~ Jen Jones
Founder & Creative Director
I took my first belly dance class in Moscow, Idaho, during the Fall of 1981. The joyous dancing and camaraderie of this group of women made a lasting impression. However, life was complicated and busy and pulling in many directions at this time of my life. My exploration of a movement bent in a not dance sort of a direction. I packed my first homemade dance costume as well as my dance ambitions away. Always being up for an adventure in the great outdoors, I have explored many ways to move: from Cypress Garden style tricks as a 7-year-old water skier to horseback riding, to running at a national level as a teenager. I responded to John Muir’s invitation that the “Mountains are calling and I must go”. I became adept at many styles of snow skiing. I walked and hiked and climbed in the mountains of Idaho. I finished a degree in Anthropology and worked as an archaeologist. I started, managed and closed a fly fishing/cross country ski shop in Hailey, Idaho. I gave birth to a son and a daughter. I completed a Masters in Teaching and tried my hand at teaching science and history and family and consumer science in a high school setting. Years flew by. One fine October day in 2002, my son, Hank, then 10 years old son were riding our bicycles home from his soccer practice when I ditched my bike to avoid running over another child. This accident shattered my left tibia; I spent the next two years on crutches and had 4 surgeries to fix that leg.
Life changed. Physical Therapy appointments took the place of adventures in the great outdoors. Natasha Sevilla, a friend, and yoga teacher offered free yoga lessons if I could get up the stairs of the Sacred Cow studio in Ketchum, Idaho. Those 20 steps were one of my scariest mountain climbs. I learned every yoga pose on the floor. Gradually, I learned to walk again. During this time, while snooping in my closet, my 13-year-old daughter, Sophia, found a box, carefully taped shut and labeled “Belly Dance”, and asked to open it. Out tumbled my coin belt and with that joyful jingle, came the memory of that wonderful first belly dance class. I knew dance would be the next adventure.
In early 2004, as soon as I could walk with a cane, I started belly dancing again. In 2005, I moved to New Jersey and continued yoga and cabaret-style belly dancing classes. The leg grew stronger and I was able to start hiking and skiing again. But Dance had claimed me. I took 3 classes a week and joined a troupe and made costumes and did performances and made the best friends. I found ATS® in 2013 and have been dedicated to it ever since. I started an ATS® Troupe, Black Bear @ Oasis. I studied under Mimi Fontana, founder of Manhattan Tribal for 4 years. My troupe mates and I learned the moves and the ques and the combinations together. I passed General Skills Modern and Classic in 2018 and took my Teacher Training in 2019. I hold a Level 1 certificate in Deb Rubin’s Dance Therapeutics.
One of the belly dance teachers once gave me a huge compliment by calling me a “serious student of dance”. In fact, I approach my study and practice of dance with careful attention and the energetic passion of a life-long student. I strive to maintain a beginner’s mind and enthusiastically invite others to accompany me on the adventure of learning to dance.