MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A doctor turned dancer? Sounds like it could be a sitcom right? But for Cassandra Shore, it was her real life decision.

While pre-med, she traveled to Chicago and saw belly dancers. It changed her life, leading her to study the art in California and come back to Minnesota to teach thousands of students over 36 years. That’s why this “Minnesotan to Meet” says it’s so important to follow your dreams.

From the moment the music flips on, Shore can’t help but move. A pre-med college student in 1975, she just couldn’t “shake” her love of dance.

“I was really attracted to how the dance and the music fit together,” she said.

She saw belly dancers in Chicago for the first time and with no Middle Eastern background, She took off to study in San Francisco with big names in the movement.

“Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time and then there’s a little bit of luck involved and I was there,” she said.

She moved back to Minnesota and was hired by a restaurant and lounge.

“It was a very intense job, six days a week, two shows a night,” Shore said.

Between the exotic music, movements and costumes, the shows became very popular.

“Women would approach me all the time, that’s why I opened the studio,” Shore said.

She taught in club basements at first, but in 1989 founded the Jawaahir Dance Company. Women have been taking lessons ever since. She said she’s taught around 5,000 people.

The biggest lesson to newbies is not only learning the moves, but getting over the misconceptions from Hollywood.

“It’s mostly from the movies that it was intended to seduce the sultan or something like that and actually it comes from the local style of women’s dancing,” Shore said.

And what dancers pick up on quickly, is that this dance is confidence building. Cassandra has loved teaching it all over 36 years. After all this time, her moves have landed her into legendary status as “Cassandra the Middle Eastern Dancer and Teacher.”

Cassandra travels the globe to teach and learn new belly dancing moves. She spends a great deal of time in Egypt, where it’s been popular for decades. The Jawaahir Studio is located in south Minneapolis, and classes are $16 for beginners or $140 for 10 classes.


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