Moria Chappell was the Artistic Director of the Bellydance Superstars before becoming the Artistic Director of Wild Saffron and Assistant Director for Urvasi Dance Ensemble.
As an Artistic Director, Moria composes and orchestrates choreographies that seek to evoke what is strange and beautiful, striking and consoling about the female form in its most erudite and vulnerable manifestations.
Moria Chappell from Saffron Dance on Vimeo.
In addition to serving as Artistic Director for The Bellydance Superstars and Wild Saffron, Moria is Artistic Director for other projects including her recent Nocturnal and Incantation shows, her Dragons and Jewels tour in China, and 64 Yoginis, which reveals the mysteries of the 64 Yoginis Temple in Hirapur, Odisha, India.
Moria choreographs solos, duets, group collaborations, and theatrical shows which incorporate both Traditional Belly Dance and Fusion Belly Dance artists to produce a tableaux of juxtapositions of light and dark, soft and strong, fiery and temperate to pull each dancer to her edge and offer what they embody most on the stage.
Enjoy watching some of Moria's choreographies by clicking on Choreography at the top left of this page.
Moria teaches from a place of spirit and body. She feels that whiat is important is to understand and utilize the muscles that cloak the bones, and that, ultimately, are the only things which put us under our own control. Her technique is entirely muscle-based, dedicating one muscle to one movement, and creating isloations and shapes that are clear and concise.
Once the fundamental tools of the body are brought under a student's control by the flexibilty offered via yoga, and the strength drilled by muscular isolation, which understand the commands of contract and release, Moria is able to lead her students to more complex layering and shape creation, and thereby turn their body into a vessel for their voice, and the voice of the world, to be expressed effortlyessly and with intention.
Moria uses sweat and humor to mold the body and tame the muscles to work under the command of her students.
Costuming is the outer expression of the inner vision. Moria has a fascination with the specific and the large; she is invested in the detail of each bead, its content and history, as well as the outline of the total form which can be read from the stage. Her costumes are animal and statue, antique and fantastic. She makes each of her own costumes via hand stitching, and draws inspiration from colors in nature, haute couture, Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Gaudi, temple statues, nomads, yoginis, dakinis, mermaids, and peacocks.
Using shells, stone, feathers, silk, silver, lace, tassels, beads, glass, mirrors, yarn, flowers, bones, gold, teardrops, pinpricks, twilight and sunrise, Moria weaves her costumes like an arachnid into embellishments and regalia with whom she dances like a partner.
To view a sample of her costumes, please click the small box with an arrow to see the images full screen.
The face is the canvas of the soul. The secret of the mermaid’s mirror is that it reflects anything she wishes to see.
Moria formally studied make-up artistry during her tutelage in Make-up Design School in Atlanta, Georgia in 2004. She has worked as a professional make-up artist on sets and applies the more theatrical aspects of make-upology to her face as well as others. She delights in seeing her faces transformed by contours and highlights, smoking and blurring, glittering and coloring, blending, and by using unexpected colors to evoke the archetypes of history, psychology, and dream.
With faces as her canvas, Moria patiently and deftly shows her students the mysteries of effective theatrical makeup.
Initially searching for the beginnings and roots of Belly Dance, Moria travels annually to India to study East Indian Temple Dance. Her fascination with temple dance has led her to Hula, Tahitian, Javanese, Thai, Cambodian, and Chinese sacred dances. She has also traveled numerous times to Asia to study Thai and South China Peacock Dance, Cambodian Apsara and Chinese Apsara dances.
Her future pursuits include a continued in-depth study of Odissi, the grandmother of all sacred dance, with her teacher Ratna Roy; to explore the dances of Oceania; to walk the path of Angkor Watt via Camboian dance, and explore Thai and Nepalese dance to retrace the lineage of sacred dance as it traveled from India throughout Asia and then to the sea. She has learned the dances of the cave walls, the technique of the mudras in stone, the rythme of the sand and the waves, and the drum patterns of the lands that connected the entirety of the ancient world with our modern ears and feet.
An ongoing project is the 64 Yoginis of Hirapur and its sacred precinct in Odisha, India.
"Her style has developed into something that defies description. Let's just say that if Rachel Brice is the snake-charmer, Moria's become THE snake. Her movements are fast, accurate, precise and her locks seem to freeze in time...just like a snake before attacking the next move. Simply mesmerizing!"
--Excerpt from a review of The Bellydance Superstars
written by MIGUEL
Photographers: Andri Elbing, Scott Belding, Cherry Li,
360 Photography, Shellie Gilbertson, KH Photographic, Dahna Koth, Yin Yi Photography, Ambrosia Photography, DFU 2015, Devansh Jhaveri, The Dancer's Eye, LJ Photos