Mary Ann Cappa

Mary Ann Cappa -- aka Anaheed

I am a native Californian with a mixed heritage from the paternal side (Greek, Italian, and a lil' Armenian). For 30+ years I've combined two very different life styles by being both a professional Belly Dancer and a Librarian. ("Librarian by day, Belly Dancer by night!," as one interesting magazine article put it...)

I have always loved moving to music throughout a childhood of ballet, gymnastics and Hawaiian dance. I met the Belly Dance bug in the early 1970's, and partially supported myself through graduate school by dancing three to four nights a week, along with working a day job, and carrying a full class load for the M.L.S. (Masters in Library Science). I experienced the rise and fall of the Hollywood belly dance scene, and worked so many places that are now gone: The Fez, Coco's, Ali Baba's, Hadji Baba's, Grecian Village, Seventh Veil, etc., etc. I survived through sheer flexibility of dance style (much credit to teacher Diane Webber, of the former "Every Woman's Village"), learning to enjoy all music styles from the Middle and Near East (Arabic, Greek, Persian, Armenian, Moroccan) to American - whatever the setting called for!

I became the Managing Director of the Perfumes of Araby Dance Company in 1979 when our "founding mother" Diane Webber scaled back her group activities. This was the same year as my marriage to my still understanding husband, Larry Rotunno. I have enjoyed the challenges of solo and group work, and gratefully acknowledge the contributions of many wonderful women (and men!) whom I've met through the dance, both in the U.S. and elsewhere.

At this time, I continue to work in the Los Angeles City Library system (to pay the mortgage!) and I teach and perform the dance as much and possible, for my heart and soul. I truly love sharing this art form, and try to communicate to students that you receive as much as you give to this dance. I've seen some roller-coaster decades, but as long as the endurance and the bod holds up, I'm on for the ride!