Nefertiti on Soul Ties and Ecstasy – 072
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Dr. Valerie Poppel, aka Nefertiti of Delaware, is a Clinical Sexologist and belly dancer who lived in Cairo. Find out what Nef warned about Soul Ties when she was featured in Cosmo yet again and how shimmying can improve our sexual health.
Imagine a gorgeous brown-skinned dancer flecked in gold taking the stage with yellow isis wings unfurled. When she opens her arms and looks up, it’s like the sun is pouring into her soul. On her face, ecstasy. She dances and shines. At one point, she looks into the back of the audience and beckons. A fully-costumed dancer emerges and joins her on stage. And then another, and another. Each uniquely beautiful and proudly honoring the one who invited them there, Nefertiti.
That was my experience at the Art of the Belly Dance Festival on the ocean in Maryland when I saw our guest Nefertiti perform. This is going to be an incredible interview. Not only are we talking to an amazing passionate dancer who lived in Cairo for years and has danced all over the world, Nefertiti is also a clinical sexoligist who has been featured in Cosmo not one, but 2 times. And she hosts a radio show about sexual health and relationships called Brown Sugar Confessions. So we are all in for a treat! Thank you so much for being here with us Nefertiti, aka Dr. Valerie Poppel.
I was so excited to hear that you were recently featured in Cosmo, and when I asked you about the article, you said it’s about tarab. Can you tell us more about that?
Creating Ecstacy, Tarab and Soul Ties in Belly Dance
In a moment of ecstacy, as dancers we draw our audiences into us. So that’s what the article mentioned. Soul ties. When you’re performing be very mindful of soul tie connections with people. As a dancer, I’m always trying to get that energy connection with the audience. I have caught the eye of a young man in the audience, and he stalked me. Some people receive your gift of dance in a way that is not intended. When you are dancing and giving your energy, being mindful of looking at someone to the point that you are looking into their soul and creating that tie.
How can you create ecstacy? And what does that look like on stage? How do we take away the mystery of tarab and how we can see ourselves?
Hooray for the first Black Belly Dance Bundle! I am so excited to start scheduling my pre-recorded classes with Chudney, Lady Liquid, Ebony Qualls, Danielle Hutton and more fabulous dancers who are part of that. And you are going to teach about the pelvic floor in a lecture called “To tuck or not to tuck”. Can you give us a little preview of that lecture?
Should we Tuck or Not Tuck our Pelvis? What do Dancers Need to Know About our Pelvic Floor?
It is important to understand what the pelvic floor supports, how it changes as we age, and posture. Is the tuck good for dancers? Where did it originate? Is it beneficial as we are dancing? What does a strong pelvic floor look like on a dance body? How do we strengthen the pelvic floor with belly dance?
Sit down on the floor and do an Egyptian shimmy while doing Kegels. You can stand and shimmy and do kegels too.
Having a strong pelvic floor is important to have longevity in the dance.
Your interview on the Ask me Anything series with Sara Shrapnell was amazing.
You talked a little about teaching belly dance to people with sexual concerns. One highlight is where you spoke about the kinds of orgasms and how to structure your shimmy to orgasm while you shimmy. You’ve gotta tell us more about that.
You can Orgasm While you Shimmy
My husband loves when I dance for him. No need to do your hair or makeup. If you choose to dance for your partner and release energy, why not?
You can use belly dance as therapy, and get in touch with your body and get grounded. Moving your pelvis has been known to help women have a higher drive for sex if they are suffering from low desire.
We are often skittish about talking about the sensual part of belly dance. But it is quite beautiful.
And you teach about Tantra, which I heard you say can teach you how to breathe through an orgasm. I never realized before that we generally stop breathing when we orgasm! You said that breathing through it can elongate and deepen orgasms, and can lead to mutiple orgasims. 15 orgasms in one session sometimes. Yes this is a belly dance podcast, but this shit is important! What should we know about this?
Breathe all the Way Down to your Pelvic Floor
Tantra became very big in what late eighties, when Sting spoke about six hours of orgasms. I was like, that’s a lot of orgasms Sting. And many people got on the tantra bandwagon wanting to learn, wanting to prolong release of orgasmic energy.
I’m a tantra specialist. I teach tantra all over the world. And one of the benefits of tantra, and not to mention the. connecting of your partner, is the ability to breathe through your orgasmic energy release. Oftentimes we choose to hold our breath. If you think about your own release of energy, when you’re in that state of ecstacy, you might tend to hold your breath.
That’s why they call it the little death, because you stop breathing. And the tantra principle is about breathing all the way through to your pelvic floor all the way out to elongate the orgasmic release. To have a deeper orgasm by breathing through it and not holding the breath.
So there are a lot of benefits. Not only to your relationship, but also to the release of energy when you understand and practice tantra.
How important the breath is in every part of our life and breath is important. When you dance, of course, and it’s important during sex. A beautiful way of connecting with your partner when you’re able to release the energies together and using the breath control. Using Tantra kiss to elongate it even further. So there’s so many modalities of understanding how energy and breath works when you’re releasing orgasmic energy and the world of tantra.
So I advise anyone that’s listening to this podcast that may have questions, just reach out to me. I’m more than happy to answer them and to help you out. www.swanncenter.com
If you are listening and you are like, sex coaching? I need that. I want to let you know that Nefertiti is also known as Dr. Valerie Poppel, and she does that! Coaching online and in person on low sexual confidence, no orgasms, porn addicition, early ejaculation, sexual shame, sexual identity and more incredibly important topics that help us become fully expressed humans!
It is a natural part of our self-expression and our love center. And I hope people, maybe not in my lifetime but one day, we’ll get comfortable with understanding that energy force and how valuable and beautiful it is when you’re connecting with someone from your heart center.
Sex coaching is a small portion of what I do in the world of clinical sexology. At the Swann Center we also do sexual researcher, sexual science studies. I’m affiliated with many universities and affiliates all over the world where I work with understanding sexual medicines doing a research around the pharmaceutical industry. So I often tell people that the field of sexual health is growing and emerging. In Europe is quite large and the US it is still quite small. And we also run a clinical sexology certification program for those that choose to work in the field of sexual health and sexual wellness. And it’s about a one-year program that someone can take it. Even MDs come take this course to continue their education. It is also for those that actually want to get certified as a clinical sexologist. So yeah. Check it out and reach out to me.
In this country I hope we get away from the shame and guilt around pleasure.
You can hear more on Brown Sugar Confessions on youtube.
You are based in Delaware, and you have danced and instructed on all 7 continents. When we were scheduling this interview, you were on your way to Tahiti. The photos you and your partner posted were stunning. And the photos of how your body was painted on Bora Bora by world champion body painters. Whoa. I had to show Jill Parker those photos because I was overwhelmed with how goddamn cool you are. Many of us would not have the confidence to be painted topless even by skilled artists, especially after our 20s. You went for it. You already are a work of art, and you became another stunning work of art brushed with paint. Can you tell us about that experience?
What it was Like to Get Painted by Award Winning Body Paint Artists?
I follow Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco. They’re five time world champion body painters, some of the best in the world. I have followed them for many years and they were in Bora Bora, and I had asked to have my body painted.
And they said, what do you want Val? And I’m like, oh, just do whatever. Well they kept painting and before you know it, they did my whole upper body.
And it was absolutely amazing. And by the time they were done they did the Kundalini rising, which is a tantra. And my stomach and they also did the Pharos on my chest and paint. And they had no idea my connection to Egypt. So it was a really, fascinating experience with them because they don’t know me and they painted my life on my body. And I thought it was quite beautiful and it lasted for three days, they seal it on your body. I was their muse.
You founded Jewels of the Orient Bellydance & Wellness Festival, Sambabelly ™ Fitness, Belly dancers of Color Magic Group & MENAHT dancers of color wellness & dance retreat. You have created so much Nefertiti! Can you tell us some of the impacts of these projects, and some highlights that make you proud?
I started Jewels of the Orient when I moved back from the Middle East. I really admire Aida Nour of the Nile Group. I wanted to bring this energy back to the US. I wanted to bring 1-2 international stars, local stars, and rising stars. We had opportunities for dancers to get feedback from judges without competing.
Samba Belly Fitness is the fitness side of belly dance. We fuse belly dance with reggaeton, Latin dances, African dances, and hip hop. We have instructors in various gyms that teach this style. It’s comparable to a Zumba class with a belly dance focus. You can find out how to get certified in that if you contact me through the Swann Center.
I decided to form a group for dancers of colors from all over the world. To have a safe space to share and grow and learn from each other. It is the Belly Dancers of Color Magic Group. We dropped the words “Belly Dancers” after being educated by dancers of the culture. So it’s Menaht Dancers of Color Magic.
Jillina of Jillina’s Belly Dance Experience mentioned you and the Belly Dancers of Color Magic group in the interview I did with her back in episode 61.
When did you decide to focus on Egyptian raqs sharqi as your primary style?
I started out at an ATS dancer.
Then I saw a male dancer from Egypt in New Jersey and my mouth opened up and I started to get serious about it. I found this spoke to me more than anything else. I have my own flair as well, but my foundation is in Egyptian Raqs Sharqi.
You lived in Cairo, Egypt for several years, and were mentored by several top teachers. You studied at the ISOC in Cairo for her teacher’s certification under the direction of Dr. Khalil and is a member of UNESCO (which means United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). What are some of the jewels you still have with you from that experience?
Be comfortable in your own style. Do not try to be someone else. I am enough.
Have the technique and education, and still be you when you dance.
You are a researcher. When you were asked about cultural appropriation in the Ask me Anything interview mentioned earlier, you said something like
What Should we Know about Cultural Appropriation as Belly Dancers?
“If you don’t understand it, don’t do it”
If you are going to borrow from a dance, know about the humanity that goes with it. Understand it first. Do it with cultural respect.
This is a big one for all of us who feel connected to fusion belly dance styles, where we get excited to take what we like often without having a clue where it comes from.
Can you tell us more about that?
I can only share with you from my own experience. When I lived in the Middle East, I had privilege. I had an American passport. I could take my butt on a plane and go back home if I wanted to. Other people in the country could not. I was humbled. I just wanted to do better.
I wanted to give back. So I started bringing dancers from the Middle East to the US. Putting money in their pocket. Acknowledging and recognizing them.
We can take what we want from other cultures, like their dance, and not have to wear other things that confine the culture. I respect that some people of the culture go against their family norms, values and beliefs in order to give us their art form.
In other episodes of A Little Lighter, I ask guests if they have a danceable ritual to share, a danceable song, a favorite dance move, a costume tip, and a vegan whole food ingredient. In this episode, I wanted to focus on your sexoligist expertise and leadership in our belly dance community becoming inclusive and aware and anti-racist. So I’m just going to end with one of the questions I consistently ask in this podcast, because I know your answer is going to be awesome. Do you have a feel-good-look-good habit you want to share?
Before you Step Out on Stage, Exhale
When I hear them say my name and I start to step on the stage, I take a big breath in and then exhale.