“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” – Martha Graham
Ana Laura Torres Valdes.
What do you do & what inspires you to do it:
I have a master’s in Human Resources Development. I am a Learning Specialist and a Belly-Dancer in my free time. I design trainings; therefore, I am constantly looking for ways to help people have a better learning experience and acquire new skills. What inspires me is “convert” an old-style training class and converted into a fun material so people can take advantage of it.
In the Belly-Dance business, I perform belly-dance professionally in the Houston area. I have been dancing professionally almost 3 years now but studying belly-dance since 2007 and dance since I was a child.
I mostly perform every weekend, I used to dance at a local restaurant on Saturdays, but currently I perform only at private parties. Due to my schedule I prefer to accept the gigs that better suit me and my dance style than to commit to a place every weekend.
My preferred gigs are weddings. This is the most important event for a belly dancer. In Middle Eastern Countries (Egypt in particular), dance at a wedding is the highlight of the event. I am also part of a Lebanese Folkloric Troupe. We perform at traditional Lebanese weddings.
What inspires me is that I enjoy the process of creating a show, performance, exhibition etc. I enjoy picking out the music, costumes, and movements. I like to recreate them in my head and make them happen. Sometimes some projects take more time than others, but at the end the effort gives you a reward. Last but not least, I enjoy interacting with the audience. It makes me so happy when they dance with me, my music and amuse themselves with my dance.
How do you define success:
Having time and money to enjoy the things you love the most, having a healthy balance in your life and to live within your means.
What would you say to motivate a younger you to be successful in life:
Don’t be afraid of being “alone”. You will always have your family. Do not close your doors trying to wait for someone else. Explore all the possibilities you have for self-growth. Do not be afraid to leave your home/city. The world is waiting for you.
Are you doing now what you’ve always wanted to do or did you have other aspirations previously:
What I am currently doing (professionally), started as a plan around 6 to 7 years ago when I moved to Houston from Los Angeles and decided I wanted to have a graduate degree because the jobs for people with a BS were very low paying in my field. I didn’t want a job in the financial field. I always thought they consumed too much time and energy and didn’t improve your quality of life.
I have a Business Administration B.S. from Tecnologico de Monterrey. Therefore, I enrolled in University of Houston and got a master’s in Human Resources Development and that’s how I got the job I currently have.
On the artistic side, ever since I was a kid, I always have been very outspoken, self-confident, never had a problem being in front of audiences and arts were always something that interested me at some point. I have always had a passion for dance because it comes natural to me.
I never pursued it (dance) professionally, because in Mexico (and I guess here too), arts are not well paid and is very hard to make a decent living out of them. I always had dance classes on the side of the formal education since I was 5 years old.
Around 3 years ago, I decided I wanted to start dancing (Belly-Dance) professionally. At that time, I had already studied 7 years of Arab dances, and many more other styles. I have known people who were interested in having me in their events, and I realize that all that effort of perusing a hobby and passion has given me the tools to build a side-career that I could rely on for personal growth and money (sometimes).
I never envisioned myself being a professional “Belly Dancer” when I was younger, nor did I envision myself working flex-time and having a full-time job that allows me to do both. But I never allowed a job to completely take possession of my life (personal time), so I guess unconsciously I looked for the perfect place in which I can comfortably do both. So, I guess if you go back in time and you talk to my younger self about what I’m doing now, she would be very surprised because she never imagined being here at some point.
What’s the best business or personal advice you’ve ever received:
You can’t expect success right away. Good things in life take time. Be patient! Patience is something that I find it hard to keep.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you:
Usually people are surprised when I say I am Mexican (first generation). I get this in both the belly dance business and my professional environment. People tend to think that I am middle eastern, maybe because I look like and I dance middle eastern folklore, then they are surprised that I am not.
Do you believe in a higher power:
What’s something you can’t live without:
Where do you see yourself in three years:
I would like to keep performing, I don’t know if I would be able to do it as regular as I am doing it today. I would like to have kids and I think that will put a pause in my dancing activities, but I want to keep myself active by going to workshops, festivals and other events if I can’t dance for a moment. Maybe I will start giving classes or open a dance school.
Single or taken:
I am married. I met my husband here in Houston, he is also Mexican.
How many tattoos do you have:
Name a Song you like and Artist:
Being a dancer, I have thousands of songs and artists that I like!
Belly Dance Music: Gana El Hawa – Abdel Halim Hafez, Bent El Sultan – Ahmed Adaweia, and Hawel Teftkerni (Various versions).
My favorite entrance piece to open a show is Set el Hosn – Fadi El Saadi.
I also love classic Rock: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Love Two Times by The Doors, Ob-la-di Ob-la-da by The Beatles. Música Ligera – Soda Stereo, Muralla Verde – Enanitos Verdes , Luis Miguel, Alejandro Fernández, Maná, and Ricky Martin.
Name a movie you like:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Double Indemnity (1944).
What do you like to do for fun:
I like to watch old movies. I really like film noir movies. I like to exercise (run in particular). Sometimes I sit and practice routines or if I am really tired I like to read magazines. National Geographic or History is what I prefer.
Where can we find you online: