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Meet Xenia Leonteva of Xelestial Bellydance in Florida Keys & Islamorada

Today we’d like to introduce you to Xenia Leonteva.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My relationship with dance developed long time ago. Since childhood dance and music have given me “wings to fly” so to speak. I remember coming home from middle school, turning on the radio or cassette player and dancing my feet off to whatever song was playing at the moment. This was a sort of relaxation, rejuvenation technique I would subconsciously employ before sitting down and focusing on my homework. While in school, I took numerous dance classes in different styles. Later in my college years, I discovered passion for belly dance, aka Oriental dance. Now years later, I am still fascinated with this art form. After 11 years of learning and practicing the Oriental dance, I have finally felt courageous enough to teach it. I launched my classes in 2015 in Islamorada and Key Largo, Florida Keys. It’s been a great adventure all along. I am thankful for being able to dance and share the joy with like-minded passionate women. There is a certain magic that happens when a group of women gather to wiggle and giggle together.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I keep telling myself challenges are a spice of life. They come along to take us out of our comfort zone and are a catalyst to a fast growth. Having challenges along the way is a good thing. When I was just starting out, the biggest challenge has been to reach my audience, get the word out there, and get people interested. The Keys are not necessarily a destination for dance classes. That’s not what people are here for. But I am happy with the little community I was able to create. The projects we have worked on have been challenging but very rewarding.

Xelestial Bellydance – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
To me, this is a one-woman wearing many hats operation. I am a dance teacher, an artistic director, a performer, a marketing manager, and a graphic designer. Dance is my hobby that has become a lifestyle. I work in what may seem like very different environments. I am a dance artist on one hand. On the other hand, I work for Monroe County Veterans Affairs Department, where we assist veterans to file for benefits. I enjoy doing both and am passionate about serving our community in different ways. Connecting with people and lifting them up – with a hip flick or a kind word – is what gives me satisfaction and a purpose to carry on.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Two projects that I worked on come to mind. In 2017, my dance company Xelestial Bellydance together with Kasbah Dance Troupe of Miami have created a dance production that turned into a “come together”, benevolent event for our island community. This dance project generated 3,000 for the Monroe Association of ReMARCable Citizens – a local not-for-profit organization which provides support and services to residents with developmental disabilities. This was the most heart-warming event of a great teamwork.

The second project was in 2019, which involved wider collaboration with South Florida Oriental dance artists. The highlight of this event was having a renowned guest dance instructor Ahmed Hussien, who brought a taste of Egypt to Key Largo. Part of the proceeds from this event were also donated to a local not-for-profit organization – Islamorada Community Entertainment (ICE) – an organization dedicated to enhancing local arts and supporting young artists.

As it always is, no project is an island. I am happy to be surrounded by kind, dedicated, and talented people and live in a wonderful supportive community.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Olga Kolleeny, Felipe Correa, Laurel Folse

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