We had the good fortune of connecting with Mesmera Merkaba and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mesmera, what role has risk played in your life or career?
It was certainly a risky move to liquidate my garment business in the mid 70s to become a professional belly dancer. I’ve continued risky behavior through innovation, as it’s not copying or sameness that sparks my creativity. In fact, it’s offering something fresh or different that’s been my biggest motivation and most fulfilling work. I seem to have a romantic relationship with the thrill of the unknown. I like to improvise and delight in exploring fresh variations. Yes, it feels risky because there’s a potential for failure, a flop, poor response and personal disappointment. Still, there’s no excitement for me in being a clone, so the risk that accompanies the courage to create is an essential challenge for my own personal growth as well as evolution within our community.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Middle East dance or belly dance is older than the countries that claim it. It’s been passed from mother to daughter and woman to woman for over a 1000 generations. Movement is life. Freedom of movement is a birthright! I love the way building coordination and articulate control of our bodies in dance also nourishes control in our lives and enhances the ability to shape an artful living. How delightful that it also generates self esteem, as well as core strength, balance and especially ignites the imagination! As an instructor, it’s both a responsibility and a privilege to inspire individual creative expression for each student. I’m dedicated to being enthusiastically supportive, inclusive and encouraging which proves to build lasting value in our dance community.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’ll definitely dance at the drum Circle at Venice Beach and possibly also at Griffith Park. We can take a ride to the beach and get our feet in the sand and feel the breeze while enjoying the beautiful weather in Southern California! We can grab a few things at Trader Joe’s and go to the Observatory for a picnic and a fabulous view of Los Angeles. Start in the morning and head for the valley to visit Universal Studios. Next day, we had south to Disneyland for a day in the Magic Kingdom. New day, good morning! After coffee, we get some exercise walking to the farmers’ market to get vegetables and other ingredients for a wonderful home-cooked meal, especially including the kitchen conversation while preparing it and table talk while sharing it. This friend loves Hot Springs, so if there’s time, we’ll head East to Desert Hot Springs to luxuriate at a spa with natural hot mineral water to soothe and smooth us into luxurious relaxation! What a wonderful week with my dear friend!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thank Heavens the women in my family love music and dance! I acknowledge them with my deepest love and gratitude. At three or four years old, I remember dancing around the living room with my grandmother, my mother and my aunt who was actively studying jazz, tap, and Afro-Cuban dance. She taught me some moves and the sequins and feathers on her costumes were absolutely dazzling! Those beautiful designs became my Halloween costumes in elementary school. The next big inspiration was Dee Finney, my modern dance teacher in high school which I was crazy about! What a blessing to come from an active family that swam and hiked on weekends! The advantage of a great foundation in physical education gave me the coordination and stamina needed to build a career as a professional dancer and instructor in performing arts that has been extremely fulfilling for several decades!

Website: www.mesmera.com

Instagram: @ZambraMesmera

Facebook: Facebook.com/MesmeraRedMagicDance

Youtube: www.YouTube.com/c/MesmeraMerkaba

Other: TikTok: @mesmerabellydancer

Image Credits
Carl Sermon Photography Jacqui Wong Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.