Sunniva shakes what her mama gave her

Belly dance instructor Sunniva Huffman teaches weekly classes downtown to spread culture, history



Belly dance instructor Sunniva Huffman discusses her love for the culture, history and costuming that comes with belly dancing.

RACHEL KOCH, Evergreen reporter

As Sunniva Huffman took the stage as the least-experienced belly dancer in a pizza restaurant in Kirkland, she was very nervous. She had never performed to live music and was unsure of how the crowd would react to her performance. Now, Huffman teaches others how to belly dance in downtown Pullman.

“So many of the dancers got lots of tips from the audience. I only got tips from one person,” she said of her performance in Kirkland. “After I changed out of costume, the woman who tipped me pulled me aside and told me how beautifully I danced.”

Originally from the Seattle area, Huffman started belly dancing in 2008 after graduating from the University of Idaho. She explained that she was looking for a hobby at the time and a co-worker invited her to a belly dance class.

“Originally, it was going to be just for fun, social, my little exercise,” she said, “and then I was hooked.”

Huffman never saw herself as a belly dancer. When she began, she was uncertain of showing her belly, performing in public or to live music. She has since overcome all of those barriers.

For the third time, Huffman will be performing in “Horrific,” a horror movie-themed belly dance show featuring several performances based on classic horror movies.

She explained that she normally does very traditional belly dance with traditional music, but “Horrific” gives her the chance to branch out a little and mix customary and modern genres.

Before moving to Pullman with her husband, Huffman taught in Bothell. She recently began teaching belly dance classes at The Seasoned House. She said that she likes passing on the culture, music, costumes and history of belly dancing to her students.

“I love sharing my passion for belly dance with others,” Huffman said. “To me, belly dance is very much about culture, it’s about music, it’s about costuming, makeup, the feeling that the dance gives you. So it’s very, very internal to the dancer as well as external.”

Each class in broken up into four sections: warm up and drills, learning and applying new moves, improvisational skills and stretching or cool down, according to the Belly Dance for Beginners found on Sunniva’s Facebook page. Attendees are advised to dress comfortably. Belly dancers generally dance barefoot, but it is not a requirement.

Huffman teaches belly dance from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday at The Seasoned House. Each individual class costs $12, while six classes can be purchased for $60.