Nataly Hay has never even considered what she would do if not dance. The Israeli belly dancer has been dancing all her life. From the age of three she started, as many dancers do, with ballet, jazz and other forms of stage dance. Then, at age 16, Hay took a belly dance class for the first time and fell in love.
Hay began taking belly dance classes regularly, was soon recognized for her considerable talent and received an offer to work as a teacher.
“I started teaching classes for students from kindergarten to adults and meanwhile studied my degree to become an official belly dance instructor of the Israeli Sport Institute. Since then I haven’t stopped belly dancing,” explains Hay.
Teaching may have been the start of her professional career in belly dance but Hay didn’t stop there.
Hay’s ability to captivate audiences with her unique beauty and talent have made her a well-known dancer in Israel. According to Gilad Malkin, an Israeli TV producer, her television performances shine because Hay knows how to work with the camera and it shows on screen.
“Nataly is a very good dancer, very talented, beautiful, responsible and professional,” remarks Malkin. “We can always count on her for the best performance we expect. Nataly is the top dancer in Israel.”
Hay’s talents aren’t limited to belly dance. Well-versed in Latin dance styles and the Spanish language, she was a winner in Israel’s Kizomba competition, and has received invitations to perform for fans in the United States, Brazil and Mexico. Hay also took home a trophy at the European Belly Dance competition in Amsterdam last year and is a frequent performer and instructor at International Bellydance Festival, a four-day event held in Eilat, Israel that is host to dancers all over the world.
“Nataly is a very talented dancer;” says Yael Moav, the organizer of the festival, “compelling and charismatic as well as being wise and serious. Working with Nataly, I know the job is done with accuracy and on time as required [of] a professional and a true artist.”
In order to maintain her physical skills and perform for a long time on stage without much physical effort, Hay works out consistently.
“The strength of the body helps me develop new dance movements and improve my technique more easily,” explains Hay.
Hay insists a supportive family has also been part of her success, providing mental strength in addition to her physical strength. Commitment to her art, a positive attitude and belief in herself have also elevated Hay’s career as a dancer. Her performances have become a feature in high-profile events.
Just months ago, Hay was invited to perform for 100,000 people as part of the Juno Reactor international tour. The trance-oriental musical act includes deejay, Stephen Watkins, two singers, a drummer and guitarist, and Hay, who adds her own blend of belly dance, African, modern and Latin dance to the performances.
“Nataly is one of the most graceful of dancers I have seen or worked with,” says Watkins. “Sensual and captivating, she has forged her own style and personality to fit inside Juno Reactor. She is also a pleasure to work with.”
The group is invited to perform in festivals worldwide. Last August, as headliners at the Ozora festival in Hungary, Juno Reactor produced a show with 20 more dancers from Russia and the Ukraine and Hay onstage as a belly dancer.
“The outfits, accessories, choreography and chemistry on stage were outstanding,” Hay recalls of the experience.
Traveling the world has been a dream come true for Hay, who enjoys getting to know new artists, singers, composers and dancers, and appreciates the exposure to cultures outside of her own. This is a good thing because the offers to teach and perform internationally keep rolling in for Hay, particularly since a bellydance video of her went viral on YouTube, reaching 22 million views and counting.
Clearly, though the massively popular video demonstrates Hay’s strong dance technique, it appeals to more than just belly dance lovers. The response has been phenomenal.
“Many belly dance lovers have tried to study this dance at home and perform it in their home countries. Moreover, I’ve received a lot of invitations to perform and teach around the world thanks to that video,” remarks Hay.
Still, her global success is only a perk of the job. It’s the dancing that Hay truly loves and finds most rewarding. In fact, she says that sometimes she gets chills or sheds tears of happiness while performing.
“For me dancing is the most powerful feeling,” muses Hay. “When I am dancing I am the happiest person on earth, I forget everting and my soul and body are free.”