Artist of the week at Speakeasy Art Center

Patt Schneider

As a child, Patt always wanted to be a ballet dancer; even going so far to learn ballet from a book from the library! Aside from a stint on a pom squad and a PE dance class, studying dance-ballet & jazz-just didn't seem to be in her future. One day, many years later, while browsing through a parks district course catalog, the title, "Middle Eastern Dance" caught Patt's eye. She could not bring herself to sign up for the class right then; she worried that she was "too old" to be a dancer. Finally, in the summer of 2004, she made what was to be a life-changing decision and registered for her first belly dance class.
Worried that she wasn't coordinated enough, not skinny enough and possibly was too old, she took a deep breath, walked through the classroom door and met Babs, her first instructor. Babs' supportive teaching style and encouragement for all the students in the class gave Patt the courage to continue the study of Raqs Sharqi, not realizing at the time how belly dance would eventually shape the next ten years of her life. She went on to study raqs sharqi/fusion style belly dance with Sahira Zedare, joined the studio's professional dance company and began teaching.
In 2013, an opportunity to operate her own dance studio presented itself and Patt, along with her husband, Darin, opened Odyssey World Music & Dance . Patt had long recognized her students loved learning about belly dance, but many were intimidated from beginning to dance because of preconceived notions of having to be a certain size/age or the misguided ideas that belly dance is overtly sexual and done to please a "sultan". She works tirelessly to overcome these outdated and incorrect assumptions by reassuring her students that belly dance is for all women (and some men!), only becomes better with age and there is no perfect size for a belly dancer. She encourages her students to dance to please themselves, discover the strength and beauty in the body that they are in and to express happiness and joy.
She includes any and all who have an interest in discovering Raqs Sharqi and what studying this ancient folkloric dance will do for their lives. She encourages every student to embrace the dance and have the dance fit them....not to try and change to fit a narrow parameter of what a dancer "should" be. Some of her students have had extreme limits on range of motion in limbs, scoliosis, and limited vision--all are encouraged to fully join classes and work within their physical limits and they have become beautiful dancers.
Patt teaches and performs American Cabaret/Egyptian raqs sharqi style but also enjoys mixing other styles of belly dance and traditional dance into her personal and class choreographies. As a native of Pekin, she is excited to be teaching in her home town at the Speakeasy Art Center. In addition to the beginner level classes, she is excited to be forming a student-based dance company in conjunction with the Speakeasy Art Center, featuring her students.

Patt will be a featured performer during the inaugural First Friday event on April 3 at the Speakeasy Art Center.

 Beginner classes are open to anyone; to inquire about joining a class, please e-mail More information about belly dance classes and performances are at her website: .





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