Penny Collins – Finding joy with a mountain tribe

Penny resides in beautiful Julian the Apple Pie capital of Southern California. Trained as a Co-Active Coach by The Coaches Training Institute, she finds that coaching allows expression for several other loves; meaningful connection with people, authenticity, living communities, archeology & discovery. Penny is my ‘partner-in-nourishment’ at The Red Barn Cooperative and she recently wrote the article lead-follow explaining how her passions for belly dancing and coaching align. Originally from Calgary, Canada is where her many years of working for non profit youth organizations began. Penny threw herself at the opportunity to travel to Europe and continued with the nonprofit groove for 11 years. Work took her to Holland, France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia (as it was was formerly known), the tiny principality of Andorra and she found herself settling in Belgium, where her daughter was born. On arrival in California Penny became a massage therapist working in Occupational Therapy, and she followed her passion for horses (she owns an Arabian, named Shanna) training in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. She became a member of the Mountain Tribal Gypsies in 2005.

Penny, I am so happy that I get to chat to you today about one of your own sources of nourishment, so tell me exactly how your love of belly dancing began.

My fascination with belly dance began several years ago when I began to see three ladies in the small town I live in showing up at art festivals, and local cultural events doing this gorgeous style of belly dance. What impressed me most was the joy that radiated from them. They loved what they were doing.

This fascination led me to being an avid fan of the troupe and not missing any of their performances. Then about three years ago, at the hounding of so many local women it would be impossible to count, the troupe started a class. I was in and I was hooked.

You mention a sense of joy, what areas of your life have been enriched from being part of the Mountain Tribal Gypsies?

Being a part of the MTG has enriched my life in many areas. The connection we have as dancers from the hours we practice together has developed a knowing of each other on a deeply spiritual level. As well as the nature of tribal style belly dance which is not choreographed, we have learned each other’s unique rhythms, which creates a strong connection. We come from extremely diverse backgrounds and training , but I can truly say that these women are my tribe. I also find it very enriching to see us as women grow in our love of ourselves, our bodies, and how belly dance has brought a freedom of expression. This is who we are and how we want to put ourselves out there in the world.

The beautiful costuming allows for abundant creativity. It truly is a celebration of the beauty of women. Our troupe is growing in recognition as well, we have just finished having a documentary made on our little troupe. We are traveling to perform in new places besides our small town which is a lot of fun. We have several festivals coming up this spring and summer.

Do many of your clients know that you are coach by day and belly dancer by night ?

Yes actually several of my clients do know. I find there are a lot of similarities between co-active coaching and tribal belly dance so it comes out in one way or another during coaching.

It sounds very rewarding to be able to combine your passions. Do you feel that you have a coaching niche based on creativity?

I would have to say it’s about authenticity. The pattern I’m seeing with my clients is them connecting with their true selves and living that in a fuller, deeper, expression.

Having watched you guys perform, I would have to say that you all seem to be expressing your own authenticity pretty fully. It is incredible to see women of all ages and body types move so naturally together in dance. What would you say to someone who is still finding the courage to take up belly dance or any kind of dance class?

Dancing has a great way of making a strong connection with the wisdom of our bodies. We get out of our heads for a change and connection with another wisdom we can access. I would say if dance is what your dreaming of exploring, Go for it !!. Try several different styles if your not sure which one is for you. If you are drawn to classical or latin music you might try ballroom, ballet, or flamenco. If you want something fast paced try hip-hop ,West Coast Swing, tap or jazz. If you like country music try line dancing or square dancing. Think about what kind of music makes you want to move your body, then explore a dance style that uses that kind of music. You’ll find your own unique rhythm and expression. Make sure you have fun!!!! Off to dance, hugs…..

To chat to Penny or to arrange a sample coaching session you can contact her at

Pen, so shocked that ‘a cup of tea’ didn’t make your top ten nourishing things!

© The Red Barn Cooperative

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Don’t forget you can also post your own nourishing lists at My nourishing Top Ten we love to share them.


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  1. 1 Flamenco Dancing Guitar and Cajon Spanish Music » Blog Archive » Penny Collins - Finding joy with a mountain tribe Trackback on April 20, 2008 at 9:14 pm
  2. 2 Student Travel Worldwide » Blog Archive » Penny Collins - Finding joy with a mountain tribe Trackback on April 20, 2008 at 9:44 pm

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