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Karen Sun Ray

Karen has an extensive background in folk dances of Europe, Asia, the Americas and Polynesia and has studied and performed Middle Eastern Dance since 1976. She has eight years of experience as a performance director for folk dance groups. She has performed with Gainesville, Florida's internationally known professional ballet company, DanceAlive!, and has choreographed folk dance pieces for their production of Dracula. She is a member of the Sahnobar Dance Ensemble who has performed at Disney's EPCOT, Universal Studios, St. Petersburg's Florida International Museum openings of "Splendors of Ancient Egypt" and "Alexander the Great" to name a few. She has had the privelege of performing interpretive dance with world beat bands such as the Exotic Music Ensemble (Gainesville, Florida) and Loud Zoo (St. Petersburg, Florida). In 1998, she toured the country with a Polynesian performing group based in Orlando. Her teaching career began at an early age along side her mother and continues until today. Karen co-founded Hip Expressions in 2004, and operates as the Bookings Coordinator and Performances Director.

Karen Sun Ray instructs the following:
  • Belly Dance Basics
  • Come learn the beautiful art of belly dance!  This class will introduce you to the basic isolations you need as a solid foundation for belly dance.  Learn new and exciting things about your muscle groups, how to access your inner core to create beautiful and fluid movements.  We'll also work on arms, posture, and some footwork will be introduced to lay the groundwork to delve into this art form.  As your muscles strengthen, your control will improve and you will see yourself start to dance!  Develop self-confidence, coordination, and comfort inside your own skin that brings out your inner Goddess!
    Spring Session: April/May

  • Belly Dance: Shimmies
  • Who doesn't want to have a better shimmy?
    Get a great workout while strengthening and improving your technique and stamina!
    Come work on your endurance and hip control so you can dance with precision, beauty, and style.  The shimmy is the most recognizable and distinctive feature of belly dance.  Make sure yours lives up to the hype! 
    We'll explore a variety of shimmies: earthy Folkloric, modern Egyptian, a multitude of three-quarter and two-quarter, downs, ups, syncopated, traveling, layered, and more! 
    Tell the truth, hips don't lie..

  • Polynesian Dance
  • Learn the dances of the Polynesian islands, including Hawaiian hula and Tahitian o’tea.
    Hula is an ancient Hawaiian art form, which rhythmically tells a story through dance and hand movements.
    The Tahitian o’tea is a very fast drum dance, done using rapid hip movements. In modern day Tahiti, it is performed at festivals and events, but it originated as a warrior dance.
    Students will learn basic movements used in Hawaiian and Tahitian dancing, proper dance technique, and build stamina and endurance. Be prepared to dance with flowing arms and swaying hips... And a little bit of sweat too!

  • Island Flowers Troupe Rehearsal
  • The Island Flowers is a Hip Expressions Studio company specializing in Polynesian dance. Students will learn troupe choreographies, as well as develop solos for performances at 1001 Nights Showcases, Studio shows, and various other community outreach events. Participation in the Island Flowers is for intermediate/advanced students to professional dancers who show passion and dedication, and is by invitation only. Students who are interested in joining should speak directly to the Director, Karen Sun Ray, about their intent, and will be given guidelines to follow that would potentially lead to an invitation.
    Directed by Karen Sun Ray, dancers in Island Flowers will develop performance technique, stage presence, gain performance savy, and learn to work as a group and solo, while continuing to refine their technique and learn the cultural aspects of this ethnic dance form. The Island Flowers mission is to have fun and inspire and educate others through group performances, while fostering the growth of individual dancers.