Written by: Christina Calabria
Before I interviewed Lynn Hoffman, co-owner of Twisted Dance Studios I did my normal background checking on her life and some of the things she has done over the years before becoming a belly dancer. I truly thought Lynn had made up her past. It is as far from belly dance as one can get. Along with a bachelor degree in Microwave Engineering and Physical Sciences, a graduate degree in Telecommunications, she also was an Airman First Class in the United States Air Force, a Staff Sergeant for the CA Air National Guard and currently works up to 50 hours a week as a Network Analyst. Did I mention that she also raised a family during all this as well? So naturally my first question was, “How did you arrive at belly dancing??” Lynn had an Aunt who belly danced and she was fascinated with the dancing and the glittery costumes as a child so she first purchased videos to practice at home. She thought belly dancing would be “neat.”
In 2005 when Lynn was 45, she and a friend decided to take a belly dance class together. Lynn claims that if she had not done this she would have probably ended up back in school getting another technical degree. At this point in her career she was hunched over from so many hours at the computer and she was suffering from neck and back issues. Lynn started taking classes from a local belly dancer, Faun Finley. She said, “I was going to do it or die.” Within six months after starting belly dance classes, the physical pain she had been in from her work was gone. The chiropractor told her the dancing wouldn’t help. She has not been back to the chiropractor since, nor has she had any pain.
Belly dancing changed Lynn’s self image. She had gained weight from her pregnancy and thought she would never wear a bikini again. She didn’t like her body and for the first year of classes she completely covered her body and stood in the back away from the mirror. “If you live in your head it’s hard to get back in touch with your body,” Lynn said concerning her career and decision to dance. Over time she started showing more skin as she became more aware of her body and more confident about how she looked. Now she does not even think about how her body looks or how much is covered. Another decision Lynn made was to stop exposing herself to mass media, which also helped with her perception of her body image.
After about a year she and her classmates formed a small troupe with Faun and tried their luck with busking on Elm St. Needless to say the cops stopped them from dancing for tips on the street but the belly dance bug had bitten and there was no stopping her.
There is a long lineage of dancers who covet their techniques in each genre of belly dance. Lynn was drawn to American Tribal Style® , founded by Carolena Nericcio of Fat Chance Belly Dance Studio based in San Francisco CA. Lynn’s two biggest influences were Carolena Nericcio and Rachel Brice. She really enjoyed the community focus of these dancers and how everyone is so supportive instead of competitive.
y never have danced in their lives, discouraging completion while fostering friendships, and focusing on the positive. Past & present members of Torque are belly dance teachers at the studio, along with Hoop teachers, a yoga teacher, and a martial arts instructor. They all work together to create a community environment. Everyone is welcome, all the time. As Lynn continued to talk about her studio I noticed her getting quite emotional which was a testament to how belly dance truly changed her life. She went on to explain that she has more energy, life is never boring, and she has great girlfriends that she lacked prior to belly dance. The studio creates opportunity for performing, makeup, costumes and dancing…all the things that fascinated Lynn as a child. They heavily participate in The Summer Solstice event each year by performing and hosting a booth as well as donating money.When I interviewed Lynn she had just returned from a week vacation at the beach, the first in a long time. She turned off the phone, left the computer at home and slept for the first three days. After her long rest she boogie boarded on the ocean and enjoyed the time away from her hectic life. “I didn’t care if it rained,” Lynn told me. Back in the swing she turned her focus to Torque’s upcoming show Project Shimmy which was held at Gail Bower Performance Center at Greensboro College on September 8th which benefited Triad Health Project. View highlights from the show here. Lynn has become quite a force in Greensboro and beyond. She openly shares her story and how her life has changed for the better as have those of the students who found their way to Twisted Dance. She finds joy in seeing the same transformations in her students that she experienced. Truly a beauty inside and out Lynn ended our conversation with, “I AM NEVER BORED… NEVER.”