Tharrett is a massage therapist by day, the belly dancer Asala by night.

Is being a massage therapist at all like dancing?

They're separate, but can be similar. As a massage therapist you definitely have a feeling that you're getting something out of it, helping the healing process. You are interacting with people. There is a creative process [woven with] a scientific understanding of the human body, which is crucial to dance.

What is the biggest misconception about belly dancing?

There are many people out there that think that it's more of a form of stripping. ... There're Americans who think that because it's a Middle Eastern art form. If I perform in front of people from the Middle East, these people know belly dancing because it's from their culture. It's a stage performance like any other type of dance. Unfortunately people just don't have the right idea sometimes until they are informed.

What do you think of all of these belly dancing workout videos?

Some of them are very good and some of them are not, it depends on who. A very respected teacher is Suhailia.

How do you feel before you perform? There's always just the slight bit of anticipation. A little nervousness is good because it keeps you on your toes. But once I get up there on stage I feel relaxed.

When do you have shows?

Most every weekend I have shows, but it varies week to week.

How do you get shows?

A lot of times [restaurants] seek me out because an audience member saw me and recommended me or a musician worked with me. Often musicians need a dancer for an event they are doing, so they will call me up and bring me with them. - Caitlin Byrnes

Caitlin Byrnes