance studio mirror and thinking ‘hey, I’m worth something’ is a great form of therapy,” she says.

“Everybody can do it so everybody can get that confidence in themselves again.”

Duffield says the revolution in Egypt is giving women there more confidence, and that’s being reflected in belly dancing as younger girls add a hip-hop touch to the traditional style, meaning there is always something new to learn.

She opened Maya Dance Company in Durban North and Glenwood in 2005 and has taught hundreds of women to dance. She has trained five of her own students to become teachers themselves, which includes studying anatomy, physiology and the history and theory of belly dancing.

Her youngest dancer is five and the oldest student she has taught was 81.

The Maya Performance Group dances at festivals and shows nationwide and stages its own annual show, with Duffield handling all the choreography, costume design, music selection and compere script writing. Profits raised from the shows are donated to various charities.

Duffield is a committee member of KZN Women in Business organisation and won the Umhlanga Women Achiever of the Year Award in 2013. — Lesley Stones