Owner of RAQISA®
Soraya Doherty, has 20 years of experience in the fitness industry and a lifetime as a belly dance practitioner, both culturally and as an enthusiast. She is the creator of the patented RAQISA® Belly Dance Training Mat and Balance Plate, the only visual aid of its kind, designed to provide a 3-D training experience to help new students successfully learn and understand fundamental belly dance with precision. Soraya drew from her Lebanese-American roots, her many years in the professional acting and musical theatre industry, and her award winning belly dance style, to create the diverse and dynamic RAQISA® brand. She is ACE, AFAA, and AEA certified; she holds a BA from San Jose State, and an MA from San Francisco State, in the Theatre Arts, and is a Screen Actors Guild Member.
MY MEDITERRANEAN LIFE
My name is Soraya and I am the creator of the RAQISA® brand and the nationally accredited RAQ THE BARRE™ workout. I am half Lebanese and half American...that means that I grew up eating peanut butter & jelly on toasted Arabic bread. Have you ever tried it? It's wonderful! My mother was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon and my father, was a US Navy Soldier when he met and married my mom in Beirut. Together they traveled the world raising five children. I am the youngest, and was just a baby when we left Beirut. Upon arriving in America in the 1970s, we were not encourage to speak Arabic. Nonetheless, my mother and my Arabic speaking American father preserved the Lebanese culture, and no matter where we were stationed, we were actively involved in the Arabic American community - particularly on the Monterey Peninsula in California, where my father ended his 23 years serving in the US Navy as a Linguist.
I can truly say my siblings and I cherish that we learned how to cook our mother's recipes; enjoy the music of Fairuz; and adore the poetry of Kahlil Gibran. And how fun it was that at a very young age, my three sisters and I were moving our hands and our hips like serpentine snakes, even when listening to Top 40 American songs! I can assure you that many who are Middle Eastern-Americans can relate to my story, as we each share a passion and love for our treasured heritage!
But I must say, I never realized how this wonderful culture and above all, my profoundly loving, faith-filled upbringing, would help me on a deep and personal level. You see, as a young teenager, I struggled with body image issues and an eating disorder. As I worked to heal my heart from untruths I told myself, I began more and more to identify with my Lebanese roots and our heart healthy diet; and yes, even my blessed, God-given, healthy hips! Mind you, I have always gravitated towards fitness and entertainment...and while I teach many fitness formats and I have years of professional dance and acting experience, my heart has always felt pulled to share with other women specifically, the beauty of the Middle East, her movements, and the many wellness benefits. Enter RAQISA®. Here is where I feel I can truly deliver my passion and my area of expertise: belly dance technique merged with barre-fitness exercises designed to result in a strong, graceful, and flexible, dancer's body! You see, while I've always performed in musicals and danced belly dance with my sisters and classes, it wasn't until I entered a belly dance competition to introduce myself to my New England community, that I began to actually train like a belly dancer. This is how and why I created RAQ THE BARRE™. 1st, My fitness students were looking for a true barre workout. 2nd, I was looking to perfect my dance posture and hone in on belly dance technique. It was a win-win. My own dance technique improved and my students fell in love with this method, and we all love the results!
Today, many dancers and fitness professionals are joining me to help share this method. Together, we practice our code of ethics: we want to motivate you to move with strength and grace; we want to encourage healthy eating habits, and to empower you to love your body every step of the way as you journey toward optimal health. We invite you to meet us at the "Barre," or in a Dance class with RAQISA® prepared choreography designed to offer you a true taste the Middle East and the beautiful "Mediterranean Life!"
Hips & Health,
Pronounced Rock- e - Sa. (FEMALE) DANCER