Lifelong dancer Leyla Soleil stumbled upon her first belly-dancing class while living in Miami in 2001, and, as she describes it, “everything just clicked.” The high-impact dances she’d previously enjoyed, such as ballet and jazz, were proving increasingly hard on her joints, and with a new child thrown into the mix, Leyla was searching for a new way to express herself physically. After that first class, she grew passionate about belly dance and its ability to build a bridge between cultures. Later living in Akron, she built a thriving studio and dance company—Dance du Soleil—before moving her family to Columbus. Now, when she's not teaching classes at her new studio, Leyla juggles performing, starting a dance-photography business with her husband, and keeping involved in her Akron endeavors.
In her accessible, beginner belly-dancing classes, Leyla teaches fundamental moves that build a strong abdominal core, enable women to embrace their feminine side, and unravel the mystique around the dance form. Part of her philosophy on dance includes its health benefits, as evidenced by one of her former students—a woman who struggled with beginner moves but lost weight and decreased her health problems as she progressed to an advanced level. Middle Eastern music energizes each movement during Leyla's studio sessions, and she often announces each song’s country of origin to illuminate the cultural beauty inherent in the songs.