Page 15 - Delta Living Magazine_october2012

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f losing weight, gaining self-confidence,
elevating your mood and increasing your
range of motion are on your list of things-to-
do, there’s an amazing way to do all that
through belly dancing. And before you
say ‘oh that’s not for me,’ hear what Toni Todd,
known professionally as Talia Soleil, has to say
about it.
A professional belly dance instructor and
entertainer, as well as owner of Red Door
Dance Studio in the heart of Brentwood, Todd
says belly dancing is one of the best ways to
love the body you’ve been given. “Through
belly dancing, we can learn to love the
curves of our hips and bellies and feel more
comfortable with the fact that we may not all
be built to be lean and straight,” says Toni,
who was a
fitness instructor, national level
competitor and personal trainer for many years
before turning to belly dancing. “We learn a
self-acceptance, and truly beyond that, a self-
love that is genuine.”
“We battle the social norm of what media tells
us is beautiful – the youth and shiny glamour
of Wall Street are telling us we’re not good
enough, young enough or thin enough to be
contenders,” she added. “This dance is the
antidote to that - love your body, celebrate your
curves, be healthy and move!”
Toni teaches from the floor up, meaning she
begins with the feet first and builds upward from
there. “We do center floor work, some barre
(stationary handrail used in ballet studios) work
and across the floor work,” says Toni, who has
traveled to Greece, Turkey and Egypt to study
belly dancing.
“We work on steps that build into
a short choreography in class so you can see
how the moves blend together. In our student
and professional troupes, we work on longer
pieces we use for festivals and shows, bringing
in the element of theatrical belly dance.”
Red Door
Dance Studio
Toni Todd
In 1999, after months of health issues ranging from a possible ovarian cancer scare to a very large
abscess rupture resulting in an appendectomy and the removal of “various and sundry parts,” Toni
found herself facing a 30-pound weight gain on her five-foot frame and felt her self esteem plummet.
Introduced to her first belly dance class through the Brentwood Parks and Recreation, she found
this ancient and cultural dance the perfect way to use low-impact exercising to achieve her personal
fitness, emotional and rehabilitation goals. “At that time in my life, I avoided anything that had a
reflective surface!” she says. “With belly dancing, I felt maybe I could find my abs again.” Incorporating
her training as a personal fitness trainer, Toni teaches proper posture and alignment and how to work
with the body in safe ways that will ensure dance lives can be continued for years.
Through passion, creativity and enthusiasm, her classes
can help you achieve better balance,
better body awareness with increased mind and body connection, improved cardiovascular and
bone strength, increased suppleness, flexibility, full range-of-motion and fluidity, elevated moods,
increased grace and core strength. Bonus – dance can help keep Alzheimer’s at bay. “Through
exercise, healthy nutrition, memorizing choreography and maintaining a social life, we are taking our
daily elixir to help ward off Alzheimer’s,” says Toni, who is not a doctor, but says she’s done some
research on the subject.
Physical benefits from this romantic style
dancing are countless, but the same goes
for the emotional perks. Not to mention
a feeling of community that forms from
like-minded women gathering to have
fun, challenge themselves and dance
across the floor, Toni says is also a huge
plus. “The sense of accomplishment a
person feels when they learn a new skill
is immeasurable,” she adds. “But the
bonds of friendship are truly invaluable. I
introduce women to the idea of becoming
the beautiful, confident, expressive women
they are meant to be.”
Red Door Dance Studio
817 First Street
Brentwood, CA 94513
Talia Soleil caught
in a playful moment
at Caps Oak Street
Bar and Grill in